Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Language Lessons

Had dinner tonight with Barbara who I must brag about as she has her PhD in linguistics. Over dinner, she casually asked me if two words were cognates?


I had the horrid feeling of when the fifth grade teacher asks you a question and you didn't do the reading. I confessed to not knowing what a cognate is -- and was told it's two words whose root comes from the same mother language.  The English word cold  is a cognate of German kalt. (Ok, so I cut and pasted that last sentence from dictionary.com)

We both had the same entree -- it was a wonderful "pasta trio" -- oh wait, trio and tre are cognates -- so this was parpardelle with mushrooms, rigatoni with something and fettucine with hot sausage. Then it came with some broccoli rabe cooked in chicken broth. We both cleaned our plates.

Barbara had a second glass of wine, and I had panna cotta -- lemon -- for dessert. I don't know what I thought panna cotta was -- back to the cognates... I knew panna (or thought) was "bread"  so I believed it was some kind of bread pudding. When I asked for a description, it was totally different. Imagine a very creamy rich lemon flan. This place put fresh strawberries on top which, for January, were quite goo.

Over dinner, Barbara said something about bravado and pronounced it bra-vah-DOH. I asked her how she pronounces it since I thought it is bra-VAH- do. We then both insisted that the other person must be right. Barbara said she has a reader's pronunciation so she knows the words, but maybe not the pronunciation.

When I got back, Mary had called and I told her this and she said she used to think a soldering gun was prounucing a soul-dering gun.

On the way home, I had my final language lesson. I asked the cab driver what language he was speaking and he told me something I couldn't understand like "soo-zoo" and then he later told me that what he was speaking is a dialect of Mandingo (also written Mandinka) -- he is from Guinea in West Africa and it's a language millions of people speak. So that was interesting.

A lovely evening and I go to bed tonight just a little bit smarter than when I woke up! Tomorrow is mani-pedi-waxing day so tomorrow I'll go to bed just a little bit better looking so it shouldn't be too many more days until I'm just about perfect.