Friday, 20 March 2009

talking bosnian

Thursday nights are our Bosnian language lessons night. It has to be said that we do not rock at Bosnian. In fact we rock about as much as a toy sailing boat becalmed in a mill pond. We are not very good students and are terrible at actually sitting down and doing the amount of learning that is required. We forget from week to week what we did last week. We don't have a very good idea of how English is put together, which makes learning grammar even harder. But ultimately we aren't putting in the desk hours needed to improve.

Abject laziness is not the only reason we are not progressing as fast as we ought to. The sheer complexities of Bosnian fry our brains, particularly if the day has been long or taxing. I won't go into the difficulties of the language except to give one example. An adjective has to agree with the noun. Seems sane enough. Memories of distant French lessons come back to me - masculine, feminine words. Yes. Not too difficult. Then comes Bosnian. There are the three genders - masculine, feminine and neuter. So far so good. But then comes the kicker. The words change when they are put into different cases. Memories of distant Latin lessons, but just about hanging in there. Then I realised that there are 7 different cases. SEVEN! I haven't even mentioned yet that there are a singular and plural versions. Put the lot together and there are FORTY TWO different possible endings to the word. And that is the ones that I know of. Instant brain mush. Bosnian has a trick of just when you are getting the hang of it it brings in a new rule - like if there are more than 5 of the item it all changes again. Or if you are talking on a Tuesday every second word must end with a u. I might have made that last bit up but I wouldn't be surprised if there was a rule like that.

Anyhow, the combination of the complexities of the language and our distinct failure to actually apply ourselves properly to learning it mean that we are not making much progress. Dave confessed that he doesn't use Bosnian at all beyond ordering a coffee in his day to day life. I do use it a lot more but have amassed a very particular vocabulary. I bet not many other newbies to the language have cry, paint, potty, poo, baking powder and tick in their vocab.

The boys are going to run rings round us and will soon have an ability to converse with each other without us understanding what they are saying. This is an alarming development indeed and may provide me with the kick up the backside to do the learning.


Adam@BalkanFile said...

I remember the feeling of my brain mushing when I first began learning Serbian.

Don't give up just yet, it took me a good two years of university plus 3 months of living and studying in Belgrade before those case ending began making sense!

Good luck - the feeling when it all suddenly 'clicks' is a good one!

Anonymous said...

For some reason B/C/S even has to put the cases in a different order to Latin so you've not even got the comfort of being able to fall back on the residues of that old routine.

Jelica said...

Good luck with your learning! I'm not sure how it is in Bosnia but in Serbia few people use all 7 cases (especially in south-east) so you could cut some corners there :)