naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Lucian Wags)
I am so far behind replying to comments it's not funny, but thank you, every single one of you, who commented to my last entry. It helps me feel less alone to know I help people to know that they aren't alone. It makes this suck less. Not, like, not suck at all, but suck less.

There's about six thousand depressing entries I could write about woe is me and OMG the brainweasels, but I thought I would share something nice instead, so that I can go to bed thinking about something positive.

In searching for a plush pony pattern, I came across an interview with a guy who makes plush toys. It was in Italian. I was able to read and understand about half of the interview* without resorting to the English translation.

This may not seem like much, but trust me, it is. It is huge. Being able to read in any language is a very big deal.

The process of language acquisition is fascinating to me, and it's utterly cool to be going through it a third time (once for English, once for what Spanish I learned). So much of it is not rote learning, but is intuitive, organic. I've been told that I have a facility with languages, and while I don't think I'm extraordinary (if I were, I would already be fluent in more than one language, honestly now), it is interesting to look at how this is happening.

I was able to work out most of that interview via a combination of what Italian I have taught myself, my knowledge of Spanish, my knowledge of the roots of many English words, and also a general facility at working out the meanings of foreign words based on English synonyms (like the Spanish for "flag", which is bandera, but which sounds like "banner," which is another way to translate it).

It's that last one that I think is responsible for surprising people, that ability to draw connections rapidly and apparently effortlessly, and it's that knack I don't think you can teach. It makes acquiring foreign words more like acquiring new versions of words I already know, and it's way easier to learn new words in your own language than it is to learn words in a completely foreign one. I'm not learning from scratch so much as building on a structure that is already there, and because I'm really good at teh Eenglish, that structure is quite sound.

It would be funny, I think, to see how utterly I would fail if forced to learn something without a Germanic or Latinate base. Japanese, say, or Korean. And I am pretty sure I would fail, since I would have absolutely no foundation to build on. Not to mention learning a new writing system. Part of me would love to try it someday, but I probably won't, because hey, I could probably spend that time learning more than one easier language.

If I get this down and don't get bored or frustrated or just quit because I suck at sticking with things, I figure I'll move to Spanish. Then: Romanian! And possibly French! And that should keep me busy for a long time. I'd love to get the money together to take a few actual classes, since the vocabulary and verb drills would be useful, and it'd be nice to have someone to tell me if I'm doing it wrong when I'm making up my own dialogues and sentences (because that is the only way I have of "using" the language).

We don't teach our kids second languages early enough in this country, if we teach them at all. By the time we try to start teaching them, they're at a really difficult age, and often don't want to learn anything. It's true that kids learn languages faster and easier than adults, but I think the fact that high schoolers don't learn as fast as young children has as much to do with general teenage distractedness as with the development of language centers and blah blah blah. I wonder if you'd get better results teaching grownups, once they'd settled down a bit and were no longer living lives of melodrama and hormones.

We make a big deal about how hard it is for grownups to learn, but it's not true that it's so hard that they can't learn it. It is true that someone who doesn't want to learn, or who thinks they won't be able to, can't learn at all. If you are willing, even a little, you can learn something, even if it's really, really hard.

I wish I had been encouraged to acquire another language earlier in life, or that I'd had more resources when I was older, or that I had decided to really try to do this on my own much sooner. But I can do it now. So I am. Because it makes me happy in a very basic way to be able to say non parlo bene l'italiano, ma io vorrei imparare più.

It ultimately comes down to this: I love words. I don't care what language they're in, I love them. I love to use them and play with them and mix them up and say them over and over and let them run around in my head bumping into other words and making new connections. And if I am willing to poke around at other languages, I will never, ever run out of new words to learn and play with.

Interview with Timothy Haugen at Non Solo Kawaii. The pictures are totally adorable.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Lucian Wags)
I am so far behind replying to comments it's not funny, but thank you, every single one of you, who commented to my last entry. It helps me feel less alone to know I help people to know that they aren't alone. It makes this suck less. Not, like, not suck at all, but suck less.

There's about six thousand depressing entries I could write about woe is me and OMG the brainweasels, but I thought I would share something nice instead, so that I can go to bed thinking about something positive.

In searching for a plush pony pattern, I came across an interview with a guy who makes plush toys. It was in Italian. I was able to read and understand about half of the interview* without resorting to the English translation.

This may not seem like much, but trust me, it is. It is huge. Being able to read in any language is a very big deal.

The process of language acquisition is fascinating to me, and it's utterly cool to be going through it a third time (once for English, once for what Spanish I learned). So much of it is not rote learning, but is intuitive, organic. I've been told that I have a facility with languages, and while I don't think I'm extraordinary (if I were, I would already be fluent in more than one language, honestly now), it is interesting to look at how this is happening.

I was able to work out most of that interview via a combination of what Italian I have taught myself, my knowledge of Spanish, my knowledge of the roots of many English words, and also a general facility at working out the meanings of foreign words based on English synonyms (like the Spanish for "flag", which is bandera, but which sounds like "banner," which is another way to translate it).

It's that last one that I think is responsible for surprising people, that ability to draw connections rapidly and apparently effortlessly, and it's that knack I don't think you can teach. It makes acquiring foreign words more like acquiring new versions of words I already know, and it's way easier to learn new words in your own language than it is to learn words in a completely foreign one. I'm not learning from scratch so much as building on a structure that is already there, and because I'm really good at teh Eenglish, that structure is quite sound.

It would be funny, I think, to see how utterly I would fail if forced to learn something without a Germanic or Latinate base. Japanese, say, or Korean. And I am pretty sure I would fail, since I would have absolutely no foundation to build on. Not to mention learning a new writing system. Part of me would love to try it someday, but I probably won't, because hey, I could probably spend that time learning more than one easier language.

If I get this down and don't get bored or frustrated or just quit because I suck at sticking with things, I figure I'll move to Spanish. Then: Romanian! And possibly French! And that should keep me busy for a long time. I'd love to get the money together to take a few actual classes, since the vocabulary and verb drills would be useful, and it'd be nice to have someone to tell me if I'm doing it wrong when I'm making up my own dialogues and sentences (because that is the only way I have of "using" the language).

We don't teach our kids second languages early enough in this country, if we teach them at all. By the time we try to start teaching them, they're at a really difficult age, and often don't want to learn anything. It's true that kids learn languages faster and easier than adults, but I think the fact that high schoolers don't learn as fast as young children has as much to do with general teenage distractedness as with the development of language centers and blah blah blah. I wonder if you'd get better results teaching grownups, once they'd settled down a bit and were no longer living lives of melodrama and hormones.

We make a big deal about how hard it is for grownups to learn, but it's not true that it's so hard that they can't learn it. It is true that someone who doesn't want to learn, or who thinks they won't be able to, can't learn at all. If you are willing, even a little, you can learn something, even if it's really, really hard.

I wish I had been encouraged to acquire another language earlier in life, or that I'd had more resources when I was older, or that I had decided to really try to do this on my own much sooner. But I can do it now. So I am. Because it makes me happy in a very basic way to be able to say non parlo bene l'italiano, ma io vorrei imparare più.

It ultimately comes down to this: I love words. I don't care what language they're in, I love them. I love to use them and play with them and mix them up and say them over and over and let them run around in my head bumping into other words and making new connections. And if I am willing to poke around at other languages, I will never, ever run out of new words to learn and play with.

Interview with Timothy Haugen at Non Solo Kawaii. The pictures are totally adorable.

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