This is a semi-shameless plug about the interview that Daniel & Tonya (of the Hebrew & Greek Reader blog) conducted with me. It’s in a 20 Question format. I figured that since I agreed to the interview, I might as well let my readers know about it. You may even learn something new about me. But please, don’t go on a crusade to get me to like sweet potatoes. I assure you, you will utterly fail.
Daniel & Tonya, over at Hebrew and Greek Reader came up with a terrific analogy. Read their take on why Christo van der Merwe (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa) is The Bruce Lee of Biblical Hebrew. I concur.
Note: Christo is my doctoral advisor.
My last day in Stellenbosch was spent getting final things worked out with the International office at the University and spending some more time with Christo and Andrea (the American student who just moved to South Africa). We took a drive out to one of the vineyards for a winetasting and then went to a berry farm for cheesecake and coffee. Christo says the berry farm has the best cheesecake in the world (and he supports this claim by saying that even Bob Pritchard and the Logos guys always ask to go there when they are in the area). Unfortunately, they have changed the recipe of the cheesecake (only Christo could have noticed that) and he says it is now “really good” but maybe no longer the “best in the world.” He says they took out some of the creaminess. It tasted superb to Andrea and me. The areas around Stellenbosch are just stunning. There are views of the mountains wherever you look. Most of the vineyards are nestled up onto the lower slopes of the moutains and have restaurants with outdoor eating areas. What a lovely way to relax! But we did talk business while we were eating our cheesecake. My research schedule seems to be headed in the right direction, so I was glad for the positive feedback. Continue reading
Today I overcame numerous obstacles (and a few fears) in order to get to Table Mountain in Capetown and to hike up and on the mountain. I had nearly exhausted all avenues for finding someone to take me to Capetown. Finally, a local tour group organizer took pity on me (after stopping by every day for the last week). He found a seat for me in a tour van going to Capetown for the day with a guide. Jennie (the guide) took me along “because they had room.” The paying customers were three folks from Sweden (the two men were here to try to work out some kind of exchange program between a university in Sweden and Stellenbosch, the third person was the wife of one of the men). On the way we passed a vineyard that also has a wild game area. Apparently the owner has a game farm somewhere else and brought some of the animals here. It was quite amazing to see wildebeest, springbok, zebra, ostrich, and a few other species at a waterhole just outside Stellenbosch! Continue reading
Dinner with Mrs. de la Bat was delightful. We met at 7 pm and walked to a restaurant that a friend recommended to her (Beads Restaurant). We sat outside in the garden area. She decided on a dish of curry and I ordered a traditional South African dish called bobotie. The food was absolutely delicious, but the conversation was even better. The lovely thing about eating here is that you are never rushed. Food takes longer to come to you, but you never mind. We sat and talked for over an hour after the last crumb of food left the table. Continue reading
Stellenbosch Update #12: Mrs. de la Bat
I spent some time talking with Mrs. de la Bat this morning and she told me wonderful stories of living on the game reserve on the Etosha Pan. The pan or plain is full of amazing animals, and she is full of amazing stories!
First, let’s get the story behind the elephant feet. Her husband was the head game warden at Etosha. When an elephant bull becomes bested by another bull, he is put out of the herd. This bull may wander out of the reserve and then often becomes a nuisance to the farmers adjacent to the reserve. There is an attempt to drive the bull elephant away (usually on horseback), but sometimes they are unable to drive the elephant away. When this happens, the game warden is called in and if he cannot get the bull to go back to the reserve (elephants have a mind to themselves!) he has to take the bull and shoot it. This does not happen often. So, this was the only elephant that Mr. de la Bat had to shoot in this way. They took the feet and cut them off, sliced the back of the foot, took out the meat, stitched the foot back up, and then cured them with salt. The rear foot is larger than the front one. They are immense, so the elephant must have been enormous.
Monday and Tuesday were busy with mundane things. I have read about six books on cognitive linguistics, relevance theory, vocabulary acquisition, and translation theory. While most of it is pretty technical, there have been a few little quotes from one book (Understanding Utterances by Diane Blakemore) which I thought were worthy of a wider audience.
“Poetic utterances are distinguished from the more mundane cases of communication by the way that they encourage the hearer to take a greater share of the interpretation process, so that the extra effort she invests is rewarded by a wide array of very weak implicatures, which she is encouraged to explore.” [Implicature: a term introduced by Grice for any aspect of meaning that could not be analysed in truth-conditional terms]. This one was actually for Ros, since she works so hard to make people see the value of poetry.
“To say a phenomena is ordinary and everyday is not necessarily to say that it is uninteresting.”
“Metaphor is the dream-work of language” (Blakemore is actually quoting Davidson here).
I guess all the other notes I have that I thought were so wonderful are pretty interesting only to me, so I’ll move on. Continue reading
Before I start talking about the trip, I have two little tidbits to share. One is about bells and the other about bell-shaped things that fall from trees. Early on Sunday morning (but not on the other days) there are several times when the church bells ring. I think the idea is to get you out of bed. They start at 6:30 am. The first ringing is for about 3 or 4 minutes. Then at 7 am they ring a few times. Then at 7:30 they ring for a few minutes again. Around 8:30 some services start, so there is more ringing. And then the grand finale is at 9:00 am when they ring for about 5 minutes straight. If you are not in church yet you sure do feel guilty hearing all those bells! The second little item is about the acorns that are on the oaks here. Because it is so temperate here the oaks do not have the nice dense grain that develops in the US and in Europe. It is a rather porous wood and not highly thought of (especially for wine casks- those have to be brought in from far away). But they make up for this unfortunate circumstance with their little acorns. They have little caps that are furry. And the caps extend down about halfway onto the elongated acorn. So, they are quite comical looking. They are heavy and will fall hard on your head if you are not careful. The ground around these trees looks like it is full of furry little gnome heads.
I haven’t given much of a description of the grocery market yet. Here’s a glimpse at the similarities and hilarious differences. The store I am shopping in is Checkers. It is a nice grocery store (at least I think it is nice). The first section you enter is a produce section. The variety is quite amazing. Of course there is the local fruit, but not everything is in season yet (so avocados are coming from somewhere else). Also, there are citrus varieties from Israel. But the most typical fruits are bananas, apples, mangoes, figs, grapes, strawberries, watermelons, and lots of pulpy fruits that I have no idea what to call. There are tomatoes and onions and potatoes. You pick your fruit, put it in a bag and someone weights it there in the produce section.
On to bakery. Here you can find all your breads and sweets. I haven’t really purchased anything, so I don’t know much about the baked goods. Mrs. de la Bat put some bread in my room and I’ve been eating that. I do know that most people don’t eat white bread. They will save white bread for grilling on the braai as a special treat. The bakery section also has pies. Not dessert pies, but meat pies. I have tried the chicken and mushroom pie, and have steered clear of the steak and kidney pie. Not all pies are alike though. The pies in the store are pretty blah. The pies at King Pie are better. And the pies at some of the eateries are really, really good (Greengate has a great chicken pie). Continue reading
Braai at the van der Merwe home. Christo picked me up at 7pm and we drove a few minutes to a neighborhood on the outskirts of the town center. He lives in a nice one story house with a detached garage. As we arrived I noticed beautiful guinea fowl in the yard. They looked exotic and spectacular and I remarked that I wanted to get a photo at some time. He made a funny noise and said they are a nuisance to him because they mess up his yard (like Canada Geese for us). Continue reading