Jodie and I have been living in Sofia, Bulgaria, for a year and a half but our knowledge of Bulgarian is still very rudimentary. You would think that we would be able to conduct a simple conversation in the language, but that is beyond our capabilities. Jodie is an expert at ordering taxis by phone, and giving them directions to our home or to the office. And we can order food when a restaurant menu is only in Bulgarian. But other than that, we're pretty stuck.
Why is this the case? Everything is just excuses of course, but listed here are the Top Ten Reasons We Never Learned to Speak Bulgarian.
1. The Cyrillic Alphabet = Even after all this time we read words slowly, especially getting confused with the letters that are the same in English but have a different sound in Bulgarian.
2. We work in English.
3. Young people in Bulgaria speak English, so in most cases there's someone who can help you in stores.
4. When we manage to say something correctly in Bulgarian, even if it's "We only know a little bit of Bulgarian," we get a full Bulgarian sentence in response that we don't understand at all.
5. We don't need to keep up with the news here, watch Bulgarian television or read Bulgarian newspapers.
6. We shop for food in the supermarkets. Even after struggling in the beginning, we realized that most of the spice bottles had English text on the back.
7. The movies are not dubbed.
8. Our private Bulgarian teacher focused on grammar, and not on conversational skills. We tried to refocus our studies, but gave up after a year.
9. At our age...
10. Our sojourn in Bulgaria is a temporary one.
Excuses, excuses. But that's the way it is.