Personal relationships, non?

In a recent linguist book I’ve been reading, the author describes his relationships with some of the languages he’s studied. He refers to either having ‘married,’ them, or just ‘flirting’ with them, i.e. investing time and money into them to be fluent, verses haphazardly and casually learning random things (which is also tons of fun). I decided to do the same thing since I haven’t posted in a month of Sundays. Here we are:

Long-time companion: Russian- a long time friend, one I don’t need to speak with incredibly regularly, one I feel comfortable with even though we aren’t often in contact. We catch up when we speak, and that lasts for a while. Don’t know everything there is to know, but I get by when I need to. (I’ve invested tons of money and stuff into books, various size dictionaries, lexicons, grammar analyses, Pimsleur ($$$) programs, etc, and [you’d think I’d be fluent after all of that but at least] it gives me [the opportunity to have] a good foundation and reference library for the language. I’m left in need of very little, especially considering resources on the internet.)

New Best friend: German- take any and every opportunity to speak with this one; always interested in learning something new about it, and excited to try it out. Lots of stuff we have in common, and lots of opportunities to learn and get more acquainted. (I have some friends that are German or speak German, and it’s a close relative to English. The construction is similar to Russian in many respects and I’ve been carrying my German dictionary around a lot to learn words for common things I would say a lot if I were eagerly pursuing an organized study.)

Flirting: Romanian, Hungarian, Urdu, Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Japanese- had some good times, spent a little time together, but haven’t talked in a while, or plan to soon. Some not as serious as others, but great things about all of them. I just don’t have time for you all. (Romanian, Hungarian- I have (had) calls in these languages and have needed to learn them enough to conduct a return visit or simple study, but have all but forgotten most of it. I still enjoy playing with them occasionally)(Urdu- tons of speakers, especially when you consider that it’s 95% related to Hindi, the two together making the second most spoken language in the world. See ‘Crush’ for more details on its appeal.) (Dutch- see German. Dutch is more similar to English than German is, and sounds funny. I know people that speak it and it requires very little effort. It’s fun to speak a language you feel like you’re making up when you make up saying something and it’s right [so similar to English].) (Italian- I know some people that want to learn the language, and it’s a great language. I have dreams of moving there someday to serve in an English group, so I’m currently working on a course of teaching the language. See post below this one, I think.) (Chinese, Japanese- I figure since I’m GOING there, I figure I should really try to learn some.

Crush: Arabic, Persian- huge crush… wish I could spend time with these and get to know them better. They’ve got great qualities and look nice as well, very resourceful and practical. I just don’t know if I’m in that league right now. (They look super cool; I love the alphabet (they’re so similar I count them as one) and the script is actually very economical and practical. They sound great, have a lot of literature in them, very poetic, TONS of culture associated with both, and lots of languages are heavily affected by their influence worldwide.)

Love/Hate: Turkish, Swahili, French- comes and goes. Great things about all of them, but there are things I cannot get past. Those things don’t come up often, but when they do, I just have to walk away. I don’t know nearly enough about these as I should/want to, but sometimes my efforts to try are futile, and I just have to take a break. (Turkish- I’m sure I’ve already written about this somewhere: the grammar is like math. It’s very straightforward, there are NO irregulars, and it all makes tons of sense, but it’s also very different from other languages in its construction and word order, etc., so despite my love of the construction and logic that’s there, I can’t seem to ‘figure it out,’ and eventually give up at some point, only to pick up again a few weeks later.) (Swahili- Same as Turkish, except it’s not nearly as regular and it’s comprised wholly of PREfixes instead of SUFFixes. The ideas are the same, but it’s a little more warbly and less straightforward than it’s only-related-by-our-egregious-influence-from-Arabic cousin (Turkish).) (French- it’s French: natives give amateurs no slack, spelling is funny, it doesn’t sound nearly as cool as people think, and the French still think French is the world’s most popular, important, and internationally recognized language. Pardon Français…)

I’m sure that was bone-shatteringly boring for all of you, but it was something I wanted to write up anyway…


Three weeks of...

(not just non-blogging but) pure language obsession.


1)       My Italian course is coming along nicely. I showed it to the infamous BookReader last week and she was impressed… Pleased? Optimistic? Something like that. I’ve structured all of the verb vocabulary, the present tense conjugation, sentence structure, pronunciation, and am working on noun and adjective vocabulary. Email me for further details. I think I’ve really got something highly marketable here, and the next languages I’m going to do it with are Turkish, Indonesian, (maybe French, but more than likely not. Ça ne m’intéresse pas), and…

2)       Chinese. Since H’n’B has joined our excursion to Asia, she has been highly interested in Chinese- Mandarin. I had spent quite a lot of time with Cantonese, for a few reasons:  (a) I was told it was spoken in Hong Kong, where we would be for four days and have a free day to roam around, (b) because I was given the Pimsleur Cantonese as a gift and was thrilled to be able to use it, (c) because it’s arguably harder than Mandarin, with more tones, which makes Mandarin easier (relatively speaking). Anyway, she wants me now to use the current structure of teaching I’m developing to apply toward Chinese. There is many a difficulty surrounding this. Neither Chinese itself, nor the pinyin come naturally to the average English-typer on an English computer. This means lots of copying and pasting, and not so much confidence as to the exact translations of what I’m looking for. Tones don’t scare me, though. We’ll see.

3)       I have all but abandoned Turkish for the time being, which is sad. I’m working on getting back into it, but have all sorts of other deadlines with the Italian thing, and working on this Chinese one and other stuff that’s hindered my ability to spend lots of time with it. I’ve decided I’m learning Persian, though. I have three really promising calls in my area that are Persian, and I know of a solid dozen others that people (around here-ish) have that would develop really well in Persian, but there is no one handling it here currently. It would also be a tremendous aid toward my learning a good handful of other languages like Arabic, Urdu (and Hindi), and even Punjabi, if I so desire (and I probably will). It’s a strategic move, really.

4)       I’m teaching a Ukrainian (Russian speaker) English. We had our first pow-wow Monday, and she understands English enough to get the gist of what someone is saying, and she can read somewhat. I’m not sure how well she comprehends either of these, but wants to work mainly on her speaking ability. We’re going to use newspaper articles from the local paper, or from CNN something or other that I print out online. It’s more practical than using children’s books (which are easy to understand but offer no real practical vocabulary) or English literature (Steinbeck, Salinger, Joyce stuff, which is far too complicated to work simple translations off of). It’s pretty well rounded and will be a good tool to use to increase comprehension, vocabulary and an understanding of basic (and somewhat more complicated but practical) sentence structure.

5)       Also, I have some sort of an interest in Hungarian (refer to all the Finnish posts: same sort of thing, but it seems less of a pristine language to me) because I now have a call who is Hungarian and is responding very well. Yes.

6)       Vietnamese… a friend has some involvement and needs my assistance with some correspondence. Not my favorite language (still).

Nothing else for now, but more later (hopefully not three weeks later).