Category Archives: challenges

It’s 7 October now, so…

First of all, sorry for the long and unscheduled radio silence. Some weeks my workload is too big to handle anything but the essentials – family life and, a distant second, real work (as in doing things I get paid for doing). It’s a pity though, as I know how deadly are weeklong breaks for this blog’s readership stats. People get bored, stop checking for updates etc.

And I can’t really blame anyone but me, as there’s an obvious and easy solution – writing new entries whenever I can but delay their publication so as to avoid the manic-depressive rollercoaster of sudden frantic activity interspaced with long periods of quiet. Anyway, I think I got my lesson now, will start to plan this blog’s activity more thoroughly and to spread it more evenly in time. We’ll see.

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But we haven’t tackled the main issue yet. It’s 7 October now so the 3-week period of having free time on my hands I mentioned before starts. What about the October challenge, you would ask (would you not?). Well, what about it, then? To put it short, nothing much, as I decided to use my time wisely instead of chasing dreams. No new languages, only diligent work on those I have already started (French, Armenian, Irish).

My goals are:

– To read French daily and finally start writing in it.

– To get to the Lesson 15 or so in “Krunk Hayastani” and read Azatutyun regularly.

– Get to the end of “Learning Irish” and “Buntus Cainte 1&2”, start writing stuff in Irish.

And also:

– Finish the books I’m reading in Persian and Russian. Write a bit in these two languages as well.

– Expand my Lezgi, Mari and Ewe websites.

Wish me luck, I will try to keep you updated on how it goes.

October challenge

I am a busy man. I have a responsible and demanding job. Since not a long time ago I am also a pater familias with added responsiblities. That means I don’t have as much time for dabbling with random things as I used to. But good times are coming!

For three weeks in October my workload will be reduced and at the same time my family will be away, leaving me in loneliness and grief, but also with more time on my hands. Right now I am caught in an uneven struggle between my common sense on one side and my penchant for wasting away my time in extravagant and useless ways on the other. Reason tells me to  make good use  of this added time to finally push my French up a notch and start using it. But the heart has its reasons which the reason doesn’t know, as somebody (I know who) said. And my heart (alternatively: my inner demon) tells me to embark on a linguistic challenge:

I picked five languages I had once learned to an “advanced beginner” level, but then dropped and have since forgotten almost entirely:

Italian
Finnish
Hungarian
Turkish
Arabic

Then I made another listing of five languages, consisting of those which I either never learned, or abandoned after only a couple of lessons:

Chinese
Kurdish
Somali
Adyge (or Chechen or Lak)
Latin

I thought of picking one language from each of the lists and then see how much can I re-learn or learn in a short period of time. I can’t make my mind on which one(s) to choose, and I really have no preference, so I’ll probably make a decision at random. But first, I thought, it might be amusing to fish for suggestions / opinions / comments. Which is what I am doing right now.

The Offer

Browsing this blog, or my webpages, you have probably noticed that my language interests have quite a broad scope. You have also noticed, I hope, that I try to share a bit of what I know, especially when the information I have is not that easy to find elsewhere, because it concerns a particularly ‘rare’ language. What you perhaps haven’t noticed – because there are no links to it –  is a particular type of project I started early this year. I am talking about making web resources for languages under-represented online having enlisted the aid of their native speakers. So far, only my & Djoubogbe Kossi Afoutou’s Ewe language project has been started. It is still less than half-done, but go check it to see what I am talking about.

After this introduction let us get to the main thing. The Offer. I may not be rich, but I certainly am financially independent and willing to spend some of my savings on languages. This means buying books and stuff but also paying for other people’s knowledge and expertise.

My Offer is: If you are: a) a native speaker of a ‘rare’ language (see below for a list of languages I am NOT interested, in anything not on that list counts as rare), and b) willing to cooperate in creating resources similar in form to those already seen on my website, please contact me for details. Preferably, you should also c) be literate in your language (if it has a standardised writing system), d) know an intermediary language [English, Russian, French, Persian, Polish, Italian would do, but I can read a number of others, so just tell me what you know] enabling you to communicate effectively, e) be computer-literate (incl. knowing how to write in your language using all the diacritics; some experience with voice-recording and editing software would be nice) and have daily access to Internet and f) have a bank account. Only a) and b) are a must, c) and e) are strongly preferred, but we can work around it. You also have to be willing to put the results of the cooperation (if any) into public domain.

Again, if you are interested, contact me for the details, including the rates (if you don’t need the money and just want to participate out of curiosity/other reasons, all the better, but I am willing to pay). The basic idea is that I would pay you for texts on a $/word basis and for recordings on a $/minute basis at rates similar to what you could realisticly charge for translations/private lessons in Poland.

The list of languages I am NOT interested in:

All Germanic languages except for Tok Pisin and other creoles; all Romance languages except for Sardinian and Aromanian; all Slavic languages; all Baltic languages; all Celtic languages; Albanian; Armenian; Greek; Hungarian; Finnish; Estonian; all smaller Baltic Finnic languages (Karelian, Veps etc.); Saami; Persian/Dari/Tajiki; Hindi/Urdu; Georgian; all Turkic languages; Japanese; Korean; Chinese; Vietnamese; Thai; Cambodian; Bahasa Indonesia/Bahasa Melayu; Swahili; Modern Standard Arabic (ask about dialects);

If your language is not on the above list, go ahead and contact me.

At the same time I am particularly interested in these:

All Caucasian languages except for Georgian; Mari; Shughni and other Pamir languages; Nuristani languages; Kurdish languages; Wolof; Akan; Yoruba; Zulu; Xhosa; Nama; Tetum; Iroquian languages;

After Ramadan challenge

Ramadan is over (Eid ul-Fitr Mubarak!) so an update is due. Results of the challenge are mixed and it will be continued (it makes no sense to learn a language for 4 weeks and then stop – all the knowledge will evaporate in no time). Some bullet points:

  • As was to be expected I’ve devoted the least part of my time to French. Of the three languages of the challenge is was the most sensible one to pick, and sensiblity discourages a language freak like me.
  • I was able to maintain a strict daily learning schedule only in the first two weeks or so. Later on, life kicked in. No wonder again – such things have to be predicted when making study plans – you will always end up having less time to study than you thought you would.
  • I managed to use both Irish and Armenian in real-world conversation. Very limited conversation, but still – after all, Irish is not often spoken on the streets of Tehran, is it?
  • A good thing with Irish is that even if your knowledge is not impressive, Irish people would be impressed and also slightly embarrassed, if they had already forgotten their school Irish, like 90% of them. They would also think you are a bit mental, but nevermind – an opportunity to confuse and light-heartedly tease them is worth it.

Now, as I said, I will try to continue with the three, but new challenges are coming soon. In one of the future entries I will present you with a list of languages I consider learning, asking for your suggestions.