Skip to main content

yes, you understood me correctly

i figured it had been a while since i gave an update on my progress with language learning. it's gone from being something i wanted to try, but lacked the means and time, to something i had put my mind to, to something that's become a conduit to all sorts of different discoveries, not just about languages, but about people and history. it's also become the thing i do when i feel like my anxieties are getting the better of me, because its methodical nature and self-controlled pace help me focus on something other than the fact that every synapse in my brain has suddenly decided to dump its cache in my think hole.

as you might remember, however, i occasionally get the feeling that duolingo, my preferred place for free online language learning, is preparing me for a rather strange life in other countries. [see here and here.] so here's another edition of "things i really must work into a conversation".

you might recall that last time, i was learning the important skill of acquiring a rhinoceros in dutch. now i'm happy to say that i've upped my negotiation game:

always best to start small

as you can see, i'm learning to work my way up to the rhinoceros. once i've established myself as a reliable sheep customer, a rhinoceros will just be the next logical step.

and if anyone asks me why i need these small sheep, i do have an answer for them, although, unfortunately, i'd have to switch to german to give it.

who else will protect me from vampire butterflies?
i also have some honed bargaining skills in welsh [because who is more likely to have a sheep than a welshman?]

they're all the fashion this year

i could also give the welshman suggestions of where he might find the rhinoceros, which is my ultimate goal:

making language great again

but if i'm confusing a poor dutch buyer with all this talk, i could just fall back on one the oldest bargaining chips a woman has in her arsenal: subtle flirting

would you like to count the pieces?

in a more general way, i'm kind of convinced that the entire swedish course is useful primarily for when you're out in the scandinavian woods, drinking to the point of hallucination:

we've all reached that point at least once
it's undercooked. abort and order pizza

sometimes, i'm worried that little duo, the magical language owl, is actually out to make me seem a bit of a thicky.


alternate translation: i failed math

or that he's getting me to spend time on things that aren't really necessary.


did you think i wouldn't notice??

but there are a number of things that i probably am going to be very useful to me...

you'd better hand me the pills

i am thrilled that i will be able to discuss my weltschmerz in polish.

then there's this little gem, which i'll pull out as either a teaser or a warning:

from "italian for mobsters"

i'll clarify who and where the first victim is a little later...

i do think that this one will be very practical, when i want to offer some criticism at a show, but don't want to hurt anyone's feelings:


this has been an issue 

even better, i know how to switch out the pronoun, so i'm not limited to criticising boys.

but, given the situation post-brexit and the bizarre downward spiral into which the united kingdom has flushed itself, i think that i will have the opportunity to use this one quite frequently:




so as you can see, i'm making a lot of linguistic progress. pretty soon, you won't have any idea what i'm saying [as opposed to just not having any idea why i'm saying it]. and eventually, i will have that rhinoceros.

Comments

as long as you're here, why not read more?

don't speak

you might think that it sounds dramatic, but linguistic genocide is something that happens. people in power will go to great lengths to eradicate certain languages, not just for the sheer joy of making the world a lesser place, but as a way of beating down the culture that's associated with it. language has a unique reciprocal bond with culture, and every group that has attempted to break down another has recognised that forbidding a cultural group from communicating in their own language is an extremely effective way to tear apart their culture.

there are lots [and lots and lots and lots] of examples of this sort of thing, some successful, some not, but far too many to cover in one blog post. however, i thought it was worth looking at some languages that have been the subjects of active repression, and what the political consequences of that have been.

devastation :: the native north american languages :: it should come as no surprise that the largest genocide in history [by a ma…

losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …