Language Independence: English Wednesdays

wednesdayLiving abroad can be an overwhelming experience. Trying to adjust to the culture, the religion, the food, and the language takes time and causes frustration. Fortunately if you have a guide who has been there before to show you around, you are strides ahead and sure to come away from the experience with a positive impression. Unfortunately, the reliance on a guide can be crippling to your independence in that country. How can someone who spends an extended period of time in a foreign country ever expect to learn the language and gain independence while at the same time enjoying all the benefits of a guide?

Two experiences come to mind. One, the year I spent in South Korea. Two, now as I play the role of guide in the United States.

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Nonsense: Word Jumble

People are constantly trying to understand eachother. Let alone when people don’t even speak the same language natively, there are always misunderstandings. When beginning to learn a new language, one goes through the frustrating experience of confirming what was said again and again and again and again…breaking down the sentence into manageable pieces, until finally what one person was trying to say is mutually understood at a certain level by the person they were trying to say it to.

Sometimes, even when all the words in the sentence are completely familiar and understood fully by the listener, it is just impossible to understand. In fact, in Japan people say, “Well, even Japanese people do not know this” more often than someone might expect. Ironic, coming from a Japanese person.

What I am trying to say is, at a certain point it is necessary to take a moment let your mind just free-flow with text.

Stop reading now if you prefer sensibility. 

Behold: “A Panda in Their Soups”

Yesterday and amalgamism of peaches went swimming in a new world of yesterdays insanity.  It wasn’t too long though, before they discovered that there were notimes of human trying to be so close to the next fluff of hints.  Soo many hints, they thought, to handle the rolling twine.  Didn’t see it coming…didn’t know it was there. How did find two? Nowhere though, so they went back to the beginnnning too much. It was nice you se, to be able to try new things instead of typing to momma.  Momma didn’t Mind, if there were spots of tinges of times when….oh god, so many cabbages!

It was true, there were no ways spiraling into the misssst. So thick.. Bells tolling in the distance to Spanish music and now again the rows of singing plants. All would have been well, said the mountain, if it was not for the amalgamizing peaches.

It was none to far for the peaches, fuffling hints of what was in yesterday. Rolling, twine of the mountain’s feet. Feet!? Mountains had paws,;what silliness. Have a new world bowling pin. HIyo fawawawa ting is next-door neigbor’s twine d,o,g. Much ado about the mist, the mountain watches the twine dg roll around in it.

Flabberghast! Don’s three people buckets up had will do. Twine (burning dyin)g leaves. Leaves burnt by mountain halibut there were no chimneys! It wasn’t meant to be, maybe” thought the mountain as fluffy mist curned twine balls to Spanish music eaten dog.  So it was. Thinking it makes it. Did you see him though the way that he looked away looked away looked awaaaaay to many.

So the mightmare ending rolling singing plants.  They write melodies harmonies soups stew is what it’s made from. HIyo fawawawa purrs stoking twine while. So we pause. After starting! appreciation now again Spanish. Why to the hints, behold, cabbages sing. Sweet peaches, cabbages, mountains-a-twined, is no where to be found.

Bark, HIyo, you silent tree. Telling us always eiei that the hints can not twine the handle.  After all, it was a door, not a mountain.

Jaspanish: Japanese Verbs, into Spanish.

It happens when you least expect it and it happens more frequently as your language repertoire widens. You are somewhere in-between fluency and mediocrity in your language studies and then you say something incredibly sensible and unexpectedly meaningless. Knowing one language gives you a set of sounds that one can use to describe the world around them. Knowing two languages gives that person a whole new set of sounds, expressions, and ways of possible description. Knowing three or more? Well, that’s when the real fun begins.

Conjugating in Spanish is relatively straightforward.  Like most languages, by-and-large there are rules, these rules are applied to verbs to specify who is doing the action and at what time or whether it is conditional, etc.  The Spanish word for “to listen” or “to hear” is “escuchar”. It is conjugated in the following manner:

Conjugating in Spanish

Regular Conjugation in Spanish

Where the first word in each column is the way the verb is conjugated when the speaker is referring to themselves; second, you; third, he/she; fourth, we; fifth, we; sixth, they. In this way, verbs are conjugated regularly.

Now for Japanese.  In Japanese, verbs are not separated by who did the action, much like in English Continue reading

Radiolab: Leopards, Language, and Mr. Fernyhough

This week, take a load off your eyes and just listen. One of the most influential pieces of technology to ever hit the human race is surely the radio, is it not? Radio, in all its forms, influenced our grandparents and will surely influence our great-great grandchildren. Years ago (and not too long ago, mind you) if you missed a show on the radio, you would either write to the broadcaster for a copy of the program or wait to hear it again…somehow. Today, with the invention of the internet, nearly everything is available for listening consumption at any time you deem worthy…many times in the form of podcasts.

One such podcast that has never let me down both in variety of subjects as well as entertainment value is the American show Radiolab:

Radiolab believes your ears are a portal to another world. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. Big questions are investigated, tinkered with, and encouraged to grow. Bring your curiosity, and we’ll feed it with possibility. -Radiolab

With a new podcast every week, Radiolab is the perfect way to escape your routine and challenge your mind for twenty minutes to an hour a week on subjects ranging from natural selection and fate, words and language, or time and gravity (as well as many other subjects!) It is to this podcast that I highly encourage a bored blogger to visit in their spare time for it not only offers you a ears a world of entertaining sound but it offers your mind a new way to take in the world.  What with all this reading, our ears certainly are ready for some stimulation!

Radiolab is a member of WNYC radio as well as a part of National Public Radio.  Radiolab is supported, in part, by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.

If you have not listened to it before, here are a couple good ones to get you started:

1) Words: Imagine a world without words!
2) Wild Talk : Animals with grammar? Words in the wild.

The BEST Thing to Happen to Language Learning…Ever.

 

Lang-8

If you are on a journey to learn a new language and already speak one fluently…but have not tried Lang-8, then you are in for a revolution.  Debuting in 2007, Lang-8 took language learning to the highest, most user-friendly, international stratosphere (and that was three years ago!) …and it has never looked back.

  • The premise: Free Language Tutoring.
  • How: Users of Lang-8 (Infinite Languages) write journal entries in a foreign language. Then, other Lang-8 users who are native speakers of that language correct them.  In return, those users’ journal entries are corrected by other Lang-8 members.  What often happens is that 2 members who want to learn each others’ native language meet, and thereafter frequently correspond.  A simple way to bridge divides between nations, reduce miscommunication, and further world peace?  Its name is Lang-8. Continue reading

When Language Doesn’t Cut It

I am at a loss for words.  What do you say when no words will suffice.  I am simply,__________.

 

Life, Without Words: Photo Courtesy of D.L Ennis Photography

Life, Without Words: Photo Courtesy of D.L Ennis Photography

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Language Lost: Foreign Language at Home

There is something inescapably despicable about the human mind when it comes to language: It sticks like memory foam in our mind.  For the vast majority of us language learners, foreign languages must be continuously tackled, studied, listened to, and written, over and over again in order to not simply improve but to retain anything at all!  Language is like memory foam because, just like the comfortable bedding, it will retain it’s shape if we leave it for a little while.  We lift our hand from the foam and the imprint remains…for a while.  Foreign languages can be just like this because we can take a break for a week, maybe a month, and not study a single thing and still return to right where we left off, completely unharmed…but slowly the imprint begins to fade. Continue reading