Question of the day.

What is something that is making you happy?

My answer:

Part of me is very happy that Easter is coming very soon, since this is such a joyful holiday filled with hope and how couldn’t I be happy about it, as a Christian! 🙂 On the other hand, I’m not so happy about it because for me holidays like that and often some time leading up to them are always very stressful and just so uncomfortable overall for all sorts of reasons and it’s getting to me a bit already.

Misha always makes me happy, although lately I’ve been worried about him because he doesn’t seem to be feeling well.

Oh, and my Welsh progress is making me extremely happy. It’s not huge, but at least it’s visible, and during this month I’ve gotten some real confidence boost and a proof that, while I may not be fluent just yet, I can already use the language fairly efficiently in writing, even if it requires a lot of effort and brain power.

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

What are some annoying things that people do to sound/seem intelligent?

My answer:

I haven’t noticed it so much in English, but in Polish it’s specific filler words, and, once you pick up on it, it’s annoying as hell. 😀 Using fillers is generally perceived to be something that not very intelligent people do, and, like I said, I don’t really have a very detailed idea of how exactly it works in English, that is, if some fillers are perceived differently than others and if some people use some fillers more than others, but in Polish we do have some filler words, or maybe not even necessarily fillers as such but words that are very much overused by people who want to be perceived as intelligent –
and often are indeed intelligent but, well, it’s annoying. – I don’t suppose they do it out of some desire to brag or cockiness or something, I guess it’s just something that became a thing with some types of intelligent, or should I say academically successful, people.

Another thing which is less annoying for me personally (because I am guilty of doing it too so that’s probably why I’m more forgiving 😀 ), but is widely perceived as trying to sound more intelligent and intimidates some people is using way more foreign-sounding words/loanwords than necessary – mostly what I’m talking about is a lot of words with Latin or perhaps Greek origins when we have words to use that express the same thing but sound more familiar because they come from the same language group that our language does, so Germanic in English and Slavic in Polish. Why say existence if you can say life, of course in situations when it won’t impact somehow the meaning of what you want to say. Or, in Polish, especially in a workplace setting, why say deadline in English if you can say termin in Polish (oh well, termin is Latin, 😀 but we don’t have anything better and termin is a lot more familiar and home(l)y). As I said, I do that a lot myself, however usually when I do it, it’s consciously and because I want to convey something by using lots of latinisms, like sarcasm for example, or sometimes I just prefer the sound or my synaesthetic associations of a specific Latin word over a more familiar, less sophisticated word. Other times though, I just want to brag with my vocabulary and language skills. 😀 Sometimes I also do something opposite in Polish and use a Slavic equivalent even though a Latin one is more popular, I’ve even made up some neologisms of my own because they sound better to me and I like making up neologisms, and ones which are rooted firmly in the language can be easily understood by others even if they’ve never heard such a word before.

One situation where this gets problematic is I think when you start using latinisms and hellenisms more than necessary all the time without realising and sound VERY clunky and serious and big-headed, and sometimes people don’t even understand exactly what you’re saying. Another is when you use them without really understanding what they mean, especially as an adult and in your native language. And then there is yet another situation where it perhaps isn’t problematic, but, like I said before, can be potentially intimidating for others. 😀

A perfect example is a Polish Catholic YouTuber whom my Mum, Sofi and me (but especially Sofi!) like to watch. We like him because he is a traditional Catholic like us, and he’s also very intelligent and clearly knows a lot about a lot of things and has his brain in the right place, while being humble and able to admit if he was wrong about something and just talking about things from the perspective of a lay person – perhaps well-educated and aware of a lot of things in the world, but without a degree in theology and often not understanding a lot of things. – Plus I like that he has a bit of a different way of presenting things than most Catholic people or media online that I have come across – not a different way of looking at them, but a different way of talking about them that speaks to me more. – Anyway, one thing I don’t like about his channel is how he uses those big words all the time. Yes they do sound better, and he knows what they mean, but his audience is very diverse, and not everyone knows that just because they’re Catholic. Sofi, who is very interested in all that stuff like religion and also politics, and likes to know everything, asks a lot of questions and likes to watch things like that, always says she has to watch his videos with me or Mum so that someone will explain everything to her, because it’s interesting but she doesn’t understand a lot of words. Admittedly, Sofi has a bit limited vocabulary, likely because of being a preemie and generally struggling at school a little, but the things he talks about aren’t usually so difficult that Sofi shouldn’t be able to understand them if they were said in a slightly more approachable way. I remember watching one of his videos last year and was quite confused as to what parousia was, as he was using that word in almost every sentence. Like really, I’d think I have quite a rich vocabulary but I had no clue what that parousia thing was. Finally I figured it out from the context and then looked it up just to make sure, and I was right – it means the second coming of Jesus, at the end of the world – and then when my Mum was watching that video, she had the same problem. And you could just say second coming/Final Judgment. Before we moved to where we live now, we lived in the countryside and our church parish consisted of a few small villages, where most people were farmers or something like that and had enough stuff to deal with in their own daily lives to be concerned with such a thing as language, even though a lot of them – being Kashubs –
were bilingual, and a lot were elderly people. And we had a priest who was a very intelligent, studious man, very eloquent and I guess he must have felt quite out of place in there and would have probably been able to use his talents better with theology students or something. He had a weird way of saying everything in such a way that it seemed extremely complicated. Even my Mum’s family – who are relatively intellectual people, my maternal grandparents were both born to intelligentsia families (I only recently learned that the word intelligentsia works in English 😀 ) – were often complaining of not understanding his sermons. I was a child and teenager then and the one thing I remember about him most clearly is that he used the word exegesis extremely often in his sermons, and no one could tell me what it was. I still don’t think I’d be able to use it naturally in any sentence other than something like the one I just wrote, even though I have a basic idea of what it is. 😀

Oh yeah, and, in Polish, the nasal vowels can make you sound more intelligent or less intelligent. Polish nasal vowels are ą and ę, which are pronounced like the French nasal sounds, ą is like the on in “bon”, and ę is like… well, I don’t have a very wide French vocabulary at all, but I can vaguely remember the word “chermins” so it’s pronounced like the in in it. But, the thing is, sometimes they are pronounced differently, depending where in the word they are, and, to a lesser extend, where in Poland you are. Ą can sound like the English on, or like om, while ę can sound like en, em or e, so then naturally they’re no longer nasal. Now, when people still pronounce them in a nasal way where it shouldn’t be so, it’s considered hypercorrection, and it makes a kind of overintelectualised impression it makes. Hence a rather hilarious way of saying in Polish that someone who is desperately trying to be more sophisticated, more intelligent than they actually are or generally aspiring to something they are not is so “ą ę”, it’s used like an adjective.

What are such things in your opinion/experience? 🙂

Reasons why I love Polish.

If any of you have been reading my blogfrom it’s early months, you might recall a post I wrote about all the

reasons why I’m learning Welsh

that I could come up with. It was a translated post from my previous, Polish blog, and I wrote it because pretty much every single person whom I mentioned it to would ask me this question as either the first, or the second one, right after “Isn’t it an English dialect?” 😀 and because, well, as you can see in that post, there are very many reasons.

I enjoyed writing that post and it got a lot more attention than I thought it would, so the next year I also wrote about

reasons why I’m learning Swedish

and last year

reasons why I’m learning English.

I haven’t started learning any new language since then (even though some people seem to believe that I start learning a new one every month, haha), and I think it’ll be a while yet until I do, but although my language bucket list is long, I’m not rushing anywhere. And, there’s still one language that I know that I think also deserves its own post, even though I’m not learning it. Well, I am technically, but since I’m a native, it’s a different kind of learning, of course. And obviously as you can figure out of the title, or even if you know about me, this language is Polish. I was a little hesitant about writing this post however, even though I was thinking from the beginning of this yearly language series that I should do it. Of course I love Polish, and in a way it’s a more special relationship than with any other of my languages, but, because it’s always been a part of my life and not really as a result of my own, conscious choice as is the case with the others, I thought it would be harder to come up with as many reasons. As someone who hates anything to do with math, I always tend to appreciate quality over quantity, but I wouldn’t like this post to stand out as the shortest of the whole series, that would be sad and unfair, even if just in my opinion.

I shared the dilemma with my Mum, who rightly noticed that it would be much more sad and unfair if I didn’t write it at all. And that perhaps the reasons as such will speak louder here than their amount would. That was a very fair point to me, so that’s why I am writing this post today, after all.

Here are all the reasons why I love Polish:

   1.

It is, like I said earlier, my mother tongue, so, in a way, I have even more of a connection with it than any other of my languages. It was the first language that sparked the love for language in my brain, I mean language in general, as a phenomenon, linguistics. It made me fall in love with words, my synaesthetic associations with them, it showed me how fun it is to play with words and expand your vocabulary. I love it because it’s the language in which I communicate with people I love – my family. – And because learning it made me more able and open to learn other languages later on.

   2.

Like all my languages. It is plain beautiful. While other Slavic languages aren’t among my most most most favourites (I do like them a lot, they are super cool and very charming but they aren’t in that MOST group), I strongly believe that even if it wasn’t my mother tongue, I’d still end up loving Polish, I don’t know how I could not.

   3.

While I’m not inclined to brag like some of us like to do that our language is the most difficult in the world (it depends on what you’re starting with, and there are much, much more complex languages out there), Polish does have a rather complex grammatical structure when compared to English, and – if you can ever be objective about such things – I’d say it’s also more complex phonetically than all the languages I’ve learnt so far. That makes me lucky, because the more difficult language you’re starting with, the easier you’ll likely find learning other languages, because you may be familiar with their trickier bits already from your mother tongue. I don’t have to be scared of languages with genuses or cases, for example, and arduously try to conceptualise them, because I already know what they are all about, now I just have to figure out how they apply to the language I’m learning and what differences there are compared to what I’m used to. And while picking up phonetics of foreign languages seems to be more of an individual trait, I think it does help me with it that, in my mother tongue, there are sounds which can hardly be differentiated from each other by a non-native even though they are different (see ś and sz, ć and cz etc.).

   4.

There is a lot of great Polish literature. I don’t know much about how much of it gets translated to other languages and which ones most often, but given that most countries are largely focused either on writing their own literature, or translating things from English, and the Anglophone world doesn’t seem to translate a lot, if I lived anywhere else and didn’t speak Polish, I probably wouldn’t get to know books by people who are now my favourite Polish authors.

   5.

Some of the swearwords and expletives are priceless. See my post

about gingerbread,

for example, if you want to learn more.

   6.

It has loads of amusing idioms. And lots of such that are very straightforward and to the point, and lots of such that I just love the sound of.

7.

The archaic Polish language. While I think it’s very true that a language is alive as long as it’s changing, because we are always changing and the times are always changing so it would be weird if the language wouldn’t, hence I don’t understand people who are all against slang, loanwords and other such things, I think it would be fun if we talked more like we used to, used more of that vocabulary we no longer do. Or, why the heck did we stop using initial stress in words to replace it with a paroxytone stress? I guess only highlanders speak with an initial syllable stress now, and I like that because it makes them sound like Finns. 😀 Or I hate that we stopped using long and short vowels because that makes the prosody of a language feel more interesting. I love love love reading older Polish books where there are words that we no longer use, some that I don’t even really get and I love learning what they mean and feeling them. People used to have such a delicious way of writing, even at the beginning of the 20th century, not to mention earlier. I feel like it often gets lost now. I say delicious because one of the synaesthesias I have is lexical-gustatory and while words almost always have some sort of a taste and it’s not like the modern Polish language doesn’t and like there aren’t any delicious words in it (far from it), it’s just that more archaic Polish language tends to have something very specific about its taste as a whole, that I really like. My Mum has also always loved reading books written in an archaic or obsolete language, so I guess it must be genetic. She especially has a lot of prayer books from like even before WWI I guess, when even the spelling was different and we used y instead of j, or my grandma has a cook book from the end of 19th century. I just love things like these!

8.

Dialects. You may perhaps remember from my post about English, that I wrote about Polish being a fairly unified language in terms of accent, especially when compared to English. However, there still are some slight variations to how people speak in different regions and it’s interesting to observe. There are also some dialects. I don’t necessarily have to love all of them as such in terms of whether they appeal to me aesthetically, but I love that the ones that exist still do, that we have some linguistic diversity (although I wish there was more or at least that it would be more pronounced), and although I myself don’t speak any dialect or don’t have a particularly distinguishable accent (despite being half-Kashub, and Kashubian is classified as a minority language but I can hardly understand it let alone speak it), I am very easily driven up the wall by people saying things like that it is not “elegant” to speak in a dialect, for example. I do think it’s a good skill to have to be able to speak your language in some universal, standard way that is often considered more formal, but being disapproving of someone speaking in a different way is not only discriminatory but also kind of smothering a person’s identity, and I guess that’s one of the reasons why it bothers me so much whenever I come across such an attitude.

   9.

Words that are untranslatable to other languages that I know. I am always interested in the concept of untranslatable words, in any language, and the ideas behind them, how you can express sometimes some incredibly complex ideas using one word in one language, but in another, one sentence may sometimes be too little. A very good example of a Polish word that is untranslatable to English is kombinować, which also happens to be a word that I really like and which, as many Poles think, reflects our resourcefulness as a nation. 😀 Yes, there is combine, and kombinować absolutely can mean combine, but it also has another definition. It is something you do when you have a problem that you need to resolve, but there’s no straight way out of it and it needs first a lot of thinking and then coming up with some unconventional work-around strategy, which sometimes may not be the most honest one. Both the thinking process and then carrying your idea out is what kombinować means. When it is dishonest, you could of course say it’s plain cheating but cheating feels a LOT more weighty and negative, and also kombinować is more colloquial, plus kombinować may, but doesn’t have to include, any cheating. It could be coming up with any creative, out-of-the-box solution or idea and then doing what you came up with. It is often translated as being up to something but it’s not the same.

   10.

Poglish, Ponglish, Pinglish or whatchamacallit. I’ve always said Ponglish, but a lot of people say Poglish and recently I came across Pinglish and I think Pinglish is best. Anyway, obviously you know what I’m talking about, the blend of Polish and English. It is often used by Polish diaspore in the US and the UK (like in Chicago I guess it’s quite a big thing) or by Polish young people in a slangy sort of way, or (voluntarily or not) by Polish speakers learning English/English speakers learning Polish when they’re dealing with language interference and/or nearly discharged/fried brains. It can be so freakishly amusing sometimes.

   11.

I often gravitate towards languages that are less popular and less heard off, if not obscure. Polish may not be as much as obscure, but, apart from Poland or places in other countries where there are a lot of Polish immigrants, you won’t hear it a lot, and there aren’t super many non-natives who would speak it. This small language factor is very appealing to me.

   12.

Because, whether it is the most difficult language in the world or not, it is viewed by many learners and natives as difficult, and I was lucky enough to not have to make a conscious effort of learning it. 😀 And the difficult factor is also appealing in itself. I like difficult languages, they are fascinating, kind of similarly to how complex human beings are.

What do you love your native language for, if you do, and if you don’t, why? 🙂

 

Ten Things of Thankful.

How are you people doing? Thought I’d do a bit of a gratitude list, linking up with

Ten Things of Thankful – #TToT –

just because it’s Sunday. Not that Sundays are my favourite day of the week or anything – they never have – but just because I feel like it and because any time is good to be grateful.

  1.    That my new-ish migraine medication is kind of working. Some of you may recall that I was recently writing that I was free from migraines for quite an impressive amount of time – three weeks. – Well, and then I got a period, and the bliss appears to be over, because after my period went away, I already had two migraines. However, not long before that break, I was prescribed a new med by my GP, which would hopefully work better than the previous one and that I can also take in combination with the other one. I didn’t have an opportunity to test it though until this week. And it’s a bit curious because, while it by no means got rid of either of those two migraines, it did help enough that I could function somehow, and not just sleep or try to sleep my life away. The one I’ve been taking so far would either get rid of the migraine entirely sometimes, or other times not change the situation at all, it seemed to be very random. Still, we’ll see how it goes in the coming weeks, I guess. But so far, I’m grateful that, this week, it worked at least somehow, and that I’m not having a migraine today.
  2.    My faza developing beautifully and my current faza subject. My faza peak has gone down somewhat, but it’s normal, and so far it’s still a peak and doing quite well as such, and even without a peak, having a major faza is always such a fabulous thing! I wish I knew more about him than I do but oh well, maybe I still will over time… In this respect, this is probably the most difficult faza I’ve had, but at least I’m developing my deductive skills, or something… Oh yeah and I’d like to squeeze in all my pleasant and positive synaesthetic experiences in here, which I’m also very grateful for.
  3.    And, speaking of the faza and brain stuff, my Welsh language development. Lately it’s been feeling quite speedy. Well, maybe not as miraculously, spectacularly speedy as it was with my Swedish or English, but still. Recently I had my first dream where parts of it were in Welsh, and I’d been waiting for this for such a long time, because, you know, when you’re starting to dream in a language you’re learning, it shows that your brain is really processing it intensely and you’re actually absorbing it, and on the other hand that it’s already ingrained enough that it can even come out of your subconscious. And it’s just fun to be able to dream in yet another language. I was really waiting for it a long time because it was slowly starting to get boring to only dream in Polish, English and Swedish, as much as I’m crazy for these languages, I need more diversity. It probably needs time until Welsh will appear in my dreams regularly, and in that dream there were only like snippets of it, but it’s a great start, isn’t it? As you may know, I needed to limit my Welsh learning quite a lot last year because I had a lot of tech transitions and familiarising myself with new technology to do, so I only restarted my intensive learning this year. And I just love that feeling that I always get on Mondays after learning (Mondays are my most intensive days when I introduce new material, which can take up to 3 hours and then I work on it for the rest of the week about half an hour daily), when all my brain muscles are pleasantly sore and steaming and twitching in a total mix of languages. During this past year I kind of forgot how very satisfying and addictive this feeling can be. No space left for overthinking or anything like that. It can be quite difficult sometimes when I’m particularly depressed to get myself going, but once I do, it actually will often help me to feel better. Plus this year so far has been really pretty decent moodwise to begin with for me, as you may already know. And now with a brand new faza in the mix I have twice as much motivation, inspiration and various opportunities to further develop my language skills and they kind of do it on their own.
  4.    Podpiwek. Podpiwek is a Polish fermented soft drink made of grain coffee, hops, yeast, water and sugar, which contains a tiny little bit of alcohol, it’s served cold and in my opinion it’s better than any shop-bought fizzy drinks I’ve had. My Mum had always made it for Christmas/New Year’s, because that’s how it was at her home for some unspecified reason, but last year we had too much of everything else so she didn’t make it for Christmas which I was happy with because I was kind of sick on Christmas anyway so wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. Instead, she made it earlier this year, and since then, we’ve somehow really got hooked on it suddenly, as if we never had it before. So we came to a conclusion, why the flip only make it once a year, when you can have it all year round? Good thing that Sofi doesn’t like it, because when Sofi likes something, she absorbs it all at once, and this way there is more for the rest of us. 😀 It is very healthy, it has a lot of B vitamins and I don’t remember what else but my Mum listed a whole lot of things. It’s very refreshing. Initially, my Mum made her own, but then she made it again and it somehow didn’t turn out quite as good, at least in her opinion, so she kept experimenting until finally she decided to get the ready-made mix, got lots of it and lots of bottles, and now we have so much of it that I was at first wondering whether we’d manage to drink it all in two weeks as it’s best to do, and was worried that such a yumy thing will be wasted, but now I think there will be nothing left a lot sooner than that. It’ll probably be a fixed element of our diet now like kefir is for Mum, Sofi and me, and we may end up cutting back on shop-bought juices or soft drinks.
  5. A great book series I’m reading right now. Ages ago, one of my penn pals who is also very much into Welsh language and Wales, and especially north Wales, mentioned to me his favourite book – The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet by Edith Pargeter. – This is a historical series about prince Llywelyn/Llewelyn ap Gruffudd otherwise known as Llywelyn the Last. It sounded to me like something I’d absolutely love to read, generally I’d love to read any realistic historical book set in north Wales because I had no luck with them and when I came across something, it was annoyingly unrealistic so that even someone like me – not a history buff – could spot it. But at the time when we were first talking about it my main source of books in English was Audible, and this book wasn’t on Audible, neither was it translated to Polish, not surprisingly to me at all. But this year he reminded me of it and told me that he was re-reading it, and what a pity it is that I can’t read it as well, so I thought I need to have a look in other places that I currently also use for getting English books from, and – yay! – I got it! And I’ve been reading it for a week now and enjoying it a lot.
  6.    Misha as always. Misha hasn’t been spending much time with me this week – or else I’d put him higher on this list – but whenever he does, it’s such a pleasure and I’m always grateful for it whenever it happens.
  7. Feeling quite well mentally and emotionally lately. I’m trying to get as much out of it as I can while it’s lasting.
  8. Jocky. I don’t have such a bond with Jocky as I do with Misha, he has this bond with Sofi and they fit each other so well, but I do love him and he’s a cute little fluffy ball and so playful and infecting with enthusiasm. But the reason why I put Jocky on this list is that he had an accident this week. He got hit by a car, and his tail was hurting a lot afterwards. It was so pitiful too see him hurting so much. Thankfully, when Mum and Sofi got him to the vet and he had X-rays, they were okay and he doesn’t have anything broken. But he still needs to take painkillers and it sure must have been hurting a lot at the beginning because even when Sofi would hold him gently and sit still, he would suddenly start to whimper. But now he’s more like his normal self and I’m so grateful for it because something like this could have easily ended up a lot worse.
  9. My Mum. Like with Misha, I’m always grateful for my Mum, because she always does a lot for me and also she is just great as a person and a lot of fun to chat with.
  10. Sleep. Mine has been really irregular for the last few days and last night for example I didn’t really sleep the best, but sleep is a great thing in general and I love to sleep, thus I’m grateful for it whenever I can get it, even if it’s not much.

Now you, what are you grateful for? 🙂

 

Question of the day.

Have you ever been to another country? Which?

My answer:

I’m not very well-travelled, but I have been to some countries a few times, although with most of them these were just day trips, so as you can guess most of these were our neighbouring countries (Lithuania, Slovakia and Czech Republic). My Mum’s family – namely my grandad – has some Lithuanian heritage, but we also have some distant family – from his side – in eastern Poland, mainly in Masuria. That is also where my Mum was born. Masuria is an amazing place to go for holidays to, because there are a lot of lakes and beautiful views and a lot of yummy food, and a lot of rural areas and tourism is quite a big thing there. So we would often go there to see our family and would often stay at their place and travel in the area or something, during summer holidays. One such year we decided to go a bit further, to Lithuania. Partly because of that family connection, although this is not something we know a lot about or have a strong emotional bond with because it’s just too distant, and partly because I’ve had a devotion to Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, whose chapel is there, and I wanted to visit it, so my Dad had always promised me that we’d go on a pilgrimage there or something, and that’s what we eventually did. Zofijka was only a toddler then. She was also quite little on our next trip – to Slovakia – and often when we were driving somewhere that felt very far to her, she would keep asking: “Are we still in Poland?” which always made us laugh because it sounded as if she was such a globetrotter or a cosmopolitan that she can’t keep track of which country she’s in anymore. 😀

As for Slovakia, one year my Mum persuaded me to go on a summer camp that was organised by my school, and as a way of coaxing me into it she said that they – my family – would go there as well on their own. The whole trip was to the Tatra mountains, here in Poland, because my school had like its quarters there – that is, sort of a closely affiliate school in a village close to the mountains which was for primary school-aged children with some additional learning difficulties other than just blindness, so we were using that school as our base. – I would sometimes do stuff with my school, and sometimes with my family. Sometimes my family would join the school in doing what they had planned to do, and at other times they’d do something different. And my Dad was really keen on the idea of us going to Slovakia, because back when he was going to school, he once went to a school camp in Czechoslovakia and then later even was briefly penpalling with one of the girls from there, which is interesting because while Polish and Czech/Slovak are obviously in the same family of languages and are relatively well mutually intelligible, it’s not like you’ll understand each other all the time if you don’t have some background in the other language, at least that’s my experience, there are a LOT of “false friends” and their spelling also differs a fair bit, so I would never have thought that my Dad would be up for such a challenge and at school age, I’d think that would require some language consciousness that people, let alone school children, don’t always have. Then later on our trip to Czech Republic, to both my and Mum’s great surprise, it was my Dad who was the most communicative and understood people the best, my English was of less use than his Polish and plain ability to understand what people were saying. 😀 We’d never suspected him of a hidden linguistic talent like this. Anyway, because of having such memories with Czechoslovakia, and because of us being close to the Slovak borders and all being into the idea, we felt like it would be fun to go there. And because my Mum always wanted to visit some thermal aquapark or something like this, we were happy to find out that there is one quite close to the border, in Oravice. And, for me personally, that was the most fun day of the whole trip, which overall was, I believe, more exciting to my parents than my siblings and me. 😀 But we had a lot of fun in that thermal aquapark and have been thinking about going there again ever since, but never have so far.

Then, quite a lot later, as an adult already, I went to the Czech Republic only with my parents, because Sofi was on a swimming camp and Olek was working. Again, we were on longer holidays, this time in Silesia, and my Dad really wanted to cross the border. We went to Prague but weren’t really doing anything specific there, just walking around, taking everything in, people watching, listening to the language, trying random foods that we’d never seen before in our own country etc. That was a lot of fun. Then the next day we travelled to Czechia yet again but this time round to some villages and again weren’t doing anything specific. My Dad was chatting to people, me and Mum too but like I said before he was actually the most effective at that and could both be quite well understood and understand the most of us all, I remember we also went to some cemetery there.

And last, but not least, my most adventurous trip abroad so far was to Sweden, but I think most of you know a fair bit about it already. I went to Stockholm and nearby areas, again just with my parents because Sofi was on another swimming camp. This was quite spontaneous, even though my Dad was promising me every year that we’d go. I never believed it because we never ended up going. But that year he also kept saying we’d go to Sweden and then, quite unexpectedly for everyone, we actually ended up doing it. I felt really ambivalent about this trip. It was absolutely awesome, and I loved being immersed in the language and how it improved so incredibly muchh for me in this single week, how I got some real experience of talking to natives, which I had almost none of in Swedish before, or at least certainly not in person. And I heard so much positive feedback about my Swedish, although at the same time whenever I let it show in any way that it’s not my first language people would instantly switch to English so I was often wondering whether my Swedish is really that bad, haha, but I guess people just do it like this in Sweden regardless of your fluency level. It is frustrating from a learner’s perspective, but in fact I’m only starting to understand this phenomenon now that I’ve been helping some people who are learning my language, and I’ve realised that it’s really tempting to just switch to English, which we both know well, because this way we could communicate more quickly and also a bit more clearly, and I wouldn’t have to be mindful all the time of what and how I’m saying so that they could understand me more easily if they’re a beginner, which in turn feels less free and natural. Plus for me it’s probably also that I write much more in English these days than I do in Polish. 😀 But there were even people in Sweden who were surprised when they eventually realised that I’m only learning Swedish, which felt really flattering because I didn’t, and still don’t, feel all that confident in it at all, not as much as in English, my Swedish still feels a little clunky to me and not as comfy to use. But I guess what may be making this initial impressioon on people is that I pick up the phonetics and language prosody easily and perhaps I do a really good job at this one thing in Swedish, that’s what I heard from my Swedish teacher but he wasn’t objective, 😀 which maybe is what to people makes me sound more like a Swede even if I make grammatical/syntax mistakes and use sometimes not the right vocabulary than if it was the other way around – if I were speaking perfectly grammatically but with a weird accent. – If it really works like this, it’s funny that an accent can create such illusions. I loved just listening to people on the streets and observing them. One of the highlights of that trip for me was when we went to the cemetery where there is Cornelis Vreeswijk’s (one of my fazas) grave. I had always dreamt of visiting him there and bringing him some flowers. We had the yummiest Swedish chocolate and ice-cream, there were so many beautiful views that my Mum was in love with, I got lots of children’s books to scan, and, on the last day of our trip, we found a minerals shop, where I got some lovely new gem stones to my collection. I loved the shop owner, who seemed to like me too or perhaps was impressed with my interest with stones or something because he was incredibly nice and talked to me a lot about his stones and how he got them, and showed me lots of them even though initially he wasn’t too happy to let me touch them. The whole trip was extremely exhausting for me though in a lot of ways, and on that last day, I was feeling totally knackered, and when I’m very tired or sleepy or have drank alcohol or something like that, I have a strong tendency for mixing languages, especially if I happened to switch them a lot or was learning one of them intensely earlier that day. My thoughts are a jumble of different languages and sometimes I won’t be able to filter things out and will say something in a different language than I wanted. That can be quite funny, if a bit embarrassing for me or confusing for the other side, although my family are used to it and just ask me what language that was, and my family are who I mostly interact with in person. 😀 Anyways, that was the state of my brain on that day, and at some point, in the middle of my conversation in Swedish with that guy (which was rather challenging in itself because he was speaking super fast and with a rather strong Scanian accent, and Scanian accent is not something I can understand very well, it’s almost like Danish 😀 ), my Mum told me – in Polish of course – that there’s also a huge sapphire there and that it’s soooo very expensive. Instead of replying her in Polish, I did it in English, and was all like oh my I love sapphires I wish I could have it!!! or something along these lines. My Mum, who can’t speak English, didn’t get it, but the shop owner did, and was quite amused. He said he can’t sell that sapphire to me at any significantly lower price, but instead could give me a smaller one for free. And that’s how I got a lovely mini sapphire ball. That’s always something to start with, and I was quite euphoric over getting a sapphire – even if very small – to my collection. But I also bought a lot of other beautiful stones there.

The worse part of the trip was that it was really quite challenging overall, it was absolutely exhausting! First we had to do all the travelling, and my vestibular system went crazy on the ferry, I was freakishly dizzy and it was scary. Most of the trip I was going on a lot higher doses of my anti-anxiety medication than what I normally take, which is probably why a lot of my memories of that time are rather foggy and feel more like a dream or something. My parents don’t speak either English or Swedish, which means I had to do the talking for three people, when I normally struggle doing it just for myself. While my linguistic curiosity was higher than my anxiety, it didn’t make it any less difficult and all the interactioons with people, even though mostly very positive, were really wearing me out. So I was just as super happy leaving as I was going there, and I have the same very ambivalent feelings when thinking about going there again. I’d love it, but when I start to think practically about going through all that socialising and travelling shit again, it makes me feel sick. 😀

How about you. 🙂

What does gingerbread have to do with the windmill, or, why do Poles use gingerbread as an expletive?

Looking back at my blog stats at the end of last year, I came across an interesting search term that brought someone to my blog, namely –
“piernika swearword”. – I like to be sure that when people do find my tiny little Mishmashy islet amid the whole huge Internet sea, they can actually find what they were looking for. I think usually they do, and if they don’t, it’s most often because I can’t provide the info myself, but in this case, I think I can shed some light on it, so that’s what I’ll try to do today.

But what does that “piernika” thing even mean? “Piernika” is both dative and accusative case of the Polish word “piernik”, which means gingerbread, it doesn’t really make much sense on its own in such form, without some broader context. I think someone looking for something on the topic must have heard about the word gingerbread being used in Polish as a swearword/expletive but didn’t have a clear idea so just Googled whatever. There is neither such a swearword in Polish as “piernika” or “piernik”. However, we do have some rather light swearwords which do derive from this word, and that’s what I’ll write about today. I’ll also tell you about other Polish expressions with the word gingerbread, because we not only have famous and yummilicious gingerbreads from Toruń, but also somehow really like to use this word.

I’d just like people to know that I am not a linguist, just a linguophile who is interested in all things language, so this may not be exhaustive, and that it is only Polish, not English, which is my native language, so some things are a bit awkward to explain in English, but if something isn’t clear let me know and maybe I can explain it differently. Also, there’s not really a whole lot of resources I’ll be working with, as I didn’t find a whole lot of information that would be satisfactory for me on this so very narrow topic. I am mostly writing this as a more rambly sort of postthat I thought could be fun and also interesting, perhaps somewhat educating even, rather than a really valid reference for someone that you can rely on without any reservations, my main resource here is actually a Polish YA book, so… yeah, don’t take it too seriously. 😀

I used the phrase “What does gingerbread have to do with a windmill?” in the title of this post, because it is a legit Polish saying, which is “Co ma piernik do wiatraka” in the original. It is used to point out that something is irrelevant to the conversation, or if you feel kind of confused or don’t understand a relationship between things. Let’s say Sofi and Bibiel are in the middle of a heated discussion about their favourite iPhone games, trying to establish what is better, BitLife or Among Us, and suddenly, out of the blue, Sofi informs Bibiel that she ate an ice-cream sandwich… No information about when she did this and why that would even be important! (real life situation 😀 ). So then Bibiel can ask: “Eh?! What does a gingerbread have to do with a windmill?”

But, actually, just think of it… doesn’t gingerbread have a whole lot to do with the windmill? When I was a child, there was such a radio station here in Poland called Polish Radio BIS (BIS was the acronym for Bardzo Inna Stacja which means Very different Station, and also I really liked how the word BIS sounded and the whole station was just so cool!). One of my favourite programmes on there was BIS-up, which was generally about all things language, but also travel, different cultures and the like. It was a station mostly geared at youth, like uni students or something like that I suppose, and in BIS-up they did language lessons and had a lot of interesting brainstorming questions and stuff. And one thing they once asked to make people think that I remember very vividly was exactly that – what does gingerbread have to do with a windmill? –
People came up with lots of things, interestingly, mostly linguistic, like that they both have an i as their second letter (even in English!), that they’re both masculine nouns and such… But, of course, they have much more in common. Windmill grinds the grain to flour, from which you can then make gingerbread. And you can make a windmill of gingerbread. 😀 So this expression doesn’t really make all that much sense. But doesn’t everything have something in common with each other, if you think long enough? A bit off topic but still on a similar note, we also have an expression that something fits like a flower to a sheepskin coat, meaning it doesn’t fit at all, kinda like a square peg in a round hole. But why do a flower and a sheepskin coat have to make such a dissonance and do they really do? 😀

Then there is “stary piernik” which literally means old gingerbread. Many people think that the older gingerbread, the better it is, but here this is definitely negative. Old gingerbread is a scornful or derogatory phrase used in reference to an elderly man. I’ve also come across people saying “old gingerbreads” in relation to elderly people of both genders, but because gingerbread is a masculine noun it seems more natural in reference to a man. Actually I’ve heard it used more often by older people themselves in a sort of self-deprecating manner, like when comparing themselves to someone younger, rather than someone saying this to an older person or describing them this way.

And now, expletives. So we have swearwords like pierdolić or pierdzielić. Some of our swearwords, especially the ones which are verbs, can have loads and loads of meanings, some more vulgar than the others, but generally these verbs, in any meaning, aren’t something you’d use in a formal way, or around children or somehow very language-sensitive people. I think their primary meaning though is very much like the English fuck. Most frequently, at least from what I hear, people use it as a way of expressing shock, anger or surprise: “Ja pierdolę!/Ja pierdzielę!”, so literally something like “I fuck”. )

We also have some other words starting with pier- which maybe aren’t really swearwords, but generally have a bit of a vulgar feel or aren’t considered appropriate language in a lot of situations, like pierdzieć (to fart).

And as you may remember, ginberbread in Polish is piernik. So I think the story behind the origin of Polish piernik-derived expletives is very much like with English heck, flip or shot. That’s how the word pierniczyć – a verb derived from piernik – most likely came to be.

Polish works in such a funny way that when you have a verb, you can add various prefixes to it and it’ll change its meaning, sometimes dramatically. And the whole versatility of the word pierniczyć is hidden in those prefixes. If you really want to use it all the time, I think you can do so with the right prefixes.

I must admit that I’ve always really liked this expletive. It’s not too offensive, it’s not an actual swearword, but it’s also not totally wishy-washy or smooth and can actually express strong emotions quite well, so you can express yourself to the point without offending someone, unless you’re like really steaming with rage then maybe it won’t feel quite satisfactory. I also like the way it sounds for some reason, there’s something funny about it, and have some nice associations with it, and yes, I love gingerbreads!

The word pierniczyć itself, on its own, with no prefixes may mean something similar to pierdolić/pierdzielić, only milder. I found one human Polish to English translation of this word and they said it’s an equivalent of the English phrase “to tell fibs”. I’m not sure I agree, because while the general meaning is of course the same – to tell something that is not true – I feel like to tell fibs is even milder than pierniczyć, though I may be wrong here. I’ve come across the expression to tell fibs in an English children’s book, where one child was accusing another of telling fibs, and in another book where an adult was telling a child that she thinks the child is telling fibs. I don’t think I would use the word pierniczyć to say this to a child in Polish. I think they could feel hurt or like I was really badly telling them off and it would sound a bit harsh and maybe even slightly vulgar. I could tell that to Sofi, because she is a teenager and I know her well and she’d know I’d probably use it not fully seriously, but with younger children, no. I also don’t think most parents would find it appropriate for younger children to use this word regularly.

Like with pierdzielić/pierdolić, pierniczyć can also be used in the exclamation: “Ja pierniczę!” to express some disbelief, surprise, frustration, irritation and what not but in a more euphemistic way.

When I was thinking about how I should go about this post, I remembered a young adult book I once read called Klasa Pani Czajki (MS. Czajka’s Class), about secondary/junior high school students who all were in the same class, and their class teacher was the title character Ms. Czajka, who taught them Polish. She has a huge passion for the subject she teaches and doesn’t like any slang expressions (let alone such expletives like “Ja pierniczę!”). She doesn’t even let their students use the word fajnie (fine), because it’s a relatively modern loanword.

One day, one of her students (Kaśka), while sitting in Ms. Czajka’s class, looks out the window and sees a boy (Olek) strolling aimlessly around the school backyard, waiting for another girl. It was warm so he took of his jacket, revealing his muscular shoulders, which must have made a huge impression on Kaśka, who exclaimed: “Ja pierniczę!”

Of course that made her teacher very cross and call the girl out for it. But then one of the boys (Maciek), Ms. Czajka’s most eloquent student, spoke up and started explaining to her, that every language, including Polish, is evolving, and that pierniczyć is a word with many different meanings, and its analysis makes one learn grammar. He continues to explain to her that what she just wanted do was to opierniczyć (tell off) Kaśka as a way of showing her disapproval. (you can also give someone opiernicz and it will mean the same, or you can opierniczać się, which will mean that you’re lazing around and not doing what you should). Then Maciek gives a whole very hilarious lecture, to the amusement of his class, and throughout the whole chapter we have the following phrases come up:

odpierniczyć się (to bugger off), spierniczyć (to run away, but spierniczyć something will already mean something completely different –
to destroy or spoil something – ), podpierniczyć/zapierniczyć (to steal, but zapierniczać can also mean to run very fast, or do something very fast, that’s at least how my Dad uses it, I’ve also come across zapiernicz as a noun meaning a very busy, hectic time when you have a lot of work to do), wypierniczyć ( to throw away, and then wypierniczać can also mean to leave), wpierniczyć (to beat/spank, wpiernicz can mean beating – dać komuś wpiernicz =give someone a beating – and wpierniczać can mean to eat, but implies that someone is eating fast and/or a lot), “Popierniczyło cię?” (Are you crazy?, and popierniczony is crazy/nutty), pierniczony (flipping).

And I’m sure there must be some more that people use! Rozpierniczyć (to take something apart, to destroy), I’m pretty sure I heard someone using rozpierniczyć się meaning to fall (from a bike for example, and wypierniczyć się could also mean to fall), popierniczyć (to mix something up). Maybe there are even more…

To make things more interesting, we have more spicy expletives like that, involving pepper (pieprz) and horseradish (chrzan).

Pieprzyć is very much a synonym of pierdolić and pierdzielić, but one which definitely doesn’t have the euphemistic character of pierniczyć, most people think of it as rather vulgar. It also has gazillions of versions with different prefixes.

Horseradish is lighter, I think maybe even lighter than gingerbread. You can say that something is do chrzanu (for horseradish) means something like crappy. Chrzanić is very much like pierniczyć (to talk rubbish), and, again, there are many similar verbs with prefixes meaning mostly the same.

And then – although it doesn’t really belong in the expletives/swearwords category – we have cumin (kminek). There is a slang word rozkminiać (to wonder, to try to understand, to think deeply), similarly there are rozkminy (singular rozkmina, deep thoughts, attempts at understanding something, creative, sometimes weird, ideas). I really like this word. You can also wykminić something (come up with something) or kminić (think a lot and deeply, usually wondering about something or trying to come up with something).

I feel like my brain might have turned into a piernik by now. 😀 And thus I am having a rozkmina: will that make it get better and better as it gets older, as gingerbread normally does? Or will it end up totally popierniczony as a result?

What is your favourite swearword or expletive or any weird phrase in your language? And, what else do you think gingerbread could have to do with a windmill? 🙂

Ps: I’ve just had supper, over which we were talking with Dad about camper vans (he’s been wanting to buy one for ages and it’s his biggest dream and pretty much an obsession by now), and he said that the one his friend has is very “odpierniczony”, which was supposed to mean that he put a lot of care in it and that it’s very luxurious and neat and fancy etc. As you can see, the potential of gingerbreads is neverending.

People of the blogosphere, come rejoice with me, and let me introduce my brand new, long awaited faza subject…!! 😊 😂 🎉 🧠

Finally, it happened! I still find it a bit difficult to actually believe in, but I am now sure that it’s for real. My new faza has actually started some time ago already – on 13th January – but I felt like I needed some time to process things and to feel really sure that it’s a proper, long-term faza to be able to write about it publicly, I wouldn’t even tell people in private, except for Sofi, who it was because I always feel a bit, hm, insecure kind of, at the start of a new faza, and also I wasn’t sure if it was for real, I didn’t want to regret sharing something with someone too early on.

But, before I’ll write anything more, I want to tell you that if you’re a newbie here and have totally no idea what I’m talking about when I say “faza”, or maybe you’re even a regular but still find the concept a little confusing (because it certainly can be a bit confusing), I’ve got a

new page here,

which I hope will make things clearer for you. Please let me know if you’d like to know something and it’s not clear on there, because it’s difficult to explain stuff that is going on your brain level to outside people. If you’re not really familiar with what I mean by fazas and you want to be , I suggest you read that page before this post as otherwise it might be hard to make sense of what I’ll write here and I don’t want to clutter the post with explaining things on the go, as it’ll probably be a long post anyway. On that page you’ll also learn who it is I’m going to be talking about…

So yeah, I’m in the midst of a fabulous faza peak, which means I’ve been having quite a good time lately. What this new faza has certainly already taught me is: you can’t just make such things happen at will, just because you want. If you have been following me all that time ever since my faza on Gwil has started to fade and it didn’t seem like anyone was on the horizon to replace him on the dominant spot, perhaps you know a bit about my frantic search for a potential faza subject, especially in the music world as that’s where I most often get my fazas from. I tried to narrow down my criteria and especially looked for all sorts of musicians named Jack in whom, or in whose music alone at the very least, I could become passionately interested. Not because it’s any kind of requirement for my faza subject to be called Jack, or anything specific, for that matter, but, just like I said, it was just some sort of a criterion I used to narrow down what I was searching for, and I really love the name Jack so I thought it would be cool to finally have a faza subject named Jack. Later on I also started looking for people called Hamish because quite recently, being a name nerd who often falls in and out of love with different names, I’ve become enamoured with this name, according to my Mum it’s because it almost sounds like “Hey, Mish”, which is possible but in my opinion it’s mostly just because it’s so Scottish and both strong and kind of cute at the same time.

Despite my huge efforts, it just failed massively. Well, I did find a lot of great music so that was a plus, but none of these people were seriously interesting for me enough as individuals, nor did I feel their music enough to be able to consider them as my faza candidates for long. In fact most of them always turned out to be more Sofi’s thing, which means they just absolutely couldn’t be my thing because our tastes in most things vary a whole lot and thus it was just almost physically impossible. 😀

On January 13, I decided to finally do as mundane a thing as cleaning of all my gem stones and their appartments (which I normally make sure to do regularly and generally like doing but now somehow hadn’t done in quite some time and totally didn’t feel motivated as it really takes some time because different stones often need different kind of handling, and I’ve got lots of semi-precious and precious stones). So on January 13 I just got down to doing it. I put some music on just to play in the background , and even Misha came to entertain me with his company.

I think I was listening to one of Spotify’s Daily Mixes (if you’re not familiar with Spotify, Daily Mixes are mixes of music that it makes for you based on your listening activity, with stuff you’ve liked and things you might like but might also not have heard, there’s up to six of them depending on how  varied your music taste is). I wasn’t really paying much attention to it, being deeply engrossed in my own thoughts, but just as I was polishing my lovely Fulk the Pyrite, I suddenly did start paying attention to the music because there was a rock piece I’ve never ever heard before and someone was “singing about [Welsh] independence” in a way that first made my heart wrench because of the hopeless lyrics, and then all of my brains melt with delight because it was so good overall and my synaesthetic experiences were bliss when listening to it. I had a quick look to see what that song was and by whom and that’s how I’ve first heard about a band called Y Trŵbz. It’s interesting how even small, minority language music scenes have just so much going on that even if you’re as familiar as I am/feel I am with the Welsh-language music scene, there always seems to be something you won’t know about, even if it’s not exactly very new.

Much later on that same day, just out of plain old curiosity, I looked Y Trŵbz up. What was my surprise to learn that one of the people in this band is Jacob Elwy – the same

Jacob Elwy

whose song (together with Mared Williams) I shared just two days prior to that, saying that I didn’t really know much at all about him. How fabulously ironic! 😀 In hintsight, I botched that post properly, because I even wrote that Mared Williams was from Gwynedd even though I knew full well that she was from Conwy, I don’t know what happened to my brain, but now it’s edited so hopefully my crime is forgiven and forgotten. While I’ve always found that song of Jacob and Mared that I posted really nice, it hadn’t exactly made me feel anything special which could suggest any forthcoming fazas, and I’ve listened to it many times, it was just that – very nice and pleasant. –

That in turn sparked my interest with Jacob himself, and, while I couldn’t find a whole lot about him, I thought I’d see if he’s doing anything solo. It appears like he’s just started spreading his wings in this respect last year, starting with the 2020 edition of Cân i Gymru (so the second one in a row in which he took part), where he sang a song called “Pan Fyddai’n 80 Oed” (When I’ll Be 80), which I could vaguely recall and I knew I loved it to bits but I didn’t know who did it or how it was called or anything, I just heard it once on Radio Cymru while laying in bed half asleep with a migraine or something and thinking that it was really cool and reminded me of something very pleasant.

So I had a listen to his solo pieces as well and with time that priceless feeling I always get when having a new faza was getting stronger and stronger. I only had some doubts because I still knew precious little about him as an individual, and this is so key with fazas, but he has both rock and folk leanings, and also seems very much into reggae (which is cool because I used to be madly into reggae before I discovered folk so I have a bit of a sentiment for it) so at least musically I believe I feel him, although, a little surprisingly for me, even though I am a bit more into folk than rock, in his case I somehow prefer his more rocky side so far.

At the same time, as I was listening to him, somewhere in a corner of my mind I could feel that his music reminded me of something very vaguely but persistently. Something I couldn’t identify. And then I had a realisation! His voice, particularly in the lower register, reminds me of Jacek from Helsinki – my Polish Finnophile friend whom I’ve written a bit about on here who passed away from cancer a couple years ago. – Jacek was a rather musical creature who liked to sing sometimes, but most of all play the cello, which instrument I will probably associate with him forever and ever so it always makes me a little nostalgic. I really needed some validation of my experience so I even reached out to our mutual Polonophile Swedish friend although we’ve barely been in touch since his passing and I showed her the song of Jacob which he sang at last year’s Cân i Gymru, where he sounds the most like Jacek in my opinion and asked her if she feels the same. She said she wouldn’t be surprised if Jacob could also play the cello. Honestly, I would be very surprised, because while they sound very similar sometimes, I don’t suppose they are very similar in other ways and I just can’t imagine Jacob playing cello! 😀 But, if he does, that would be a cool surprise.

But I didn’t want this faza to be just based on the fact that Jacob reminds me of Jacek, that would be just so bloody unfair, especially that by then I’ve already started to like him overall, not just because of some sort of similarity to Jacek! So, to avoid that, I am starting to get to know him the best I can without actually knowing much about him directly – because it’s not like he’s very popular outside of Wales or perhaps north England so naturally I won’t be able to find a lot of information about him like I could with one of my previous faza subjects, Cornelis Vreeswijk, for example. I am also limited by the fact that I can’t see (and when you can see you can figure out a lot of things about a person easier, obviously), and that I’m not on most social media, but oh well, we can deal with that. With my own online research I actually learned more about his family rather than himself, which was also interesting.

Jacob is from a village called Tan y Fron near Llansannan in Denbigh in the Vale of Clwyd, however currently I believe he’s studying music in Manchester or was doing so not very long ago. If I’m guessing right (I may be guessing totally wrong because I’m shitty with counting as you know and I only guessed it based on other things I knew) he’s probably 26-27 and he has a lot of siblings for these days’ standards which I think is so fun and they all sound very cool! Sadly what also seems to be the case is that his family has been through a lot of hardships, I personally think more than what would be considered a fair share, which is perhaps just the reason why they make an impression of being very close with each other. I’m not sure I can talk about this because I didn’t really find most of it as something in relation to his music career, the only thing that does somehow connect to his music out of these is that his father had an alcohol problem, and died quite early on, when, I believe, some of his siblings were still teenagers. He left behind a book of penillions – which are, if I understand that correctly, poems which are sung to music – and they discovered them later and Y Trwbz made a few of them into great songs, they also wrote a song about him.

I always ask Sofi to tell me what my faza subjects look like and what she thinks about them subjectively (she summed her description of him up saying that she thinks he looks like Justin Timberlake 😀 ), and Sofi’s usually the first to know about my new fazas. And she made me notice a thing I didn’t even realise before. I told her that I’ve got a faza on a guy called Jacob Elwy and she was like “Oh wow, so your dream has come true! You’ve got your Jac- someone”. I was dumbstruck for a moment. Yes, I am a Jackophile, so I was looking for a Jack, or a Jac, or a Jacqueline, or a Jacek, or a Hyacinth (because it’s etymologically related to the Polish Jacek as you may recall from

this post)

but despite the name Jacob obviously starts with Jac-, and even despite Jack Vreeswijk’s full name is Lars Jacob, it never fell under the same category for me because it neither sounds like Jack, nor shares the etymology with either Jacek or Jack. And then I realised one more thing. Namely that, after all,

Hamish is a, somewhat distant, but still, etymological cousin of Jacob.

And then poor Sofi got quite confused, because I just couldn’t help myself and started laughing my brains out. It was as if God – or perhaps my Guardian Angel or one of my purgatory soul friends, because God probably has more urgent stuff to deal with, especially right now in these hectic times, than my fazas – was smiling at me mischievously and saying: “Hey you, Bibielle, you wanted a Jack or a Hamish, why not all in one, eh?”” I was always rather neutral about the name Jacob, given that it’s so popular for children in the US and I’ve got a lot to do with baby names every day so it seems a tad bit overused to me, and here Jakub has been nauseatingly popular for baby boys for decades, but I’m gradually changing my view on it now, obviously. Edited to add: a few days after writing this post I learned that, in case of this Jacob, his name is pronounced like Jack, as opposed to like Jay, which makes the situation even more hilarious and also really cool because I actually like this pronunciation a lot more, and don’t know why I couldn’t figure it out on my ownn that this must be the way it is pronounced in his case, since with Welsh phonetics it makes all the sense in the world.

I also had my doubts about whether it will really be so cool to have yet another Welsh faza in a row after Gwilym, but now I think it’s the perfect situation. Because I’m nowhere near fluent with my Welsh yet, and if I got a faza subject who would speak another of my favourite languages, I’d get distracted. Last year was very fruitless for me Welsh-wise because it was such a techy year, with my eventful computer transition and then the iPhone and getting used to the touchscreen reality which for me took a lot of time even though it went much better than expected. This year, even before I got the faza, I’ve decided to catch up on this and that’s what I’m doing. It’s good to be back on track again.

Because I believe that when getting to know a person, it’s good to know their background and things like that, I made my Dad feel appreciated by asking him to have a look at what Jacob’s area looks like. My Dad loves Google travelling (he’s often like: “When I was in Mexico a few days ago…” and sometimes people get confused but he only was there on Google Maps 😀 ), and so I always give him that mission with my new fazas, to go on Google Maps and have a look around where they live or grew up or something and tell me what he thinks, like generally about the place, what it looks like, what there is, whatever. I don’t talk with my Dad about my fazas, he doesn’t know about it, he’s just used to me having weird whims like that sometimes and wanting to travel virtually to some often a little obscure corners of the world, but he seems to enjoy these Google rides a lot and they are very useful for me to form a bit of an idea. He also helped me a bit with my geography, because while I’ve got quite a good idea of north-western Wales, with north-central/north-east I didn’t really know where exactly all these counties are and what distances between different places there are and couldn’t make sense of it on my own. Fazas, you see, can be very educating experiences.

I’ve also figured out (which I may be wrong about, it’s just my suspicion/gut feeling), that while it doesn’t seem like he has written any of his Welsh lyrics because most or all of them are by Rhydian Meilir with whom he collaborates a lot, nor I guess any of the lyrics for Y Trŵbz that he has sung with them, all his solo music in English (he has released only one English song officially but I’ve seen more unofficial songs of his) may have been written by him, and some of it has been written by him for sure. Which is a good news for me because people’s own lyrics usually can tell a fair bit about them. Perhaps not everyone is somehow super exhibitionist but still, it’s hard not to reveal yourself at all.

I’ve also looked at his Instagram even though I’m not on there myself and even though of course it’s not a very friendly place for blind people with so much pics, but still, I made use of all the image recognition stuff I have on my phone (Sofi was out, and I wouldn’t want to take an advantage of her too much) to get any idea of the pics, with mixed results, and luckily Instagram is not pics alone. So now I have a bit more of an idea of what he’s like, for example that he’s very keen on travelling as it seems, and has been to quite a few countries, I guess most recently Brazil before the pandemic has started. I’d read before that he went to Australia for a year, and, nosy as I am about my faza subjects and anything that may fascinate me (I should probably really work on this and become less nosy when it comes to people but oh well I’m an Aquarius and curiosity, which sometimes goes overboard, is the only Aquarius trait I seem to truly have so if I eradicated it out of myself I’d feel like a very fake Aquarius, this is my only excuse), I was wondering a lot about why, I mean whether it was something to do with the music or some other kind of career/education thing he was doing or just for fun, and now the latter seems most likely.

Okay, so, to finally close this lengthy post, I have a bonus song of the day for you. The one which originally caught my attention so much – “Annibyniaeth” (Independence) by Y Trŵbz.

Y Trŵbz is very much a family business, as originally it was created by Jacob as the vocalist and his younger brother Morgan as the bass, and then two other members – their cousin and Morgan’s friend – joined. Later on, Jacob was replaced by Mared Williams who is Morgan’s girlfriend, and then when Mared had other artistic things going on Jacob was with them again. Despite I’ve got a faza on Jacob, I like Y Trwbz with Mared just as much, it’s equally great but in a totally different way.

 

The lyrics are written by Morgan Elwy and I don’t feel like I can translate them for you literally because I don’t know the meaning of some words, but I do understand the point of it well and I can tell you that this song shows how one feels when their own country is not independent and basically facing a lot of unnecessary difficulties which surely wouldn’t happen otherwise, like the flooding of Capel Celyn, which was carefully planned ahead, about losing hope and not seeing the point in fighting for your rights when no one hears you anyway. So there’s a question, when will the day finally come that their country will be strong again, and the Welsh will be singing about independence. I dearly hope for it to happen as soon as it’s only possible, and wish them good luck with regaining their autonomy, just as I do with all of “my” other countries which also can’t enjoy independence.

Question of the day.

What’s on your bucket/to do list? What’s stopping you from doing it? 🙂

My answer:

I don’t really have an actual bucket list as such, I hardly ever even do to do lists, I just don’t have the habit I guess. You could say though that learning all my favourite languages is on my bucket list. Is anything stopping me from it? Well I’m already doing it, it just takes time so for now what’s stopping me from learning more of them is that I’m still working on my Welsh and still definitely don’t feel like I can move on to something new, because I don’t feel comfortable with it yet.

How is it with you? 🙂

Question of the day (3rd December).

Would you rather speak/know every human language or be able to read minds of people who have the same first language as you? Why?

My answer:

Unsurprisingly, I’m definitely going for the languages! Because “every human language” includes my favourite languages, and I do want to know all of them, so this way I’d be spared all the learning process. Reading minds is an interesting idea, but I think it wouldn’t be fair on other people. I myself really value the fact that my brain is private and no one can pry into whatever I think, the idea of someone being able to do that is quite scary and would make me rage if it was actually a possibility and something that would be happening or going to happen, so I would feel very bad doing that to other people. I used to want to be able to read people’s minds as a kid, but if I were to really have such an ability, I think it would be super overwhelming for me. I once read a Polish fantasy children’s book “Mały Wielki Świat” (Little Big World) by Helena Saniewska, where two siblings – sister and brother – have an accident, and afterwards she is able to make all her wishes come true, the way that anything she’d think would become reality, and he can read minds. And it struck me how the whole mind reading thing was described, how it was very overwhelming for the boy to constantly hear the hum of other people’s thoughts in his brain and have to filter all that, one person’s thoughts from another, and then other people’s from his, etc. But it makes perfect sense that it could feel like this. Plus everyone thinks in a different way. Some people think in words, some in pictures, some in both, others in associations or maybe concepts or in multiple languages or I don’t know what else but I suppose there are many ways. So I would think reading minds is one thing, but interpreting what you read is another. What do you guys think? If telepathy is a real thing for some people, I suppose they experience it in some other way, not like an endless hum of thoughts, but still, after reading that book as a child I’m even less into reading minds than I was before.

What about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What’s one video that never fails to make you laugh?

My answer:

The one I could think of off the top of my head is that about the Scottish guys and the voice recognition-operated lift. I believe it was quite popular at some point as I’ve seen it circulating around the web in many different places and many people from different countries that I know know about it, but all these people have some linguistic interests so maybe that’s just the only reason, so in case you have not seen it I’ll include it below. The first time my friend Jacek from Helsinki showed it to me we were both laughing like crazy. It still makes me giggle after like 5 years. But I also find it interesting because it just shows how people with not so standard accents, not so popular languages are often discriminated when technology like that is created. I’ve heard that Scottish people also have regular problems with Siri when they speak to her in their natural accent. But Apple has made Irish Siri so maybe Scottish will come at some point too, I personally think Scottish is a bit more difficult to understand than Irish accent though so it may be even harder to make an AI stuff that will understand it. But oh my it would be so cool if there were even more accent/language (or maybe even dialect??? well I’m probably asking for too much right now 😀 ) diversity in technology like that.

How about you? 🙂

Enya – “Loxian Gate”.

Hey people! 🙂

Today I want to share with you a song from my very first faza, which is Enya. While I find the Loxian language in which it is sung very fascinating and intriguing, I never had any very special connections with this song in particular. But last night I had some really wild dreams, and when I woke up, I heard this song in my brain, and I’m pretty sure it was in my dream too, so I decided that this will be our song of the day. But let me first tell you a bit about this Loxian language thing first, as I’m pretty sure most of you don’t know what it is. 😉

Loxian is a conlang (constructed language) created by Roma Ryan – who is a poet, as well as Enya’s lyricist and close friend. – Actually Enya, while being the anglicised version of the name of the singer, should be seen as the name of the whole trio – that is Eithne ni Bhraonain (or Enya Brennan – the composer, singer, keyboardist and the main person behind this) Nicky Ryan (the producer and manager) and Roma Ryan (the lyricist) – that’s at least what Enya says herself. Enya is known for singing her music in very different languages, I believe depending on which happens to suit best to what she wants to express, and both her and Roma have a strong interest in Tolkien’s literature (Enya has after all sung two songs for the soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring). In 2005, when Enya was recording her album Amarantine, she had a problem with one of the songs, she called it Water Shows The Hidden Heart. She attempted to sing it in English, Irish and Latin but none of these languages conveyed the message that she wanted this song to express. So Roma created, just for the sake of this song and inspired by Tolkien’s elvish languages, an artistic language, or more like a soundscape at first, that she called Loxian, and it turned out just right for its purpose. Enya liked it so much that in the end she wanted to sing two more songs for this album in this new language, and so Roma decided to develop it further, as well as the culture in which it would be spoken. I’m not sure I understand it exactly the right way (it feels a little bit abstractive to me the more that the language itself seems to be very much a visual thing, with six visual scripts that it can be written in, so I don’t really get the chance to bite into it properly and figure out for myself what it’s all about and how it works), but according to the creator, Loxian is the future language of the Celts who would have migrated through space to some other planet. Loxian is, as you’ll be able to hear, an incredibly vowel-rich language, and is based on bits of English, Irish, Old English, Welsh, Hindu and Siberian Yupik (quite an intriguing, diverse and beautiful mix!).

The song Loxian Gate (from her last album) itself is about how the Loxians (so those descendants of the Celts from another planet) view the seasons of the year, the ones that we have now, and the ones that they have in their world.

Question of the day.

If you could gain perfect fluency in any language instantly, but only one language, which would you choose?

My answer:

Oh my, this one’s so hard! I’d like to be perfectly fluent in ALL my languages, as quickly as only possible. But… one language… I think I’m going to go with the most difficult one out of the ones I want to learn, which I guess would be Sami, especially considering the small amount of speakers and even smaller of resources. If I could be fluent in any of the Sami languages (preferably Luleå Sami but any will do) that would be very helpful.

You? 🙂

Question of the day (23rd September).

Does anyone in your family speak a language that you don’t?

My answer:

As I wrote earlier, my Dad speaks Kashubian, as does my gran and a lot of other people on my Dad’s side of the family. Some people in my Mum’s family who have lived here for a while have also learned enough of it to speak fairly well, apparently my grandma’s brother speaks Kashubian so well that no one can tell that he’s not a Kashub and some people who have married into my Mum’s family are Kashubs and can speak more or less Kashubian. My gran also speaks some German as she has some German heritage and was going to a German-speaking school but she remembers very little of it now. My Mum knows some Russian from school. When she was going to school, Russian was an obligatory language at schools here rather than English so everyone learned it, but while my Dad for example doesn’t remember almost anything, my Mum still has some vocabulary and often says she’d like to learn more of it, she can also read the Russian alphabet well and understands much more that she can say herself, my mum also has Russian roots since both my maternal grandparents do, she has a kind of sentiment for Russian language, culture and literature. Because of this, it’s not surprising that my maternal grandparents can also speak some Russian, I guess my grandma’s is actually quite decent and since she was born in what used to be Russia back then she also still has a very distinguishable eastern accent as do all of her siblings. Also both my maternal grandparents have been forever fascinated with France and studied French and seem to be good at it as well, and my grandad knows Latin very well. Some other of my family members also know some bits of Latin if they had it at uni like my Godmother but my grandad actually makes use of it. Sofi can speak bits of Spanish but can’t really communicate. She has started learning German this year at school as well and so far it’s surprising that while she’s not doing well with English, she’s doing very well with German even though it’s objectively a more difficult language from a Polish perspective. My one uncle works a lot in Norway and can speak some Norwegian, pretty well as far as I can tell, and my other uncle works in Germany and knows a little German but not too much. My grandma’s relatives can speak Belarussian as she also has Belarussian heritage. It’s funny with my cousin, who has learnt Italian since early school age and has always loved the language. She later discovered that she has a calling for religious life and has joined the Salesian sisters a few years ago, and this year they sent her to Italy for novitiate. So it’s definitely proven very useful.

How about your family? 🙂

Question of the day (22nd September).

Did you ever study a foreign language by yourself?

My answer:

Sure, I think that’s the best way of learning a language if only you can manage to do it this way because no one knows what works for you quite as well as you do, and no one knows as well as you do what things you enjoy so only you can make your language learning thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve been learning English by myself since I left the blind boarding school when I started hanging around the Anglophone Interwebs and realised what I was already beginning to think years earlier, that school, any school really (at least I haven’t encountered a school over here that would be really good with languages unless it specialises in it but even then it’s no guarantee) isn’t going to teach me a language, and if I want to communicate in English and understand people I’d have to do it by myself. What school had done so far was it only managed to discourage me in some way, but thankfully more from English as a subject, which I found infinitely boring, rather than English as a language, but it was very close to it as well. I was pretty good at English at school most of the time and that was part of why I disliked the subject, that a lot of the time I had little to no constructive stuff to do in class.

Sometimes I feel like a kind of jerk when I say that I’ve taught myself English, first because I was going to school for so many years so surely it must have had some impact, and also I don’t really feel and never did like I put a whole lot of effort into my English learning, like most people do when they teach themselves anything. And yes, I did get the beginnings from school, as I wrote in the last post, I’m absolutely sure it all wouldn’t go as smoothly as it did if I had to start from scratch completely on my own. And I am extremely grateful for the bits and pieces that school did give me. But with what I got from school, while I had very good grades at English and could have a very basic conversation with someone with a lot of good will on both sides, I wasn’t really able to communicate effectively nor comprehend English very well either when reading or listening. I also don’t think it’s something fully due to my own merrit that I’ve managed to learn English to the extend that I did and as smoothly and easily as I did. I don’t believe in a “linguistic talent” because if it was the matter of talent we would have much more mute people or people with all sorts of language/speech disorders than we do, we also wouldn’t have had as much migration because people wouldn’t be able to learn another country’s language. But there are certainly some traits that people may or may not have that may make it easier to absorb languages, like a talent for catching the phonetics which I seem to have. And I think that has simplified the whole thing for me a whole lot, I also like learning languages and if someone does not, it’s typically going to take more time.

But even if I do have some particular language skills, I still feel like my English learning was kind of miraculous and insanely speedy given how little conscious effort I put into it. I immersed myself a lot into English, listening to different accents and just a lot of stuff in English and wanted to learn to distinguish different accents better than I could, and possibly also imitate them. I read a lot in English on the web so that it quickly became my habit that if I was googling something I did it automatically in English rather than Polish and still do. – I changed the interfaces of the devices/apps I used to English. I wrote my journal at least partly in English. Later I started penpalling which was at first very strenuous indeed for me to understand people and write in a comprehensive way, writing to a pen pal would take me ages but after that my brain would be buzzing in English for the next 24 hours so it was clear that it was doing me a lot of good, and over time, not very much time at all, it became less of a chore and much more of a pleasure and I think it’s penpalling and blogging that has been helping me the most. Then when I was already able to communicate quite well I also started this blog which had been my dream for years. Later yet, I started to read some books in English when I got access to them, and nowadays, I think the amounts of books I read in Polish and English are quite equal, and it has also been a very smooth transition, although it still requires more concentration from me to read books in English, but not the point where it would be uncomfortable or something.

While in my final year of college/high school I had briefly English classes with a private tutor, I thought it could be more helpful to show me what exactly my level is and what I have still to do, or at least help me to prepare for my finals. It did only one good thing for me. My teacher was super chatty and we talked a lot, so my conversational skills have improved. That was good as generally my daily, serious use of English evolves around writing, reading and listening (by “serious” I mean excluding talking to myself and conversating with Misha). I was already good with accents and such but nevertheless not particularly confident in speaking, and talking to him helped me to feel more at ease with it, at least in terms of language skills, as of course there’s also the whole socialising and peopling stress involved which is a totally different thing and can also affect things no matter in which language. Thanks to this, he certainly helped me to prepare for my oral English final exam as well. But other than that, it didn’t really take me anywhere further than I was and my general English level didn’t change because of it. So yeah, I think with English, I learned the most by myself. It’s been about six years since I left the boarding school and thus since I seriously started to learn English on my own, and I’ve learnt more in these 5 years than I did during English classes.

I am also currently learning Swedish by myself, although I started out with a tutor and, unlike school and the English tutor, he did a whole lot for me and I’m sure that if I didn’t meet someone like him, I wouldn’t be able to learn Swedish nor any language on my own now. He worked with me for two years first since I was 10, then we had a long break when I had to go back to the blind school as the integration school didn’t work out and that meant there was no way for us to meet up really. I avoided even the slightest contact with or any mention of Swedish as fire while at the boarding school because I felt like if I couldn’t learn it anymore it was pointless to think of it and it only made me feel extremely depressed, frustrated and angry. I forgot most of what I learned at least on a conscious level. But then I got the faza on Cornelis Vreeswijk when I was 17 and I couldn’t hold it in any longer. The more my faza developed, the more I felt almost literally how all the stuff I forgot was flooding my brain again, and I kept accidentally learning new, sophisticated words from his lyrics and poems, then I even managed to translate totally spontaneously a few of his poems with the little Swedish I had and these translations were really quite damn good as for my generally very poor Swedish skills by then. As it happened, the year I got that faza also turned out to be my last year at the boarding school, and in the autumn of that year I reconnected with my Swedish teacher. During our first lesson, he asked me to just say a few sentences in Swedish, whatever I was able to say, and neither of us was expecting much but I was actually able to express myself fairly coherently. He was very surprised and at first thought that I was learning by myself at school somehow or managed to find another tutor there after all, but then I told him that I was only kind of learning since about May but not really in a very serious way, and he said my brain must have somehow skipped over the most basic stages in no time because I actually knew more than what we’d covered in the past when I was in the integration school. That was weird, but that’s fazas for you, make your brain do strangely intense things without feeling like you’re doing much at all. 😀 I loved it and I kept skipping like that for a while yet.

But, skipping or no skipping, I certainly wouldn’t be able to be where I am with my Swedish and with other languages where I am now if he wouldn’t take up the challenge and try to teach me even though he had no idea about teaching blind people and even though back then when we were starting I didn’t even have an idea about any technologies or stuff so it all was really complicated. Most language teachers I’ve encountered are much more of scaredy cats. I just wouldn’t have the confidence that I am actually able to do it.

Now I’m no longer having lessons with him since a few years and I can learn Swedish on my own. With the help of emails from my Swedish pen pals, the Swedish Internet, some Swedish books, mostly children’s, that I can get, and loads and loads and loads of listening. That trip to Stockholm I once went for has also tremendously helped me, as well as my friendship with Jacek from Helsinki and meeting different people through him. I get very little practice in form of writing or speaking these days and somehow can’t figure out how best to change it, at least in terms of writing where it is more doable, in a way that would feel good and not like a chore, which makes me feel that my Swedish is kind of clunky and that it could be better, and I somehow feel like it has regressed a little bit since when my English has started improving so rapidly but I am definitely able to communicate with people and understand everything I read or hear unless it’s extremely sophisticated or someone speaks very fast with an accent that I don’t really get, like Scanian for example. 😀

And now I’m also learning Welsh by myself as there’s no other option, as for many of my other languages. I’d actually like it if there was someone in my area who could teach me so I wouldn’t have to think about resources and stuff but it could be just as effective as all of my English classes in the past so perhaps it’s better that I’m dealing with it oon my own. The biggest problem is that there aren’t overly many resources but since I’ve found a website for Welsh learners with a lot of courses and stuff it’s become much easier and structured for me and I don’t have to constantly be on the look out for new things in case I run out of the resources I have now or they stop being helpful. It’s also fairly accessible. Listening is definitely my main way of learning Welsh as it’s kind of a priority in my courses, I’m terribly slow at reading and my vocab could be better but at least with the latter I’m sure I’ll get there in time. I’d also really really like to be better at listening as my brain is kind of sluggish when processing auditory input in Welsh haha. So far, despite I’ve had a Welsh faza, I haven’t had such a speedy jumping like with ENglish and Swedish, with Welsh it would be even better because it’s more difficult, and I’ve actually found learning it much more strenuous than the other two languages, but no less exciting.

And with all of my other languages, I think I’ll also be learning them by myself.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day (21st September).

Did you have foreign language classes in your school?

My answer:

I had English classes from the beginning of primary until the end of my formal education, and German kind of on and off since fourth grade in primary until the end of secondary. But I don’t feel like the classes gave me much beyond teaching me the very beginnings of English which could perhaps be hard if I didn’t have them at school.

How was it with you? If you did have language classes, do you feel like you actually benefitted from them in any way? Or maybe quite the opposite? 🙂

Question of the day (20 September).

What other languages do you speak, if any?

My answer:

This is another thing that I’m sure a lot of you know about me as I write about it a lot and my languages are an important part of my life. But if you don’t, or doon’t remember, so far, other than my native language and obviously English, I can also speak Swedish, I’d say on an upper intermediate or advanced level or thereabouts, and Welsh, which I think would classify as lower intermediate. I also used to learn German at school but my actual knowledge of this language these days is very poor and most of it that I know is by similarity of the words with other languages that I know.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day (19th September).

Hey people! 🙂

Let’s talk languages for a while. Simple question for now:

What’s your native language?

My answer:

As most of you on here surely know, my native language is Polish. My Dad is Kashub and can also speak Kashubian but I only know little bits and pieces of it and can’t understand anything substantial if someone speaks really fluently and fast, also I don’t really identify myself strongly with Kashubian. But I do love Polish to bits and I’m so glad that it’s my native language. It’s cool, beautiful, and a great language to start out with if you want to learn difficult languages. 😀

You? 🙂

My top 5 core values.

I haven’t written in quite a while, so I thought I’d do some longer piece today using one of the journaling workbooks. This time, I chose a prompt from The Year of You by Hannah Braime, which goes as follows:

What are your top five core values? Core values are the qualities and experiences that are most important to us to embody and have present in our lives. These might include things like trust, love, connection, freedom, growth, etc. (…)

I’ve written such a list of values already in my diary a while ago, but here I’ll try to expand on the topic of each of them at least a bit so that this post is more substantial. In my diary I also mentioned some of my negative core values, but here I decided not to do so for a few reasons, but mostly because typically when we think core values we think about the positive and helpful ones.

   Belief in God and Christian values

This is extremely important to me. As I wrote in the post about the roles I play, I may not always feel like I’m doing a great job with this, but nevertheless, I’m trying to do my best and do and think what and how I believe a Christiann should do and think. Obviously I don’t only mean things like praying or going to church, but also things like being helpful to other people, not judging them, making big and small decisions in my life so that they’re intact with my conscience and Christian rules, like not voting for a party who promotes killing unborn children or not celebrating Halloween. It’s also an important quality for me in other people which I deeply respect, but at the same time I have no problem associating with people who believe in God differently or believe in a different God, or don’t believe in any God whatsoever. Some Christian people have a weird problem with that but I think that, while common values of this importance in friendship make things way easier, having some different values and beliefs can make things more interesting, as long as both sides are willing to respect each other and not argue about that. Which sometimes means it’s just safer not to discuss the topics in which your opinions differ, or otherwise you just most definitely will argue, while at other times exchanging your different beliefs can be enriching and fascinating. In short, this is the most important value, or perhaps I should say set of values I am always trying to follow in my life, with varying success, also probably the most difficult to follow, but normally if something I’m making a decision about is contrary to these values, I am not going to do this.

   Intelligence, versatility and open-mindedness.

I’m putting them together because while they’re three different things, I think as values they have a whole lot in common. Intelligence is a quality I really appreciate having, as it’s proven so helpful for me in countless situations. I guess it’s my biggest strength and one of my most effective protective mechanisms, and seems like one of the things that people value me for. My brains are a crucial part of my identity, therefore my brain health is important to me and I’m utterly scared of all sorts of neurodegenerative diseases. I also very highly value intelligence in other people and love having such people around me. It’s a very important quality in a friend for me. As for open-mindedness, I value thinking outside of the box, outside of my own perspective, or just in some unobvious way. It isn’t always easy, as it’s in our nature to think from our own point of view, and it can feel very abstractive to do it the other way around, but it’s an intriguing brain challenge and can be a powerful experience. Similarly, I appreciate people who are capable of doing so. The more so that, as a blind, mentally ill and just all round very quirky person with strange experiences and ideas, it seems like my perspective is not always easily understandable for other people, so it’s great when someone does take an effort to try and understand things from my point of view. Or even not from my point of view, but generally when I see someone who can easily think very flexibly, I have a lot of admiration for such a person. I think the most open-minded person in this way that I know was my Swedish teacher and I often think that if not his open-mindedness, his courage in taking up different, weird challenges with me and his flexibility of thinking my Swedish learning may have been much more difficult, or I may have even become completely discouraged from learning languages altogether, and this is not at all an overstatement, in case you’re new here and don’t know my a bit tumultuous language learning history and are wondering. 😀 By versatility I mean taking an interest in lots of different things, as well as having knowledge about them, or being capable of doing lots of different things. This is a very impressive quality for me and I always say that it’s one of the most important qualities for me in a faza object, haha, or at least they always do end up being quite versatile people. I do have a whole lot of different interests, and I believe I know a fair bit also about things that don’t directly interest me quite as much, but I am somehow not sure I am quite as versatile as I would like to be. Still, I am probably more versatile than most people I know in person.

   Traditions.

Yeah, I often say when someone asks me about my views, usually in the context of politics, that I am an open-minded traditionalist. I like combining innovation with tradition. In any field, be it music, religion, food, politics, baby naming, language, fashion or interior design, etc. Always with a bit more of tradition than innovation, but enough innovation that it doesn’t feel plain, boring, or, God forbid, totally backward, but tasteful, fresh, niche and unexpected. I’m thinking about tradition and traditionalism here as a very broad thing. My religious beliefs are very traditional, apparently these days they might even classify as orthodox for some Christians, though I personally don’t consider myself orthodox, however I admire truly orthodox (not to be confused with fanatic, as these are yet another kettle of fish) Christian people. I love folk music, which speaks for itself, folk is obviously traditional, though just as I said earlier I do like tradition with innovation so things like neofolk, electrofolk, folk pop, folk metal etc. are close to my heart and brain just as well. I am passionate about keeping endangered and minority/indigenous languages alive, and same applies to all sorts of cultural traditions. I love learning about folklore of different areas and people’s customs, and always feel sad whenever I hear about such things extincting, though a lot of such traditional treasures – especially languages – are so unbelievably resilient and can thrive in the most unfavourable circumstances. – By the way I think we humans can really take an inspiratioon from languages, when we’re going through rough things in life. 🙂 People typically think of trees, especially oaks, as symbols of resilience, but I think of languages. Oh yeah and on a more personal level I absolutely dread changes and have a hard time adapting to them, which I think also goes in line with the whole traditional thing, though probably has a bit different etiology. 😀 However it’s not like I’m totally against change, if I can see its positive aspects, just that it’s a totally dreadful process and adjusting to it usually takes me ages and a lot of rumination in the meantime.

   Helpfulness.

I even like the way the word helpful looks in English. I have fun synaesthetic associations! 😀 Would describe them to you but it’s too complicated and would take up too much space and this post is not about this. That’s why I wrote “helpfulness” rather than “helping people” which would probably look a bit more natural. I really like that feeling, when you know you have helped someone. Well I guess it’s a natural thing for all of us who are empathetic beings to have that feeling and to like it. This thing alone can drive us to want to be more helpful. I don’t know, however, if I help people as much as I could. I often feel effectively inhibited from doing it by different factors. I am rubbish at helping people in person because of all the difficulties I have with communicating with people like social anxiety. I have a hard time initiating the simplest conversations with most people, so while I am a good observer and very often easily notice that someone may need some kind of help, I don’t know how to offer it to them, or how to ask them what they need, or don’t know what to do about it altogether, or maybe even know but it feels too scary and overwhelming a process so I only watch the situation from a distance hoping that there will be someone else who can help them and feeling awful for not helping them myself. If I do try to make the effort and help them, I feel awful for helping them not the right way, or not adequately, or making things worse rather than better. Also I usually feel like I’m not even the right person to help people because of my own various limitations and that I just won’t be able to give them the help they need. Thankfully there are some areas where I do feel a bit more confident when helping people, like listening to people (unless they clearly expect me to say something, as then I usually feel like there’s nothing I can say that could be particularly helpful), or supporting people online, or helping people financially, or sharing something with them, or sharing some of my skills with them, with the latter I’m thinking things like translating something for my Mum, for example. These are usually very small areas and I feel like most people help others much more, but I comfort myself in that at least a lot of the people whom I have helped have said I was helpful to them so perhaps my help is more a quality over quantity kinda thing. I’ve always lived by that rule, as quantity is something largely abstractive to me, so if it seriously works like this with my help, it’s probably not as bad as I usually imagine. 😀

   Family.

I actually wondered whether I should really include this value or perhaps leave it out and write about something possibly more interesting, because this whole family thing is complex and I’m not sure it’s indeed this high among my values, but I decided to write about it nevertheless, because even though I struggle with sense of belonging and don’t really feel a strong connection to my extended family, my closest family are pretty much the only people in real life that I’m close to and they are important to me, also I do respect all of my family, and am loyal to them, never mind that I don’t really feel anything more towards most of them. Also family as a more general term – as in roots, origin, heritage etc. – is an important thing for me. Loyalty towards family is, as I said, an important thing to me and I think family members sort of owe it to each other. I try to keep good relationships with them as muchh as it’s possible, though I don’t give a shit about it if they don’t try as well. My most immediate family – by which I mean my parents and siblings and grandparents – are people for whom I am capable of making a lot of sacrifices, for example attending family gatherings even when I don’t feel at all like doing this mentally and have to deal with the consequences of this afterwards, which include a substantial increase in Maggie’s (my inner critic) activity, feeling mentally and physically drained and a general brain overload. I know they won’t really care about my actual presence there in itself, but if I won’t be there they’ll have a problem either with me that I am so unfeeling and neglectful, or with my Mum, which I don’t understand, it appears that some of my family think that somehow my Mum is to blame if I don’t appear on their birthday party. I want to spare her that, because she has so much stronger ties with her family, so unless I really really can’t, or it’s someone I can’t be bothered about, like some people from my Dad’s side of my family whom I have a hard time genuinely respecting, I just deal with it and go. It’s awful, it’s pointless and I don’t think they realise how much mental energy it sometimes can cost me while it’s happening as well as before and afterwards (though perhaps it’s not okay that I actually expect people to care, and most likely makes me sound terribly whiney,) but I do this because I feel obliged towards them as my family. I also deeply value the connection I have with my Mum, she is so very important to me, as well as Sofi. Sofi is very valuable.

So there you have it, these are the top five of my values.

What are yours? Have you thought about this before and made a more comprehensive list?

 

Question of the day.

Hi people! 🙂

What makes a song a good song to you?

My answer:

Sometimes it’s hard to say why I like a song. But some factors that play a role are: what instruments are in it, my favourite instrument is harp, almost all harps, but especially Celtic harp, but I also like all sorts of guitars (nearly all plucked string instruments really), flutes and piano from the more commonly used ones and a lot of others, also I don’t mind synth music or not typically. Sometimes electrical guitar can badly trigger my sensory anxiety if played a certain way but generally I love a good guitar riff, and not only just riff. The vocals, I don’t really know if there are some clear patterns to what kinds of vocals I usually like and what I usually don’t, I only know I usually dislike coloratura sopranos or voices with a similar hue – I spontaneously made up a word to describe them as a teen because I didn’t know if there was any actual way to describe them and I called them thick, as in a thick fluid, perhaps because that’s how they feel to my synaesthetic brain –
and some types of tenors, no matter in what genre, but there are always some exceptions to the rule, for example Maire Brennan from Clannad (has been featured on my blog) has a very thick singing voice but I rather do like her, though I prefer her singing in the lower registers because then she’s less thick. I tend to like light and clear lyrical sopranos as well as slightly husky and deep altos, and strong baritons, and I can like tenors too if they have enough depth and strength and expressiveness but not too much of the latter, as I always appreciate expressiveness in music, but too much exaltation is awfully annoying and a really bad thing for music in my very personal opinion. If there’s harp in a song/piece of music, it’s very bad if there’s also some rhythmical beat at the same time, ugh, it’s a profanity and the results are rarely any good, it sounds kinda cliche. I like lyrics that I can relate to, or that are intriguing, or funny, or very quirky, even so quirky and odd that no one can really understand what they’re about. There’s something refreshing in odd, even nonsense lyrics when all you hear all the time in “normal” music is: “Oooooh yeeeeeeeah yeah yeah I luuuuv yaaaa baaaaby” or the like. No, I don’t mind lyrics about love whatsoever, but it’s depressing that, according to what I once read somewhere, well over 50% of lyrics (don’t remember now how much exactly) is about love (though I hope they were only talking about English-language pop music). It also doesn’t make me feel as much of a connection when a song is about love as I’ve never experienced romantic love nor the sexual stuff that people often mistake for love, my fazas are a little similar but not the same. Elaborate, folklore-themed are always welcome. I love creative lyrics and those that are raw and honest or at least appear to be so. But usually lyrics are not the primary thing in a song for me, and if I like the music, I am often happy for the lyrics to be anything, unless I find them somehow really awful or completely not in line with what I think then it might be more of a minus and make me like the song less. Also I of course listen to a lot of music in foreign languages, so I’m not one of those people who have to understand a song to enjoy it. Sure, lyrics help me or at least hugely motivate me to learn and it can be so rewarding to see my progress in a language by being able to understand more of the lyrics of a song over time, but I’m happy not to understand a word. I’ve been a fan of a Polish radio programme called Strefa Rokendrola Wolna od Angola (English-free Rock’n’roll Zone” on Polish Radio Programme 3 where you can listen to all sorts of rock music (not necessarily just rock’n’roll) in all sorts of languages, including minority or just rarely heard of languages, any language you want except English and except Polish, unless sung by non-natives or Poles singing in a different language. And I usually don’t understand very much of the songs but still like listening to them. I also enjoy the childish and primitive language play with lyrics – where you either try to understand, or your brain understands on its own, some bits of the lyrics in another language as if they were singing in your language or any of the languages you know. – English speakers who speak only English might be confused right now, so I’ll say it’s like when you listen to a song, you try to pick up on as many words that sound similar to words in your own language. Both I and a lot of people I know often have such an illusion even without trying, when listening to music in a language we don’t know well or not at all, that some of the words or even whole phrases are in a language that is familiar. Brain doesn’t like things that aren’t familiar so I guess it’s logical in its own way. For example, Zofijka is convinced that in the song Sofia by Alvaro Soler he says “poo” in Polish, and then “Bibiel” a couple times. I often hear absolutely crazy things, although my capacity of understanding strange things in English music has been lessening as I become better at it which is sad. My favourite artist in this regard is Julie Fowlis who sings in Scottish Gaelic, in whose songs I’ve managed to hear Polish phrases like: “Make pancakes for me, make coffee for me, make pancakes for me and buy me a great-great-grandma”, “The poo has fallen out”, “Shame, Billy”, “You knave”, “James is marrying”, “Oh, I’m not deaf, son” etc. etc. etc. these are just a few bits I remember at the moment, there were a lot of totally absurd and bizarre ones.

And yeah, language. Language makes a song good. Sometimes the only thing that makes me like a song when I think of it is because it’s in one of “my” languages.

And the general feel and vibe, you could say energy. Or in any case, a bad feel and a bad overall harmony can make me really dislike a song and have a bad sensory reaction to it. My brain just doesn’t agree with some sounds and combinations and sequences of sounds.

That’s all that comes to my mind, though it’s possible there are some other factors too.

You? 🙂

Question of the day (2nd June).

Hey people! 🙂

Do you prefer pie or cake? What kind?

My answer:

I’ve asked that question on my blog some two years ago and answered it so in case you haven’t seen that post, I’ll copy my response.

It really really depends on what cake or pie it is. Plus, for me this difference isn’t really that important, because in Polish we usually call both the same name, which is ciasto. Of course, you can call a pie placek, but it’s rather rarely heard nowadays, placek is actually in some regions more like a pancake, so just no one cares what is a cake, and what is a pie. 😀 How about you? And what are your favourites? 🙂