Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Is it worth it?

Someone asked a question "is learning ------ (language) worth it?"
The answer is "yes". It doesn't matter which language it is.
Now, there are some people who don't understand how languages work, who will tell you it's useless to study anything else than Power languages and come up with idiotic parallels, like "it's like physical exercise, learning an isolated language is like doing some petty little movement with your hand, and learning a big language is like doing whole body exercise, it's obvious you get more use of the whole body exercise". No. Languages are not like a physical exercise in that way. The effect on your brain is the same whether you learn a big, strong, living language or an extinct, tiny language with no relations to any modern language. You will still get all the benefits of the "physical exercise".

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Learning languages as a shy introvert misanthrope

Learning Chinese as an introverted student

I don't chat with people, even in languages I know. I hate chatting. I hate talking in the phone. I won't Skype. I hate Skyping even with my family.
I don't do Meetups.
Sure, all these are really great suggestions for people who wish to learn to communicate in a foreign language, because there is bound to be at least a couple of people near you who speak the language you are learning, at least if it's a language with more than a million speakers.

I live in Södertälje, which is a small town in Sweden. In Sweden there's a law that says all the children has to be able to study their native language, if it's
a) an official language in Sweden (Swedish, Finnish, Meänkieli (Torne valley Finnish), Sami, Romani and Yiddish)
b) Nordic language (Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic)
c) there is more than five children in the school district speaking the language as their mothertongue. The most common immigrant/refugee languages in Sweden are Finnish, Arabic, Serbo-Croatian (Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegran and Serbian), Kurdish, Polish, Spanish, Farsi, German, Danish and Norwegian. Now, they are currently seeking for Mothertongue teachers in Indonesian, Pashto, Mongolian, Somalian, Turkish and Neo-Aramaic.
If I wanted to, there's quite a lot of languages around me.

Language skills consist of four areas; listening, reading, writing and speaking.
Most shy introvert misanthropes aren't interested in learning languages to be able to communicate with other people, but to be able to collect information in that language - possible also to "collect languages", to learn a language just because they can, because it's there and "fuck you, that's why". Now, if this is your motivation to learn a language, speaking it is not interesting at all.
You won't EVER be traveling in a country where people speak this language, you won't EVER be interacting with real people, being polite and social, and using the spoken language to be understood.

Fascinating, isn't it?
99% of language learning advice tells you to start speaking as soon as possible.
But think if you were to learn Latin or Biblical Hebrew. These are "dead languages". There have been no people alive speaking either of these languages as their native language, mother tongue, for some 2000 years. We don't know how to speak either of these languages.
For all practical reasons ANY pronunciation is as good a guess as any other.
Now, some of these pronunciations are PROBABLY better guesses than others, and there are people who use both of these languages regularly, so there is a generally accepted pronunciation. Nevertheless, no-one requires you can speak either language to be able to say you know either language. You just need to be able to read and write.
Now, I wouldn't say you know Finnish, if you can't speak it, but... if you may count Latin just by reading and writing, you should be able to count ANY language is you just read and write it.
(Or if the language doesn't have a writing system, THEN you should be able to speak it. It's a bit irrelevant for this topic, though. Most shy introvert misanthropes won't be learning some languages without written form.)

But - can you learn to SPEAK a language without EVER speaking with another person?
I say, yes. 
1) IPA - the phonetic alphabet actually IS good enough to give anyone good enough pronunciation of words written in phonetic alphabet.
2) You get the intonation right by listening and repeating after native speakers. There is a LOT of languages with at least some sentences spoken in the language. Omniglot has the "Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" in quite a many language, both written and spoken. Record yourself and compare to the native speaker, and correct yourself until you can read the text together with the native speaker and you pronounce the words the same.
3) You can converse with yourself. Pretend to be a lot of people and speak for all of them. You can even replay scenes from movies or books.
No-one ever needs to hear you speak. No-one ever needs to correct your speech.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Aaaannd... it's over.

There's still some occasional flashes of fire, but basically the language rush of Spring 2018 is over.

Here's some interesting stuff: 20 slang Malaysians love to use

Made me interested in Malay

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Camila Gallardo & Antonio José - No Es Real

Es difícil pensar
Que tu boca y la mía se puedan besar a diario
Que vivamos juntitos, enterito el calendario
Que me arropes de noche y me dibujes con tus manos
Me colorees con tus labios

It's hard to think
how your mouth and mine can kiss daily
how we live together, the whole calendar?
how you tuck me in at night and draw me with your hands,
color me with your lips

Es difícil pensar
Que mañana mi cama amanezca desordenada
Tu piel de desayuno y mil flores en la ventana
Con la tarde esperando en la puerta de nuestra casa
Por tu llegada

how in the morning my bed dawns messy,
your skin for breakfast and a thousand flowers in the window,
with the afternoon waiting at the door of our house for your arrival

Hoy no estarás, tampoco estarás mañana
Nos queremos enredar
Pero te quiero aquí, tú me quieres allá

Today you won't be, not tomorrow either,
we want to entangle
but I want you here, you want me there

Este amor es posible, pero no es real
En cualquier momento se nos va a acabar
Ay, mira como lamento
Quererte así, como te quiero

This love is possible, but it's not real,
at any moment it's going to end
Oh, see how sad
to love you like I love you

Si te digo que no
Que no quiero tenerte tan lejos de mis camelias
Que las flores del jardín se marchitaron sin tu presencia
Ahora busco tu perfume entre la gente con tanta urgencia
Con locura y demencia

If I tell you no
that I don't want you that far away from my camellias
that the flowers in the garden wither without your presence
now I search your perfume among the people with urgency
with madness 

Sé que no estarás
Y también sé que no estarás mañana
Nos queremos engañar
Pero te quiero aquí, tú me quieres allá

I know that you won't be
and I also know that you won't be tomorrow
we want to cheat
but I want you here, you want me there

Este amor no es real
Tarde o temprano se nos va a acabar
Ay, mira como lamento
Quererte así, como te quiero

This love is not real,
sooner or later it is going to end
Oh, see how sad
to love you like I love you

Este amor no es real
Tarde o temprano nos va a lastimar
Ay, mira como lamento
Quererte así, como te quiero

This love is not real,
at any moment it's going to hurt
Oh, see how sad
to love you like I love you

(I don't get this... Is it that they want each other but for some reason can't be together? Why?)

Procrastinating :-)

I have now been procrastinating studying Spanish for two hours - and continue doing it by writing about it. :-D
I'm really clever... I procrastinate by READING about STUDYING LANGUAGES, so I'm kind of still doing what I'm supposed to be doing, aren't I :-D

This was very interesting:
Started watching the Arnold video, which is unnecessary, because the guy explains it in the article, but, hey, it was interesting, and... er... *blush*

Then I read this one:

And also wound up thinking about the usefulness of word frequency lists.

Yes, I think they are useful, because they give you the frame to read extensively, and reduce the amount of words one needs to figure out, and considering that a lot of words in most languages are loans which sound similar enough, it won't be too hard.

Also, the point with frequency lists is that it's the BEGINNING, it's a STEP, it's not an end goal. You learn the 1000 most common words to be able to quickly start reading extensively, and WHEN YOU READ EXTENSIVELY, YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW AND UNDERSTAND EVERY WORD YOU READ. You ARE just supposed to get an idea of what is going on. Get used to reading the language. Get used to the shape of the language. Get used to the correct grammar.

I mean... I have been watching El ministerio del tiempo, and I really don't know much Spanish. But I understand enough of what is going on to be interested and want to see more. I have a general understanding of what the show is about and who the characters are.
I am reading Le secret de Ji in French and I understand what is going on. I'm 100% sure that when reading the books in English, I get even more and perhaps find out things that are going to surprise me, but I don't think there will be many surprises.
I was watching this Turkish series, and now I found the first episode texted in English, and I had understood most of it in just Turkish. Enough to feel confident to watch the rest of it in Turkish without subtitles.

So - now I have managed to procrastinate for 3 hours :-D
Another good way of procrastinating is having a Sunday breakfast with your beloved spouse :-D

Friday, May 11, 2018

Thoughts about Chinese... and some other languages.

Chinese... I have learned the about 50 characters I have encountered so far.
But I just know the characters. I don't know their names and the names mean nothing to me. I mean... xiao? I suppose it means something. I have heard it. I don't know what it means. Or zai. Or ba. I think that might be eight. It might be something else, also. And it's possible it's not just ba, but bai or something else. And don't ask me about the tone. I wouldn't know. Could be third. Or not. (It is ba and the tone is first, which is what I meant, which means that I don't even know what "third tone" is... *sigh* Not good. :-D)
But I like Chinese. I want to learn it. I want to be able to read it and speak it and understand it.

Now, Arabic I don't like. I think it sounds ugly and the writing is stupid - and ugly - most people making notes in Arabic write like 3rd graders just learning to write cursive. Crude and ugly and uneven. My father had the world's most beautiful handwriting, and he is my ideal. I want to be able to write Arabic as my father would have written it, had he known how to write Arabic.
Now, I want to learn Arabic though. Because of two reasons. 1) I started learning it when I was about 15, and I would like to finish what I started, especially when it comes to languages and 2) I have serious problems with the Arabic part of Maltese, and it's easier to learn Arabic than Maltese. I seriously hope it will help me learn Maltese. If not, I'm going to be pretty angry and feel cheated.

Now, most of the reasons people give to why others should learn Arabic are uninteresting to me. I am not Muslim nor will I ever be. I am not planning on living or traveling in Arabic speaking countries. Now, I live in an area with predominantly Syriacs or Assyrians, who speak mostly Arabic or Aramaic (Syryoyo), and understanding them would be really nice... because I'm pretty sure they are saying nasty things about non-Syriacs, including me. It would be nice to be proven wrong about that.
That there is a lot of idioms in Arabic - there's a lot of idioms in every language. Duh.
That the grammar is easy and everything builds on core words, sure. Nice. But that's not a reason to learn a language.

Now, Korean I find very interesting. The writing is simple, easy, logical and looks nice. It sounds... odd. Unfamiliar. The sounds, the way of speaking, the language itself, is unfamiliar, and intriguing. I find it difficult to learn because I can't find a handle... I suppose it's just to parrot sentences until they start making sense, and that doesn't feel good to me.

But, but... too much procrastinating here, already. My 15 minutes pause has long passed :-D Back to studying.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018


I am really in love with this language :-) It makes me so happy!

A Reprise for a 19th-Century Language Based on Music

Sidosi - the official home page for promotion of this language