Monday, October 31, 2011

Wolf Kati – Szerelem, Miért Múlsz

This should have won the Eurovision song contest 2011.

Én nem tudtam, hogy az ember mindent túl él.
Én nem sírtam pedig engem eltörtél.
Vártam, hogy a nap többé nem kel majd fel.
De hajnal lett újra és indulnom kell.

Szerelem miért múlsz, szerelem miért fájsz?
Szerelem hol gyúlsz, szerelem hol jársz?
Hol vagy, hol nem, a szívemben miért nincsen csend?
Szerelem miért múlsz, szerelem miért vársz?

Most bánat ráz, átjár egy régvolt láz.
Hát lépnem kell, itt rám dől minden ház.
Az érintés emlékét így tépem szét.
Társam már nincs más csak a száguldó szél.

Szerelem miért múlsz, szerelem miért fájsz?
Szerelem hol gyúlsz, szerelem hol jársz?
Hol vagy, hol nem, a szívemben miért nincsen csend?
Szerelem miért múlsz? Szerelem miért vársz?

(Még húz) Húz
(Még vonz) Vonz
(Még fáj)
(Még húz) Még húz
(Még vonz) Még vonz
(Még fáj)

10 lépés, 100 lépés távolság kell.
Nem számít merre csak el, tőled el.
Mit mondhatnál, mit mondhatnék?
Elkoptunk rég, szemeinkből nézd, hova tűnt a fény?

Szerelem miért múlsz, szerelem miért fájsz?
Szerelem hol gyúlsz, szerelem hol jársz?
Hol vagy, hol nem, a szívemben miért nincsen csend?
Szerelem miért múlsz, szerelem miért vársz?

(Válj szabaddá! Szállj világgá!) Szerelem hol jársz?
(Válj szabaddá! Szállj világgá!) Szerelem hol vársz?
(Válj szabaddá! Szállj világgá!) Élnem kell! Kell egy új remény!
(Vágy repíts fel! Új remény kell!)
Szerelem miért múlsz?


didn’t know man can survive anything
I didn’t even cry though you shattered me
I was waiting for the sun never to rise again
But the dawn came anew and I must go on

Love, why do you pass? Love, why do you hurt?
Love, where do you collect? Love, where do you go?
Where are you, where not, in my heart why there’s no clam?
Love, why do you pass? Love, why do you wait?

I’m torn by grief now, a past fever is haunting me
I must take a step, here every house on me falls
This is how I rip apart the memory of your touch
I no longer have a companion other than the blowing wind

Love, why do you pass? Love, why do you hurt?
Love, where do you collect? Love, where do you go?
Where are you, where not, in my heart why there’s no clam?
Love, why do you pass? Love, why do you wait?

(Still pulls) Pulls
(Still draws) Draws
(Still hurts)
(Still pulls) Still pulls
(Still draws) Still draws
(Still hurts)

Ten steps, a hundred steps, a distance needed
No matter where, just away, away from you
What could you say, what could I say?
We wore out a long time ago, see in our eyes, where did the light go?

Love, why do you pass? Love, why do you hurt?
Love, where do you collect? Love, where do you walk?
Where are you, where not, in my heart why there’s no calm?
Love, why do you pass? Love, why do you wait?

(Break free, fly into the world) Love, where do you go?
(Break free, fly into the world) Love, where do you wait?
(Break free, fly into the world) I must live, I need a new hope
(Longing, give me wings, I need a new hope)
Love, why do you pass?

Week 4: Hungarian

Hungarian is one of the languages I have studied earlier, and it's related to Finnish, so with it I plan on getting better.

There are some 14 million Hungarian speakers in the world, of whom about 10 million live in Hungary.

The Hungarian name for Hungarian is magyar (said about the same as mud-yar or [ˈmɒɟɒr] phonetically.

Hungarian is an Uralic or Finno-Ugric language, related to Finnish, as mentioned, but not as close as Estonian and Sámi. More like a distant cousin. There are similarities, but a Finnish speaker doesn't understand much if any Finnish. I have a feeling Finnish is easier for Hungarians to understand.

There is a Hungarian script or runes called Rovás Script

Now-a-days Hungarian uses Latin aphabets with some additions... so they have 44 letters in their alphabet.

The "missing" letters are what is called "foreign", that is, only used in borrowed words.

Here's a video on how to pronounce them, and here's another that gives examples of items beginning with the letter, and how they are read.

It looks much more complicated than it really is. But - just as comparison, Finnish has 27 letters, of which 8 are foreign (B,C,F,Q,W,X, Z and Å) - so in practice, we have 19 letters, Hungarian 40. :-D

About the six golden sentences... Apple is alma, to give is ad, John in Janos and it is a/az or e/ez... the rest...


The apple is red.    Az alma piros
I'm about 90% certain of that.

It is John’s apple.  Az a alma Jánosé?
The confidence dropped immediately. Hungarian doesn't have genetiv case. It has 18 cases, but not one of the most usual ones :-D

I give John the apple.
én adok... adom... János... nak... er... alma... almat? Én adom az almat Jánosnak? It should be dative... but Jánosnak doesn't sound right. It's probably because Jánosek is a last name. But is any part of the sentence correct to begin with? Except that alma is an apple and János John.

We give him the apple. - Mi adjuk neki azt ???
he/she gives it to him - ő adja neki azt... azt neki ??? Oh, why is Lang8 down?

I don't give John the apple. - Nem adom azt Jánosnak - or?

I must give it to him.   én kellem adni azt neki?
I want to give it to her. én akarom adni azt neki?

Let's see if I do any better in the end of this week :-D

Anyway, Hungarian is an agglutinative language, it uses postpositions, it has 18 cases, give and take, two types of articles (definite and indefinite), adjectives has three cases and do NOT agree with the noun, the verbs too have two conjugations (definite and indefinite), two tenses (only, thankfully) and three moods, two numbers and three persons. The biggest problem is the conjugations... there appears to be a lot of rules and exceptions on when and how to use them, so - just to learn by heart.

Hungarian word order is free, as the cases indicate what is being talked about. (John has an apple and an apple has John are two different sentences, but when you say Jánosnak az alma van or az alma van Jánosnak - because the word without ending is the one doing things. (Naturally depending if I guessed it right.) And in Hungarian you say "an apple is with/by/at John", like in Finnish and Russian etc.
The most used is SVO.

Hungarian has a "a four-tiered system for expressing levels of politeness"
I don't know what it means, yet, because that's not something most people learn as the first thing about a foreign language. Well... we did it in German, but there it's really easy. The Hungarian system is difficult even for Hungarians. I suppose a foreigner can use the "non-native" card aka "idiot" card. ;-)

Now, Hungarian is a bit different as Ugric language, and that's why there are a lot of different theories of the Hungarian origins. Some say it's not Ugric/Uralic language at all, but Turkic/Altaic.
There is the legend of the stag that supports the Sumerian Origin theory, and also the Hunn - Hungarian connection (In the legend, there were two brothers; Hunor (forefather of Hunns) and Magor (forefather of all Magyars). But - the origins of Hungarians is so far back in the history it's hard to say anything definite.

Here's Wikitravel's Hungarian phrasebook with a lot of good and useful phrases.


- Formal, when addressing a stranger: "Good day!": Jó napot (kívánok)! [joːnɒpot kivaːnok].
- Informal, when addressing someone you know very well: Szia! [siɒ] (it sounds almost exactly like American colloquialism "See ya!" with a shorter "ee".)

- Viszontlátásra! (formal) 
- Viszlát! [vislaːt] (semi-informal),
- Szia! (informal: same stylistic remark as for "Hello!" )

Excuse me: Elnézést! [ɛlneːzeːʃt]

- Kérem (szépen) [keːrɛm seːpɛn] (This literally means "I'm asking (it/you) nicely", as in German Danke schön, "I thank (you) nicely")
- Legyen szíves! [lɛɟɛn sivɛʃ] (literally: "Be (so) kind!" - This is the more common form)

Sorry!: Bocsánat! [botʃaːnɒt]

Thank you: Köszönöm [køsønøm]

Yes: Igen [iɡɛn]
No: Nem [nɛm]

I do not understand: Nem értem [nɛm eːrtɛm]

I do not know: Nem tudom [nɛm tudom]

generic toast: Egészségünkre! [ɛɡeːʃːeːɡynkrɛ] (literally: "To our health!")

I love you: Szeretlek [sɛrɛtlɛk]

Help!: Segítség! [ʃɛɡiːtʃeːɡ]

1 - egy
2 - kettő
3 - három
4 - négy
5 - öt
6 - hat 
7 - hét
8 - nyolc
9 - kilenc
10 - tíz
11 - tizenegy
12 - tizenkettő
13 - tizenhárom
14 - tizennégy 
15 - tizenöt
16 - tizenhat
17 - tizenhét
18 - tizennyolc 
19 - tizenkilenc
20 - húsz
21 - huszonegy
22 - huszonkettő 
23 - huszonhárom
30 - harminc
40 - negyven
50 - ötven
60 - hatvan
70 - hetven 
80 - nyolcvan
90 - kilencven
100 - száz 
200 - kétszáz
300 - háromszáz 
1000 - ezer
1,000,000 - millió

very straightforward here too. I would say "tizen" is the same root as "toisen" and "toista"

Here's Verbix, the verb conjugator, for Hungarian verbs


black - fekete
white - fehér
gray - szürke
red - piros , vörös  (piros is more orange red, the one learned first, vörös means "blood red", scarlet. They are considered in Hungarian to be two different colors.)
blue - kék
yellow - sárga
green - zöld 
orange - narancssárga
purple - lila 
brown - barna

Here's a good guide to Hungarian and grammar, written by an Englishman for English speaking audience.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Last day of my Sámi week

 This is a yoik by Jarŋŋa called Äno jiedna (the sound of the river)
No lyrics.

Well... it didn't go well. I was somewhat put of by the very limited resources. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of resources around to get at least some understanding and knowledge of Sámi, but it's very... organized. I got the feeling you have to start from A and go on in straight line and without questions and opinions, just study the material given the way it is given etc. I didn't find it possible to easily start building your own sentences with the material given, and it is very Sápmi centered. Now, I understand why, but it means people won't study this language just for the fun of it, to be able to use it to chat with their language geek friends, or keep a diary on it, because there is very little kota, reindeer and saameting outside Sápmi.

I didn't write one flashcard.
I didn't study even the numbers. I lazily collected them, but I didn't study them.
I didn't study the alphabet, or even one line in Sámi.
I have been a bad girl.
I have just been listening to Ođđasat (news in Sámi) and some amazing music.

In less than 30 hours NaNoWriMo 2011 begins. I won't be giving my characters lines in foreign language, because I hate that in books, especially if it's not translated.
Now I don't remember how Tolkien used his languages, but I think it was mostly in short things, like magic words and saying that can't really be translated, or were translated...
I remember a school mate of mine, one of the "popular" girls, explained that one learns foreign languages from romance novels. Sure. "Cara mia!" I'd rather watch Addams Family :-D

Nevertheless, I don't think one should use the word "Elvish" of Elven languages. There are several and they have names. It's like saying "I'm speaking European!" But, alas, as a Tolkien fan, of course I have to learn Quenya and Sindar. :-D

BTW, I thought for long it's "Elvis-language" and wondered what was so special with Elvis... :-D

Elvish impersonator by Christopher


i - like ee in English word free [fɹiː]
ɨ - like e in English word roses [ˈɹoʊzɨz]
ɪ - like i in English word bit [bɪt]
ɪ̈ - like the last e in English word parallelepiped [ˌpæɹəlɛlɪ̈ˈpaɪpɪ̈d]

y - like u in French word chute [ʃyt]
ʏ - like ü in German word schützen [ˈʃʏtsˑn]

u - like oo in English word boot [bu̟ːˀt]
ʊ̈ - like u in English word euphoria [jʊ̈ˈfɔəɹiə]
ʊ - like oo in English word hook [hʊk]

Here's a video on how to pronounce that horrible ü [y] not know in English... Just repeat.

"You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow."
Just put your lips together like for a kiss and sound, and you'll produce ü.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I stumbled over this: Liet International - Eurovision song contest for minority languages. Sámi has quite a good record there. Since the beginning in 2006, Sámi has won twice

SomBy: Ii Iđit vel

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find the lyrics in Sámi, but here's the translation. Practice, practice, practice, and you'll be able to understand. This is Finnish Sámi band, so the pronunciation is a little bit "harder", which in my ears is easier to understand. Don't know about you, though :-)

Somby is a usual Sámi surname and the name of a village - but it sounds like zombie...

No morning yet

Don't drag me up, hurts to open eyes
I can't watch, there is so beautiful out there
walls inside fall down on me, the air is too thick
birds also are flying around too happy
snow melts too fast, there is no blanket to hide under
naked earth gives up, gets smaller


No morning yet, no shining on me now
not confessions, not too ruthless
Not tomorrow yet, I can't handle that yet
They bring yesterday and leave there

I know that clock is ticking
I know that everything goes around except me, I don't even move
I want to jump somewhere now, I don't want to remember anyone now
I don't want to find myself here, I want to go away
I can't now hate you, I can't yet
I didn't have time to flee, I couldn't leave
you chose me to captivity


welcome - Bures boahtin

merry Christmas - Buorrit Juovllat

I love you - mon ráhkistan du!

black - čáhppes
white - vielgat
red - ruoksat
yellow - fiskat
blue - alit
green - ruoná
brown - ruškat
gray -     ránis

mánnodat - monday
disdat - tuesday
gaskavahkku - wednesday
duorastat - thursday
bearjadat - friday
lávvordat - saturday
sotnabeaivi - sunday

I stumbled over Sámi flashcards at byki - they are supposed to be the vocabulary from Gulahalan

Friday, October 28, 2011

Some language learning tips from studying Sámi

Davvin is a Sámi course written for the Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian stately broadcasting company. It gives a couple of suggestions on how to use the course, and I am going to say my meaning of a couple of them.

Firstly, it says that one should be able to repeat any discussions as any person participating. It reminded me of Leyla Randomness and her lovely video "Polyglotte2". She says her method is imitation :-)
Take a random dialogue and learn it as if it was your lines for a play, then play both (all) parts. Take any discussion, take your favorite discussion from a movie or series, and imitate, copy, parrot... act as if.

Secondly, it says that one should practice writing by dictation. You are to listen to a recording of a text you have. Stop the tape after every sentence and write it down. After you have written down all the sentences, check the spelling by the text. Repeat as many times as you need to get all right.
You get usually a recording with a language course, but if you don't have a course, there are some recordings with texts online. (For example Sámi, there are some songs with lyrics on-line.)
If nothing else, you can always read by your best ability, record the text on MP3 player or so, and then try to add the speed a little so that you get the speed up. I know this is not quite as good practice as having a native speaker saying something, but if that's all you have, it's better than nothing. Of course, your own pronunciation sucks, especially in the beginning, but it gives you SOME practice... besides, if you can't find anyone to speak the language to you, it doesn't matter too much if your pronunciation sucks... it will improve with time, I promise, when you get in the action.
Also, every beginner's pronunciation sucks. Some kids fight with the pronunciation for a couple of years to get it right, WITH THEIR OWN MOTHERTONGUE! :-D You just have to be ready to repeat, often, slowly and in the end on paper, to make yourself understood. If you need to take on paper and pen, ask the native speaker to repeat the word and sentence to you as many times as you need to get it right - or at least understandable ;-)

Now I have received a mail from my favorite book store in Finland, and they can get me the Estonian book - it would cost 26€, when in Estonia it would cost on half of that... >:->
Also, they can't get the other books. Any suggestions?


ɛ e - like e in English word bed [bɛd]
ə - like u in English word fur [fɜ̝ː] 
o - like eau in French word réseau [ʁeˈzo]
 œ - like eu in French word jeune [ʒœn] 
ɜ , ø , ɘ , ɵ , ɤ - like ir in English word bird [bɜːd] 
(or er in Gertrude, or ur in turn or ear in learn)
(There really is very little difference in these phonemes)
ɔ - like o in English word dog [dɔɡ] 
ɶ - like eu in French word honneur [ɔnɶ̝ʁ]

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Uh... I hate fame

Okay, so I'm learning 52 languages in 52 weeks. It's not like I'm going to speak fluently 55 languages (as I already know 3, you see) in a year. I'm just looking into these languages, learning a couple of phrases and so on. Learning a bit about the language and the people speaking it and the culture built around it. Things like that. Nothing big and fancy and amazing and wonderful and all that.

But the people look at me as if I was doing something extraordinary and fantastic, like I must be a genius or something, I'm going to learn 52 languages from scratch in a year and then I'll speak all of them.

I wish!

Frankly, if I did, I would have chosen different languages.

I hate that. So I love languages. So I'm not stupid and my memory isn't bad. So I learn hundreds of foreign words and phrases in a week, and would be able to tourist in a country with difficulties, not so minor either, but in that foreign language. My pronunciation might not be good but it's not bad either. And so on.
But I'm not some sort of freak for that!

Daniel Tammet, learning Icelandic from 4:40
BTW, I found this very inspiring... I don't think I have thought of words as pictograms... I mean the visual impact of the word written in Latin letters... We are not taught to do that. Daniel does because of his visual mind.
Synesthesia is not foreign to me, there are some things I prefer to describe in those terms, like in cooking - I think which color the food needs more, and then add it. But it's not very synesthethic, because it's usually something like "more green", and then it's better with herbs. So, it's not very complex synesthethics :-D (If at all, actually)
Nevertheless, there is a sense of color to words, and other senses, and that could be used to learn more... perhaps the people who are sort of intuitively learning languages do just that? To learn the "sound" of language... it's like as long they are using good grammar, the sense of the language is pleasant, but wrong words and grammar is like throwing a stone in a pond...

Anyway, I was reading a discussion about grammar... I love grammar. I have said it before and I say it again. Nevertheless I have no problems in understanding that a lot of others don't feel love to grammar, on the contrary. I mean, it was taught as something you were supposed to learn because you had to - it was incomprehensible, abstract, complicated... it didn't have any conceivable meaning, purpose or sense. It was just rules and exceptions and exceptions on exceptions on exceptions with backflip twist... and then there were sample sentences that were so simplified they had lost all the usability... You know...

(here's transcription and translation of the French, if you find it difficult to understand. Read it first, and then listen to the video, so you'll learn a bit of French too :-D)

But that's the kind of sentences you are taught to make grammar sensible, meaningsful and connected to reality. LOL Sure, the monkey, oui, sur la branche! Le singe, masculine, la branche, feminine... oui... Bah! Sottise!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011



Nástegokčasa vuolde
mon ráhkadan luottaid
Guovssahasa sánit
libardit dáivahis

Jaskatvuođa háddus
mu vuoigŋamat davistit
Juoga savkala munnje
ahte leat boahtime

Doala mu gieđa
Njávkka mu niera
Savkal čáppa sániid
Jeđđe litnásit
Leage nu liekkas
vai mon in galbmo
Juoiggas vel munnje...

English Translation:


Under a blanket of stars
I'm leaving traces
as signs from the northern lights
flicker in the sky

In the care of silence
my breaths resonate
Something whispers
that you are on your way

Hold my hand
Stroke my cheek
Whisper beautiful words
Soothe me softly
Be warm
so I'm not cold
Give me a yoik...

I don't know how correct the translation is, but I love this song and her way of singing it :-)


I should really get going with the resources on the net. I have been hunting a dream of mine; to write a concise pharebook and dictionary about all the European languages, considering that there are less than 200 of them. I once had a phrase book over South-East Asian languages... it was my first contact with all of them. I didn't even know there were all those languages... So I set on writing a book like that, but about European languages. I suppose I should have done it then, when I thought there were about 50 languages in Europe :-D On the other hand, if I wait a couple of years, some 50 more languages will have died.
Anyway, in stead of studying Sámi, I have been studying European languages.


ʌ - like in English word plus [plʌs]

æ - like a in English word cat [kʰæt]

ɐ - like u in English word nut [nɐt]

a - like a in English word stack [stak]

ä - like a in French word patte [pät]

ɑ - like a in English word spa [spɑ̟ː]

ɒ - like o in English word hot [hɒt]

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Text method of learning languages

My English sucks :-D I have so thick an accent it's funny. And it changes as I speak :-D One sentence is American, another British, third Finnish and the next one is Scottish. Or Canadian. Or something. Really funny.

So - language learning. I have Asperger's. It's a form of Autism. Before anyone starts talking about Savants and "difference" in Autist brain... I mean... we are not wild. Our mind might work differently, but it's not a difference that matters. The difference is in focus. A person with Autism is going to focus 100% in the subject of interest.
When it's languages, it's languages 24/7, and as you talk with anyone studying in languages, that's the key. If you do All English All The Time, you'll get really good in English. If you do AFATT you'll get really good in Finnish.

Judith said, it took her some 20 hours to learn to read Spanish fluently. I believe her. Because whether it took a day, a week, a month, depends on how she spread those 20 hours. If she studied 4 hours a day, it took her 5 days to get fluent in reading Spanish. I believe that. It doesn't take you more than a week to learn to read a language you haven't even looked at before. If you do your 4 hours a day.

Let's look at what you do those 4 hours.

Before you do anything, learn the IPA. Yes, really. Learn to use it fluently. Learn all the phonemes sign by sign, and get fluent with it, so that you can use it to record how words and phrases sound to you. I tried to transcribe a Sámi text from scratch, without using IPA, and it was really hard and frustrating and made me want to cry. So - write down what you hear, and if it's not correct, it doesn't much matter. You are training your ear to hear the sound of the language, to begin with. But, that's a totally different matter... learn IPA, so that you actually understand the pronunciation rules given.

Why pronounce anything when you are learning to read?
When people learn to read anything, the sound the words in their head. When you get fluent in reading, you don't sound the words anymore.
Now, as you are learning a passive understanding of a language, it's just as easy to you to learn bonjour as bɔ̃ʒuʁ as boh(n)-ZHURE.
The thing is that the correct spelling of the word isn't going to help you to recognize the word when you hear it, so if you ever want to understand spoken French, you will have to learn it again, this time to listen. Also, why would you deprive yourself from one additional aid to your mind? You will learn language by listening to people speaking it, only if you understand how the words sound... also, this will help you with "sentence mining" and "shadowing/choiring"... but that's not important at the moment either.
"Boh(n)-ZHURE" will teach you there's an H in bonjour. Also, bonjour doesn't really rhyme with sure. Of course you can use any way of transcribing the language you hear, any way that helps you with the pronunciation, but why make it more difficult than it is, simply because you don't want to learn another way of writing, or something like that? Stupid.
The phonetic transcription is good because you are not going to mix it with actual French, and you will know exactly how to pronounce the word, how it sounds, etc.

The first thing with any language is to learn the alphabet. Usually the letter IS the sign of the sound you are supposed to make when you read the letter. Of course, English is an exception, a deviation, and it's totally f'd up when it comes to that. Nevertheless, most languages are really that simple.

Take a text, any text. Preferably a book, a story, because then the motivation is really strong. You want to know what happens next. But you can take any text - like now-a-days there are Wikipedias in almost any language. Just pick one text in random. Take a newspaper article.

Copy it on a piece of paper. Yes, copy it by hand, word by word, sign by sign, every comma, accent, cedilla, iroquee mark and umlaut.
Some people would use LingQ or  LWT (Learning With Texts) in stead. Of course, you can, but I wouldn't.
I don't like them much, for several reasons.
1) When you copy and paste a text to either, you won't learn anything but copying and pasting. Sure, it's easy, it's quick, it's comfortable... but if you take a couple of minutes more to do it by hand, you will learn so much more.
2) There are no possibilities to do anything with the text. You can't underline interesting details, you can't circle constructions, you can't write your own notes, you can't point out similarities in words, you can't parse the text. You just have the text and then you can mark words.
3) Neither of these programs separate "base words". To them "be" and "been" are two different words with nothing in common. Stupid. Your brain would like to learn word families in whole. If you learn that "be", "is" and "being" are three different words, you won't realize that "being" is just "be" + "ing" - so you can make a lot of new words by adding -ing to the base form of a verb. Add+ing, sing+ing, laugh+ing... By seing "To be: I am, you are, he/she/it is..." together, you understand that "to be" is a strong verb. "To be" IS a strong verb in most of the languages that make any difference with the verbs.
LingQ and LWT can't understand that "have been" is not two words, but just another form of "to be". "to be" is not two words. One needs to learn these forms, mostly by heart.
But - been there, done that, found it wanting. I'll do it my way in the future. 
Leave plenty of space around the sentences. You are going to do some parsing later... Yes, sentence analysis, parsing... Hated that in school, didn't you. I'm the only person alive who actually did that for fun. Anyway, you are going to do that because it teaches you everything about grammar you will need.  It will also help you to understand the structure of the language. A lot of people are afraid of grammar for no reason. I suppose it was because you were supposed to just learn rules with no explanation to what it's supposed to be good for. It was just something you NEEDED to do to "learn the language", or something. Nope.

It helps to learn the names of the different word groups, like verbs and nouns and so on, so that you know that this word, a verb, behaves differently from this word, a noun, and this word, an adjective, behaves differently from this word, a particle, that doesn't behave at all. It just is :-D ("on" is always "on". It's not "strong" or "feminine" or anything but "on" :-D)
Now, the grammatic names are not valuable in themselves. It's enough for you to understand that there's a group of words that behave this way, and another group that behaves differently, and you can use what ever name you like - or not name them at all - but as the existence of these word groups is a well known fact, and they do have names, it would help to learn those names. Just saying. It's not necessary, just helpful.

Anyway, your parsing is "who is doing things here" and not "find the subject". "What is being done", not "find the predicate". "to what is it being done", "what kind of thing is it", "how is it being done" etc. etc. You do this automatically already, so why not put some intension to it. Never mind the grammatical names of things, even though that too would help.
As far as I know, all the sentences in the world have at least the subject - a doer - and the predicate or verb - the doing, and sometimes an object - the being done to. The rest of the words are just complements. They describe the doer, the doing or the being-done-to. They bind sentences together (con-junctions). Again, you do this automatically. If your brain functions could be slowed down to really, really slow and described action by action, with "proper" names, you would see that you are doing "proper" parsing, exactly like the teacher tried to make you do in school. So - to beging with we intentionally slow down this process, so that you get aware of what is happening.
I repeat this again, you don't NEED to do this. It will help, if you do.

Why? Because as you find out the nouns and verbs and other words like that, you will learn to see the different forms of these words and the rules that govern these words. Most of these rules are not easy, if even possible to catch and put in words, most of them are "intuitional". You will learn to hear what is right and what is wrong, and you will be able to detect the base words of these words, and that is necessary if you are ever going to find out the word in a dictionary. It also works the other way around - as you do this, you get used to the endings and "shape shifting" happening in words as they become something else, and you can take any word from the dictionary and turn it into expressing what you want. Of course there are "false friends" and the nasty strong verbs and other words that don't behave as they should, and obediently follow the rules and allow you to make with them what you want, but - frankly "I be woman" is not too far away from "I am a woman". People will understand what you are trying to say.  "Minä tunten hyvin yksinäinen tänään" isn't too far away from "minä tunnen itseni hyvin yksinäiseksi tänään". ("I feel very lonely today"). Sure, it's not correct, but it's good enough. [I feel myself into very lonely today - by looking at the mistakes foreigners make (I, for example, say every now and then "mistakes I do"... "do" and "make" are the same word in Finnish...) you will see what is going to be problematic in learning the speaker's language...] I'm drifting again...

Anyway, you do parsing anyway. So why not do it conscieously and with intention? Don't call it parsing, if that word makes you cringe.

Read the text and find the base form of the words.

Make notes. Write down the thoughts you get when you look at the text. Note the associations. Note the insights. Slow the process down a little, and record it. I promise you, if you don't record your insights, they will be gone. Not that it's important or so, but it's interesting and, again, might be helpful. Even to others.

Make a flashcard of all the new words. (or not. If you study vocabulary with flashcards, it will speed up the process a little, and build your vocabulary, but again, it's not necessary. Just helpful. You will build up your vocabulary any way.)

I tried Anki. I don't like it at all. I prefer paper flashcards any day. I have mentioned earlier about having folded cards, or adding flaps or pages to them, if you want to write down more information about the words, like when using Anki.
- you don't need to learn to use any program, you don't need to know anything about internet or computers or anything. All you need is to write and read.
- they are easy to carry around - you don't need heavy, expensive or fragile equipment to be able to use them. All you need is paper and pen.
- you get the "SRS" if you want to, by putting the cards you know in another pile, and go through like 50 cards at a time. The words that are harder come automatically up more often. There really is no need of an algorithm.
- you can add "unlimited sides" to a card. You can make it into a folded card, and have 4 sides in stead of 2, and you can add pages to it. Of course it's harder to go through 50 small booklets than 50 two-sided cards, but you will find your optimum by experimenting.
- you can sort them in all kinds of groups. Only your imagination sets limits.
- you can make them in any colors, you can decorate and illustrate them. Your brain likes that :-D You could make verbs pink and adjectives green etc.

"entering vocabulary doesn't take so long"
Might be so, but as you write it all by hand, you also learn as you do it. When someone - or something - else "fills in xxx for you"... the risk is that you don't even bother reading, or that you don't quite understand what is being said. With paper cards you have 100% controll.
Translate the text. You don't need to create a good translation, nor an extensive one. All you really need is to understand what the text says. Again, you don't NEED, but it would HELP. The more you work on this, the better results you get.

Read the text out loud. 

If you want to, you can first translate the text well, write it down in full, understandable and good sentences in your mothertongue, and then read the text in the foreign language. Then you can do the "reading-listening". 
Naturally, it would be better if you can find someone native speaker to read it for you, and perhaps go through your translation, and correct it, but it's not necessary either. Better but not necessary.

Move on to next text.

Discovery Sámi

Now, I find it really hard to know what she actually says, but the following might help a little.

Mun lean ... - I am ...
Mu namma lea ... - My name is ...

Mun lean sápmelaš - I am Sámi (of Sámi people)

Mun lean Rensjönes mu áhkku luhtte - I am at my grandmother's house at Reindeer Lake (Rensjö, in Swedish)
(áhkku is grandmother, old woman, great-aunt)

This is my favourite place on earth.
báiki máilmmes/máilbmes- place on earth.
vuordámuš  -  expectation; hope ?
dá  -  here (in this place)
son lea - he/she/it is
dá lea here is

My grandmother has taught me all about Sámi traditions.
oahpahit - to teach
has taught? lea oahpahu?

I'm so thankful that I'm able to learn from her.
giitalit - to thank

I started to joik when I was young.
Mun álgin juoigat go mun ledjen unni
('unni' - small, not young, which is 'nuorra')

Joiking is a way of expressing your feelings.

geaidnu - way

When I'm happy, the joik i shappy,

go mun lean ilolaš, --- ilolaš luohti

and when I'm out in nature I sing what I see.

meahcci - forest, wilderness, nature

Every time I joik, my link to the Sámi way of life becomes stronger.

There is so little information available online, and I don't have any textbooks, grammars, dictionaries or anything with me right now, so this is so difficult it makes me want to cry... :´( It feels so frustrating and impossible.

Gulahalan is really good in the sense of teaching you the idea of the language. One could use it to "sentence mine".
This list of words was very good
Also, I found a PDF Northern Sámi lessons - I don't know which one was first, this thread in UniLang, or that PDF...

I suppose it's just to learn all that, and then try again.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Well... I couldn't just drop the Albanian when the week ended. Too fascinating a language. So I have been pottering with Albanian a little the whole week, reviewing my flashcards and so...

I have been on Lang8, which is a place where you produce a text in L2 to get it corrected. Like in school. Now, I have produced two texts in Estonian, and got them corrected, and I'm trying to even have a conversation with an Estonian person.
I have produced two texts in Albanian, and... the silence is... flabberghasting. No-one cares to check the Albanian texts.
There are Albanians out there, but they don't seem to be interested in teaching others. I mean... I can keep writing, but as there is no-one checking the texts, it's pretty useless. I am a little afraid that Sámi is going to go down the same road. It is really frustrating to try to study a language when you are all alone. There is so little resources... so few Sámi speakers out there. :-(

I found some Albanian children's books that look like they could be fantasy... but no-one says anything intelligible about the books. I wouldn't know. No Albanians seem to be having a book blog where they discuss their favorite books. No Albanians seem to be in the several book sites telling what they think about the books. What ever... I think I might get the books anyway, and try to translate them and see what "they have eaten".

These are new books, "Sun, Moon and Snow" was published 2009 and "Little Dragon's Stone" 2011, and the author, Blerim Sinani, seems to be very popular in Albania, and he's my age (40+)... but... no-one says anything about these books. I don't get it. They even look self-published. Like someone has found images that are a little at the right direction on-line and swat it on the cover...

There are over 7 million Albanian speakers in the world, and plenty of Albanian authors, looks like there are more Albanian authors than Finnish authors - and one have to say that one doesn't know much about the Finnish authors outside Finland either, except perhaps Tove Jansson - but I find a LOT of information about Finnish books, at least in Finnish. Go ahead, and google "Dielli, hëna djë bora". 10 relevant results, of which half are to an internet bookstore, and the rest are repetitions of these. And none of them says much about what the book is about. "It's a great book for families to read together". Okay.
"Gurishtja e dragoit të vogël" gives 7 results.

Of course I could do a Kató Lomb and learn Albanian just to be able to translate these books in English, Finnish and Swedish, but... I am getting a bit irritated. There are some 7+million Albanians, of whom quite a lot know both Albanian and English already well enough to do it themselves, I should focus on translating Finnish books, like Anne Aarnio's Lintukansan poika.

To give you something to compare this with, here's "Sqaq l-infern", the first book of a trilogy, written in Maltese, which is a Semitic language only spoken on the little island of Malta. There's less than 1/2 million speakers.

Well... I have ordered them from a bookstore here in Sweden.

Update: I received the response. "We don't have the books in question in our supply, I'm sorry."
I mean... these books are rather popular children's books in Estonia, Albania and Malta. The eldest is from 2008, so it shouldn't be out of print (and it's not - it's like Malta's Harry Potter... they take new prints of it all the time). This book store is the best international bookstore in SWEDEN, and they can't get these books...  These people don't seem to be able to pick up a phone and call to Tirana, Valetta and Tallinn and simply ask them send the books to them. I would have been prepared to pay extra for the trouble... I don't have a credit card, you see, so I can't do it myself... But these people don't seem to have nothing that's not in They boast though, saying "we usually manage to get hold of the most in spite of language". Not so. I am devostated.
I have sent the request to my favorite Finnish bookstore and I am really, really scared, that I'll receive the same answer from them. At least they should be able to get the Estonian book... I hope.
If not...
I don't know anybody in Estonia, Albania or Malta. I don't know what to do.

Other things:
Fartlek language learning
1000 words/phrases in 30 days challenge
the 6 week challenge starts again in November - as does NaNoWriMo...

Week 3: Sámi

Let's see what's out there about Sámi

Sámi language
Árran - Sámi culture and news blog
Isak saba senteret
North Sámi word list
Partial Swadesh list for North Sámi
Omniglot's North Sámi
Etymological database of the Sámi languages 

Games and such - in Norwegian
Some more games

Northern Sámi in Wiktionary
Saamic profile at Learn Any Language
Unilang Sámi
Davvisamégiell grammar

Here's some worksheets

Yle Areena has some tv shows, like news, in North Sámi
(If you find nothing, search with "Oddasat", which is "News" in Sámi)
Yle Sapmi

Wikipedia in Sámi :-D

About Sámi culture

The Sami languages are spoken across northern Scandinavia (Norway and Sweden), Finland and Russia by more than 20 thousand people.

There are nine Sami languages, six of which are written:
Davvi or Northern Sami (about 21.000 speakers)
Inari Sami (300)
Skolt Sami
Kildin Sami
Åarjel or Southern Sami
Lule Sami
The other Sami languages all have less than 20 speakers,
Ter Sami
Pite Sami
Umea Sami

When I think about this I wish I was really, really, really rich, so that I could buy Kuola from Russia, and Lapland from Norway and Sweden (okay, Finland too) and make Sapmi independent... I am ashamed by being a member of an occupying force, about what we - Finns, Russians, Norwegians and Swedes - to the Sámi people, how we have forced them to give up their religion, language, culture, traditions, to take on ours, which is supposed to be better, somehow... At the same time we have exploited their lands and waters, built water plants and mined and done all kinds of stuff like that. Real, proper imperialistic swine...

Now, I am going to study mainly the Northern Sámi, which is the biggest language/dialect spoken in Finland and Sweden. We have news in Sámi in television, and it would be nice to understand what they say.

Northern Sámi is a SVO language.

The alphabet has 29 letters:

Here's how they are pronounced.

"Northern Sami is an agglutinative, highly inflected language that shares many grammatical features with the other Uralic languages. Sami has also developed considerably into the direction of fusional and inflected morphology, much like Estonian to which it is distantly related. Therefore, morphemes are marked not only by suffixes but also by morphophonological modifications to the root. Of the various morphophonological alterations, the most important and complex is the system of consonant gradation."
Yep, quite a lot like Finnish and Estonian.

Sámi has 7 cases, 3 numbers - singular, plural and dual - they have pronouns expressing that there are two of us doing things... or two of you, or two of them. :-) I like that.
3 persons, 4 moods, 4 tenses and 1 gender. Simple.

Numbers in Northern Sámi

1    -    okta
2    -    guokte
3    -    golbma
4    -    njeallje
5    -    vihtta
6    -    guhtta
7    -    čieža
8    -    gávcci
9    -    ovcci
10    -    logi
11    -    oktanuppelohkái
12    -    guoktenuppelohkái
13    -    golbmanuppelohkái
14    -    njealljenuppelohkái
15    -    vihttanuppelohkái
16    -    guhttanuppelohkái
17    -    čiežanuppelohkái
18    -    gávccinuppelohkái
19    -    ovccinuppelohkái
20    -    guoktelogi
21    -    guoktelogiokta
22    -    guoktelogiguokte
23    -    guoktelogigolbma
30    -    golbmalogi
40    -    njealljelogi
50    -    vihttalogi
60    -    guhttalogi
70    -    čiežalogi
80    -    gávccilogi
90    -    ovccilogi
100    -    čuođi
1000    -    duhat

Meeting, greeting and being polite

Hello/hi: Heior Buorre beaivvi
Good morning: Buorre idit
Good evening: Buorre eahket
Good night: Buorre idja
How are you: Mii gul'lo?
Very well, thank you.: Buorre, giittus eatnat.
Goodbye: Oaidnaleapmái
Thank you: Giittus / Giittus eatnat
I don't understand: Mun in ádde
I don't know: In diede
Yes: Joo
No: Ii
Excuse me/sorry: Ándagassii
That doesn't matter/No problems: Ii das mihkkege

The new 52 list

I published my list of the 52 languages, and now I'm already thinking of changing it :-D
"this list is pretty much carved in stone now, and won't be changed..." I said. (and added "unless I choose to do so" Looks like I did. :-D)

I'm going to replace Sanskrit with Farsi (Persian)
I think I might add to the amount of Slavic languages and reduce the amount of Romance languages, even though I love the medieval sound of Lombard, Asturian and Aragonese... so let's see.
Here's a little something about "our language"

I chose to move the Semitic languages higher up on the list, because I live in an area where they are spoken. Might be useful.
I also chose to move the Scandinavians higher up, because I'm actually working with a Norwegian man, whom I could use to practice Norwegian with. Scary :-D

At the moment the list looks like this:



November 2011
Hebrew (Ivrit)

December 2011
Cypriot Maronite Arabic

Januari 2012

Februari 2012
Scots (Lallans)

Mars 2012
Czech (Bohemian)

April 2012
Slovenian (Slovene)

Maj 2012
Scots Gaelic

Juni 2012
Monegasque or Lombard?

Juli 2012
Occitan (Provençal)

Augusti 2012
Spanish (Castilian)
Leonese? Aragonese?

September 2012
Persian (Farsi)
[not decided yet... let's see what comes up... Perhaps I put Sanskrit back on the list anyway :-D]

Oktober 2012

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I like this time in blogging...

You know when you start blogging and not many have found your blog...
I feel like I could still change everything, make the posts better, arrange them better, make them more clear and such things. I don't think I will, though, because this is what it is. This is what I have written. I am a bit overwhelming with all the information and jumping from one thing to another...


I need to get this 52 in 52 in better shape. When it comes to such vigorous challenges, it is better to be better prepared, to have a plan, a structure, everything ready. It is sort of like running a marathon. You better not do it cold turkey.

I am lucky because I'm sick. It gives me a lot of time to study what ever I want.

I am wondering if mind mapping and sentence mining would help me in this... does it speed up learning of languages?

Anki doesn't. I wonder if that is because I decided it won't... I don't think so... They say it's the SRS (space repetition system)  is what makes Anki so good, but I have that with my flashcards.

Okay, this is how I do flashcards

I take a piece of ordinary printer paper and fold it in two and rip, fold in two and rip, over and over again, until I have divided the paper into 16 small pieces. This can be done with anything, my paper guillotine isn't very good, though, so I get different sizes of papers and that is a bit annoying.
I could do only 8 pieces, and just fold them in two, not rip, to have more space for things like sample sentences, pronunciation or other information I think is necessary. I am lazily planning on using this to declination/conjugation.

I write the word - in the form it is in a dictionary - on one side of the paper, flip it over and write the translation in the form that benefits me most on one side. It can be in a language that helps me make the association so that I understand the word, it can be a combination of words, a picture, what ever works. Usually I try to keep them clean and tidy, and just write the dictionary definition of the word or expression.

I write words, expressions, phrases, idioms, what ever. I try to break up the latter into words.
For example "il y a" = il - the subject "it"; y - the adverbial pronoun "there" and a - the third person singular present tense of avoir - "to have"
I would also add flashcards for
the Finnish demonstrative pronouns; "tämä, tuo, se, nämä, nuo, ne"
personal pronouns in the way they are declined, usually following the Finnish "minä, sinä, hän, me, te, he" - in French it would be "je, tu, il/elle/on, nous, vous, ils/ons" (because "on, ons" is a sort of personal pronoun that declines as il and elle. In German the last word on the list would be Sie, because it declines like they.)
and the word pair "here - there", which in Finnish are ordinary cases of words "tämä" and "tuo". Then I would add the declination of "avoir" in "minä, sinä, hän..." in present tense.
I would also add the other such pronouns as the language had them.
So you could end up with a pile of some 15 cards, just with "il y a".

I would like to mark the cards with the language so that I will remember in the future which language it is - because I am not very organized, so I end up having a box of flashcards that all look the same. I usually just throw them away, but that's not a good thing to do, because the flashcards can be used as a dictionary, and they are some sort of measurement of my vocabulary. Of course, when I get to the point where I need to check about a word on every page I won't be using flashcards anymore, so I wouldn't ever end up with like tens of thousands of flashcards. :-D
Mark the language on both sides (because I write the "translation" in Finnish, Swedish, English, French or Germans, and sometimes even other languages.)
I don't usually do this, because it takes too much time and stops the flow if you need to scribble three letters in the lower corner of the card... stupid, huh? :-D

Nothing fancy, weird or amazing so far :-D Not going to come either. It's just that there are actually people who don't know how to use flashcards. So, tallyho!

I end up with a pile of about 50-200 flashcards. This is how I use them:

I have this pile of flashcards (or papers) in a small pouch in my pocket or bag all the time. Every time I get time, like when waiting for a bus or train, sitting in the bus or train, waiting in slow lines, you know, every moment you can't do anything but wait, I get the pouch up and start going through the cards.

I keep the cards in my hand, and read one side. I try to remember, guess, know, what on the other side. If I am 100% certain, if I was correct, I put the card between my index and middle finger of the same hand that's holding the cards. If I was not, I put it last in the pile. I go through the cards, one by one, and end up with two piles.
(If I am interrupted, I put the cards in my pouch cross-wise, so that they won't get mixed. The pouch is just big enough to have the cards in both directions.)
When I'm done, I put the pile I knew back in the pouch, and repeat this with the other pile, as many times as necessary for me to know the words. (This is where the SRS comes in to play. I get the repetition within the exercise, and the harder the word, the more repetition I get. Simple.)

When there's only about 10 cards in the pile, I start using mnemonic techniques actively.

Before that I was using them unconsciously.
For example; don't change the order of the cards... your mind doesn't mind what it uses to hang the memory on. It doesn't matter that you hang on the word "chapeau" on "chat", because those two followed each other in your flashcard pile. At this moment it's okay to remember cat in hat and both words when you need only one of them. You will probably do it the rest of your life, but believe me, when you actually KNOW the words, it won't slow you down, as some people are saying. It is okay to remember the Albanian word for "day before yesterday" (pardje) together with yesterday (dje), and "day after tomorrow" (pasnesër) with "tomorrow" (nesër). (You will also learn "par" - before, "pas" - after).
(Today is 'sot' - soot in Swedish, fool in both English and French... not to be mixed with sod, which is a little different kind of an idiot, except in Breton. ;-) In Finnish "war" is "sota, in Estonian "sõda", and "sota" in Spanish is supposed to be the jack of cards (or 'insolent woman') coming from the same word as French 'sous' and Italian 'sotto' - sub, below, under... Hmm... Black soldier playing Black Jack with a chimney sweep... "I can't today, I'm having a Black Jack night" (and I wrote that 'knight' LOL)
You see how my mind works?
I also hang the words 'mungojnë' (missing, absent) to St. Mungo's hospital from Harry Potter, and 'mundohem' (try, toil, agonize) to Mundo Cani dog from the Book of the Dun Cow.

When I remember all the cards, I go through the whole pile a couple more times. There will be a couple of words I have forgotten, but that's just "SRS" :-D

Then I turn the pile around and do the same, this time from start language to target language.

After that I repeat the whole procedure a couple of days, then once a week, then perhaps once a month.

Now, learning vocabulary is not the end in itself. Words are tools, and collecting tools just to have them in a toolbox and never use them, is rather stupid, even for an Aspie like me.
You see, words are living creatures, and you feed them by using them. If you don't feed them they die. You will forget them. Of course it might be easier to relearn something you have forgotten than something you have never known, but you have to work on it anyway. If you use them, you will remember them without any difficulties and be able to use to hang more memories on... So even if you "just" collect words, use them, or you will lose them... and what is a collector with an empty collection?

So I haven't been just working with Estonian this week. (I haven't been working much with Estonian either...)
I have been thinking about Albanian as well. Repeating numbers, making some sentences, looking at some recipes and so on.

I have noticed that I need to look up the basic word; infinitive of the verb or nominative of the noun. I need to look at the word families. I really need to pick the idioms and phrases in pieces. I need to know Estonian "palun" (please, you're welcome) means "I beg". I need to understand the language to be able to learn it.
"Interestingly, palun itself has grammaticalized into a pragmatic particle from a verb form 'I beg' and it also occurs as a question preface, as in palun kuhu te elistate 'please/excuse me, where are you calling?'"
- Ritva Laury, Ryoko Suzuki; Subordination in conversation: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective

Repeating phrases, learning things by heart like your line in a play, seeing language studies like acting works for some people, and really wonderfully. (There is a Finnish actor, Heikki Kinnunen, who starred a Russian language course for Finnish television. He said he doesn't know a word of Russian, he just learned his lines by heart and repeated them. I don't think that's quite true... you can't much do things like that without SOMETHING fastening. But - I believe that can be very useful. I do speak with Scottish accent after watching Gargoyles :-D

BTW, this woman is "not black". She's Hispanic and speaks Spanish... they say. Not only blind, but deaf and dumb too, those people :-)
just a note here... This is Leila Lopes, she is Angolan, and her skin color is obvious to anyone with eyes. Her parents might have been Cuban, but there are black people in Cuba as well. On the video she speaks Portuguese, not Spanish.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Female polyglots

For some reason someone decided to start bringing in gender in discussion. Why are there so few female polyglots?

Women are not more talented in anything than men are. That's just as chauvinist an idea as that men were more talented than women in anything. Pure sow chauvinism.
Just like it's hog chauvinism to say women are muddleheaded and cannot keep the languages separated.

I don't know if women are more interested in languages than men are... Might be. Then also, might not. I would say, the interest is different and for different reasons. You can't take the fact that girls study more languages in school, than boys, as any sign of this. There are several reasons to why this happens.
What can be used as an indication is what people do on their free time. There are vast resources available online, and all you need to learn a lot of languages is internet access. Libraries are also just as open for women as they are for men, and bookstores sell books to both men and women alike. Women can't blame the patriarchaic society for not learning languages. There's plenty of resources available, if there only is interest...  so I wonder if the women ARE more interested in languages than men. Frankly, I doubt that.

I have Asperger's so I'm not your typical female, but I want to learn languages because I love languages. I love linguistics and philology, I love word lists, I love grammar, I love the fact how people can take some 20-40 phonemes and produce such magical, complex worlds like... all the books, novels, stories and tales in the world... how you can with a couple of words create so vivid pictures that people, in different world, time, life, can read those words and see what you wanted to show them... My husband sees languages as tools, a way of communication, like Benny does. (Which is what makes me believe that Benny has ADHD). None of this has anything to do with your gender.

I have a blog about languages, because I want to write about what I love, because you might be interested in the things I have found, and because you might find something useful in my experiences. I don't do this to brag, because there's always someone who's better, quicker, knows more and is more fluent with the languages... besides. I don't SPEAK if I can avoid it. brr.
And if you look at the other polyglot blogs... Benny doesn't do it to brag. He does it to encourage others to do it too. He even says "if I can do it, so can you". That's not bragging. That's being generous and helpful, which are generally approved qualities, so a woman cannot even say that "it's not expected of me, I can't go on bragging about me and my skills, it's not womanly..." or the other crap I have heard as explanation to why there are fewer blogs and vlogs by female polyglots. If there's a will, there's a way. So if there are no female polyglot bloggers around, it's because there are no female polyglotters interested in blogging around.

Nevertheless - WHAT THE HECK DOES IT MATTER WHAT I HAVE BETWEEN MY LEGS? I really, sincerely thought when it comes to languages it's only what I have between my ears that matter. I am offended by the sexism of the person who even came to think about this question.

I started studying languages in 1978, in Finland. I only knew Finnish. My resources and possibilities were EXTREMELY limited.

My first foreign language was English. I have been studying it in one form or another since then.
My second foreign, and also second domestic language was Swedish - officially. That I started studying 1982. I use it every day as I live in Sweden.
My third language - officially - was German.
My fourth language was French.
I have studied also
- Spanish
- Italian
- Dutch
- Danish
- Icelandic
- Russian
- Arabic
- Japanese
- Hungarian
- Latin
- Greek
- Ivrit
- Swahili
Right now that's all I can remember... might be more. That is what I have had access to, through phrasebooks, textbooks, dictionaries and language courses. I have collected as much of any language I have been able to, which was not easy in the little town in Finland in 80's.
I really don't know why I didn't study languages much in the 90's... there were other things to do, I suppose.
But - now I'm into it again :-) I am fluent only in Finnish, English and Swedish.
I can't valuate the my knowledge of the rest, it's really difficult. Do you use vocabulary as a measurement, or how many words on a page you don't know? I know I'm satisfied with my Finnish, English and Swedish, the rest needs more or less work.

Now, are there any female polyglots? It depends on how you define a polyglot.

P.S. I really like the image stories give of Ken Hale . Now, they say most of those are very much exaggerated, and there are no such language savants as Hoshi Sato. I suppose she should be mentioned when talking about female polyglots. :-D
But here's a real life Polyglot who happens to be a woman; Kató Lomb. (Or was, as she's dead now.)

Couldn't get LeylaRandomness here, so go to YouTube to see her.

P.S. Are Women Really Better at Languages?
"Scientific literature has been littered with studies over the past 40 years documenting the superior language skills of girls, but the biological reason why has remained a mystery until now.
Researchers report in the journal Neuropsychologia that the answer lies in the way words are processed:
Girls completing a linguistic abilities task showed greater activity in brain areas implicated specifically in language encoding, which decipher information abstractly.
Boys, on the other hand, showed a lot of activity in regions tied to visual and auditory functions, depending on the way the words were presented during the exercise.
The finding suggests that although linguistic information goes directly to the seat of language processing in the female brain, males use sensory machinery to do a great deal of the work in untangling the data. In a classroom setting, it implies that boys need to be taught language both visually (with a textbook) and orally (through a lecture) to get a full grasp of the subject, whereas a girl may be able to pick up the concepts by either method."


And of course there are still chauvinists around us, who, even though they SEEM interested in diversity and multiculturalism, are in reality only interested in it as a way of educating "the foreigners" about the amazing, wonderful and superior world.

You know, like missionaries all over the invention of Christianity. They have been leadning forces in the study of foreign languages, with only one purpose - to translate the Bible in as many languages as possible, "to make the whole world Christian".

(You know the Chinese cultural revolution when tons of culture was destroyed? Well, the Christians did that in Europe since 3rd century c.e. Luckily for us, we now can save at least some of what was destroyed. Of course, the burned scriptures, artefacts and people who might have invented something cannot be saved...  Archimedes' palimpsest. Yay!)

Of course I appreciate this, because the missionaries HAVE saved hundreds of languages, by writing grammars, dictionaries, phrasebooks and fairytale collections, and the work they have done translating the Genesis to all the languages they have encountered is the base of Rosetta project.

But they are also responsible of killing thousands of languages, by forcing the people to change their lifestyles to "fit" the Western, Christian one which is EXTREMELY limited and chauvinist. (Frankly, Christianity is a Greek invention, developed and spread by Romans, and carries the Indo-European view on life and people, which fits to Indo-Europeans and no-one else. One can even question if it fits to anyone but Greeks and Romans. The Germanic languages have changed Christianity quite strongly, by creating Protestantism with all its forms... I'm sorry to point this out, but Germanic people - English included - are pretty imperialistic and chauvinist themselves, and a bit differently than the Greek and Roman peoples.)

Now we have this idiot who believes "comparative linguistics" is "dead", because the "Indo-European languages" are quite thoroughly studied.

Well... he's an American. Why doesn't he throw out his Indo-European chauvinism and start doing comparative philology in America? The Native Americans have an amazing collection of languages that are practically unresearched - as the European invaders and occupiers haven't been in any way interested in them, with all their chauvinism. They also have their own Great Literature, which is even less studied.
You see, "literature" doesn't need to be written down. It is believed the Tanakh is a collection of stories, laws, beliefs and so on, not originating from those people who wrote it down, they just recorded it, turned the oral literature into written form. Probably Homer also just wrote down what he had heard, just like Elias Lönnrot did when he wrote the Kalevala, or what brothers Grimm did with the fairytales.
This is the sort of "comparative linguistics" and old fashioned linguistics Alexander should be focusing on, and not the Indo-European languages and such.

"As a product of Western civilization, I cannot help but draw a fundamental line between the way I can relate to European Indo-European languages on the one hand and all other "Exotica" on the other."
As a product of Western civilization, BUT a native from one of the few Western "non-Indo-European" countries, I am free of that attitude. Now, I don't think it's because of that, but because I am not an imperialistic chauvinist... but perhaps I'm not because my native language is NOT Indo-European.

He explains long and hard about how he has always wanted to be a polyglot and how he loves languages and blah blah blah, but:

- he gave up studying Persian, because his advisor was stupid enough to not understand that an undergraduate doesn't really know what he will be doing when he's done, and the advisor's job is to take what the undergraduate is interested in - like Persian - and make it fit his curriculum, and not the other way around, and Alexander wasn't smart enough to realize that studying Persian was - what? a couple of hours in a week, and he could figure out what to do with it later.

"Today, although the term "Linguistics" sounds as if it has to do with languages, it most often does not concern the actual study of foreign languages."

I suppose it was the same reason to why he doesn't understand that linguistics is a study of LANGUAGE, not languageS, and if you study LANGUAGE, ALL individual languages in the world are valuable to you as your subject... Which is something I understood already when I was a teenager and found the books about philology and linguistics in our library...

Nevertheless, he gave up the study of Persian, because someone told him he shouldn't. Your advisor cannot FORCE you to stop studying something you want to study. A man with more spine would have insisted. If Alexander had been a girl, and her study advisor had told her to quit University studies and leave that to men, she would have. Not so Joyce Brothers, and SHE is old enough to be Alexander's mother!

Okay, did he take up the Persian studies after he graduated? Well... he says he has 98% knowledge of the language, but mostly of "traditional tales"... and what he tells about his language studies and knowledge makes me suspect he wouldn't survive a day on the streets of Tehran. So, practically, he doesn't know Persian. He's twice as old as when someone told him not to study Persian, and he still seems to obey. *sigh*

Now he has had 15 years to "turn himself into the polyglot he always wanted to be".
Is he a polyglot? Sure... in Indo-European Classical languages, mostly dead, unused languages... Like ancient Norse and Swedish.
Of the 38 languages he lists on his page, only three are not Indo-European. His wife is Korean, he lived in Korea for 5-10 years, and YET HE KNOWS MORE OLD NORSE AND OLD SWEDISH THAN KOREAN... And he claims to be passionate about knowing languages?

On top of that he talks about Chinese and all that, and then he found himself in Chinese, heard people actually using the language, and now he is not the least interested in it. Oh... Barry Farber talks about dating and marrying languages... Alexander Arguelles is a language necrophile. He's only interested in a language for as long the language is dead, or pretends to be dead, as in written form. He wouldn't read a modern Russian novel, he chooses Dostoyevski. He wouldn't study contemporary Korean even to be able to communicate with his Korean wife, he studies ancient Buddhist texts. He probably speaks fluently all Scandinavian languages, in both modern and old forms, but would use that to be able to read the old books and scriptures, not to discuss with Scandinavian philologists.

Another thing that irritates me extremely with this guy is that he goes on and on about his "beloved Lebanon"... which he left because Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006. He didn't even wait for the first day of that conflict to end before he took his family and ran. He says he waited for the situation to calm down - which happened only a month later - but that never happened... he says... He says he asked the Lebanese to send him his language library, and they did, and it arrived "intact" - but does he draw the conclusion that if his library was intact, and in such degree intact that his Lebanese friends could gather all the pieces and ship them to him, his home was also intact, and if he had only stayed put, he'd be still happily living in Lebanon... No. That doesn't accur to him. He is still whining about having been forced to leave Lebanon (no, you weren't forced. You quitted and you ran, just like you do with everything in your life the second there's any problems. You left your "beloved" Lebanon just as you left your "beloved" Persian 20 years earlier, and now you whine and blame everyone else.) and wanting to go back... I suppose the Lebanese don't want him back, and are telling him how "bad" the situation is still, how volatile it is in Middle East, and how he should stay away to keep his family safe.

He has two sons, born 2002 in Korea and 2004 in Lebanon, and a Korean wife, and not even once does he mention their wishes, or what they think about moving around the world. The elder was 2 when he took the family to Lebanon, two years later it was USA, three years later Shanghai, and all the time he's dreaming about being back in Lebanon.

Now, this guy - a professor in language and foreign language studies - does not understand that comparative philology is not "study of the relations and origins of Indo-European languages".

"However, whereas Comparative Philology had a tendency to focus inwards upon the origins of the Indo-European family in a nationalistic sense, Polyliteracy faces outwards towards expanding the individual scholar’s horizons by imparting the ability to read classic texts of Great Books in the tongues of other civilizations."

Classic texts of Great Books in the tongues of other civilizations? You mean, reading Indo-European literature in non-Indo-European languages? I hope not.

He says that what started as something has changed during the times and has lost its significance... so in stead of reviving the existing science, he creates a new one, and calls it "polyliteracy"... Literacy is the ability to read and write. One could expand it to mean "being wellread", that is appreciating of literature. Okay... I suppose that name could be used of people reading books in different languages. But it is not in any way descriptive of comparative linguistics or a better way of describing what comparative linguistics is. Now, Alexander says it's better, because
a) "the work of the great nineteenth century scholars was so thorough that there is little left uninvestigated in the traditional areas of European Indo-European language families, and the grammars and dictionaries that they produced stand still today as standard reference works"
Now it's just for someone to do that for the rest of the world's languages.

b) "while it is most instructive to employ the comparative method when studying phenomena that share many commonalities, given that this has been done and the results can be used as a foundational point of reference, the time is ripe for the study of Language itself as a commonality"
Yeah... that's called linguistics, Alexander. Perhaps you have heard of that?

c) "philologists... ...not only studied grammar but also folklore, the history of religions, and literature"
Yes... and that's called linguistics too. There is really no need to give it a shiny new name, just because you and your teachers 20 years ago were too stupid to understand what linguistics was, so that you would have understood to study that in stead of what you studied.

I don't like the idea I get about this person according to his own homepage. Sounds incredibly stupid and ignorant, and he's supposed to be a PROFESSOR OF LANGUAGES. Oh dear. Well... that only supports my idea of universities as dumbening institutions where people are made into mindless followers of a cult of science, where the professor is the High Priest whose words, opinion, ideas and theories are The Law... brr.

But, I suppose we know now why he doesn't throw away his chauvinism and start doing comparative linguistics and philology and studying the American languages and literature...

He can't. Simply because he is a chauvinist. He can only see that the Native Americans don't have any Library of Alexandria. He hasn't realized that EVERY human being is a library. Every dying elderly person is the library of Alexandria in flames... and the Indo-Europeans have been burning the libraries of Americas for 500 years.

P.S. Here's about the "shadowing" and here's some reviews of the method. Sure, sounds like it has some benefits. I have noticed that I notice my own mistakes as I read the text together with a recorded voice. I don't think walking swiftly and "loudly articulating" repeating what a voice on recording says would work too well... I think it's better to do it my way, so that you can see the words and you'd know what is actually being said. Especially French is a rather muddled language where it is easy to stupid foreigners mistake and misunderstand what is being said. I mean, the misread lyrics in popular songs is a rather common phenomenon in YouTube.