I love walking through the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis. It holds the largest concentration of Somalis in the US. You see Somalis everywhere, smell the amazing blend of spices coming from apartment windows, and hear the beautiful language.
So I take the opportunity to speak at least a little Somali as I walk through the neighborhood. My Somali is still not very strong, but I know how to greet and meet people. As an ecolinguist I love to make connections with people from different cultures, and Somalis are open and easy to talk to.
Along the way I saw a young man, sitting by himself, and I said hello.
Maalin wanaagsan! Nabad? “Good afternoon! How’s it going?”
It got pretty awkward after that as I learned what it really means to connect with a community—every side of it.
Loving language when it’s awkward