It’s been quite hectic recently. I’m sure regular readers picked this up from the last post. One of the reasons we’ve been able to cope is that we’ve got visitors who came specifically to help us out.
Carol and Graham have been with us for a week and a half now and they’ve already made their trip worth it in our eyes – and they still have a month and a half with us.
First of all it’s nice to see some new faces around here. It gets a bit isolated out here and we’ve enjoyed having them around. At the same time we feel like it’s so hectic that we’ve hardly gotten to speak with them 🙂
We got to know Carol and Graham during our training at North Cotes. They spent 12? years in Papua New Guinea, living in the bush themselves and so they’ve been able to jump straight in, fluently speaking in Tok Pisin. Carol has been helping shoulder the burden of looking after Juli. Last week’s blog was all about the stress and excitement around her delivery, but she’s not out of the woods yet. We put her on antibiotics for a fever, and today we’ve had to switch the antibiotics up because the fever wasn’t improving (how grateful we are to have a medical clinic we can email to get advice on what to do!).
We’ve (Gerdine taking the lead) been checking in on her every day or 2 and it costs time and energy, which Gerdine is short of. It’s been so helpful to have Carol around to bounce ideas off and she’s taken some of the daily checkups all on her own.
Graham has been brought low by a tropical bug, but even so
Their goal in supporting us is to help us get more language-learning time in, and for Gerdine that’s been game-changing. While we were on a trip to a local hamlet, Carol played games with the kids so Gerdine and I could sit and work together on something. Gerdine was working through a language-learning exercise and normally I’d be off with Oscar, but now I could help out. I’m ahead of her in language so I can add to the exercise and tell her if she’s misunderstood or missed something.
We even had an afternoon where Gerdine and I could talk through Juli’s delivery and how language learning is going for us. Usually, that never happens, the 1hr we have off without kids every evening we’re usually too tired for it!
I’ve been working on gathering texts for upcoming discourse analysis. I need 13 monologues of about 100 propositions (about 2 mins long) which I’ll sit down, slice and dice and go deep into grammar and structure. The hardest of these to get are the 5 hortatory ones where the speaker is trying to convince someone to change their mind or do something.
I’m having to resort to staging these because the only time these happen at the length we need is at big public events where leaders give speaches. We don’t get too many of those, and when we do the recording quality is always terrible as there are kids screaming and pigs grunting left right and centre! Last week I managed to get a friend to tell a hypothetical man whose wife had had difficult labour in the past to go to town for the birth (purely hypothetical, not thinking of anyone….) and today I got one of a father telling his child to wash their sore with soap and not be lazy about it.
This type of role-playing generally doesn’t work out. Mostly I get back Kovol versions of the Tok Pisin example I have used without any of the details filled in, just a phrase-by-phrase translation of the gist I tried to give…
I’m still gathering those, but the next step will be transcribing them, then checking and double-checking each one to make sure it is word perfect. I find it’s best if I don’t think too hard about all the work that still needs to happen: it makes my life hurt.
To spice things up a bit I snuck a bit of coding in as work time. We’ve got a culture file that we transcribe texts into. I got it to pull a word list from our dictionary and then compare each word to the dictionary to see if it’s in there or not. It highlights in red any words that aren’t in our dictionary yet so either it’s a new word we need to add, or we spelt it wrongly.
It’s become a bit of an addictive game to push the percentage of ‘correct’ words in a text up. What’s funny is that it’s a game where you get to decide the rules; you can just change the spelling in the dictionary. Well, it’s fun now but once Rhett starts playing too I can imagine it might get frustrating if we both just keep changing the dictionary 😀