Sunday, June 15, 2008

Field Trip

There's been a few little field trips in the past weeks and I feel like commenting on some of the language differences in the small country of Bulgaria. Keep in mind that Bulgaria is the same area as Tennessee but shaped more like a square than a rectangle. I could drive(if I were allowed to drive at all) from the Black Sea in the East to Western most point of Bulgaria in 7 hours (provided the roads were like interstate roads, which they're not, but just for comparison's sake we'll say they are).
I started in the Southwestern region, three hours south of my town, where I was taught the language made things a little difficult because I can't really tell the regional specifics there very well since that's what I learned. It was easy to tell that they talk slower than in my region and they don't enunciate quite as much. Next I went to the South central region, three hours southeast of my town, where my Bulgarian friends have told me they replace the letter "A" with "IA". The language was also much softer there than in my town as well and I was starting to get the sneaking suspicion that maybe my region had the harshest speech in Bulgaria. Then it was on to the Northeast, about three hours east of my town, where the differences were apparent from the second I set foot off the bus. Almost half of the population spoke Turkish, a language completely different from Bulgarian and unintelligible to me, and that rubbed off on their Bulgarian skills. Turkish is more fluid and less harsh than Bulgarian, therefore the Bulgarian spoken in that region was really slurred and not very harsh at all. They could understand me perfectly! I found out that my region is definetely the harshest speaking place in Bulgaria. Every "H" is said gutturally, every letter with staccato. When i say the word for bread, hle- ap, I have to spit out the "H" and "P" to be understood. Talking becomes a physical activity. With every word I have to use my whole upper body to provide the force for each consonant. Today I spent an hour with my tutor going over the different pronunciation for hour and o'clock, which are the same word with a different stress. I am usually understood, unless people can't get over the fact that I'm not Bulgarian, but now I'm trying to work on the specifics and I think I might retreat! Bulgarian's a harsh-sounding language to begin with and to add more harshness... well maybe it's not necessary.

So I was all over the place, but as I came back up to my town and walked home some magic happened.
I was carrying all my stuff, and almost to my door, as I started to notice the way the trees hung over the street, the sun shining through their fresh spring green leaves. The air smelled like pollen and must with a light flower scent wafting through some places. As I started to enjoy the moment I walked by the pine trees and notice that they had started growing. The new, vibrant green contrasted vaguely with the deep, rich growth from other years. I smiled and looked down to see the last tulips holding on to the chilly weather and the irises looking to the warm months to come. It was an amazing five minutes until I reached my door.

*I apologize, this blog should have been posted on May 10th but due to some Euro-American date digit swaps it thought it was to be posted on Oct 5th... the metric system isn't the only confusing difference.*

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