On my 50th day in Jordan, I walked over to the gardens of Jordan University to film an episode around mid-day with Rawan, a new friend I had made since moving to Al-Jubeiha. As soon as I met Rawan, I hoped she would one day be a guest on the Lernen to Talk Show, and I was so happy when she accepted. She was studying German when we met, and she was very eager to practice. I felt like she had a similar attitude to mine when I was learning German. She liked playing with the language and laughing about it. If I had to pick one Lernen to Talk Show guest for my improv team, it would be Rawan. She yes-anded this conversation to levels beyond what anyone else I’ve interviewed would have tolerated. But hey, no one ever said the Lernen to Talk Show had to make any sense. She also happened to speak English incredibly well, so this conversation we had on camera was probably the longest we ever went speaking Arabic.
0:55 – This is what it looks like to learn a new word. I never forgot good ol’ برنامج from that day forth.
1:08 – At this point I hadn’t quite mastered the way you express the word “this”. In Arabic, the word for “this”, ( هذا / hatha or هذه / hathahee ), depending on the gender of the thing you’re talking about, is always followed by the word “the” ( ال / al ). What I said was “hathahee jamyaa“, when I should have said “hathahee al jamyaa”. This is a pretty subtle distinction, as you can hear by the way Rawan barely seems to say it. That’s the microphone’s fault. She’s definitely saying “al”, it’s just hard to hear.
1:19 – I wish I was less intense about this. It happens in practically every video! Yes, Rawan, I admit you are absolutely right. “It’s awkward.” Sorry!
1:51 – Here I’m trying to show off my newly learned phrases for describing geography. A swing and a miss.
2:00 – Just like at 1:08, I totally miss an al / ال here. The word كل / kul, meaning “each” or “every”, is always followed by an al / ال.
2:14 – This is true! Commuting is a huge part of Jordanian life.
2:25 – This is me struggling with the pronunciation of the letter ق, which is kind of like the sound of gulping while exhaling.
2:48 – Don’t ever actually look at the sun.
2:55 – I love the word بدر / bedr – I wish we had a one-word way to describe the full moon in English.
3:15 – I’m very grateful Rawan was willing to play along with my weird improv game.
3:28 – What I was trying to say was, “We should be swimming!”
3:41 – This is what I get for trying to be funny. The conversation has now unravelled beyond all comprehension.
3:45 – And yet Rawan just goes with it. You’re a champ, Rawan! Lernen to Talk Show guest hall of famer.
4:05 – And here I am trying to get this thing back on the rails. I’m kind of sorry I did! It was getting pretty wacky there.
4:08 – That’s me subtly checking the time.
5:46 – Very good question, Rawan.
6:20 – One of these days I’ll actually say مع السلامة / ma salaama correctly – For those keeping score, I’ve pronounced it correctly a total of zero times on the show. I somehow didn’t know there was an “a” sound at the end, even after all these weeks.
6:22 – Bold, but true.