Meet Saouty Traore, a computer engineer from the Hippodrome suburb of Bamako who really, really wants to speak English well. Meet me, a world trekker from San Diego who really, really wants to speak French well. What do you get when you put us together? Language lessons!!
Kavitha and I met Saouty when he stopped to pick us up in his air-conditioned car during one of the downpours that come out of nowhere. We were walking back to Dabel's house from our favorite cafe, and weren't sure if we could trust a private car, rather than a taxi. It turns out that Saouty is one of the friendliest Malians we've met so far!
He's been to the United States three times: to New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Also, he's been to Canada, - Montreal to be exact - where they also speak French. Since getting involved in computers, he has started to have more and more business ties with the European Union, and he believes that the ability to speak fluent English is one of the best things for businessmen.
So, for our first lesson, back at the cafe, we exchanged greetings. He said, "Vous pouvez parler en francais, et je vais parler en anglais." (You can speak in French, and I will speak in English.) So our conversation alternated between the two languages, until our heads started to spin. He was confused about a couple of idiomatic expressions in English, like "break a leg" for "good luck." Sometimes, literal translations don't make sense. Can you think of any other expressions you use that would be confusing to a foreigner?
So, in the meantime, a bientot. A la prochaine fois, take care!
Monica - A Visit to UNICEF Mali
Jasmine - Rain, Rain, Go Away
Making A Difference - Cracking Down on Population Growth
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