Review

I’ve just been reading my old articles to assess my progress in Greek and life in general and come across the fact that I am a bit creepy. I guess obsession comes across that way and it can be extremely off putting for others. I’ve never realised quite to the extent that I push things. I know I’m childish as that’s all part of the ever present Aspergers. The curiousity, the wide eyed wonder and just plain marvelling at the world. I also forget that just because I think something or someone is the best thing since sliced bread, most other people are not going to feel the same way. 

I feel sorry for those that end up being the target of my obsessions as I can’t help it but I feel compelled to know everything about you and to talk to you on a regular basis as its a way of building a friendship although its really only a monologue. I understand that it was a phase that I went through and I hope you do too. 

The difference between an obsession and a passion

Now I’m no stranger to either having had several of each during my life so far. However it’s only just now though that I’m learning which interests  belong in which of the aforementioned categories. An obsession is an all burning desire to know everything about a subject as quick as possible and this usually includes boring others with the immense amount of details that you have picked up in a short space of time. This continues until your curiousity about the topic at hand has been sated and you just get bored and stop doing it all of a sudden and your left wondering what do you do now as this has run your life for however long it was. A passion by contrast still contains the same elements but you recognise that others are not quite as interested in it as you so you quietly pursue your goals by yourself. At least until the next obsession distracts you but the thing about passions is that you always come back to them like classic styling in clothes while the obessions will come and go rather like fast fashion trends.

Therefore in order to get the best out of a life that will constantly be obstructed by novelty, you have to allow for the fact that your passions will be slow burn areas to be worked on in the periods between the much faster burning obsessions. Life is a series of trade offs but we always have to be checking that we are making the correct ones for our current situation as circumstances mean adaptation is necessary for an optimum lifestyle.  

The struggles of an introverted language learner

Today I have been getting back into the language learning saddle after as break to focus on other projects and I came across as a most excellent fellow called Donovan who is very introverted like myself but isn’t afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger and likes to travel to far flung places to learn languages fluently.

His blog is called Mezzofanti Guild (after a famous 18th c polyglot) and it details his journey towards proficiency in Irish, Russian, Arabic and Korean. These are very hard languages to learn and I admire him for the dedication, time and effort that it requires to go to the lengths that he does to study these to the degree that he does.

Now I’m not personally interested in learning Irish, Arabic or Korean but I do know people that have learnt/are learning those languages so it can be done even if your a mono-lingual English speaker.

Russian is a language I dabble in when I have time but it’s not a priority for me. Same could be said for Spanish. These are interesting (and I’m a very curious, inquisitive person) and it would help me with travel, socialising and my other hobby Eurovision but my main focus is on Greek. Not the biblical or ancient kind but the modern kind. This is so that I can strike up a conversation with a native and actually gain friendships out there (Lefkas) but due to the fact that a) I can’t drive and b) I couldn’t afford a mobile out there that’s never really going to happen as I so very rarely interact with people my own age.

I love words as I may have mentioned a few times before but the spoken word is a bit of a mystery to me as you can interpret the same phrases in so many different ways depending on how they are said. This presents quite a problem for a person learning Greek as there are many word pairs that I have come across that change their meaning depending on how they are pronounced. For a person with issues with their speech, this is quite a nightmare. Some examples are the word for safety and fuse, amusement and theme park, when and never, the most common swear word and straits of Malacca in Indonesia. There are countless more that could be listed as while English has about 1 million words as we steal from a myriad array of languages, Greek tends to be the originator so only has about 650,000 in comparison. This density is useful as you could possibly obtain fluency quicker but also increases the errors you could make as well and for socially anxious types like myself, this is never going to be a good idea.

It’s commonly put about that it’s easiest to learn a language through speech as that’s how we learn our first and while this is true it’s not very helpful if your shy, introverted, or just a person that doesn’t like talking. This is a daily struggle for myself having to get out into the wider world and converse with strangers. I most recently tried with a bunch of computer scientists which was doomed to failure almost from the outset because of the inherent qualities of being a girl meaning I’m was persona no gratis.

Listening

This is a crucial aspect to language learning and I may have touched upon this in the past. This is why when you immerse yourself in a language its much easier to pick it up then if you are only reading it for example. This is why my Greek has come on leaps and bounds recently as well as writing lots of inane sentences online that I wouldn’t dream of writing in English due to their simplistic nature. Listening helps you pick up on the stresses in words and can help you detect where the person comes from as all regions have accents. Even no accent can possibly be classified. This however presents a problem if I want to learn other languages at the same time as I need to create immersion environments for them all but they might come into conflict and make my brain explode. I don’t fancy having that happen to me. So how do I work around this? Multi lingual people? A friend in each language? A place that speaks various languages as standard? As you can probably figure out I haven’t a clue how to resolve this as yet.