e martë, shkurt 19, 2008

Language Difficulties and Bajram

2 entries today. There is so much of interest in this book, either amusing, or something similar to my own experience that I feel as though I could post for at least another week...but I am trying to get to the end of the posts from this book. So I am putting two different topics together.

Language difficulties

Jan and Cora Gordon spent six weeks learning the Albanian language prior to their visit. I just wonder how much of it they really did understand. Some exceptionally gifted people in language studies may pick up a lot ( and I’m not one of them) , but for others ( like me) it takes months and years and in fact you are always learning!

Page 71/72
Constant questioning of muslim women as to why they did not have any children.
She told them that she did not know, but each woman that came by asked the same questions adding that she looked ok and so did her husband.
She decided to get round this by inventing a story that she DID have a child but the child had died.
Unfortunately, she used the Albanian word to tell them of the event and her pronunciation was not what it should have been
( and how well some of us can relate to that!) and the hearers mistook her saying “vdek’ as ‘djeg’ ( to burn) and they thought the child was burnt. This only caused them to take great pity on her and bring her coffee, mulberries and patted her on the shoulders.

Yes I have a similar problem. I struggle with the single “L”. I just seem always able to pronounce only the double “LL” sound which of course changes the meaning of the word.
I could for example be saying that I have a good boy “djalë i mirë”...but if I mispronounce the single “L” sound in the word for boy “djalë”, then I end up saying “djalli i mirë” which is “good devil”.

Page 214 -Shkoder and Malesia e Madhe
“The prospect of touring with an interpreter had almost chilled us off from the journey, but unluckily we had only the dialect of the south, which might be almost useless, we understood amongst the northern tribes. Besides, there were ceremonies and customs to understand.”

Again if you travel north the short distance to Koplik or further north into the mountains, then you will find a whole different dialect and use of words and expressions. I have heard of some that have come from Tirana or further south to work in the villages in the mountains, only to return as they could not understand a word the mountain people spoke!

Page 234
Outside a narrow cemetery was deep in grass, from which stood up tall crosses, many beautifully chip-carved. Poised as if in contemplation on the crosses were primitively shaped wooden birds with wire nails for legs. They are probably meant to be cuckoos the Serbian bird of grief, for the Serbian word for ‘woe” is “kuku”. But the Albanians have lost both derivation and meaning of the birds, and we saw them nowhere else.

I am wondering if this may be the source of the word "kuku" in Albanian. As in " Kuku moj nanë!" or "Kuku për mua", "Kuku moj det!", "Kuku, ç'më gjeti!" which are expressions used in an unfortunate event. Something along the lines of "Oh dear, look what's happened!" - though i am sure that someone will correct me on my Albanian!- again! :-)

Page 246
Language difficulty
They believed people were wishing them a white road…which I take it was “rruge te mbare” ( safe journey) rather than “ rruge te bardhe”.


after many visits andevery house was a coffee, cigarettes, sweets and sometimes syrupy drinks, superadded until one felt cloyed and clogged with stickiness”…on return to the hotel they said “Thank heavens that Bhayram will come only once in OUR lifetime.”

Then on return to the hotel…they found a present for Bajram.
“We opened the door. There before us, on the table was a large Baklava cake compounded of wafer-like paste, fried oil, drenched in syrup, interleaved with walnut mash and crowned with cream. It was a climax of sweetness, stickiness and indigestibility. We sent back a message of false gratitude and sank upon our beds wondering how we could dispose of that cake without detection. As with a corpse after a murder, all traces must disappear.”

( Big mistake! Baklava is really good ( especially if like me you love walnuts)and you should not miss the opportunity to try it. However, there is nothing worse than getting ready to eat a piece and finding it is a week old!! Then it is like eating a piece of cardboard!)

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