August 05, 2007

Alphabet Soup

It's August, which means we can begin saying "next month" when people ask when we're leaving. It also serves us well as a reminder that we really need to get serious about our language lessons and the other Peace Corps material we've received. No more walking by the table in the den with the Macedonia Welcome Book or PC Training Manual and thinking, "Oh, I'll get to those pretty soon, say, tomorrow?"

No, ladies and gentlemen, it's time to buckle down, shake the rust off these overly vacationed bodies and start some learnin'. Here's a few of the items we picked up just today:

  1. Don't say FYROM. And what is FYROM, you ask? That's the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the official international name of the country. It had to adopt this cumbersome moniker following its independence because northern Greece claims to be the true Macedonia and apparently threw some sort of United Nations temper tantrum at the idea of a "Republic of Macedonia." So much of the world says FYROM, others (including the U.S.) simply say ROM, or, Macedonia. As you might guess, FYROM is a fairly offensive term within Macedonia's borders.

  2. A few greetings. For instance, Good Morning = добро утро. And, Hello = здраво. As Jillian's sister said, "What is this crazy moon language?" That, ummm, polished remark succinctly describes what you might be feeling looking at those greetings and the difficulty in learning...

  3. The Alphabet. The Macedonian language, like all Slavic languages, uses a modified Cyrillic alphabet. Forget the old Latin letters you're used to and try a combination of Greek, Slavic, and Latin characters with different corresponding sounds (e.g. The written letter "H" sounds like /N/ and "P" sounds like /R/).

Tomorrow we'll try learning some numbers and colors. Jillian is going to spell her name with a tower of red and blue Macedonian blocks.


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