Kinyarwanda, Gulp

By December 4th, 2013

Family & Friends,

Some ventures are so complicated that if we knew, we would never start. For the last three months I have been trying to learn the language of Rwanda – Kinyarwanda. I just purchased “A Comprehensive Guide to Kinyarwanda”. I learned that it is a beautiful language, unbelievably precise and considered one of the ten most difficult languages in world to learn. Gulp.

It’s too late now. I’m trying to learn a language with 8 syllables for “green”. “Arm” is oo-koo-bo-ko and I’m thinking, “That’s not a word, you just made it up.” Then I remember that all words are “just” made up–socially shared symbols. My book informs me that Kinyarwanda is tonal so it cannot be explained. You must ask a native speaker to say it ten times and hope you can repeat it.

Words have so many prefixes, suffixes and infixes that you can build a sentence just by adding to the front, back and middle of a word. “Ntibakinkorera” means “They do not work for me any longer.” [literally, “Not-they-still-me-work-for.”] I went into a state of shock when I learned that spoken Kinyarwanda is different than written. To speak a sentence, you must mentally transpose it by dropping vowels, adding consonants and combining vowels to form a new sound. I think I’ll look up the Kinyarwandan word for “Thank goodness I didn’t know what I was getting myself in for.”

G

Next Bible marathon on Luke/Acts is Saturday Jan. 18. Sign up required:
gfriesen@multnomah.edu
Tour of Aslan’s How on Dec. 14 is FILLED.

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