Reflections on the past

I have spent the winter hibernating like a good animal should and now it is time to reveal the insights that such a slumber has produced. I have spent a great deal of time dealings with my thoughts, some of which were positive and some were not. Life is full of both kinds but it is how we react to them that decides which path our life takes. If we choose to follow the lights then we may meet people who are the personification of all that is good in life and they will nourish us and allow us to fufil our true potential. If we allow the darkness to seep in and to take root then we are heading down a very dark path indeed but nobody can really help us to emerge from that depressive place. We have to be strong enough to fight off our personal demons in whatever form they choose to take for they can be very cunning and come attractively packaged to further entice us to commit devious tasks but we must have the strength to not only fight back but also to triumph! It may not be the sparkling victory that we had imagined but we are not all required to build Nikopolis (victory city) to showcase our own dominance.

Like the butterfly emerging from its chrysalis I feel reborn with a creative energy pulsing through my veins like I have never felt before. I feel like I have a power that cannot be stopped as I have been through so much before and now have the strength that adversity gives you to be able to take on the world. We live in a convoluted world that is in a constant state of flux which is incredibly difficult for me to deal with. I would like to stop the world sometimes to get off and contemplate my navel but of course that is not possible so deal with the merry go round I must. I do write in a very visual way as I experience the world in technicolour and it is glorious to see so many layers of meaning and thought to everything that exists and to view cause and effort like no other but it is exhausting and the batteries do frequently need recharging unlike my Psyduck.

I see connection where few others do but I also do not see where others do. I am not a particularly talkative person but I’m constantly absorbing new data but unlike the real world I don’t have GDPR to regulate myself and have to create these filters for myself as they are not innate. I like to think of myself as articulate but I’m certainly not succinct as I like to explore things from all angles being in possession of a hyperactive mind that is always searching for answers. I’m not particularly distinct in my speech hence the over use of metaphors and similies to create pictures in another’s mind for when the clarity of speech has failed to elicit meaning in the other. I’m a quiet person when talking but as I’m sure you have gathered by now, my mind is extraordinarily loud, shouting all manner of things at me that all want to be obeyed immediately and that simply cannot be done, nor is appropriate.

 

Advertisements

Spirituality

This is an idea that I have been researching this year as many people draw comfort this and it has such an incredible force on the outcome of wars, society and just the general shaping of entire populations that it is worthy of intense study. While there may not be a supernatural being above us controlling our lives in some way, you cant deny the impact they have had on the shape of our buildings, diet, culture and literally everything that has come to define us as a race of beings.

I was fascinated when I went to the Vatican as its such an astonishing building and to think that this was almost 5 years ago shows you the effect that it had on myself. There really is no building anything like it in the Christian World. The only thing that I can think of that is perhaps like it; is the Taj Mahal in India which is a mauseuluem. Agia Sofia while originally created as a church is now a mosque.

This shows that the only force capable of standing up to ‘divine love’ is the love of another person, your soulmate. This I believe is the purpose of religion. To make the best version of ourselves for we need a purpose and a reason to create such magnificient works of art and belief in an amnipotent being helps us to do that. Its almost irrelevant to prove whether they exist or not as they are an extension of us. so therefore they both exist and do not exist for it its only a concept created by our minds to help us understand the complexity that is the universe. We are not put on earth to do god’s bidding for he is us and we are him. This is why God is so hard to pin down in a representational form and in Islam it is forbidden to have any depiction of him whatsoever hence the fabulous forms that adorn all mosques and the focus on calligraphy as that shows how a person should behave. Of course over the centuries all religious texts are changed beyond recognition so people come to believe things far removed from the original ideas that were inshrined in the books that populations have come to venerate. This change has spawned many a war; even iconaclasm which is when groups of people destroyed the religious icongraphy as it was lavish and demonstrated that the church had lost its piety.

Recently after watching many shows over the winter educating me about the history of Christianity, Judasim, Islam and even Sikism with a sprinkling of Hindiusm, I went to a Greek Orthodox church service. I didn’t understand about 90% of it as it was in medieval Koine Greek but it was incredible that I could pick out the Lords prayer as it was given special emphasis and then read in English but also that the small congregation would cross themselves and bow their heads in recognition of each section. There was even a lady next to me frequently glancing at her Greek bible!

I liked the fact that in the midst of all the media hype about Harry and Megan’s wedding which I totally did not care about, I found an oasis of calm and it was like meditating. I understood words like father, love, wisdom for these are ever present terms that will never stop being relevent so that acted like signposts to gather the rest of the incoherent speech around me.

Reading

I love reading and I have always done so. I am an excellent reader as I can comprehend pretty much anything in English regardless of subject or complexity and I will do it pretty quickly too. People are quite frequently amazed at how quickly I can accomplish reading anything and that I not only understand it but can reiterate what it said too. Now for a person so versed in the ways of the English language you think I would know all about the different ways and methods of learning to read etc but I’m always finding out new things about my abilities that I didn’t know before like the differences between intensive reading which is reading for quality and making sure that you know the meaning of each and every word that you come across and extensive reading. Extensive reading is for quantity and your skim reading an article to get the gist of it but you don’t fully understand the meaning that is contained in the sentences. Both kinds can be for pleasure although the former is more like the style I use and the latter is a more dyslexic style but is also useful in studying. I have found to help my learning style in Greek that I need to practice more extensive reading as its too difficult to intensively read at my current level. I’m not progressing as well as I would like which is disheartening considering the amount of time that I devote to my Greek studies. I have found a new source of reading material the Gutenberg website which was a previous issue as I couldn’t find anywhere to get any literature but there are lots out there. You just have to find out where its located as it’s not easily accessible if you don’t know what you are looking for. I would like to thank Steve Kaufmann for bringing this to my attention but also Kato Lomb as it was her that first advocated this approach of reading to acquire sufficient knowledge in a foreign language to be able to communicate in it.

Update

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

 

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.

Going back to basics with Greek

Sometimes there is nothing like reading a proper old-school book (Collins Greek phrase book from 1977) to cement certain knowledge into your head that you know because you’ve seen it lots but you haven’t quite grasped it in its entirety. So far I have understood the Lefkas road sign (it wishes you a good voyage instead of welcoming you as your leaving), the reason why I can never say toothpick (οδοντογλυφιδα) correctly, why Bravo and only this is always said to congratulate me on speaking Greek correctly and the ever presence of οριστε (oriste) to mean a variety of things depending on the inflections used.

I know words are used to communicate but with the same phrase meaning so many different things, ποτε (pote) for instance, meaning both when and never depending on where you place the accent, it’s extremely difficult for me to differentiate between them yet alone reproduce them in speech or writing. Yes, I can deal with παρακαλω (parakalo) being please, your welcome but also a person in a shop getting your attention or even you getting theirs. Using it as excuse me too is pushing the boundaries but then there is also γειο σου (yia sou) which literally means your health but is a catch-all for hello, goodbye and goodness knows what else and is why I’m getting rather perplexed with the Greek language as these are just the most basic of phrases. Extend this to the 4 different ways to say my name is με λενε … (me lene …), Ποιο είναι το όνομα σου? (poio einai to onoma sou) etc and you get the picture as to why Greek is such a different language to learn as I haven’t even started on how are you? or anything more complex than an introductory phrase. As you can see I’m not even taking into account the gender changing the ends of words, the form in front of them, whether its single or plural, the formality that is required to be used here or sentence organization which can be rather flexible at the best of times. This is enough to drive any logically minded person like myself insane!

Others may look at that and think well that’s easy there are fewer words for me to remember but its the way you say them to infer the various meanings that gets to me the most and how are you to decipher this in text without the different stresses you can reproduce when talking?

Mindfulness

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.