I’m only beginning to learn the subtleties of this language. A frustration for me is that many words have no direct translation to English. Basically, I learn the word or sentence through it’s English equivalent, not through direct translation. Sometimes I ask my language teachers, “So what does this mean in English?” And there is no meaning in English, only an approximate guess.
One difference that I have studied long enough to know is the difference in the pronoun “we.” In English there is one. However, in Vietnamese, there are two forms of the word “we” that I’ve learned, one of which includes the listener and one that doesn’t. This can be used very effectively. For example, if I were phone one of my friends and ask, “What time are we going to dinner?” I would use the form chung ta. However, if my friend had plans already, s/he wouldn’t have to make up a lame excuse. S/he could simply say, “We are going to dinner at 7,” using the form chung toi, which excludes me, the listener. I find these things so interesting. I love it when I’m studying or being taught and I finally figure something out, or come to a new conclusion (in English, because it’s still the only language I can think in).
I start teaching on Monday and I’m trying to figure out what I’ll teach. The class I’m teaching is speaking, so I basically have to come of with speaking activities for the students. I’m also memorizing my lines for an abbreviated version of Romeo and Juliet that Jon wrote. And time just ticks by here. I hardly realize that I’ve been here for over a month. Sometimes when I have breakfast with my language teacher, we are about to leave (after drinking at least two pots of tea) and then someone we know will show up and that means that we stay at the cafe almost until lunch time. Some of those times I don’t know if I love it or hate it, but I end up thinking, “I spent four hours today at a cafe…” I love sitting and talking and watching people zoom by, but then sometimes I feel like I’m not doing anything. But then again, I’m out in the culture of the land where I will be living for some time, and that cannot be regretted.
One more thing, the other evening I made my longest motorbike drive yet. We went to the restaurant Tre Xanh, or Green Bamboo, which felt like it was on the outskirts of Long Xuyen, but I was told it really wasn’t. My driving through traffic is improving, although I still have much experience to gain. On the way back from Tre Xanh I was very cold, especially after driving for such a distance.