My first African language

by Sarah Luna

Ok, for those of you who have been counting, this will be my third language attempt of the year. I started Marathi when I thought I was going to Maharashtra, India. Then I found out Rwanda would happen before that, so I switched to French thinking that it would be easier to learn French in the US than Kinyarwanda. Then I talked to my friend Sarah who had lived in Rwanda. Guess what…they switched the national language to English a few years ago. Now only the older people speak French. She recommended completely dropping French and focusing on learning a few phrases in Kinyarwanda.

There’s not really a demand for Kinyarwanda teachers here in Ithaca, so I’m trying to cobble together some material to teach myself. Luckily for me, my roomie is learning Swahili for her return to Tanzania. She doesn’t think it’s weird to hear me sounding out words.

Here’s my first dialogue:

Mwaramutse  (Good morning)
Mwaramutse.
Nitwa Sarah. Witwa nde? (My name is Sarah. What is your name?)
Nitwa Sam. Amakuru? (My name is Sam. How are you?)
Ni meza. Amakuru yawe? (I’m fine. How are you?)
Meze neza. Murakoze (I’m fine. Thank you.)
I’m practicing pronunciation by watching youtube videos.  As long as I don’t slip into the English R, I should be ok. Then again, no one will ever mistake me for a native speaker no matter how unoffensive my pronunciation is. 🙂

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