Today was the last day of the Romansch course and our teacher Annatina surprised us with a test. Normally tests aren’t given in this course, yet certificates are given as far as I know to every participant, regardless of his or her success (or lack of it) in the program. I was pleased to get tested, and I did very well. No mark was given or grade, as we wrote the tests on our own and corrected them together. I made eight mistakes (some very minor yet Annatina might have let me get away with them) out of over a hundred questions. In spite of this, my aural skill is still deplorable, as I often have no idea what people are asking me. This is the same in all languages I have studied: I can write the language well, I can translate it well, I can read it well, yet the oral and then aural skills fall far behind. Let’s hope I can learn from the two Romansch CD’s I bought on this trip. I think that there is no hope for me in level six if I can’t understand what is being said to me most of the time.
During each sera finala, or final evening, all the classes and their guests gather together for dinner, entertainment and singing afterwards. Each class puts on a skit or recites a poem as the entertainment. Our class wrote limericks earlier this week, and we used the teachers and our fellow students as our subjects. There are now ten students in my class and we wrote fourteen limericks, alone or with a group, for the final evening. We voted on the ten best to recite for this evening and I am very happy to report that the two I wrote on my own were selected by the class. So I suppose that is proof of some sort that I have improved my written language skills since my first day in class last Monday. One group even wrote a limerick about me:
El porta mintga di in T-Shirt different,
El vegn da lunsch naven.
El ha mai freid
mintgaton enquera el il plaid.
Ils lungatgs en prighel ha el bugen.
This translates to:
He wears a different T-shirt every day
He comes from far away
He is never cold
Sometimes he looks up a word
He likes endangered languages
The first, second and fifth lines *do* rhyme in Romansch, as the final T is not pronounced in “different”. I read the first limerick (which I wrote) about Salvatore Stagliano, the level one livewire teacher who runs around like a mouse and has a voice as loud as a lion.
After the performance by the members of one of the two level one classes, a student made a speech and she was in tears as she thanked her teacher. I relived my tender moments four years ago after my first course. I felt like bawling myself, near the end of the two-week course at the sera finala. I had such a great time here, I did not want to go, and it is that feeling that keeps me coming back. The people who put on this course are heroes to the Romansch language, and this passion shows through.
Tomorrow however I must catch the 08.06 bus outside the Casa Caltgera to Glion (Ilanz) and then catch the Rhätische Bahn (the beloved red train of Graubünden) to Chur, where I will catch another train to the Zürich main station, and change trains again to the airport station. My flight to Paris is at 12.35, and then I have to find my way to the Montparnasse train station, where I will catch a TGV train to Guingamp in Brittany. Let’s hope I make it. You recall my anxiety in the mail I sent before I left for Switzerland.
I do not know if the Breton course will have computers available for the students, yet I am inclined to think they would. If not, I will just have to write more postcards. And I wouldn’t mind that at all.