Today at work I joined up a young man who used his Indonesian passport as his ID. A lifetime ago Bahasa Indonesia was the language I studied at secondary school, so as the young man seemed nice, I ventured a ‘selamat sore’ to him. Meaning  good afternoon in Indonesian, it was in fact before noon, and I knew I had the greeting wrong even before I spoke it. I hoped however that he would appreciate that I had spoken bahasa, even if he had doubts over my ability to tell the time.

He was thrilled. Encouraged by his response, I explained that I had learned the language at school and then promptly rolled out a few more words of the entirely random sort I found hidden in the deep recesses of my brain from all those years ago: bagus, baik,and jalan*, I said.  He grinned. I grinned. He told me I had great pronunciation.

I always thought I had no ear for languages, and there is every chance that I don’t and he was only being polite, but regardless, he made my day.

A year ago I was told about the language courses on the duolingo site: The lessons were well designed and were a perfect fit for my needs. They were also free. I signed up for French.

For not one nano second do I think I am a natural with languages but the encounter with the young Indonesian man has inspired me to continue persevering with my course. I know when I visit France again if I can say a wee bit beyond oui and merci, even if it is not pronounced perfectly, it will be well received. Terima kasih**, young man.

*bagus; baik – good; jalan – road

**Terima kasih – thank you

PS (do you do PS in blog posts?) Eleven hours after publishing this post, I received my invoice from WordPress. It was in English and Bahasa Indonesia. I am apparently now bi-lingual.