Floating in the Dead Sea, where you can float without even trying, is amazing!! Ok, so I’ve never done it, but the last weekend of November I got to float in Pink Lake, a really salty lake in Senegal (and if you look at the picture below, you’ll see that from some angles it really does look quite pink!). Pink Lake is said to rival the Dead Sea in saltiness, with some sources saying that it’s even saltier than its more well-known counterpart. It was a crazy feeling floating in the lake, feeling like I was lounging on a floaty and knowing that it was just the water. When I tried to kick as I swam, my legs kept coming up to the surface and kicking out of the water, which was only a problem since it created a lot of splash and I was told to avoid getting the water in my eyes at all cost because it would really sting, being so salty. In the picture above, it looks like I must be floating on something, but I was just floating along on the water. How fun!
A week and a half after these pictures were taken, I was in Florida to get some training in discourse analysis. Discourse analysis is a hard thing to explain, since it’s grammar-ish stuff that we do subconsciously when we talk our own language. It’s how we put sentences together to form paragraphs, stories, etc. If you want some stories that will help you understand what it is, read the blog post that I’ll post right after this one. But if you don’t care that much, here’s an illustration of how it is so amazingly helpful:
When I first arrived in Burkina Faso and was about to start learning the Jula language, it was like I was standing at the shore of Pink Lake – I could see people talking the language and knew that they were saying something, but I wasn’t part of it. As I learned more and more, it was as if I waded out into the lake, getting farther and farther in. When I finished my “official” Jula study, it was as if I could now swim rather comfortably anywhere I wanted to go in the lake. I could talk about anything I wanted to talk about. Other Americans learning Jula now say that my Jula is amazing and wish they could speak like me. But I knew that there was something missing, and now, through beginning to study discourse analysis, I know what it is – depth.
Even if I can swim anywhere I want in the lake of language, up until now the lake has been too salty, making me float. I haven’t been able to get under the surface and explore the subconscious depths of the language. Yes, I’ve been able to communicate whatever I’ve wanted, but it hasn’t been as beautiful and intricate and natural and deep and “normal” as native Jula speakers would say it. So now my discourse analysis training has been like Jill and our other teachers have given me and the others in our class scuba gear or weights on our feet to help us explore the rest of the lake of language that we’ve been missing all this time – we now know how to explore not just the surface of the water, but all the way down to the treasures found at the bottom. I can’t wait to continue scuba diving and figuring out the depths and beauty and uniqueness of Jula that I’ve been missing! And just think – when I start to learn My Language in a few months, I’ll know this all ahead of time and can concentrate on scuba diving and getting to the bottom even as I’m still exploring new territories of the lake of language. Being able to scuba dive in the lake of language will make the translated Word of God and any Bible lessons that we’ll share, not to mention just normal, day-to-day conversations, sound much more normal and right and easy to understand. How fun to scuba dive in the lake of learning, and it’s practical, too!! (And yes, I am a nerd to think that this is fun.)