Back to the grind

After last week's high, I had a feeling that this week would be a bit more of a challenge. And I was right!

Like the week before, I was able to spend a long chunk of time working on Thursday afternoon. Unlike the week before, however, I was working on totally new material: prefixes for each of the ten noun classes. You see, in Luganda, each noun is assigned into one of ten classes, and each class has different prefixes to use for the adjectives that describe these nouns. Numbers, one of the most basic adjectives around, are where I began this journey. By the end of my session on Thursday, I was hoping to be able to do the very basic task of saying things like "five men," "three pumpkins," or "eight flowers" with some level of accuracy. After several hours of work, I certainly understood the concept, but I had to labor over each word as I wrote it down.

While I am sure that this is normal, that it's okay to approach new material so slowly and with so much work, it certainly deflated my spirits a bit after a week of major progress.

Maybe it was because of my mood, or the new concepts taking up real estate in my brain, or the fact that much of my week's study had been focused on new material and not reviewing older stuff, but my weekly session with my mentor felt more challenging than usual, as well. But, I persevere! And am trying to approach this week with a good attitude and plenty of review of past material.

One funny little cultural learning that I had this week had to do with food. My mentor and I have been discussing food for the past couple weeks, and I've been keeping a list of food related vocabulary words throughout the fall. Midway through our conversation on Friday, he told me that we would be moving on to a new unit: Sauce! I laughed, because of course in my American context sauce is absolutely considered a part of the category of food, not something separate from it. But in the Ugandan context, sauce is important enough to earn its own category. What qualifies as a sauce is also different - it is essentially anything that is served on top of the staple food item, such as beans and meat. A small, fun little difference, which reminds me of just how differently two cultures can view the world.


  1. Sauce! Fun. I'm pretty good with the Bantu class system--feel free to come to my office hours if you want some help (bring a chart or grammar book in Luganda for me to look at).


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