07 November 2005

Speaking in tongues

It has been over a month now that we finished our Bulgarian lessons, and I feel that I am steadily losing the little I have learned. Everyone at work speaks English very well, and on the weekends I tend to hang out with my MBAEC colleagues. I do try to use my few words in stores and restaurants, but—as is the case in many major cities around the world—the young people in these jobs usually posses passable English. At this point I am resigned to the fact I will never really learn Bulgarian.

That being said, I did have an encouraging experience on Sunday. Instead of going to the same ex-pat church I’ve been attending, I went to a charismatic Bulgarian church. It was founded in 1989 by a young, energetic Bulgarian guy who studied in the US, and has grown to several hundred mainly young, Bulgarian members who meet every week in a movie theatre. As expected, much of the service consisted of singing ‘praise’ songs which were projected on a screen in Bulgarian along with the original* English lyrics. Between this and the few words that I already knew, I was able to figure out the meaning of words in the songs, and due to the repetition I was actually able to confidently sing along in a couple of choruses.

There is something about singing that makes language easier; for the most part you don’t have to worry about emphasis and inflection—it’s determined by the music. For example, opera singers regularly sing flawlessly in multiple languages. This brings me to my new business idea: language lessons presented through music. You could effortlessly acquire vocabulary and pronunciation without the usual tripping over long words. What do you think?

* I think I’m safe in saying that most contemporary Christian music come from the US.
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