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Adventures of a Language Nut: Meet My Friends!

english

Greetings! I am Mashkioya, and I am a language nut. I am not a linguist (although admittedly, being a linguist would be pretty cool), and I don’t often use the word “polyglot” because it sounds kind of ugly, and not many people know what it means. Plus, I don’t claim to aspire to fluency in 20 languages, or anything like that. I just like to dabble, and happen to have dabbled quite a bit in this particular area. Thus, I am a language nut.

You may have heard this proverb among Latin students:

Latin is a language,
Dead as it can be.
First it killed the Romans,
And now it’s killing me!

I understand the sentiment, but instead of thinking of the languages I learn and speak as enemies out to kill me, I like to think of them as friends. Some of them I’ve been acquainted with my entire life, while others are budding relationships that I’m just beginning to explore. And each one is beautiful and unique in its own way. This post will begin a series in which I will introduce you to my language friends, one by one, and hopefully motivate you to get to know them as well, or at least to begin widening your linguistic circle in other directions. Read More

Stop the U.S. Imperialists from sneaking into your house!

So, today I happened to be browsing a North Korean website—that’s totally normal, right? Well, the truth is, I don’t do this often, since North Korean websites generally serve up an uninteresting array of news related to what Kim Jeong-eun is up to, and how awful South Korea and America are. But this time I was surprised to see a button labeled “Game”—not only did it promise something more interesting, but they used an English word that South Korea has adopted, but which I would expect the northern comrades to avoid. At any rate, I was ready to play some North Korean computer games!

Not all of them would load (North Korean servers aren’t known for their speedy page delivery), but I got a few to fire up. First I played a geography game with a map of the Korean peninsula, the goal being to recognise each province and major city by its shape, and then stick it in the proper place on the map. I didn’t do too bad, despite my very limited knowledge of Korean geography! Read More

How to Learn to Speak a Language

Did you know that you can learn to speak a language in only three simple steps? As a language nut myself, I’ve learned a few things about learning languages, and I want to share those with you, the aspiring language learner. I won’t call these “secrets,” because they’re hardly hidden, but I would guess that a lot of people have overlooked them.

I know you’re dying to know what the three steps are, so before describing them in more detail, here they are:

  1. Study.
  2. Practice.
  3. Repeat.

Well OK, I guess it’s more than just three steps when you start iterating on #3, but you get the point. Learning a language can be boiled down into these three parts, and if you leave out any one of them, you’re bound to be disappointed. Now then, let’s look at each one in detail! Read More

Greek in a Week

P1030866I love Greek. It has an awesome alphabet, cool cases, and a long legacy, and despite rumours to the contrary, it’s a living and growing language up to this day. It’s not quite my favourite language, but it’s right on up there, and over these next several days I’m finally getting around to improving my abilities in this noble and ancient tongue.

Of late my language learning has been kind of sporadic. Officially I am working on Nahuatl, in preparation for an upcoming trip to Mexico, and since a Korean sister in Christ has offered to help me with Korean once a week, I’ve been doing that. However, in general I haven’t been very focused or diligent in either Nahuatl or Korean lately for various reasons.

However, this time next week is the annual Atlanta Greek Festival, and since I enjoyed it last year, I would very much like to go again–and that means speaking Greek!

I have an interesting relationship with Greek. We got acquainted when I was quite young–in fact it was one of the first languages I ever studied, and I took special pride in being the only 10-year old I knew of who could parse Greek verbs. Nowadays I read from the Greek New Testament every day, and write in my study journal in Greek. I’m also currently reading the medieval epic Digenes Akritas, which is its own unique flavour of Greek. But the sad part is that I really cannot speak Greek, despite all this knowledge of the language!

Last year at the Greek Festival, I made a special effort to ask around and see if I could find somebody who spoke Greek. But when I found those people, I felt woefully inadequate as my brain protested “You want me to speak what? After filling me up with Nahuatl?”

But not this time! As a long-time lover and learner of Greek, I am going to try hard during these next seven days to review my basic knowledge of Modern Greek, form sentences aloud, and practice phrases that would be useful when meeting someone for the first time. It will be challenging, but I think with some effort I will feel much more prepared to go to the Greek Festival and enjoy it much more than last year!

Γνῶσις τῆς γλώσσης ἢ θάνατος!

How to Not Look Like an American Tourist in Europe

My sister on a Belgian parkbench

I don’t really like being a tourist. At least I try to avoid the term, even if I am travelling and taking pictures of commonly visited sights in foreign countries. I guess the main thing is that I want to experience the culture more, speak the language, and get deeper than the superficial experience enjoyed by most other tourists. So when I went to Europe, I naturally wanted to try to blend in as much as I could. I did some preparation before the trip, but much of what I now know I discovered in my travels. If you are planning to go to Europe and you too want to avoid looking like a tourist, this post is for you! Here are some things that I’ve learned: Read More