Pardon me?

There is so very much we could tell about! We have most of our basics figured out: where to shop for food and how to cook it; how to drive; how to get money and pay for things; what to do when the power goes out (specifically how to open the heavy motor-powered garage door!) etc.  So let’s share about the ongoing and funny challenge of communicating.  We are not talking about other languages here (though Scott is doing an admirable job with Zulu and so is Simon – plus Afrikaans). Nope – if you can believe it we are talking about difficulties with English!

Some of the challenges stem from what is to our ears a very thick accent. We have been growing accustomed to that gradually. We now have fewer incidents when we just look at each other with a confused expression, “Did you understand what she asked us?” (eg. “KEERfer some muk?” = “Care for some milk?”…with your coffee”). And I’ve noticed we don’t seem to require repeating and clarification quite as much as during those first couple weeks.

An ongoing source of amusement and confusion comes not from the accent but from the different words altogether! This goes both ways of course. When you get a bemused look after asking for “extra napkins please” at a restaurant, you realize you may not in fact be asking for something to wipe your hands. You learn quickly that what you wanted is called “serviettes.” Take these for example – all words that sort of sound like English to us… but just what are they talking about!?

  • “Geezer”
  • Loo
  • Dongle
  • Kokis
  • Tekkies
  • Bakkie
  • Hob
  • Slogs
  • Braai
  • Robot
  • Boot
  • Packets
  • Civvies

We’ll let you struggle a little bit and save the answers for the next post!


In the meantime, here is the progress on our puzzle… definitely slow, but encouraging. It occurs to me that struggling through this puzzle is similar to communicating – especially in a new language. A whole slew of all-black puzzle pieces is not unlike some conversations. Where is the sense in it, the connection, the distinctions? Before long of course we learn to pay attention to new things. Some of those pieces have “double outs”, “triple ins”, speckles, heart-shaped corners or slanted sides. Low and behold things do fit together…




5 thoughts on “Pardon me?

  1. I can understand your dilemma with English quite well. Some Canadian words are different but I can figure them out after two years. However, I have a difficult time understanding our Nigerian priests face to face but it is almost nil on the phone – I’m forever saying excuse me, Father!!! Then there are the Aboriginal people I meet on the street. Now it is the foreign dentist! Guess what, we’ll adjust slowly. Take care and thanks for sharing.
    SM Lee


  2. Hi Rand family! We are missing you at school very much! I love the language differences. “serviette” is the French word for napkin :-). I have a few guesses about those words, but I’m probably mostly wrong…. Thinking about British versus American English. I’m looking forward to following your adventure this year and reading about more language experiences! All our Love from the school!


  3. Hello Friends! We are camping in Two Harbors, same campground as Bethany and Selah. We arrived yesterday. Today we all went hiking at Bethany’s favorite spot, Temperance River. Beautiful blessing: Scott, Reba, Mila, Fresia and Blaise were heading south from Grand Marias so they joined us too! We also explored around Gooseberry Falls together! There was a large map of the world at a cafe in Schroeder and we all pointed to South Africa and had a smile thinking of you all there!!! Love the language stories! I’m going to try and remember a few…loo- bathroom; braai- barbecue; boot- trunk; tekkies- tennis shoes; civvies- underwear. Have fun laughing at my memory from a long time ago trying to kick in! Enjoy that puzzle…so many life lessons wrapped up in that endeavor it does seem… :}


  4. I would KEERfer a million more stories like this! Thanks for being such a fun and observant foreign correspondent, Amy!
    It’s amazing how many different kinds of ways we can have immersion experiences.
    Love to everyone!


  5. Pingback: In our corner of the world… | sevennorthdakotas

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