Dionne and I are now 9 weeks into our mission. The regular missionaries who reported to the MTC with us are now just arriving in country. They have been studying the language all of this time. Dionne and I will both be way behind them!
I want to take this post and talk a little bit about the language; Bosonski. It is a cross between Hrvatski (Croatian) and Serbian. Since Bosnia is made up of three primary ethnic groups (Bosniaks - primarily Muslims, Serbs - primarily eastern orthodox, and Croats - primarily Roman Catholics), there is not an official alphabet. Kids are taught in the Latin alphabet (used by Bosniaks and Croats) for two weeks and then in the Cryllic alphabet (used by Serbs) for two weeks. Official signage includes both alphabets.
|Latin alphabet in a classroom. They do not use X, W, Q or Y. They have special C's, D's, S's and Z's.|
|Bosnia is divided in two; the Federation and Srpska. Many of the Srpska signs, like this one, are only in Cryllic.|
If I could only learn new words I would be okay. But trying to reasonably figure out the conjugation rules is driving me batty!
Let me give a quick example of how a verb conjugates...and note that this is easier than the noun and adjective stuff. The verb that means "to believe" is "vjerovati." But if I want to say "I believe" I use "vjerujem." If I want to say you believe it is either "vjeruješ" or "vjerujete." He believes is "vjeruje," we believe is "vjerujemo," and they believe is "vjeruju." Remarkably, Bosnians know all of this like the back of their hands and make these conjugations while speaking 100 miles a minute. When I try to do it, it just gives me a brain cramp.
I have memorized about 500 words so far. And I can communicate for simple things using single words. But putting together real sentences has been a problem. The MTC has put together two very useful spreadsheets which summarize all of the grammatical rules on two pages. Once everything is explained there is a certain sense of logic to the language. And I generally can form a sentence if I have 10 minutes to mentally consult this spreadsheet. But 10 minutes per sentence is not very functional!!!
It took me almost 8 work hours to translate my talk into Bosonski. And, unfortunately, I did not have time to practice reading the talk out loud as much as I would have liked. Let's just say...lines like "On je koristio njegovog blaglova da zaključi dva značajani propovedi" do not easily roll off the tongue.
While it was great practice for me, the one Bosnian member in attendance pulled me aside after and talked about some of my many language problems. I asked him to look over my translation skills...he took my talk, worked on it for a few minutes, and then summarily announced to me (in typical no holds barred Bosnian fashion)..."this is not how we say this...this is not good."
|My talk after it was marked up by a member.|
Here is another example. We have been singing translated LDS hymns. I keep expecting that I will understand a title. But I have yet to make sense of one. Take, for example, the hymn we sang this morning. "Ne Mogu Bez Tebe"...or literally translated as "Not Able to Without You." What hymn do you think that is?
|The literal translation of this hymn is "Not Able to Without You"|
|One of the dictionaries that we have bought to use as a resource. Dionne tends to use Google Translate while I have resisted using it so far. I am using a language app to study words.|
One final translation. To get our visas, Dionne and I had to go to this building. The literal translation of the words on the door is "House of Torture (or Pain)." Which is what they proceeded to do.
If I would have known that they would have to draw blood again on the mission, I may have rethought my willingness to come!
|My scars from the "house of torture"|