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I study languages.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Morphemes.

Today in linguistics class we began a unit on morphology. To illustrate the concept of an infix, my Overzealous Grad Student brought up different conformations of the Arabic root ك ت ب. Not-so-close English transliterations flashed up on his Powerpoint slides, and my heart skipped twelve beats as I listened to his oversimplifications, acutely cognizant of the half-truths that left so much to be explained. The pièce de résistance, though, came when he picked up a white board marker and attempted to write كتب on the board to illustrate his point. His shaky, kindergarten letters made me laugh out loud--the misshapen kaaf, the elongated taa--and before I knew it I felt myself zoom up to the front of the class and snatch the pen from his awkward fingers to draw my own version of the fluid letters of which I've become so incredibly fond. In that moment my quiet self wanted to talk for years, or at least until I ran out of things to say about Arabic. I wanted so badly to explain what I saw in those letters--long nights of practice, meticulous voweling of verb forms, Khaled and Maha, hours and hours of vocabulary and grammar and syntax and writing and homework--! All at once I was so excited I could barely hold my pen to take notes as we moved on. Because Arabic is my first second language, my oldest child. And I love her more fiercely than I can explain.

2 comments:

baricks said...

I love this. I 100% feel the same way about Arabic, a fierce loyalty to the language and a desire to explain linguistic nuances I've learned. How's 201 going?

Jessica said...

201's going well, thanks. You know, it's all-consuming and all, but you adjust. :-) I'd love to hear about your DC trip when you return!