Thursday, March 18, 2010

Verbal Acrobatics

The Nepali language is very un-English. It requires mental gymnastics to construct a sentence. In fact, my instructor used the phrase "verbal acrobatics" to describe the unique ways Nepali verbs can be tweaked to convey additional information. Just adding one syllable to a conjugated verb communicates the idea that the person just discovered this thought ("I just discovered that I like eating raw meat.")

Nepalis will inevitably complicate a sentence, if possible. Why say something using only three syllables (ma baschhu - I sit) when you can use seven (ma basirahekochhu - I continue to be in a state of sitting)?

Yesterday in class I gave a presentation on economics. Ignoring for a moment the fact that I know very little about this subject, I am pleased to say I was able to give the following example of supply & demand in flawless Nepali - "If the number of available cars is larger than the number of people who want cars, then the price of cars will be inexpensive." To give you an idea of how this sentence is constructed in Nepali (and why it took me 10 minutes to write it) here's the literal translation back into English - "If available car's number than car-wanting people's number big became, then car's price inexpensive would be."

My brain needs an ice pack.