That means, I am trying to learn Tamil, but it is not easy for me!
Hindi is the official language of India, but there are at least 18 other languages recognized by the Indian constitution, and Tamil is the official language of Tamil Nadu, the state that I am in. Many people speak English as well, but in their casual conversation among themselves, they almost always use Tamil.
I am making a little progress in at least learning to speak the language, if not read it. Ranga has given me a book, Learn Tamil in 30 Days. He has extended my deadline for learning it to the end of February, but says he is going to test me after that, so I'm going to have to get serious about this! (At the rate I am going, I think it will be more like Learn Tamil in 30 Years!)
Learning to read Tamil is another story. The words in the title of this blog entry are actually a Roman transliteration of how the language is spoken; this is not how Tamil looks. The Tamil alphabet is Dravidian, rather than Roman, so the letters are very different from ours, and spoken Tamil is different from written Tamil. Right now, written words just look like a jumble of squiggles to me. In this sign, the first line is in Tamil, the second line is in Hindi, with the English translation below it. (You can differentiate Tamil from Hindi by the horizontal line above the Hindi words).
When I moved to the U.S. with my family many years ago, I didn't speak a word of English. I carried a little spiral-bound notebook with me, where I jotted down new words, in an effort to learn the vocabulary of my new language. Some days I feel like that nine-year-old girl in Bridgeport again - right down to the little spiral notebook that I keep tucked away in my camera bag, where I jot down new words as I learn them. I must say, it seems a lot harder this time around!
I remember once trying to translate a sign that I could see outside the window of our house in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It was a huge blue neon sign, above a storefront, and with the help of my little self-made dictionary, I translated the sign as "God You're Tired." I was puzzled about that sign for days. Was god asking me if I was tired? Was someone saying god was tired? It was a while before someone explained to me what a Good Year Tire sign was all about! I wonder how many such signs I've mis-translated here already-
This time, I've even created little flashcards for myself - I really don't want to fail that exam at the end of the month! I'm hoping my translation skills will be a little better this time around!
Some words I've learned:
|puriyalai||do not understand|