12.28.2006

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…

4 comments:

Joe said...

My bones are not shattered, mein Bruder...
...Welche Buch are you reading, might I ask?--sounds like I'd enjoy it...
And you've reminded me of a topic--'our relationships with languages'--that I may just write up on my own blog--Danke!
(And, sérieusement--not all French are such fussy language-police!! And the decline of 'la francophonie' IS recognized...hélas...but for Africa, man--ain't no substitute...) When are you going to Asia?

Anonymous said...

I LOVED that. Reminds me of all that when we talked about inanimate objects having personalities, only this is languages and affairs/friendships. I think your long time companion you might as well marry. You do tend to favor it, though you seem to toy with her. Throwing her on the back burner from time to time.

p june said...

Velly interesting.

Wasn't a bit boring. I like the metaphor of it.

t said...

On the contrary. It was quite an entertaining exploration of the subject.