Pullover Psychology

Deon Joubert came running out of the house and shouted to his older brother Etienne: “Etienne! Mom says you must tracker tray on!”

Etienne knew exactly what Deon meant: It was winter in Harrismith, the sun was going down, we were playing outside, so Ma Joyce was saying he must put on a jersey.

Afrikaans: “Trek ‘n trui aan.”

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jersey, cardigan, sweater, pullover

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Pullover psychology is not as easy as some think. When your Ma said you had to tracker tray on it changed the whole dynamics of the important stuff that was going on right then. The interruption might mean you’re no longer King of the Castle but end up as the Dirty Rascal. And that’s if the dreaded interrupting jersey was brought to you. If you were summoned inside to fetch it yourself that was a DISASTER and you would rather spend five minutes arguing with your Ma about how you weren’t cold than spend the two minutes it would take to run in and pull it on.

Many Ma’s seem to have a strong need to thermo-regulate their offspring and just don’t understand “catching your death” was never nearly as scary to us as losing our place.

Anyway, statistics I just invented prove that of the 487 million kids who have been told they’ll catch their death of a cold, only one ever did. And he recovered.

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Accused of being chicken once, Deon was indignant:

I aren’t a bloody chicken cos I aren’t got fevvers! he protested quite rightly.

Wat Sê Jy?

or “scusi?

Quora asked this question recently: “How do you know when you are fluent in a language?”

I answered thus: My guess is usually you won’t really know. Native speakers are usually polite and will flatter you with a better assessment than is true. Maybe a better question to ask yourself is “When am I fluent enough?”

My guess? When you’re enjoying using it and not really thinking about it. I am fluent enough in Afrikaans and can happily hold any conversation with someone who only speaks that language. But even though I have spoken it since I was little, no native speaker would mistake me for a native Afrikaans speaker.

Confession: I laboured under the mistaken impression that I was completely fluent. No-one told me otherwise. Then at age fourteen I went to Namibia (South West Africa as it was) and visited third cousins I had never met before. Within two sentences one of them blurted out “Jis! Jy kan hoor jy’s ’n rooinek!” (Boy, You can hear you’re English-speaking!) and my bubble burst. I’m now amazed I was so deluded!

Another case in point: My 94-yr old Dad speaks “fluent Italian” which he learnt in Italy in WW2. I asked an Italian-born schoolfriend a few years ago “How well does the old man actually speak Eyetie?” and he said “Really well. Really”. Somehow I think that’s politeness. I mean, two years in Italy seventy years ago when he was already 22yrs-old – ?? How likely is that? But I have no way of telling, so I’m happy to go with Claudio’s assessment! Thanks, figlio!

Another: I often get complimented for speaking good Zulu. This is definitely not true and is just polite people’s way of saying “Thank you for trying to speak isiZulu to me”.

ngiyabonga

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