Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Manchester Barlows. We're entering a time of hosting wonderful people visiting us in Natal. Steve's cousin Paul and his family are across from Manchester for their first visit to Brazil. So, it was off to the beach today and they braved the infamous dune buggy rides. So far they all seem happy enough and not too sunburnt. Although, they did have a lot to say about the "style" of Brazilian driving.

Language ups and downs. As I've said before on here, I'm excited because (finally) my Portuguese is reaching levels of some fluency where I can communicate fairly freely. I took an online Portuguese proficiency test and was labelled as Advanced Intermediate level. But, seeing as that was only reading and grammar and not listening or speaking or writing it's a debatable grading.

Nevertheless, the language is on the up. What I've found, though, is a strange thing. Linguists probably have a name for this, but in familiar topic areas where I can speak without having to think too much I have become quite lazy with my Portuguese opting for the easiest and sometimes semi-accurate route to communicating. Steve says that his Dad arrived in Brazil, reached that level and stayed with it for 50 years. I'll try not to let that happen, but let me give you an example of a small slip-up that I made this week, which I shouldn't have made if I was trying a bit harder. We had some guests over for lunch but didn't have enough knives (long story) to set all the places so I suggested to Ana, the lady who helps in the house, that we use spoons. I kept saying to her "Pode usar coelho. Simplesmente, pode botar coelho". She returned a puzzled look. After a while she held up a spoon and said, "colher?". It was then that it dawned on me that I had said "coelho" when I had meant to say "colher". Instead of suggesting she put out spoons in place of knives, I was asking her to lay out rabbits on the table. Most peculiar and a timely lesson to me to keep thinking about what I'm saying in somebody else's language.

John Stauffacher. My mother's brother, an elderly and frail man in his 70s, passed away last night after a battle with cancer. So, lots of prayers going up for that side of the family. We feel blessed to have known this wonderful Christian man who served in France as a missionary with his wife for his entire adult life. Last summer we had the chance to visit France and introduce Nelson to his great Uncle - that encounter seems especially poignant now.

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