What do Paul Pimsleur, Bob Marley and Forefather Čech have in common?

Maybe nothing except that they are each peeking into my world these days. And I’m trying to understand.


Dr. Paul Pimsleur

Dr. Pimsleur – well, look at that raised eyebrow. It seems he knows something (and he just might be willing to share what that something is). Linguistically, at least. His well-known method of teaching foreign languages relies on several principles, one of which is “organic learning.” That is, all auditory. No writing.

So this ‘writer’ (that would be loosely referring to me) is now officially complete with Unit 1 of Pimsleur’s “Basic Czech” course. Yes, for this present Now, Eckhart Tolle has been replaced in my Toyota by “Jste Američan“?

Yes, I am American. And this language thing is slow going. Don’t think finishing Unit 1 was much of an accomplishment. I basically learned to say whether I do or do not understand.

Enter Forefather Čech, which is the title Wikipedia gives the man who was one of three brothers that each founded a Slavic nation. Cech chose Říp Mountain and a land that came to be known as Bohemia (currently the Czech Republic). The mother tongue of that land has about 12 million native speakers. I, of course, am not one of them. But according to Dr. Pimsleur, since my completion of Unit 1 (and I if I was able to grasp about 80% of the material) then “Trochu rozumím český“. I understand Czech a little.


Which leads me to Robert Nesta, a.k.a. Bob Marley. His lyrics are universal and transcend all language. And through the words of his songs, one can also become acquainted with what is deemed “Iyaric“, “Livalect” or “Dread-talk.” Basically, a dialect of English used by Rastafarians. And these days, while I’m trying to understand more than just a brand new language – let’s just go for the entire meaning of life – I reach to Bob’s poignant question in Rainbow Country.

Bob Marley

Hey Mr. Music
Ya sure sound good to me
I can’t refuse it
What got to be, got to be

Feel like dancing
Dance cause we are free

I got my home
In the promise land
But I feel at home
Can you overstand

It’s been 20 years of humming along to the word “overstanding” and for the first time I read Wikipedia’s definition of the term.

“Overstanding (also ‘innerstanding’) replaces ‘understanding’, referring to enlightenment that raises one’s consciousness.”

Leaning on the Rastas, I’ll say that perhaps I am livicating (that’s ridding the “dead” from your dedication) my life to overstanding.

Ok.  So…

Rastafarian translation. Check.
Bohemian promised land. Check.
Pimsleur’s Czech 101. Check. (oh, such a bad pun I couldn’t resist).

I’ve got some tools and resources as I seek this innerstanding.

I’m on the highway. My Pimsleur disc plays out the conversation between a man and woman.


Do you understand?

“Ano. Trochu rozumím.”

Yes. I understand a little.

But really, I overstand so very little. It’s all so mysterious that the only way I can cope is to simply lean into this void of a question mark. It’s just one big shoulder shrug. Beautiful in some crazy way.

Maybe in this uncertainty, the miracles can occur. Something coming from nothing.

What words come in describing this journey to overstanding?  Might as well try some fresh phrases of affirmation.


Jah Rastafari!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s