Saturday, September 06, 2008


We are leaving Penang tomorrow, after a week of rain. It is AMAZINGLY wet, and especially today. Today the rain alternated between heavy, very heavy, and torrential. Penang is usually hot. We were unprepared for feeling slightly chilly most of the time. How strange.

Today we went to Little India again, for breakfast (while the rain was merely just getting started), and although I kept an eye out, I did not spot Grandma again. We took several books with us to sell at one of the second-hand bookstores on our way back, but accidentally popped into a different (new) bookstore as well, and ended up buying more than we sold.

One of the books I bought is called "Learn Tamil in 30 days." I am fascinated by the written language, which looks totally impossible and also somehow manages to look like how it sounds. Buying this book does not mean that I will actually study Tamil, you understand. It just means that if I suddenly get an irresistible urge to do so, I will already have a book. One should always be prepared for these things.

The book was written in 1967. Unfortunately the pronunciation guide is almost useless (why don't these books ever use the phonetic alphabet?) offering such hints as. . . well, I don't have the book with me right now, but an example would be something like an explanation telling you that one 'a' sound sounds like the 'a' in 'father' and another like the 'a' in 'about.' To make things even more confusing, there are (if I remember correctly) 12 vowels and 18 consonants, but 247 letters.

I decided I will need a better pronunciation guide if I ever want to learn the sounds of Tamil, but never mind. The phrases and words in the book might be useful one day. You never know when I might need to say, for example,

"Yonder! I see an elephant standing!"

In fact, inspired by this book, I am thinking of incorporating the word 'yonder' into my daily vocabulary. So even if I do not learn any Tamil, at least my English will have been enhanced.

And now it is time to wade back to our hotel.


Andaloo said...

So does that mean yonder is beyond yond or just yonderier?

Megane~kun said...

'Yonder!' must be the equivalent of 'Hora!' in Japanese. Maybe...

Although that sentence made me stifle a giggle.

Maybe the best way to start is to learn expressions, rather than the whole language itself. That's what I did for Nihongo.

So, does it flood there?