Good Morning Mr. John
Good morning is a very popular English greeting in Lesotho. In fact it is so popular that it is used all day long. When I first arrived and people greeted me by saying good morning at five o’clock in the evening I would usually respond by saying good afternoon or good evening. Now I just go with it. Last week a Basotho guy that I was talking with finally offered an explanation. He said that it is meant to be used when you greet someone for the first time during a day. I am still not sure how this works as there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent Sesotho greeting.
Because I work with local soccer coaches, many kids in town know who I am. However, most people seem to have trouble with pronouncing Shawn. It was the same in China. John is much easier and seems to make more sense. So, on my way home from work in the evenings I am inevitably greeted by groups of children saying ‘Good Morning Mr. John’. I don’t mean to be patronizing. I am sure that when I take the Sesotho words I know and try to arrange them into a coherent message I probably produce some interesting phrases.
I think that because I was born into an English speaking family and lived in an English speaking community I took communication and language for granted. Now that I have lived in a couple of countries where English is not the medium of communication I have a slightly different perspective. I frequently delude myself into thinking I am good with languages. However, after living in a place for a few months and studying the language I usually hit a wall; a wall of silence. My problem is that I don’t talk very much. Some people would argue that talking is a fairly integral part of communication. Those same people that are biased towards talking would probably also argue that in order to learn a language, speaking is pretty important.
Even though I am more of an introvert, I think that my experiences with language in China and now Lesotho have been enjoyable. I have come to view communication as a puzzle, or a form of problem solving. Because of this, daily communication can be incredibly frustrating, but also very gratifying. Fortunately, even if I am not able to learn any other languages I will still be able to develop an interesting form of English.
So, to sign off I would like to say Good Morning to everyone.
Yours in Sports – Oa hao lipapaling
September 14, 2010