Friday, 27 January 2012

Letters from Sarajevo 2 - Mnogo snijeg, odlicno kafici i novi iskustva

Okay, okay, I haven't used CASES properly. At the end of my 7th day in school (lesson 15) my teacher tells me that at my level I shouldn't be worrying about putting everything into cases as I am perfectly understandable without them.  Cases, if you didn't know, are a way of creating a language system with completely unnecessary compIication making it almost impossible for a foreigner to ever speak the language correctly.  The mystery surrounding cases which prevents all us expats ever progressing beyond beginner's level has now been revealed to me for what it really is.  And the more I learn, the more I realise that a lot of it is absolutely superfluous and does not provide the listener with any more information than the sentence in its nominative form.  Cases change the end of a word which allow you to remove the preposition - however, in most cases in this language, the preposition is NOT removed. The more you learn, the more insane you realise this is.  And it is a huge barrier to learning the more functional elements of the language.

Our street, Hamdije Cemerice
Much too much emphasis is placed on cases in language teaching to foreigners and I do believe that this, and only this, is the main reason why most of the expat community have not moved beyond a few useful phrases and words.  The reason why I say this is that the rest of the language is actually not that difficult to learn. I do really wish that less of the course had focused on learning cases and more of it on functional language structure. Anyhow, I've only got 2 days/5 lessons left so hopefully now I will progress further!

I have spent so much of the last 3 weeks trying to put things into a foreign language that now when I write English, it feels really clumsy. I keep missing out things which should go in, so used I am to trying to put things simply.

The difficulty of being an adult learner is that you are always trying to walk before you can run. run before you can walk (duh!).  I get talking now, in Bosnian, without difficulty but half way through what I'm trying to say, I falter because I want to say something and I don't know how to - so you find a way of saying it more simply so then the whole sentence ends up sounding a bit stupid. But if you think about it, how many non-English speakers do you listen to in daily life (out of the UK) speak incorrectly?  And usually you can completely understand what they are trying to say and you don't think they are stupid.

Our place is right next to the river so we have a riverside walk into town. This is the bridge by our apartment building. It is amazing how quickly I have got used to an urban environment again.

en route to town (before the last snow)

Right, I've got to crack on. Two hours before class and lots of future tense exercises to complete.  err, splutter.....did I really write this? What has happened to me?? Shit.

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