07 April 2012

Expanding the Repertoire

When I was learning French, I loved learning idioms and expressions.  You know, those cultural phrases that mean something deeper than just the normal definition of the word.  For example, in the US we say 'Stop beating about the bush' . . . no one is actually out beating bushes . . . what we mean is 'hey, quit avoiding the issue and say it already!'

So now that I'm (as informally as possible) learning (or rather 'picking up as I go') Hausa, it's time to begin expanding the repertoire to include colloquialisms.


On Thursday I was having a cup of coffee with some of the Nigerien guys that work in the OR.  The nurse anesthetist that helps me with burn care was taking his break, so I had a good half an hour to chat with Tsoho, M. and some of the others.

It all started because of who did or didn't happen to make the coffee that day.  When I said it wasn't me, M. squinched up his face and said 'Woais dfkl alkvjs dlkjfawijv kasd vlka jwglkjs!!'

Everyone laughed.

Except me.

'What???' I asked.

He spoke  slower.  'Ing duk jikinna kunaynay, bazun yerda ba!'


I stared at him.

He repeated, 'Ing . . . duk . . . jikinna . . . kunaynay . . . bazun . . . yerda . . . ba!'


'What does that mean?'

'Even if my body was covered with ears, I wouldn't agree.'

'WHAT?!?!'  I asked laughing.

M. went on to explain the expression . . . if my body was nothing but ears, I still wouldn't believe what I was hearing.

He repeated it for me a few more times; I wrote it down and repeated it to nearly every Nigerien I spoke to.

The next day I came back in and announced 'ING DUK JIKINNA KUNAYNAY, BAZUN YERDA BA!


My colleagues applauded my efforts.

When the laughter and impressed cheers quieted down my Tsoho spoke up, 'Kina jin Hausa kamar jahkin Kanno!'

I understand Hausa like a donkey from Kanno (Nigeria).  They've assured me it's a compliment.

3 comments:

Shal said...

Hopefully they're not horsing around with you...yes, I know it's awful! Ha! Happy Easter!

Bethany Reamer said...

not sure how cool it is to be compared to a donkey!!  but this made me smile =)  i still LOVE your stories.

Bobnrobn said...

My dad used to say = "Don't be a dumb ass!"  So I guess it's okay to be a donkey, but not a dumb one!  xoxoxoxoxox