24 September 2007

Ik spreek Nederlands! Well, not really. Yet.

Hallo! Ik ben Kel Miller. Ik woon in Angers. Ik spreek Engels, Frans, en Russisch. Ik kom uit America.
/halo. ɪk bɛn kɛl mɪlr. ɪk von ɪn anʒe. ɪk spre:k ɛngəls frans ɛn rusisx. ɪk kəm œyt amerika/ is as close as I can get to the IPA, with punctuation added for a bit of extra clarity.

That's all I know at the moment, but so far I like Dutch. Néerlandais, in French. Today there were only three in the class: me, and two French girls named Pauline and Alice. Both seem nice, and both seem like they are good at languages. There will probably be more students next week: the courses in lesser-studied languages are offered to students at UCO (my university), the public university, and another private university. However, the public university starts classes next week, and the language class schedules have only been up for a few days, so it's likely that a lot of people just didn't know that class started. On Mondays, Anne is our teacher. She's from the Netherlands, and teaches Dutch both at the Catho (UCO) and to the kids of the four hundred Dutch families living in the region. She's very cheerful and energetic, and has that combination of patience and motivation that builds confidence in students just starting to make the really weird sounds of the new language. I like her a lot. On Thursdays, our teacher will be Sarah, who speaks Flemish. Flemish and Dutch are the same language, but with a few slight differences in pronunciation. For example, the letter g is pronounced as a guttural throaty sound in the Netherlands (like x in Russian, or the sound in "ach" in German), but in Belgium it's actually pronounced like a g. In the Netherlands, r is pronounced more like an American or French r, whereas in Belgium it's more rolled. So we'll get to learn both dialects. Monday's class is more grammar based, and Thursday's is more vocabulary and conversation based. So far it's fun and easy, except for the pronunciation. There are way too many vowels, and tons of diphthongs. If you're interested, you can check out the Wikipedia article on Dutch phonology. I warn you though, it'll give you a headache even if you love IPA. For example, try the lovely diphthong [œy], where œ is the French vowel "e" and y is the French vowel "u," or in German ë and ü respectively. Have fun with that.

The other class I had today was translation, English to French, this morning. The teacher seems nice except for the fact that she seems to consider all Americans to be idiots. Becky and I are working on proving her wrong, but she seems to assume that we don't understand a word she's saying. The way she teaches isn't particularly interesting, but I did learn some new vocabulary and the nice thing about translation classes is that you really get into grammatical nuance, which will be good for my French.

Tomorrow should supply new adventures, and not only school-related either. Until then, Vaarwel!

1 comment:

Lori said...

You should learn Arabic. Won't have a problem with too many vowels there!