Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Swirling Thoughts #175 - where do I live? what language do I speak? will a cactus take bob to the airport? it's all so confusing!

So much faith!!!
When I speak to my Sri Lankan housekeeper it’s in slow and deliberate English. I know English is not his first language and I want to be sure he understands what I’m saying. It would never occur to me to speak to him fast.

So why is it when the school secretary calls to tell me that the post office doesn’t think I live in my house (yes, I do live in my house) and that the school has a package for me and she will just send it home with my son since the post office doesn’t know where my house is, why is it that she speaks to me so fast? Yes, one year and four months into it all I understand enough key words to understand what she is saying. Post office. Package. Address. Maybe she doesn’t know Hebrew is not my first language. But wait, she said something about Olim Hadashim (new immigrants). She is sending me a package for new immigrants. Surely she suspects that if the school wishes me to receive a package designated for new immigrants, than I, myself just might be…a new immigrant? She’s not the only one. I find myself asking people to repeat themselves ‘liat, liat’ (slowly slowly) several times throughout each day. So this begs the question. Do Israelis have no patience for a slow absorption? Do they underestimate the amount of time it takes to fully take on the language? Or do they have faith in the ability of new immigrants to acclimate quickly. So much faith that it would never occur to them to speak slow and deliberate Hebrew?

What’s worse? My Hebrew or Rosie’s English?
When Rosie came home and explained to me she needs a tikya for gan I thought I knew what she meant. I gave her two plastic folders to choose from.
No, no, Ima. I need (something something something, really fast in Hebrew with a strong Israeli accent)!
Huh? This isn’t a tikya?
No, Ima!
I asked Asher.
What’s a tikya.
You know, a tikya.
How do you say it in English?
I don’t know. Like a plastic thing. I think. I don’t know.
Asher does know what a tikya is. He just doesn’t know how to say or describe it in English.

Fast forward to this morning. Rosie asked me what day it is. I told her Monday. We started talking about the days of the week. I asked her if she knows the days of the week and she whizzed through them. In Hebrew. She told me something about Yom Rishon and Yom Reviyi. I tried changing the conversation to English days of the week.
You mean Sunday and Wednesday?
Rosie, how do you say Yom Hamishi in English?
She thought for a while, then answered.
Nachon. Can you tell me what day comes after Tuesday, Rosie?

I sent Rosie outside to put a bag of trash next to the front door. Meanwhile, I told Barbara about the days of the week thing and we agreed - Rosie not knowing her days of the week in English is a problem. Just then Rosie called to me.
Should I put the bag next to the taxi?
What taxi, Rosie?
The taxi next to the door?
Rosie, do you mean the cactus?
Yes, Ima! The cactus!

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