Teach Abroad - Republic of Georgia, Teach Abroad Programs

“I Love It.” What Language Says About a Culture

by Kelli Yoder, Greenheart Travel Teach Abroad Participant in Georgia

From what I’ve gathered, in the Georgian language, when you want to express how you feel about something—a food, a person, a country, a shot of Russian cognac—you have two options:

1. Me miqvars. – I love it.

2. Me ar miqvars. – I don’t love it.

Now, obviously, I know about 12 phrases total in this language, so please take that into consideration as you weigh my sweeping generalizations. But in our brief Georgian classes, our desire to use other adjectives/verbs—”like” primarily—was met with complete dissuasion from our Georgian teacher.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, because I’m having such trouble expressing myself to my host family, my co-teachers, the other places I find myself as I go with the flow in my new life. I’m very much concerned about using the wrong phrase and finding that I’ve scorned my entire host family for years to come, or something horrible like that. It took me a good 20+ years of speaking English to master the nuances necessary to describe my feelings about things with just the right, careful combination of honesty and politeness. (e.g. Q: Do you like my new haircut? A: You have the most beautiful hair. It looks great parted on the left side like that.)

But where like/dislike and love are concerned, I feel like I’m sort of safe on this issue in Georgian. Because all I know how to say is that I love it! And I am not lying when I say I don’t love Russian cognac. Or tch’a-tch’a. Plus I think my facial expressions say it for me.

But I also like what this says about the Georgian people. Politeness is ingrained into their everyday conversations. Hospitality is their number one concern. Putting other people’s feelings first is expected. (Again, sweeping generalizations.)

The point is—Isn’t it amazing what language says about a culture?

Wow, I guess I did just talk about my feelings. I want to describe where I am and what my family and school are like, but I’ve got so many great pictures to do that for me! That you may never see…:) Sigh.

The basics: I live about 40 steps from my school. My host mother and father Oruli and Amiran have a son, Irakli, and he and his wife, Manana, live here also. As do their two kids, Amiko and Maia. Amiko is turning 6 on Feb. 18 (my mom totally conveyed that to me with motions and a few numbers. Take that not-speaking-the-same-language!). Maia is like… 2. They’re all very kind and feed me all the time and have a big, beautiful house and have a European toilet. My mother and I made ketchapuri together tonight. For meal number five. Or six maybe…

I work here. I’m teaching ages 10-19, all with varying degrees of English skills. The kids thus far are a bit starstruck and so I can get away with stumbling through lessons. I hope to establish a rhythm after a few weeks.

See photos from Kelli’s first few weeks on her blog…

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.

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