Friday, November 25

Zakopane Speed

This photograph, taken while I was an exchange student in Poland, will have to suffice for the present post. Anyone who has checked my blog occasionally over the months surely has noted a slackening of blog-pace on my part. This is due largely to the fact that, in my present location, I am faced with the necessity of learning well a language that, till recently, I had known only by bits. Until I can achieve a certain level of linguistic comfort in my daily life, I do not expect to blog regularly. It would be helpful if I had a camera to take new pictures; and that, too, will take some time to obtain.

Let me close with a short snapshot in words of what my life is like. This evening I attended a faculty party whose main purpose was to welcome me. For this, I had to give a short speech of gratitude in Japanese. I had prepared my comments over the last couple of days with the help of some accomplished Japanese speakers, but did not feel I had mastered them before the festivities began. Early into the festivities, the president of the union that was sponsoring the party introduced me, and everyone drank to her introduction. Upon witnessing this, I sat drifting between Scylla and Charybdis, not knowing whether her introduction had cancelled the need for my little speech. I decided to drink myself a little courage and wait the thing out. A colleague, to whom I confided my efforts at memorization, quickly spread the word that a speech would ensue, and thus my dilemma was "resolved" by fiat. I would no longer have to dread the thought of wasting my efforts at memorization, but I would have to give the speech.

I don't think I made any errors, and those in attendance seemed to put sense to the sounds I had learned to repeat. Whew! was the word that came to me. Still, if I had to make such a speech every week, I do not think I would ever learn the language well.