Saturday, 29 June 2013

Most things get done tomorrow but not

"Most things get done tomorrow but not." ~ me.

I’ve been here for about two months now. My status so far… the pace of my walk is still too fast, my Derja is abysmally poor, my Kabyle equates to French with hand signs and I can’t decode men/women interactions.

I have noticed that I use the future tense a great deal (rah this, rah that) while the Derja speakers I’ve met so far don’t use it that much, even little. I’m of course thus far translating my English and French thoughts into a broken tongue and this is where my future tense-abuse stems from.  In English and French, we use the future tense quite frequently I now realise.

Instead of the future it is the active participle that I’m hearing being used, or the simple present, in situations where my corrupted ears expect a sawfa equivalent (the active participle corresponds or is similar to the English present continuousI’m ….-ing).  If I were an el-Watan newspaper journalist I would conclude that Algerians don’t project themselves in the future, are stuck in a present where an unstable political scene, a human-rights-abuse ridden society and a suffocating social situation rule. If I were an Independent journalist I would conclude that Algerians like most Africans and Middle-Easterners unless they're from Qatar can’t express subtleties… however, I ain’t either.

Tense usage in Arabic is quite fascinating I find, in that it is so supple. Although we find strictly speaking the past, present, future, and their continuum, their use does not correspond to the Anglo-French-LatinLangs version, pardon my truisms. I should give examples here but I won't. Anyhow, perhaps tense in Derja is just as lithe, and perhaps I haven’t figured out the future’s place.

It just dawned on me that whenif one day I finally find Algerian futuristic fiction, will the story be told in the past or the present tense, or will it occur in a continuum whose extremes are imperceptible?

Perhaps this different tense perception explains why most of the things that I’m told will happen between now and tomorrow -which to me means the day after- remain undone in the future.


MnarviDZ said...

This post and your recent tweets are interesting. I find it refreshing to hear people speak about things which look normal (routine) to us and which they "discover". It pushes us to consider things with under different perspectives.

PS: I don't understand how you use "rah" everywhere! :)

Nadia Ghanem said...

Hi MnarviDZ! Thanks for popping by :)

I think i've figured out some of my rah. I've been having discussions, where as a newbee, I'm being asked about what I will do here, what are my plans, so i pretty much only have the future on my mind. While people here are filling me in on what Algeria has been for them so far, and so tell me stories in the past and the present.

However, even for things like 'i will come tomorrow' which i would say 'rah nji redwa', i'm hearing 'ani jaye redwa'. Things like that :)