64. малко по малко (little by little)

by | Nov 13, 2012 | Bulgarian life | 0 comments

The lovely young Dimana has been giving us Bulgarian lessons for about a year now. That sounds a long time doesn’t it? Surely we must be fluent by now?!

Erm, well, no. In the beginning it was rather sporadic and we pretty much cried off lessons all winter. (What? Snow is a perfectly acceptable excuse to do NOTHING except PLAY IN THE SNOW!) But, since this summer, we’ve got all serious about it and have been having weekly lessons. Our Bulgarian is improving, slowly, but we’re still pretty poor at it.

We’re lazy. We don’t study as hard as we should. We get by just fine in shops and restaurants, and our neighbours go easy on us over the morning coffee, so we can get away with saying remarkably little. And, I’m doing my regular day job which involves speaking in Bulgarian 0% of the time, and regular English 89% of the time. (Plus 4% publishing-isms and 7% swearing.)

However, we have been trying harder over the past few months. Dimana gives us homework exercises and new vocabulary to learn each week. And last week we even had a test. A test! It went okay but it’s clear I really need to work on my Bulgarian spelling! I’m usually such a god speller*, so that was a bit mortifying.

I really want to be able to have a proper conversation with our neighbours and the villagers. They must have so many amazing stories to tell. And I would love to understand the lyrics from all those folk songs. Plus, currently the neighbours think I’m something of a simpleton and it would be nice to (maybe?) prove otherwise. It’s my own fault – whenever I don’t understand something (which is frequently) I make the mistake of saying “I don’t understand”. At which point they’ll say it a bit louder, I’ll politely wait for them to finish, then say “No, sorry, don’t understand”. Whereas Rob just nods wisely and agrees with everything they say. When I ask him, “What was about?” he’ll merrily say “I’ve no idea!”

It’s a pretty tough language, though. We learn a little bit of grammar with each lesson, but it’s a messy web. The more grammar we learn, the less clear the language becomes. Everything changes depending on the gender of the word. There are many different forms of the definite article, depending on gender (and how the word is used in the sentence). They have several ways to make plurals. They have about twenty possessive pronouns. And even when you learn all those rules, there are enough exceptions to make your head explode.

And we still haven’t even started on past or future tense yet! Currently we can only speak in the present tense. Imagine speaking for a whole year in nothing but the present tense. It’s exhausting. And it makes you sound like a simpleton. Trust me on that.

*Note: This deliberate mis-spelling is intended as a joke. Oh how I laughed.

 

Just a few possessive pronouns to learn then.

 

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