That Far-Fetched Goal of Comprehension

Trying to learn, day after day, a very new and different language fills me with a strange desire to become fluent in German.  It makes me realize that time is a necessity for learning, that it is impossible to cram two hundred new words into my brain every day and be able to pull them out my nose the next morning.  German is familiar, I understand the grammar, and I’ve built up a vocabulary over four years, and I’m fairly comfortable speaking it.  Another issue is retaining the words you already know, which is where German has actually come in handy.  If the word is unfamiliar in English, often it is a cognate to a German word.  For example, when I arrived without my suitcase, I heard “kofer” over and over again; the German word for suitcase.  “Flaša” is bottle in English, but is “Flasche” auf Deutsch.

Sadly, Bosnian grammar is in no way, shape, or form similar to German grammar; it has no articles and it has seven cases, as well as different endings for plural words depending on gender.  Is Bosnian challenging?  Only in the way that I have no knowledge of it.  All I have to do is understand and fully memorize the case endings, grammar structure, verb conjugations, irregular verb conjugations, and learn the thousands of words it takes to: walk down the street, buy a ticket, take the trolleybus to Skenderija, buy and devour a chocolate croissant from the “Pekara” (bakery),  accidentally trip over a woman and apologize, realize you need to visit the “bankomati” or ATM but don’t know where one is, ask a random stranger where the bankomati is, find the bankomati after listening to directions in Bosnian, be rejected by the bankomati because it only likes people with domestic banks, find a new bankomati with new instructions from a different stranger, successfully withdraw money, realize you are lost, amble off in the supposed direction of school, find a familiar street, smile and tell the cute little girl that you like her pigtails, and triumphantly arrive at school in time for BCS language class.  Sigh… someday.  After my head stops swelling from the infestation of strange words, maybe I’ll be able to hold a real conversation and be able to confidently order a coffee.  Right now it’s at the stage where I know what to say to the waiter, but they tend to stumble over my tongue when I try to push them out of my mouth.  There will be a day when I don’t completely freak out because I partially understand a conversation I eavesdropped on.  And there might even be a day when I hold my own conversation in Bosnian and fully understand 50% of what is said to me.  Maybe that’s a bit of a reach.  But it’s a real possibilty.  So for now, I will continue to drill my flashcards although I still can’t remember how to ask what month it is.  Someday!

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