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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday

a chart similar to the one in my book.
photo credit:  http://www.cedar.buffalo.edu/script/Dscript.html
I was studying Hindi earlier. I was listening to a track... and having trouble. The speaker was conjagating a verb and I was having real trouble making out the consanant. Was that a "kuh" or a "duh"? The words were written there, but the were in the devangari script and I couldn't remember what some of them sounded like. I thought I should get the book I normally looked in to learn the script and it hit me if I was in like an Indian market trying to talk to someone, knowing the devangari script won't help me.(Though it's not going to hurt me either.) Ryan doesn't actually know how to read or write in devangari, he knows the version that's transliterated (is that the right word?) into our alphabet.9 But I am comfortable with reading and writing.

I took French for five years. I never could really understand it spoken to me. I'd pick out a few words and use context to figure out what was being said... but I didn't really understand. I could read it pretty well, write simple essays, speak it well... but my listening skills were sorely lacking.

And it hit me today. When I was a baby I had chronic ear infections. Both of my ear drums burst several times before they went away in adolescence.

That means when I was acquiring my primary language as a toddler, I didn't hear the same as my peers.

Obviously, I managed. But I know I hear differently even now; when I hear partially, my brain often guesses to fill in the gaps... unconsciously. My hearing still goes in and out, but I only notice because a) my loved ones tell me I suddenly get absurdly loud and b) I notice I mishear or have to ask people to repeat themselves more often. I also get what I call "background noise deafness", where I hear everything at the same volume. So I'll be like sitting in the cafeteria and everyone is talking (and hearing each other fine) and my ears can't pick out the voice of the person two feet to my right from the rest of the din. Unless I concentrate on their lips. It's not that I lipread, per se, it's just that by focusing on the movement of lips, I can more intelligently realize what the noise means... it's hard to explain.

Especially since I don't notice it much. I'm no means deaf, I typically function completely normally.

Lydia, back in college. (don't have a photo of me with mine)
But then something like learning Hindi comes along, and I realize that those childhood ear infections are still affecting my everyday life. And, since my brain uses clues of what I know to intelligently fill in gaps... I'm really fettered with learning Hindi; it's so foreign my brain has no frame of reference! But with persistence and immersion, I'll develop one. I mean, they have several consonant sounds we don't. It's weird, and my tongue feels...jerky. Like when I was trying to learn to play guitar and I couldn't switch from chord to chord fluidly, so there was a half second pause while I re-positioned my fingers. If I'd stuck with the guitar, I'm sure I'd have developed fluidity... and in time I won't have to consciously re-position my tongue to make the right word, only to have it come out staccato so Ryan laughs at me.

Anyway, you may be wondering why this belongs in a Thankful Thursday post. Well, realizing this made me realize how much things we thought we were past affect us daily. How experiences and environments shape us without our knowledge... so that toddler ear infections you never think about make foreign language acquisition more challenging.

And how does that make me grateful? Well, I'm thankful that God numbers the hairs on my head... and knows just how much scar tissue my eardrums have. He counted every tear the infections caused me. Things like this remind me how limited my perspective is and how perfect is His. He never misses a single detail, which means I can lean on His sovereignty.

And it makes me thankful the human brain was made so adaptable. Like a stroke victim whose neural pathways re-wire, my limitations didn't keep me from functioning. I hear slightly stranger than average, but you wouldn't guess it if I didn't tell you.

I'm also grateful I had parents and doctors who took care of me then, so the damage didn't get extensive.

And I'm grateful to be moving to a country where English is widely spoken so if my Hindi fails me I'll probably muddle through.

And I'm grateful I have readers who love me even if I blog less consistently than normal. (Right?... I had nothing new to say for Wedding Wednesday anyway.)

Love to you all!

Linking up:
He Sows, She Sows
The Ramblings of Mrs Hargrave, 
Kate Says Stuff
a punk, a pumpkin and a peanutThe Fontenot Four
Thankful Thursdays ButtonThankfulThursday











5 comments:

  1. I love your thankfulness; it is the beginning of all joy! Thanks so much for this post!
    Barbara, visiting from www.mylifeasanadventure.com

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  2. Such encouraging lines and reminded me to be thankful and recently I myself suffering from mild deafness I know what you go through but still our God gives us awesome grace to sustain everything. And dont worry about hindi come here We are there to speak hindi with you

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  3. Enjoyed your post very much and the perspective here to think about the past and its relation to now. Thanks for sharing for Thankful Thursday! Have a great day!
    Bethany

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  4. Thanks so much for linking up with me. I can't imagine learning Hindi - or any language that was so, well, foreign. It would be very strange to learn something like that since I, like you, have no frame of reference. I imagine that the difficulty must be magnified by the damage to your ears over time. Still though, it would be very interesting to learn and I'm impressed!!

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  5. All I can say is a big AMEN. I love your heart and your thankfulness. You are a beautiful person - inside & out!
    Hope you had a great weekend! <3 Thanks for linking up!

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Thanks so much for comments, they delight me! Please keep your comments civil and while I read every comment, I reserve the right to delete ones that are especially negative. Thanks!

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