Thursday, December 08, 2011

Vocabulary at the British Museum

I spent much of the day today at the British Museum. On my first visit, I went to see the things I knew I was supposed to see, if that makes sense. I saw the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon Marbles, the Assyrian Lion Hunt reliefs, Egyptian mummies, and so on.

The second time, I mostly went to the Relic show.

(medieval tiles showing scenes from Jesus' childhood.) So today, I figured I'd wander around and see things I hadn't seen or really looked at before. I didn't really have any strong sense, but when I walked in, there was a "what's on" electronic thing showing the mini-tours in different areas, so I decided to give one a try. And it was good, so I gave another a try, and so on.

I went on mini-tours of the Japan gallery, the Africa Gallery, the Mexico Gallery, the Medieval Europe gallery, and the Assyrian Nimrod palace gallery. They were great! I mostly saw and learned about things I hadn't really looked at before, and I learned new stuff on every tour and had a good time.

(Aztec mask built on a real skull, I think) While I was waiting for the Mexico gallery tour to begin, at the sign in the living and dying gallery, a man asked the guide what a "seal" was. I thought, that's odd, because I didn't hear an accent in the question so I thought it was an English speaker who hadn't seen many animals. So the guide started to explain the seal, and after a moment the man said, "una foca?"

And I said, "Exactly, una foca!" And then I thought, holy cow, where did that come from? I mean, it's been forever since I spoke Spanish regularly, and "foca" isn't exactly a common vocabulary word, but when I heard it in that context, I knew that's what it meant. I wouldn't have been able to produce it, or even to recognize it independently, I bet, but in the context, I did. (He was looking at a sealskin parka, turned out.)

From the palace at Nimrod, a falcon headed god thing.

I haven't given a lot of details about the Abbey, but I thought I'd post a few pictures. If you recognize it, please don't name it so that it's not googleable. This is a picture out my bedroom window early in the morning in early December. I wanted to show the frost on the lawn.

Up close, you see the inner gate. Down the drive, you can see between the trees a building called the gatehouse. Then there's green and another tiny gate in the distance. The main drive is just under a mile from the entrance to the Abbey to the far gate, and that's mostly where I went to play outside. (Sorry things aren't quite straight. I was in a smallish window.)

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures and stories! I had the same reaction, "una foca?" How can things just pop back into memory like that?