Last week we had our language evaluation, so this week is all about correcting all the mistakes we made!

With the questions I struggled on in mind I sat down with the guys… And it felt a bit like cheating! I’d nail those questions if I was asked them again now 😄

I had some basic vocabulary to brush up on. For a long time I’ve thought that the word for complete or whole actually means lots. Hence the confusion when I was talking about the whole flower over there and not lots of flowers. I thought few meant nearly, so again confusion when I said I fell down a little, not I nearly fell down.

Silas ready for the jungle

Then there were questions on linking sentences together. I did a bit of work on because, or what we think is because. It’s a little fuzzy because people don’t tend to say because in an answer. If asked why, they respond with the answer, and don’t usually answer along the lines of because this then that. Why did the pig squeal? “It was hungry” rather than “because the pig was hungry it squealed”.

Our phrase for why seems to be megite tugub (what way, nearest I can guess)… But questions beginning with megite tugub are often interpreted as “how” questions. Today I got a lead in the form of “megite tugub ombo”, so I’ll chase that up and see if it makes things clear! As you can see we’re getting into things where it’s easy to sort of communicate – but not nail the meaning we’re after spot on.

So I’m still finding it hard to be completely sure that I’m saying because the boy hit the pig it squealed. I can easily say the boy hit the pig and it squealed, but I really need to nail down those logical connectors. Not because it is absolutely essential in the example sentence of the pig being hit, but because in other sentences it will be.

One area where I bombed the test was in kinship terminology, using “younger sibling” instead of younger brother like I was asked, and “person who speaks my language” for cousin. Again both sort of communicating, but not with the precision I was asked to use!

So I’m at work fixing the areas I got wrong, but of course the next test won’t have the same questions!

This went well for a few seconds…

After recovering from our language consultant visit (and the sickness they brought us) we’re feeling motivated to keep going. We’ve got some concrete communication tasks to work on and were reminded of a few tools we can use to learn. Initially I felt pretty tired after the evaluation seeing how much further there was to go (and that’s just for language learning, never mind the teaching and translation which will follow), but that’s worn off and we’re planning again.

The next big milestone for our team is the Hansen family’s returning from home assignment in April. We’ve got 4 or 5 months, and we’re thinking we’ll have another language evaluation then. I think we’re all hoping to move up a level, and we’re planning to get a chunk of our Kovol cultural summaries paper done. I’m not sure if we’ve been given what you could call a 2nd wind – but the motivation problems I was having just before the check have melted away. Just need to be careful not to push too hard in all the excitement!


Lois S. · 12/11/2022 at 1:00 am

Thanks for sharing! And for all your hard work to understand! It can be a true challenge to communicate well in our primary language, and I am not sure I can imagine quite how much more difficult it would be in a third or fourth or fifth language that is also unwritten, and which represents a very different cultural understanding of life. But I am thankful for all the ways you help us understand what this looks like. That is a blessing!

I am thinking of the phrase, “With the language goes the culture.” In other words, if a people group or a generation of that group lose their language, they tend to lose their culture as well. But I am guessing that it goes the other way too–that if you truly understand the language, cultural understanding will accompany it.

    Mandy Caley · 13/11/2022 at 2:01 am

    Always love to read your posts 🙂
    So here’s a few Palaka bits just for fun -like for ‘because the boy hit the pig it squealed’….Palaka says ‘As boy he pig it hit then it squealed’
    ‘Nearly’ was’ he touched close by’ –
    ‘tired’ and also ‘full’ are the same word
    Language is fascinating eh? Especially when it all ‘falls into place’ . We Brits use so many idioms ourselves eh?
    Good that the motivation is back 🙂
    Praying on.

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