My plans for this year – language related and not.

For a while I played with the idea to actually post something of substance. You know – meaty and useful fact-filled post instead of blabbing about myself. But then I thought – if the latter is so much fun, why should I stop it.  So I’ll leave the groundbreaking  research of Polish maledicta for the next post and spend this one on talking about what important business I’m neglecting when I blog.

So here’s what I plan to do in the next 12 months, language-wise:

– Learn (some) Armenian until July, because -guess what- that’s when I’ll be visiting Armenia;
– Start Arabic (MSA and Levantine) somewhere in the second half of the year because of the long-term career prospects;
– Improve my Lezgi to the point of usability, continue with my learninglezgi blog and make it (and my Lezgi webpages) a serious resource, because I should’ve done that a long time ago;
– Finish my series of language sketches entitled “Języki Afryki od Z do A” [“African Languages from Z to A” if you can’t guess], because I like to finish tasks I started. My aim is to describe in readable way at least one African language for each alphabet letter, to give the Polish readers (as it’s written in Polish) a glimpse at Africa’s linguistic diversity. I’ve arrived at P (for Pulaar) just now – all the sketches are available at the excellent Polish Africa-themed portal, some of them – at my website;
– In connection with the above – learn more Zulu/Xhosa than I already have. Because many people speak it, some people I know  are trying to learn it and going to South Africa next year seems a good idea;
– Resurrect my Italian and Hungarian, maybe start writing blogs in them? Because that’d make my resume look intimidatingly random;
– Start a Russian language website/blog about Iranian languages and a Polish course for Persian speakers. Because  my Russian and my Persian both need practicing;
– … sigh… learn French. Because once in a while you have to learn something useful.

On top of that, I’d like to write a lot more, and try to publish my writing. Some of the topic I’d like to start working on (if I haven’t already):

– a map of Iranian clerical elite’s family ties
– a guide to the Great Ayatollahs and their role in modern-day Shi’a polities
– a book about Iranian state and its structures (what we have on Iran  in Polish is of lamentable quality)
– a comparative grammar of the three major varieties of modern Persian (Iranian Persian, Dari, Tajiki) with mentioning of  the non-literary varieties (Tehrani, Esfahani, Yazdi, Kabuli, Herati, Hazaragi, Northern Tajik) as well as closely related languages (Tati, Juhuri, Lori etc.)

So, as you can see, I am an ambitious planner. Keep your fingers crossed for me actually achieving at least some of my goals, as that wasn’t the case for many previous ones (equally grandiose).

This entry is a sort of public promise made to ensure that if I fail, I’m not the only person to know about my failure. Hopefully the fear of public embarrasment would make me work harder than I otherwise would.

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  • kasia89  On March 12, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Vas-y! Le français est facile! Parfois il pose de petits problèmes, comme l’utilisation des articles… mais sois tranquille : c’est réalisable ! Bonne chance, je croise les doigts pour toi !

    Se puoi capiscere quello che ho scritto in francese, congratulazioni! Spero di potere parlare con te in questa lingua una volta nel futuro! O leggere il tuo blog francese ;) Per il momento non ti suscito più l’interesso di italiano, meglio studia il armeno…
    Ti abbraccio!


    • peterlin  On March 16, 2009 at 2:50 pm

      J’ai compris tous se que tu as ecrit, bien sur. Mais ce “doigt” au lieu de latin “digitus” est tres abominable. Je prefere les changements phonetiques italiennes :)
      Quelle est la differance entre un conversation en francais et la meme conversation en polonais?

  • Jade  On March 12, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    A question about your Herat dialect sketch on your website. On the wiki article for the Herati dialect, it says that 3rd person singular is marked with -ak (at least in the past tense) –لهجه_هراتی – Was this not mentioned in the book you sourced from? I don’t know any Heratis so I can’t confirm what is written on the wiki.

    Also, the possible future that you describe (xāraftom ect.) seems like a contraction of خواهد رفتم (as opposed to the definite future; خواهم رفت; is this right? In Kabuli there is something similar, though from what I can tell its actual usage is quite sparse (xāt raftäm)

    You may be interested in the recently published فرهنگ فارسی ـ دری، دری ـ فارسی from Farhang Moaser in Iran, it by someone from an Armenian university. I have it, it seems alright, but it seems like he didn’t just stick with one dialect but mixed and matched from all over Afghanistan, so some of the terms he lists for Dari may only be used in certain areas and not familiar in others, and some of his listings are just different transcriptions in the Arabic alphabet for foreign loanwords (though of course there are also the more useful subtleties between loanwords noted, like motar/māshīn). Shortcomings aside, It is pretty cheap, only 2000 tomans, so if you know anyone going to Iran you could get them to pick up a copy for you. What I found particularly interesting is that he wrote before the Dari – Farsi section:

    در برخی از واژه های دری معاصر حروف ځ و څ الفبای پشتو حفظ شده است۔

    I have noticed that loanwords from Pashto sometimes retain retroflexes when said by Dari speakers, though I have not noticed the preservation of dz and ts in loanwords, possibly because the dialect of Pashto that I am familiar with (Peshawar-Kabul) is prone to reduce dz to z and ts to s, however it may well be true in the west of Afghanistan, though I haven’t met anyone from those areas as of yet.

    • peterlin  On March 13, 2009 at 8:31 am

      -ak in Herati. I have to check if the book mentions it. But, judging from my exposure to Dari, it’s not an exclusively Herati thing. Some of the Afghan students I used to work with a couple years ago would talk like that (and it took me some time to notice what’s going on, at first those hard k sounds seemed inserted at random) and AFAIK none of them hailed from Herat (I remember Kabulis, Panjshiris and Badakhshanis).

      Sound-preservation. Here I can confirm what the dictionary says. Some of the above mentioned people (Kabulis in particular) would say “pohandzai” or “tsokay” even though they didn’t really speak Pashto.

      Thanks for the book tip. I might be able to pick it up when I’m in Tehran (I might end up there for a couple of days late April).

  • eskandarj  On March 12, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Exciting plans! We have a lot in common in our language plans for the next year. I’m going to try to pick up some Armenian as well, though I don’t have a lot of free time to spend on the language and I’m still not sure whether I’ll be going to Armenia in July. I am focusing most of my efforts on Arabic (MSA and Egyptian) for the time being. I’d rather learn Levantine or Iraqi, but Egyptian Arabic is relevant to my current job, and it doesn’t hurt that my favorite materials are geared towards the Egyptian dialect.

    I also need to learn French, and I feel exactly the same as you do about it. I have been dragging my heels on learning the language for years. I can read French decently, but I need to significantly improve my reading skills in order for it to be useful in graduate school. I can’t understand spoken French, nor can I speak or write it, and I intend to keep it that way. I also need to learn to read German at some point for grad, but I will do that only when I am explicitly forced to.

    All of your proposed topics on Iran and Persian sound excellent, and I would love to read them if you write them in a language I understand.

    • peterlin  On March 16, 2009 at 2:38 pm

      A great similarity indeed. Please don’t succeed if I fail :) What do your Armenia-in-July plans depend on and why do you need French and German? I mean, all what’s worth reading has already been translated into English, no? Seriously, what do you (plan to) do for grad?
      Right now I’m stuck with writing about how the Iranians accuse us of trying to launch a velvet revolution in Tehran. It’s actually an account of one of the many conspiracy theories published in Tehran these days (but this one supposedly sells well). Interested in hearing the story in English? I might translate it, but first I have to submit the Polish version before the deadline.

  • Jade  On March 13, 2009 at 11:53 am

    It seems you are right! I just did a few searches adding -ak to the end of 3rd person verbs and I found postings on forums in quite a range of dialects, and found quite a lot in Kabuli (well, my guess based on the transliterations), and also Bukhari (though not Tajiki). It is a bit odd that this adding of -ak to verbs is not mentioned in Glassman’s Conversational Dari or Raonaq’s Manuel de persan parlé en afghanistan, as both of them include quite a lot of Kabuli colloquialisms. Perhaps they felt it was “too colloquial” to include ;) I will ask my friends about the usage of this when I get chance and report back.

    The ISBN of the book is: 964-8637-46-6. I think I misread the excerpt I posted from the dictionary; I think he is referring to the letters (not the pronunciation) as they are written, as he has included both ts and dz from the Pashto alphabet in words he lists under Dari. It is interesting however that Kabuli Dari speakers pronounce it pohandzay while Pashto speakers from that same kinda area in Afghanistan (Kabul – Jalalabad) would drop the hard sound and simply pronounce it as pohanzay.

  • eskandarj  On March 16, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    My summer plans depend on a lot of factors: what happens with my current job, whether I can finally get my Iranian passport by July, how much money I’ve saved, etc. So it’s still all up in the air.

    I’ve applied to several PhD programs for the fall, mostly Near/Middle Eastern Studies and a few Comparative Literature programs. Apparently there is something worth reading in French and German, as most of the programs I applied to require reading knowledge of at least one, if not both. As I said, though, I will only learn German if I am accepted into a grad program and they tell me “learn German or we kick you out.” Nothing against the language per se, but it just seems so useless and uninteresting to me.

    I would definitely be interested in hearing the story in English. Iran’s paranoia, although sometimes well-founded, is usually embarrassing and counterproductive. (Besides, if anyone’s trying to launch a velvet revolution in Iran, it’s obviously Finland).

  • kasia89  On March 17, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    J’ai déjà connu le français quand j’ai commencé l’apprentissage de l’italien, alors c’est difficile pour moi de dire ce que je préfère, mais il est vrai que l’italien est beaucoup plus simple pour moi grâce à la connaissance du français… Ma prof de l’italien rigole toujours que nous sommes étudiants assez bizarres – il suffit de nous dire : « cette règle est la même qu’en français ! » et on comprend tout d’un coup ;)
    « Quelle est la differance entre un conversation en francais et la meme conversation en polonais? » : en fait, de quoi demandes-tu par cette phrase ? Bien sûr, je comprends sa signification, mais il me manque le sens de son contexte… Si tu demandes des différences grammaticales de la conversation, ouf… il y en a trop ! Précise ton vœu, s’il te plaît…

    • peterlin  On March 18, 2009 at 6:02 pm

      No time right now, so in English: you had said you hoped to talk to me in French (actually “in this language” you said, so it could be Italian as well). As it happens, we had already been ‘talking’ in Polish, so I asked what’s the difference between the conversation in French (that you hope for), and the same conversation in Polish (that we’re already having). A rhetorical question only and not entirely serious one at that.
      Oh, and thanks for the links!

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