Experiences in Wolof

Experiences in Wolof

Wolof book.JPG When I resided in Senegal 2 years earlier, my greatest objective was to end up being conversational in French. Though I wished to have the ability to speak Wolof, the mother tongue of the majority of Dakarois, I understood I could not manage finding out 2 languages at the same time.

By the time I returned here for work, I had basically doubled my French speaking capability, thanks to 9 months in Paris, and I felt it was about time to discover standard Wolof.

It is the very first brand-new language I have actually tried considering that I took a Spanish class throughout my last term of college. I had actually forgotten how aggravating and deeply humbling going back to square one is. Unlike French and Spanish, Wolof shares definitely nothing with English, a Germanic language that has actually obtained countless words from the Latin lexicon. Since I have actually been hearing Hebrew my entire life, which likewise has absolutely nothing in typical with English, I hoped I ‘d have the psychological versatility to flex to a brand-new language household. It ends up my brain is quite fragile.

I took 10 hours of Wolof throughout 2 weeks in February and throughout every session I would sigh, grimace, and put my head on the table more than an overtired young child. The language is both simple, because it makes overall sense much of the time, however likewise exceptionally tough, because it’s a completely various system than what I’m utilized to. Verbs are not conjugated, for instance– a minimum of not in the sense that I’m utilized to. Individual pronouns are conjugated rather (I believe this might be called a declension?). And rather of classifying verbs as variations on past, present, or future, they appear to be classified as total or insufficient. The very same conjugation can suggest present tense for a stative verb like “to comprehend” or “to be called” and previous tense for an action verb like “to sit” or “to go.” It’s a brain-twister.

I simply did a little Googling and am now persuaded Wolof is in fact challenging at all. Simply attempt understanding this description:

Element and focus, more than tense, are main in the spoken system which has the ability to reveal if an action has actually been finished or is still going on, or if it happens routinely, and whether the focus falls on the topic, verb or object of the sentence. The verb complex includes an invariable stem plus an inflectional aspect that encodes individual and number, and a particle that shows tense-aspect-mood (TAM) or focus (topic, things, and spoken). The inflectional aspect and the TAM or focus particles might be preposed or postposed to the spoken lexeme. Besides, there have to do with thirty spoken extensions or derivational affixes that encode mutual, applicative, causative, locative, and other significances. Verbs can be transformed into nouns by reduplication, suffixation and consonant anomaly.

Good idea I didn’t check out that prior to beginning Wolof, or I might have chosen to stop while I was ahead.

Likewise a brain-twister, though I make sure English is simply as insane if you do not hear it from birth: there are 2 or more methods to state apparently whatever. You can state “I am going to Dakar,” for instance, either as “conjugated pronoun + infinitive verb + object” i.e. Mangi dem Dakar, or as “things + conjugated pronoun + infinitive verb,” i.e. Dakar laay dem The latter is suggested to put focus on the things instead of the topic of the sentence, much as in English we may put the tension on either the things or the based on highlight one or the other without altering syntactic arrangement.

Another issue: there is no genuine “to be” verb … however there is. Please do not ask me to describe since I can’t.

And the numbers … In the beginning I believed they were much more crazy than the French ones, however then I reevaluated. In truth, the Wolof character system echoes the Roman character system because it is based upon both fives and 10s, and you put one through 5 and 10 together in various methods to get all your other numbers. Aside from that quirk and the truth that they call 30 “ fan weer,” which implies “day month,” it’s all extremely constant. One through 5 have their own words, 6 is five-one, 7 is five-two, 8 is five-three, 9 is five-four, 10 has its own word, eleven is ten-and-one, twelve is ten-and-two, thirteen is ten-and-three, fourteen is ten-and-four, fifteen is ten-and-five, sixteen is ten-and-five-one, seventeen is ten-and-five-two, eighteen is ten-and-five-three, nineteen is ten-and-five-four, twenty is two-ten, and so on

However then we concern the loan counting system and all the record scratches worldwide are insufficient to interact the madness that follows. I do not even understand how to describe it other than to state that whatever is divided by 5, based upon the old 5 franc pieces (referred to as dërëm) that utilized to be the primary type of currency. Nowadays, the CFA has actually changed the franc, and 5 CFA coins deserve a cent, yet they are still described as dërëm This implies that if you wish to utilize the Wolof counting system to pay $20 for something– around 12,000 CFA– I believe (however tbh am unsure) that you need to divide it into 2 5,000 CFA expenses and after that divide the rest by 5, and call it ñaar juni dërëm ak ñaar ñaar teemeeri dërëm(2 one-thousand- dërëm and 2 two-hundred- dërëm). For reals. If you do not think me, this website equates 3,400 CFA as such:

juroom benni teemeer ak juróom ñett fukk(680 = 5 + 1 x 100 + 5 + 3 x 10)

I asked my instructor if Senegal has a great deal of mathematicians, since God understands if they are doing these accomplishments of reproduction and department in their head from the time they’re young, calculus ought to be no issue.

When It Comes To me, I simply shook my head at my instructor and stated, “ Déedéet,” which implies “no.”

Not just will I never ever get the mathematics of Wolof, however it’s not likely I will ever get the spelling. To start with, while there is now obviously a basic orthography, it has actually not been generally embraced, therefore what my book spells ak(” and”), my instructor spells ag My book states mangi(” I am,” basically) however my instructor composes mangy I’m an extremely visual student, so the several spellings present a genuine hazard not just to my capability to compose however likewise to my capability to soak up and maintain anything I discover.

Then there’s the issue of pronunciation. I make sure I’ll enhance with time, however today I can’t pronounce particular typically utilized noises to conserve my life: mb as in Mbour (a town), ng as in nga and ngeen(you particular and you plural, respectively), and nd as in Youssou Ndour.

In Spite Of all of this, I feel confident that I’ll become able to interact if I keep practicing what I discovered. At the minute, in reality (rather than in the class) I’m just getting words and expressions occasionally, however whenever I do it thrills me. Finding out a language resembles opening the door to an interesting world I have actually had the ability to translucent the keyhole however never ever check out. With everything I comprehend, I feel the essential turn ever so a little additional in the lock, and it persuades me to neglect all the aggravation and illogic and push on. So I’ll conclude by stating:

Dégg naa Wolof tuuti rekk, waayé leegi, mangi jang lool, ak am jamm …

… which implies, “I just speak a little Wolof, however I study a lot, and I have peace.” Asking if individuals are at peace and wanting them peace is a fundamental part of Wolof salutations, so I figured I ‘d toss it in.

Tantie examined my sentence and chuckled, “ Un peu strange, mais beau.” That declaration might use to my life in basic, I believe.