Category Archives: blabbing

List of languages – silly approach

To complement yesterday’s serious entry here’s something from the realm of daydreaming. Mind you, I have done such listings many times already, so when I say they are silly and next-to-useless, I know what I mean.

Without further ado, a categorized list of languages I would like to learn someday (if the world was perfect). The categories are not clear-cut, that is one and the same language’s appearance in a couple of them could be equally justified. In particular, almost all (or all?) of them could qualify under the first label, which is…

Languages I would like to relearn

As said above I had longer or shorter stints with most if not all of the languages listed. But only in a very limited number of cases can I say that I had learnt them to a usable level at some point.

Criterion – having once been able to use it actively and/or having made my way through a teach yourself textbook (or equivalent).

Languages belonging here (in no particular order): Italian, Hungarian, Hindi, Finnish, Indonesian, Serbian, Romanian, Georgian

Languages spoken in Iran

As I am based in Iran now and – if all’s well – will remain here for the next couple of years, learning a minority language spoken here is tempting.

Languages considered: Azerbaijani, Armenian, Kurdish

Regionally important languages   

Now, my stay in Iran will end someday and after that happens I have a good chance to be posted in some other country in the region. It would be good and useful to be prepared for that. For instance by learning: Arabic or Turkish

Globally important languages

No matter where I will work there are some languages which could always come in handy. Worldwide these are (apart from English, Russian and Arabic): Chinese, French and Spanish, and in Europe German could be an interesting addition.

Languages I have ‘worked’ with

There are three little-known languages I have made, am making or will make websites for. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have some idea about them, instead of just providing materials. So, I would like to learn Lezgi, Ewe and Mari

Languages important because of the diversity

If you thought all the languages already listed make for a very diverse collection, think again. In my opinion, there are still many glaring empty slots. To fill them even in half I would need, at the very least, the following: Xhosa (or Zulu), Maori, Seneca (or Mohawk), Quechua (or Aymara), Somali, Albanian, Tagalog, Yolngu Mata, Nheengatu, Tok Pisin  (I only mentioned those I am interested in, for a truly comprehensive list you would need at least a couple more esp. from East and South-East Asia).

Random languages or challenges ahead

My experience so far clearly shows that I can never predict what I will be involved with even a year later. In particular I hadn’t been planning beforehand for many of my ‘language adventures’, including Persian, Mari, Lezgi or Ewe, yet they happened and in at least one case (Persian, of course) had a profound impact on my carreer and life as a whole.

This is to say the list is always open-ended. For all I know tomorrow I could meet a speaker of Oromo or Chukchee or Tetum… or somebody from Guadalcanal or Omo Valley (or Manhattan ;)  might finally take up The Offer… or I might – at some point – decide to devote, say a month or three to learning a language I hadn’t learn before just to check what is possible… The future possibilities are – as the whole future is – indeed limitless.

Closing remarks

Believe it or not, but I tried hard to limit myself when listing the above languages. For instance, I have completely omitted dead languages, at least some of which are (or could be) of some interest. Also, I didn’t list all the Slavic, Caucasian and Iranian languages I am vaguely (or more than vaguely) interested in.

Bear also in mind, that I am a reader and not a talker – as reading is much easier to learn and maintain than conversational skills, my chances for learning a wide selection of languages are a little bit better. This doesn’t mean I can reasonably expect to learn all the languages listed here, or even most of them – almost certainly I will learn only a couple of them to an intermediate level (ie. can read newspaper articles), and probably none of them really well.

You may have noticed that some language names are bolded. These are the ones I am assigning a somewhat higher priority to.

As always, I am eager to hear/see/read any comments.

List of languages – sensible approach

Publishing lists of languages one is learning, wants to learn or merely dreams of learning seems to be a current fad in the Polish community of language bloggers (see eg. here and here).

As dull and vapid autobiographical posts like this one are bound to be read more (humans are gossipy animals after all) than anything more substantial, and as at the moment I don’t, in fact, have anything more substantial to say, let me join this caravan and for the umpteenth time provide you with an overview of my future failures (I say failures because such plans and lists always and always stay only on paper). 

***

Downsizing the dreams

A sensible approach first. Long-time plans (ie. more than a year ahead) make no sense because in the meantime circumstances change widely and wildly. Thus, I am only going to tell you a bit about a half-year perspective.

First, I am planning to use the coming months to improve my Persian – read stuff, write stuff, watch stuff, talk stuff – so that I would be able to play with the language and get well-acquainted with what’s going on in Iranian literature and humanities.

Second, I will try to pay more attention to Russian (and maybe English as well). Write more, try to broaden vocabulary, strive to sound eloquent and interesting (or at least to sound the way I can sound in English). Above all – use it more actively, maintain contacts with local Russian-speaking community, read the books I’ve gathered…

Third, a focus on Irish. It is not a language I really need to learn, but  it is a language I have to learn for the sake of preserving, as Persians have it, the water of my face. My honour, that is. I have told many people that I was going to learn it, so not learning it would mean backtracking on my word, which is not something I would do gladly.

If you didn’t notice – I am being less than half-serious now, as anyone who knows what honour is knows that it has nothing to do with keeping vague promises about learning obscure languages. Truth is, I wish to learn Irish for the fun of it. The fun of the language, the fun of the learning process, the fun of overcoming my own weakness of character. In April 2011 I will, if God so wills, sit an exam in Maynooth. It will be either B1 or B2 – I have until March to decide (which is good because right now my Irish hovers around A0).   

Fourth, – the hardest and the most pivotal part of it – resist the inevitable urge to play and toy, tweak and dabble with something else…

***

That would be all. The “daydreaming again” list should appear tomorrow.

On what’s true while being false

Just a short thought inspired by a discussion with a friend. Isn’t it a paradox, that while none of the information provided on this page about me (I’ve just noticed an embarrassing typo there, by the way) is true, the whole of it, in some way at least, is true indeed.

I mean, that page does give you an impression of what kind of person I am, doesn’t it? And you could even say that it is more true than a dry set of correct and exact biographical data. With people, numbers only matter so much, I mean.

***

There’s a half-forgotten Polish writer called Marek Hłasko in whose short, mock-autobiographical story  “I, Goofy the Dog” – a kind of self-description people like me can identify with – I read a sentence,  which now escapes  my memory, but it certainly was about how you can tell the whole truth when lying about all the details. Or so I (mis)remember it. And again, it’s not important if there really is such a sentence, if there really is such a short story, if there really is such a writer… what matters is that by telling you about it I am giving you a glimpse of myself. Or am I not?

***

Sorry for that blabbing. A bit pretentious I think. The regular broadcast of sarcasm and irrelevant trivia will resume shortly.

Níl mé sásta

Níl mé sásta ar bith leis mo chuid Gaeilge. Sílim nach bhfuil an teanga seo ródheacair, ach níl mo chuid Ghaeilge nios fearr thar mar a bhi sí seachtain seo caite ar aon chaoi. B’fheidir, tá mise rud beag leisciúil. Níl miste liom é, cinnte, ach…

Bhoil, tá mé rotuirseach a scribh aríst. Dála an scéil, an bhfuil sibhse ag aontú go bhfuil Éireannaigh cosúil leis na Polannaigh? Is maith leo na deochanna agus na fata agus tá siad cantalach go leor i gcónaí?

***

In case I mangled this beyond recognition:

I am not happy with my Irish at all. I don’t think the language is too difficult, yet still my Irish is no better than the week before. Maybe I am a bit lazy. I don’t mind it really, but…

Well, I’m too tired to write again. By the way, do you agree that the Irish are like Poles with their love of drink and potatoes and being always cranky.

***

In case you didn’t notice – I’m experimenting with the language, it is all not very serious.

One smarter than me.

One smarter than me…

… can never be.
would you agree?

But seriously, everyone, me included, thinks of him/herself as much smarter than he or she really is. And this, sometimes, creates problems for everyone around.

A side note:

Dumb people thinking they are smart are one thing – you can easily (if you’re smart that is – do you see the beginning of a paradox here) see them for who they really are. The real problem lies with people who are smart but think of themselves as even smarter (and let me tell you, there are lots and lots of them). It’s not that easy to tell, is it? I mean, especially if you are not as smart as you think.

Back to the main point:

In order not to be deluded by self-pride into thinking you’re the brightest crayon in the box, the sharpest knife in the drawer and whatever other silly metaphor you can think of, it’s good to find someone unquestionably smarter than yourself and take comfort in your own inferiority, finally knowing that there’s someone up there, who must be more lonely and misunderstood than you yourself are.

Now, the point of this post is to introduce such a person. I don’t know his name nor other personal details, other than he is an Englishman of partial Irish descent and two passports (I wouldn’t mention that much, were it not for the Irish part). I don’t think he recognises me even by my nick, as I am not an active poster on the forum we both frequent.  He thinks sharp and he writes extremely well – you can have a taste at his blog.

Some things should be obvious from that, but as the topics he takes are sometimes esoteric, the blog writing does not give him justice. For that check this forum and search for posts by ‘Salmoneus’ – the range of topics is much wider so it should be more accessible. In particular, take a look at his analysis of Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” in this thread (the best parts are on the fourth page, but the whole of it is worth reading; btw, another poster there, ‘Pthug’ is also one of the smartest people I know).

***

A meta-comment:

this blog has just had a three-fold increase of the number of visits/day, but there’s nothing much in the way of comments (I can count on Jade and Eskandar, but I know they would still comment  if they were the only visitors – heck, for a long stretch of time, they were the only visitors). So, @the silent majority: what’s going on? Cat’s got your tongue/fingertips? In writing a blog, the bigger half of satisfaction comes from a healthy debate/argument/exchange of insults.

Mo chuid droch-Ghaeilge

Muise, foghlaimeoir atá ionam. Tá mé ag foghlaim na teangacha i gcónaí. Na teangacha aisteacha go háirithe. Is maith liom an Ghaeilge agus is maith liom an hÉirinn freisin cé nach raibh mé ansin ariamh.

Bhoil, tá mé rothuirseach anois, agus níl me in ann scríobh mar sin. Ba mo dhícheall é seo. Is iontach a fánach agus a bharúlacht is atá sé.

فارسی جنگل است

فارسی جنگلیست که منظمی باغ و بوستان را ندارد ولی پر از زیبائی‌هاست. از جنوب به آن عطر عربستان میاید و بوی فرنگستان از غرب. ولی بوی جوی مولیان پررنگتز از آن دو تاست و به هر جای جنگل آید همی. اینجای بن‌های هزارساله پیداست که پهلویش گیاهی تازه می‌رویاد و ریشه‌ی هر دو از همین جاست. هر چه پیشتر در این جنگل عجیبی راه می‌روم بیشتر در آن گم می‌شوم. چندی پیش فکر می‌کردم که جنگل را خوب بلدم ولی این از اشتباه‌هایم بود. فارسی جنگلیست که تسلط بر آن ناممکن است.

من اهل ورشو‌ام روزگارم بد نیست. در طرف دیگر شب یعنی در سایت دیگری در اینترنت صفحه‌ای ساخته‌ام تا زبان جنگلهای سرسبز لهستان را به شما نشان بدهم. ولی راستش را بخواهید آن‌طوری که باید و شاید کلیدش نزده‌ام و کار پیش نمی‌رفته و در جا ماند. شاید این روزها فرصت مناسبی‌است تا از نو کمر به آن کار ببندم؟ مشتاق عقیدات شما هستم و نیازمند به مشورتتان و تشویق.

Mi cxiam parolas pri mi mem…

…vi certe rimarkis tion, se vi trarigardis mia retotaglibro (stulta vorto). Ordinare tio estas tre malbona moro. Sed kiam oni estas komencanto kaj ne scipovas paroli, ekzemple, pri plej gravaj problemoj de la mundo, la narciseco estas utila. Ne, mi denove sxatas – paroli pri “gravaj mundproblemoj” estas ja pli facila ol paroli pri si mem.

Nu, komencos al denove rakonti pri mi mem… Kion mi povas diri? Denaske mi estas varsoviano, sed nuntempe mi logxas en Teherano, vera urbego. Mi laboras cxi tie jam ses monatoj kaj mi ankoraux lernas ami cxi tia urbo – mi preferus logxi en cxia alia irana urbo, cxar Teherano estas trogrando, tromalpurigito kaj trobruegema…

Kaj tamen, cxar mi ja amas Iranon kaj la persa lingvon, la fascinanta kulturo la afableco, la gastameco mi sume estas tre kontenta de logxi cxi tie.

Kiel vi jam povis ekvidi, mi amas fremdlingvojn, precipe “kurioza” fremdlingvoj kiel lezga, eva aux irlanda. Mi nek amis, nek malamis esperanton. Mi simple ne povas suferi stulta propando de iuj esperantanoj. Cetere,  mi neniam ne renkontigxis esperantistoj, kun kiuj mi ne povus interkomprenigxi angle, ruse, perse aux pole. Mi estis kontenta dum vidis legantoj el Japanoj- esperanto tamen tauxgapovis al mi!

Bonvolu korektu miajn erarojn!

Amike,

Petro

La plej facila lingvo? Ne, dankon.

Mi komencis lerni esperanton cxi-semajne antaux kelkaj tagoj kaj gxi tre multe placxas al mi. Ne, mi sole sxercis. Inverse. Mi estas malravita.

La Esperantistoj, la anoj de esperanto, sxajnas al mi la frenezoj, la fanatikoj kun iliaj dogmoj (la simpleco kaj facileco de esperanto estas la dogmo, cxu ne?) kaj bombastoj predikoj (ne, esperanto ne estas  kaj ne povas esti la vera mondlingvo).

Due, la lingvo estas facila, certe sed ne la plej facila, miaj karaj amikoj (kial oni ne povas diri “mia kara amikoj?” Vere mi ne scias).  Cxu la difina artikolo estas necesa? Ne. Cxu gxi estas facile? Tutcerte ne. Mi cxiam forgesas pri “j”, pri “la”, pri “-n” – cxioj tia cxi estas malnecesaj el mi vidpunkto.

Trie, la lingvo al mi simple malplacxas.

Mi troigas, certe, sed gxi estis bona ekzerco :)

The books I read and a book I haven’t read yet

A long time ago I would bore my readership (all five people of them, no jokes) telling unwanted stories about whose book I like the most and why. It seems that a good part of ‘my’ authors are taken care of by the modern word [1) it looks like it is an excellent website, so you should check it both on my account [to read about my tastes] and on your account as well [to read something really good]; 2) I’m linking to its Flann O’Brien’s page, because the homepage doesn’t work].

Now, not all of the people listed there I know, and from those whom I know, not all I do like, but the number of those I do know and like is high enough to make  coincindence impossible and the whole thing interesting. And if it is so, then there is a solid fat chance that I would have liked the other listed writers were I acquainted with them, wouldn’t you think?

Flann O’Brien, the guy from the page I linked to, is the first on my list. For one, I love and enjoy the kind of imagination and humour which stands behind this:

In Donegal there are native speakers who know so many million words that it is a matter of pride with them never to use the same word twice in a life-time.

More importantly, there’s his Irish masterpiece, “An Béal Bocht” which seems like the best thing the Irish literature has on offer for me. Once I learn the darn language well enough, that is.