It’s been a very long time since I have written on this. Too long in fact but a lot of progress has happened in my Greek language learning ability. I have recently undertaken the 3-month challenge that is espoused by Benny the Irish polyglot in his fluent in 3 months scheme. While I don’t think that is a realistic goal anymore then when I was jokingly challenged to become fluent in Greek in 2 weeks; I have improved tremendously and there is a lot more to learning a language than just being a walking dictionary which is my usual not particularly helpful approach. The most useful thing I have found is that LingQ have started doing Greek mini stories and this is good for me as I like reading and this is mainly how I pick things up. I like watching all of Steve Kaufmann’s videos about how he learns languages and his progress in the Greek language. Listening and reading are so very important in order to be able to understand the material that you come across because if you don’t have comprehension then you are not going to get anywhere. There is quite a lack of reading material online if you a) want something free and b) something that doesn’t cover dry boring topics like politics or the economy. If for example, I wanted to read a story book that wasn’t to teach children how to read, I have had to buy some books off Amazon. I choose the series that everyone uses but its difficult to find especially if you have no idea what you are looking for due to the fact they are Greek so don’t normally come up in search results. https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/3190053170/ref=s9u_cartx_gw_i4?ie=UTF8&fpl=fresh&pd_rd_i=3190053170&pd_rd_r=PYCMWVBH0G92X8HNBFP1&pd_rd_w=lnVbP&pd_rd_wg=W9RQv&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=&pf_rd_r=JNCC6DCKTMX38GPBKVXA&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=16f14aeb-bd11-4e9e-8c26-9ca0139074ee&pf_rd_i=desktop
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.
I think too much and that interferes with my happiness. I’m constantly over thinking and analysing and I need to be at peace with myself and the world. I do sometimes have difficulty switching off as I feel I need to be doing things all the time. This anxiety is always worst in the evenings which is the time you most need to be resting and in a calm state of mind to prepare for bed. I don’t like change much and I’ve recently undertaken quite an overhaul to my current regime as I’ve stopped drinking alcohol but ironically replaced it with a daily coffee and sweet. I’m working more and it’s more physical as its gardening so I’m losing weight but after were done since I don’t have a social life really I spend too much time online and that’s really bad for my eyesight, well being and I’m wasting the opportunity to do something better with the glorious weather that we have been having as it’s not usually this good. I also feel that the internet constantly dropping out and being slow means I’m supposed to be doing something else but I’m generally too tired to read. My attempts at Greek are laughable and if even Greeks tell me not to bother or there leaving their country and going to England what is the point as everybody knows how hard the language is. I just thought that I could learn it if I studied hard enough but it’s proving another thing I tried but simply wasn’t good enough at. Having a confidence crisis in my abilities I think as I was so looking forward to this for months but I think once again I have deluded myself as to the realities of a situation. Rose tinted specs are horrible.
I think I have figured out why I can’t speak very well. I led quite an isolated childhood on a farm with my parents and later on my brother with whom I spoke our own language that we made up. Sure my grandparents et al came to visit me but when all you normally interact with is a cat, a dog, a herd of cows, a litter of pigs, a flock of sheep and fish to keep you company, your not going to learn a lot of human speech regardless of language. Fishermen don’t really count here as they were too infrequent. This could also possibly be why it took me till I was almost 2 to learn English but when I did learn it you couldn’t shut me up. Everybody who knows me understands that I have 2 basic forms of communication, 1st I’m really shy so I don’t say anything and I’m generally just listening and absorbing my current surroundings, 2nd full on verbal diarrhoea. This includes all sorts of inappropriate and personal things (think Aunt Voulla in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 1+2) but I’m trying to get better by having my conversational skills somewhere in the middle. (When the social anxiety has passed away).
The origin of this language inability only just occurred to me today after I’ve spent the day listening to various polyglots talking in about 30 different languages and how some are usually quite distinctive French, Spanish, German, Italian, I’m learning to understand some like Greek and Russian and others I had no idea what they were saying like Farsi, Icelandic, Hungarian. Listening is a key point in acquiring language with or without an accent but if you don’t hear it frequently enough your not going to be able to reproduce it correctly. This is one of the reasons why my Aspergers was never picked up as I can’t do imitations which is a classic autistic trait. I have a lazy mouth according to the speech therapist who treated me at 4 years old. A lot of good they did as I still on a daily basis, come across people who know me well and can’t understand me correctly even if they see me on a regular basis.
I also have quite sensitive ears and hearing and my husband is always amazed when he borrows my headphones to listen to the same music as me at how low the volume is as he can barely hear what I’m listening to. This means that I can quite easily be overwhelmed in social situations as I can be the stereotypical wall-flower but also my speech is very quiet but doesn’t sound anything like I think it does. In fact, to me, it sounds horrid and when I’ve done karaoke, it’s equivalent to nails scraping down a chalkboard it’s that bad. I even hate to leave voice mails as I know the receiver will not be able to decipher my words as my parents never can. My husband, on the other hand, has a beautiful singing voice that he rarely uses as he is too embarrassed most of the time.
Music is also not a thing I’m any good at because as well as being unable to sing nicely, I can’t play any musical instrument which you think I would be capable of with good hearing and a good memory as after all isn’t it just muscle memory? Even hearing or sight is not required as there are famous musicians that have neither. It’s however not a quality I possess so it is another way my speaking ability is impaired and I sound like a robot as I can’t differentiate my voice sufficiently to produce all of the different tones that are required for proper speech. Pronunciation and intonation or diction if you want the posh words that my dad would use to describe my current linguistic problems.
I’m also trying to improve my friendship skills here which is another reason why quite frankly I suck at talking and even my own parents have to tune back in to how I speak if I haven’t spoken to them in a while. I do fear for the millions of people that will have to encounter this from me over the coming years and all those that already have had to suffer, with my constantly changing accent, quiet voice and incoherent voice. It doesn’t seem to matter in which language I speak, the words that I choose or even how there arranged, the same inherent difficulties are there which I ‘m working hard to overcome but it’s an uphill struggle for the majority of the time. I only hope that people continue to have patience with me.
An interesting thing has occurred to me recently. When I try to read Greek and there is English present, my brain either gets lazy and tries to read the English or just gets confused trying to process the Greek. Sometimes, yes, it’s easier to figure out the Greek upon seeing the English and then reverting back to the Greek but I must be at the stage where a new strategy is required. Since Greek has a different way of organizing its sentences, I have to stop thinking in English and trying to translate them as they don’t follow exactly. Continuing to read Greek in English mode needs a lot of cognitive effort as the sentences have to be reconstructed in order to be understood like a dyslexic would and this is therefore quite inefficient, at least for myself. This is no good really as it impedes progress. I am a fantastic reader but I’m approaching this all wrong. I’ve been able to read since I was able 18 months old which is incredibly early. In fact, I couldn’t even talk until 4 months later. This is why it’s so irritating when I try to read Greek. I’ve tried learning the verbs and the joining words but this doesn’t help as it’s a piecemeal approach more akin to pattern recognition ie how a dyslexic reads. In other sentences its more like I’m hyperlexic, ie I read but don’t understand. This is so unbearingly frustrating as I love my ability to consume knowledge in the printed form so very quickly. Reading in Greek at the moment is painful and I generally don’t get past the first couple of sentences. I’ve asked for help and got nowhere so I took to the internet and found
This is one of the craziest movies I have ever come across. The actual idea behind it is pretty simple, what if a snail, the world’s slowest creature could race? I’m not just talking pimped out snail racing but actual speed racing with cars eg Nascar. The movie they have created from this insane idea is absolutely brilliant and it’s not even made by Disney or Pixar. It’s a kids movie but don’t let that put you off watching it. It has a stellar voice cast in Samuel L Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Seth Rogen (Zack and Miri make a porno), Ken Jeong (The hangover trilogy), Michelle Rodriguez (Fast and Furious movies), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) so you know right there that its going to have awesome tunes and that it’s going to be hilarious.
This is one of those movies that advertising did the worst job possible in promoting the interesting points of this movie. I remember when it came out and I had the option to go see this as I had time to kill but I chose not to. The trailer didn’t do it any favours either as far as I can recall. I know knew that it involved nitrous oxide but that was about it. This reminds me of Serenity which is another excellent movie but is promoted terribly so it’s always in the Bargain Bin section but pick it up and you will find a gem. Its even better than Firefly which is the TV series it finishes. Lots of people are probably going to dislike that but ce la vie.
This movie is about having a dream and not letting anything stand in your way of achieving it no matter how impossible it seems. You never know what is around the next corner and in the case of Turbo as he calls himself , you truly don’t as he reaches heights you couldn’t imagine ever being a possibility for a snail. I like the camaraderie of the other snails of helping the underdog to beat the incumbent driver regardless of what transpires in between to prevent this from happening. It reminds me of the spirit of Cars where a young car takes on pretty much the same track and learns what life is all about. The racing part reminds me of Talladega Nights – The ballad of Ricky Bobby which was a pretty poor movie but still contains the same arrogant diver who thinks he is god’s gift to racing. That was a comedy as well with Sacha Baron Cohen but he wasn’t the main character so its not gross its more a biopic.
Its not just the snail that gets his dream come true with help from all parties. The humans involved do too so it just goes to show that with a little self believe you can do anything no matter how ridiculous it may seem.