Rediscovering a passion

April 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

Last night I came across a request on Twitter. A cry for help. Someone needed help with a Unisa assignment, and was looking for someone fluent in Xhosa.

Now, the last time I formally studied Xhosa was a long time ago. It was one of my matric subjects in 1986, and I studied African Languages for three years at university. And then it all stopped. I live in a place where Xhosa is seldom spoken, so I’m hardly ever exposed to it.

Naturally, I recommended she speak to someone else on Twitter, someone I knew was a mother-tongue Xhosa speaker. Nothing. The poor girl wasn’t getting any help. So I dived in (with a disclaimer, of course). I’ll help where I can, but I’m not making any promises.

To cut a long story short, a lot of to- and fro-ing via e-mail ensued, and for the most part, I was able to help. In fairness, it must be said that the questions were more concerned with linguistics rather than language, with the way Xhosa works grammatically rather than actually having to understand the language itself. And hopefully the person concerned will get the coveted 50% for her assignment at the very least.

But in the process I noticed a few things. Firstly, I had awesome teachers, both at school and at university. Secondly, I’d forgotten how much I love Xhosa (and all language study, for that matter). Thirdly, I remember a lot more than I realise! And finally – and most importantly – I haven’t had that much fun for ages. I went to bed with a smile on my face, and I woke up smiling and energised. My brain is buzzing in an entirely good way.

Which just goes to show that when you follow your passion it really does enliven everything you do. And also, I did say I was a word nerd. Proof positive, if you ask me.


§ One Response to Rediscovering a passion

  • Colleen says:

    There is a deep, expressive beauty in African languages. And there are more and more Xhosa first language speakers in the highveld. Start speaking in it again and have fun;)


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