Sandra Lyng ft. Morgan Sulele – “Ta Me Dit” (Take Me There).

Hiya people! ๐Ÿ™‚

For a bit of change, today let’s listen to some very normal, Norwegian pop. I heard this song for the first time some week ago and it seems to be quite sticky because it stuck to my brain for quite some time afterwards, and I think it’s cool so why not share it. Both Sandra Lyng and Morgan Sulele are very successful, and quite recogniseable in Norway as it seems, singers. Sandra’s fame started when she took part in the Norwegian Idol in 2004, she also lived in Los Angeles for a while during her career and collaborated with American artists. I have already featured one song by Morgan Sulele called “Noora” some three years ago.

Since as you may know I’ve been kinda sorta learning Norwegian lately, I decided to try and translate the lyrics. It turned out to be a bit challenging, but not too challenging, and interesting, because while Morgan appears to be from somewhere around Oslo, Sandra’s dialect is one that I haven’t had much exposure to before. She is from a town called Mosjoen, in the Vefsn municipality, and although I’m still not very well-oriented in the Norwegian geography and am learning things, basing on some bits from her dialect it must be somewhere in the north. I have had contact with nordnorsk (northern Norwegian) but mostly from like Finnmark or thereabouts, and some features of Sandra’s dialect were quite new to me. I found the verbs particularly puzzling ’cause when they’re in present tense sometimes they look more like infinitives to me, or something yet different, and sometimes they do look like what I’d consider proper Scandinavian verbs in present tense. ๐Ÿ˜€ I wonder if it’s the dialect thing or the music thing, like how sometimes things don’t necessarily have to be grammatically correct in songs. Then there’s the word “me”, which struck me immediately since it’s in the title, I’d always thought northerners pronounce this as ma. Yet she pronounces it mostly as me, and then once or twice I think I heard it as ma. That just confirms my initial belief that Norwegian is freakishly inconsistent. ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s interesting because I’ve heard quite a few ways to pronounce this word (which in standard Norwegian is spelled meg and pronounced MY) but I don’t think I’ve heard “me” before. Norwegian is so fascinating in its diversity. Anyways, I found another

English translation

which, while kind of clunky itself, helped me to clarify the thing with verbs so that I could make my own translation, which I hope isn’t too bad though since I’ve only been learning Norwegian for a few months there could be some huge mistakes that I don’t even realise.

 

Dark night

Hunting for dreams

Dry, cold

No one is speaking now

Tomorrow will come, but it isnโ€™t coming now

Thinking she will escape again, but no place to go

For no one can take the hope from her

Take me there

Where the sun always shines

Take me there

Where the love wins

Take me there

To a place where there is no shadow

Take me there

Take me there

He doesnโ€™t dare go

Though the day is over now

Because he knows that mother is home and he knows that she is crying now

And if he comes home too late again

A fully deserved punishment is waiting

So now he must go home because the day is over now

Take me there

Where the sun always shines

Take me there

Where the love wins

Take me there

To a place where there is no shadow

Take me there

Take me there

When itโ€™s raining, can you take me with you

To another place where everything is good

When itโ€™s raining, can you take me with you

To another place where everything is good

Take me there

Where the sun always shines

Take me there

Where the love wins

Take me there

To a place where there is no shadow

Take me there

Take me there

Question of the day.

What phrase do you absolutely hate?

My answer:

There are surely ones that I hate more than this one, but what came to my mind first is a sort of weird saying that we have in Polish that I have no clue why people use it, and more importantly, what sort of response or reaction do they expect to it. ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ve no idea if there’s an English equivalent, but I hope there’s none. It basically says that it’s only the guilty one or the culprit who explains himself. It’s not only freakishly nonsensical and annoying, but also potentially super harmful when used in more serious situations. Thankfully, it’s mostly used in very casual situations and is supposed to be like a joke or something playful, kinda teasing, but still, it can sometimes create a rather puzzling situation sometimes where the person at the receiving end is basically stuck. If you make up weird sayings, at least go an extra mile and make up some clear script that the other person could follow. Good thing that the law doesn’t work this way. ๐Ÿ˜€ If someone accuses you of something and you don’t defend yourself, they’ll say that you’re probably guilty after all if you don’t even have a good excuse. If you do explain yourself, they’ll say that only guilty people do it. So, I seriously wonder, what a non-guilty person is supposed to do in the situation? I see though that more and more people are realising how stupid this is so maybe it’ll die out at some point.

What’s your phrase? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What would you wish for if there was a genie who would grant your one wish?

My answer:

I would want to speak all “my” languages fluently, as fluently as possible, without having to learn them, especially the basic stuff when you hardly know anything at all in a language yet and you have to learn absolutely everything. A lot of people think that if I keep learning and learning and learning languages I must really like it, as in, the process of learning. But in fact I don’t. I think actually using a language is way more interesting, so if I could just acquire a language on the same or higher level of fluency that I’d be able to achieve via learning consciously, I’d take it, so I could use more time on actually using and sort of consuming the language rather than learning it. I mean, I’d probably still have to learn some things, even natives do, but this kind of learning doesn’t really feel like learning and is far more interesting when you already have a firm grasp of a language. Also learning of some of “my” languages, the less commonly spoken ones, is a pain with the whole practical side of learning, like how you’re supposed to do it, where you get the resources from, where do you practice and with whom, especially if you don’t live in the area where the language is spoken and even more especially if you’re blind so accessibility of things can be limited or there can be other obstacles on the way like lack of speech synths for a specific language or having to learn a Braille alphabet of every single language if you want to read Braille in them like I do. So that would be just extremely cool!

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What’s something people don’t worry about but really should?

My answer:

There are lots of such things that come to my mind but one that I thought I’d write about is extincting languages. On one hand it’s totally subjective because I love language and it’s so sad to think that we’ve already lost so many languages and so many are on the way to be lost and discriminated against or something that it’s kind of weird for me to think that most people don’t really care. ๐Ÿ˜€ But second, our languages are part of our heritage as humans, part of our history and our identity, so that’s why I think we should really be more concerned about it collectively than we are, because with each language that dies it’s like a piece of our collective history as humans sort of falls off and then it’s quite difficult to put it back in place even if you try, especially in a way that looks natural.

What’s such a thing in your opinion? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day (26th September).

We haven’t had any questions of the day for quite a while, so let’s do some now. ๐Ÿ™‚

What do you think is the most annoying piece of current slang?

My answer:

I’m in no position to make any particularly meaningful statements about English slang, given that I’m not an English native, don’t live in an English-speaking country to be able to immerse myself in slang regularly and know what’s current and what’s not, and I don’t really mingle with people who would use a whole lot of slang. Despite I’m very much into language(s) and linguistics and that definitely includes slang, even in Polish I don’t mingle with people who would use loads of it and I’m sure I’m very much behind as I’m quite an alien in general. These days I mostly get an idea about current slang from Sofi and if I like something I incorporate it into my own vocabulary, but Sofi herself doesn’t use a lot of slang and often doesn’t have much of a clearer idea what things are supposed to actually mean. Besides, a lot of what I’m introduced to by her is actually English words or English calques or some other Ponglish stuff, so to me that’s not even slang but normal English words. That’s why I don’t think I can say much about the most current Polish slang either. I guess one thing that annoys me a bit is that overanglicisation of everything that I mentioned. I mean, I absolutely LOVE English language, and for some kids (like Sofi) this way is one of very few of actively learning and actually retaining any English vocabulary, and English has SO many expressions and words that Polish doesn’t have so I too very often have super strong urges to use English words even with monoglots because otherwise it feels like there’s no way I’m going to get my point across and it’s frustrating. I’m not a purist, I don’t hate loanwords when they serve a purpose, and I believe a language is supposed to evolve or otherwise it’s dead, it’s also impossible to have a language with no loanwords perhaps unless it’s a conlang or something else rather artificial like that. But what I’m not a fan of is when the entire nation who has their own language suddenly starts replacing their own, perfectly functional words with foreign words that mean exactly the same, I guess just because the English words sound more trendy or something. Say there’s the word fame, which Polish youth tends to spell fejm which makes more sense with Polish phonetics. And that doesn’t make sense to me because we have our own words which express the same thing, and I’m a bit worried that in more long-term perspective this is gonna do a fair bit of damage to our language and many other languages as obviously it’s not like this process is limited to Polish. It can be funny mixing languages like that, I also often like throwing some English or other words into a Polish utterance for fun or expressive effect or because I like their sound more or because my brain sometimes just makes me do it for some not easily explicable reasons, but when it’s something more permanent and on a more collective level and we all speak like this ALL the time, like I said, gets slightly worrying. Also sometimes I have an impression that with some words those kids don’t even exactly understand the English meanings of those words, so I wonder if it isn’t a bit like that for every kid or teenager those English words mean something a bit different. For example Sofi claims that the word cringe (or krindลผ, as she prefers to spell it, which spelling always makes me cringe when I see it ’cause it looks so weird lol, and she pronounces it with an ee as well of course as that’s way more natural in Polish) is not so much about something being embarrassing in a disgusting, awkward or uncomfortable way but more in a hilarious way. I think something cringey certainly can be hilarious, but in her definition it’s a primary thing. Or maybe the Polish definition of krindลผ just really is different than the English definition of cringe.

Another thing which I guess could be classified as slang is acronyms and more exactly what I find grating is using them profusely in spoken language. Like, why?! I understand not having enough space or time or brain capacity to write in lengthy paragraphs, but when you speak in acronyms all the time it feels like you don’t really care about your interlocutor. Even when someone does that all the time in writing, I don’t like it. Sometimes when Sofi reads to me for some reason her texting interactions with her friends, to me it could just as well be some beat box exchange or something, there’s hardly any vowels. ๐Ÿ˜€ When she overdoses on acronyms while writing with myself or talks to me in acronyms I just go all the way like: “Y dnt u wrt lk a hmn?” (Why don’t you write like a human?). With other people, especially such that I don’t know too well, if I see that they use loads of acronyms without any particular purpose that I could figure out, my brain tends to quite automatically jump to the conclusion that they either don’t really like/struggle to write or aren’t particularly smart unless I have some evidence that challenges such conclusions. Too many acronyms can sometimes really affect the aesthetic feel of a language for me, and as both a linguophile and lexical (among others) synaesthete language aesthetics are important for me.

What’s such a thing(s) that annoys you? ๐Ÿ™‚

If We Were Having Coffee… #WeekendCoffeeShare.

We haven’t had a

Weekend Coffee Share

in a while, so I thought we could have one today, ’cause I have a couple things to share with you all, and I want to hear how you’ve been doing, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ So if you feel like having a cuppa, or something yummy to eat, come along and join me, and I’ll be super happy to have you here! ๐Ÿ™‚

Grab a cup of your favourite coffee (we only have black, whole bean coffee in here right now, which I personally think is the best, but if you’d like something fancier you can bring it with yourself). I can also offer you some tea (we do have plenty of these), or cocoa, or some orange juice, or kefir if you like it or want to find out what it’s like, or plain tap water, or you can bring some other drink that you like. I don’t have much interesting stuff where food is involved, if you’re properly hungry and are a meat eater there’s a fair bit of meat left because we didn’t manage to eat everything for lunch, or I can make you a sandwich, but otherwise I suggest you bring something yourself if you’d like a snack with your coffee or something. Yeah I know, bad Bibiel, what sort of coffee share it is without providing your guests with snacks, and a proper variety of coffees. Will try to prepare myself better next time. ๐Ÿ˜€

 

So if you’re sitting comfortably and have something to munch and/or sip on, let’s get into it. ๐Ÿ™‚

If we were having coffee, I’d ask each of you how you’re doing…?

If we were having coffee, I’d start with the mundane topic of weather and share what it’s been like here this week. Because it’s been quite warm, if not hot, for late summer, at least here. It’s a common thing that late August is all gloomy and rainy, and then the first few days of September it gets maliciously hot so that poor kids who are starting school are melting indoors and want to go out and play but can’t cus they have to do some goddam fractions or whatever else they have to do, but after these few days it usually gets a fair bit colder and stays this way. Well, not this year. This year, the first week of September was very very windy and rainy and quite chilly, whereas this week it was as high as 27 C on Tuesday. It felt a lot fresher outside though than the temps would suggest and was just nice and summery. Then yesterday we got pretty bad rain and storms, and today it’s cooler but still very sunny.

If we were having coffee, I’dfill you in on

the Sofi situation.

In the post above I wrote how Sofi is suspected by her new GP to possibly have Marfan syndrome and that she’s gonna have genetic testing in February. In the meantime, my Mum had been ruminating about it quite a lot, which is not her normal, but she’s now feeling a lot better about it as it seems. Like, whatever will be, will be. The good thing is that Sofi doesn’t have, to our knowledge, any major complications that can arise from this condition, so even if she ends up being diagnosed with it, I personally figure that we should feel lucky that despite this diagnosis, she’s been doing this well so far. Mum agrees with me, and Sofi herself doesn’t think much of it. What had been particularly bothering my Mum, and still does, to an extend, is Sofi’s height, as she’s already like 180 cm and shows no signs of wanting to stop growing any time soon. I mean, maybe she herself wants, but her hormones or whatever is in charge does not. Since the genetic testing is still to come and we still have to wait quite a while, there’s no other news strictly where it comes to Marfan’s, but, as you may remember, all the worry related to that also made my Mum worry that Sofi could have polycystic ovaries and that that may be the reason behind her still growing and still not menstruating. So she had her first gynaecologist’s appointment about a month ago or so, and, while she was extremely anxious before that, it all went well and there were no bad news, everything is perfectly fine with Sofiwhere gynaecology is concerned.

If we were having coffee, speaking of Sofi (wow, what a cool rhyme lol, and yes, in case you’re wondering, this Sofi is pronounced like coffee with an S, not like Sophie because that’s how most Polish people say Sophie), I’d also tell you that recently she got vaccinated. Not for Covid, but for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (these sound really weird in English :O ). She got the vaccine on Thursday, then started having some arm pain in the evening. The next day her arm hurt even more but she still went to school as normal, but when she came back she was feeling horrid. She had a headache, sore throat, achy muscles, couldn’t breathe normally and was very tired and weak and had a bit of a cough. She was supposed to go have her nails done after school, which she did, but as soon as she came back she just went to bed, so it all felt kind of concerning given that she’s normally very strong and healthy. But I guess that could be the exact reason why she reacted to this vaccine so fiercely. She didn’t get up for the rest of the day and by the evening she seemed like she had some fever and it got quite creepy because not only did she have muscle aches but her skin seemed extremely sensitive to touch pretty much all over her and she couldn’t even change position easily ’cause she said it hurt so badly. My Mum claims though that as long as you’re hungry while sick, things are looking good, and by late evening Sofi got a wild craving for fast food so I got her some. When I was a kid I also got wild and very specific food cravings whenever I had fever, and especially at night, so it either must be a common thing that I didn’t realise or it’s genetic for us. ๐Ÿ˜€ On Saturday things were a little bit better and Sofi really wanted to go pick mushrooms with Mum, so she did, but she was quite drained by the time she came back and spent the rest of the day in bed. So has been the case today, and she’s also got a stuffed nose. Mum doesn’t really know what to do, since these appear to be vaccine side effects so it seems counterproductive to her to give Sofi some medicines because she thinks her body needs to deal with all this on her own. If things won’t get better until tomorrow, which it doesn’t seem like they will, Mum will take her to the doctor.

If we were having coffee, I’d share with you something about which I already wrote a couple times here, but not much and only in passing. This is not like a huge news or anything breakthrough, but I think it’s worth noting in its own place. This something is that I’ve kinda sorta started learning Norwegian, I guess it was some time in July. I think I’ve written at least one coffee share since but I still had too much turmoil in my brain surrounding it so didn’t feel able to write anything constructive. Perhaps you remember that, as long as my favourite languages list is, and despite it features languages like Swedish, Faroese or Sami, Norwegian had never been on it. And I’m still not sure whether it is now. But for some reason I’ve been feeling more drawn to it lately, and also want to have a closer look at how it works, so that I have some more idea about it other than simply through my Swedish. I don’t know why I’d need it because I could already understand a fair bit of (especially written) bokmรฅl Norwegian (there are two written Norwegian languages – bokmรฅl which is like more classic and nynorsk which is more modern and rural) via Swedish, but that’s what’s happening right now. I started to realise my feelings for Norwegian were deepening in late June, around the time when we were on our camper trip in Masuria, and Sofi and me rode in the back of the camper, on the bed, where if the roads were bumpy, it made us jump up high to the ceiling, so when people ask me “why oh WHY Norwegian? Have you got a faza or did something specific happen involving this language that made you love it out of the blue?” I say perhaps because I got a brain injury from all the close encounters between my skull and the ceiling on the trip, ’cause I really have no better ideas. I mean, I could tell you now, at the point where I am currently, that I like Norwegian for its extreme diversity, like, it’s one language, but it’s two languages, and in practice, as some say, there are more dialects than people there. ๐Ÿ˜€ This definitely contributes to me liking it now. But I only got to experience this phenomenon first-hand after I got into it. And my feelings started to deepen before I decided to go with the flow and get into it and try to learn it. And it wasn’t like these feelings came and I embraced them right away, far from it. At the beginning it was freakishly intense and I didn’t know what was going on and I was really reluctant to do it, actually. I mean, I’m learning Welsh right now, it’s my first Celtic language and it’s more difficult than any language I’ve learned before, have still like a dozen or so languages that I want to learn in the future, Sofi says I should be treated for that ’cause something’s wrong with me, so I seriously can’t afford another language, someone save me or it’s gonna kill me! In the end though, I just had no willpower left to resist my brain any longer and got pulled into it properly. It felt like I had no choice but make room for Norwegian in my life.

The situation isn’t as bad as I feared, since I already know English and Swedish so there’s a whole lot of similarities between Swedish and Norwegian, they’re generally mutually intelligible, and Norwegian and English also share some common ancestry being both Germanic languages. That means it doesn’t really feel like I am learning a completely new language. More like a complicated dialect or something. It’s not like I have to learn everything in a sort of linear, structured way, starting from the very basics, because a lot of vocabulary I’m either completely familiar with or can figure out without much trouble, and a lot of grammar also already makes sense. Also, compared to Welsh, learning Norwegian is also way easier due to the wider availability of all sorts of materials. I’d long forgotten what sort of luxury it is to be able to learn a language via your mother tongue, and there are plenty of Polish immigrants in Norway, so plenty of Norwegian online courses, workbooks, whatever you want. Only problem is that a lot of the Polish material I’ve looked into isn’t of particularly good quality, like they teach a terribly unnatural accent if not plain wrong pronunciation (like you in Norwegian is du, where the u sound is pronounced like in the English word you, while I’ve found a Polish resource where they teach you that it’s pronounced with an oo sound, more like the German du. Except when you pronounce it like that in Norwegian it’s spelled do and it means the loo ๐Ÿ˜€ ) or only give you an idea about some stiff, official bokmรฅl which might be a thing in writing but no one speaks like that. So I still tend to stick to the English stuff for the most part, and am also able to learn Norwegian in Norwegian itself, especially from written materials. So with a bit of effort on my part, I managed to make it work so that I can squeeze in both Welsh, which is still in the centre stage, and Norwegian, which I learn usually on weekends plus a lot of exposure in the meantime. It feels kind of weird to call it learning though, because for me language-learning is when your brain lets out steam and your brain muscles get all sore and pulsating, whereas here it’s rarely this intense. It’s still enjoyable though. I still wouldn’t say that I love Norwegian as much as I do all “my” languages, but I think if it won’t disappear as randomly as it appeared I’m probably going to get there and I do like it a lot. I mean, I’ve never disliked it, but now I like it more than ever, yet still don’t love like I do Swedish, Welsh & co. Like I said, I love the whole diversity in it and I’m loving more and more how it sounds. It’s so cheerful and childish compared to Swedish, and at the same time kind of more rugged than Swedish and less fluid, to me Swedish sounds more serious and sort of posher.

I don’t even know yet what I want to achieve with this whole Norwegian “learning” and where I want to go, what for etc. but maybe things will clear up. I guess it might come in handy when I’ll start with Sami. Maybe I’ll finally pluck up the courage to read all those Norwegian books my Mum bought me, thinking they were Swedish, including a grammar book from I guess the 50’s. :DBut overall, while I usually try to aim for as much fluency and familiiarity with a language as possible, at least for now I’m taking it very easy with Norwegian and don’t have any wild ambitions or anything, we’ll just see how it develops, I’m not in charge here anyway, my brain has taken over while I was on those Masuria holidays. Who knows, perhaps it’s just a short episode and I’ll soon be over it?

Now that I’m no more reluctant and have accepted the state of things and flowing along with it, I’m thinking that perhaps there’s something like destiny or whatever involved here, because I’ve had several people in my life who have told me in one way or another that I should learn Norwegian. My Swedish teacher started learning it at some point during the years he was teaching me and could go on and on and on about it and would often try to tempt me into it too saying stuff like that, actually, Norwegian is just like a little dialect of Swedish. It made me think what Norwegians would think of someone putting things this way and I thought it sounded quite diminishing. Like, I myself am half Kashubian, and while I don’t have a strong bond with the Kashubian language (I can barely understand it when someone speaks fluently) or culture, and also am far from supporting the separatistic notion that some Kashubians have, one of the reasons being that I personally identify as Polish far more than Kashubian, nevertheless it really irks me when people call Kashubian a dialect of Polish ’cause it’s just not a dialect. One day he devoted the entire lesson to introducing all sorts of Norwegian phrases and idioms to me that he wanted me to translate to prove to me how Norwegian is very easy when you speak English and Swedish. Sure, but at that point I just didn’t feel it, and if I don’t feel a language there’s no point in trying to convince me. It’s as if you tried to make someone be friends with or date someone else just because YOU think they’d make good friends or couple, while the individuals in question feel totally indifferent about each other. Now that I’m learning both languages, I totally agree that, while Norwegian as it is now certainly is not a dialect of Swedish, in many aspects it really seems like it could be. ๐Ÿ˜€

Then there was a classmate I had at the blind school, who didn’t know about my Scandinavian interests (which I was trying to suppress at the time because I temporarily wasn’t able to learn Swedish and it was a huge source of frustration to dwell on it or expose myself to Swedish in those circumstances) and for some weird reason he told me several times how in his mind he associates me with Norway, which I found rather hilarious. He didn’t know why either. Later my paternal cousins have come up with some weird theory I’ve no clue how, that we have some Norwegian ancestry. It’s always seemed doubtful to my Dad and my gran and me too, but in the past they would often say how I should rather learn Norwegian than Swedish ’cause we allegedly have some distant family connection to Norway.

And lastly there was my late friend Jacek from Helsinki, who shortly after we first met said that, as much as he praises my learning Swedish and considers it aesthetically superior over other Scandinavian languages, he felt that perhaps Norwegian would have been a better option for me, because of all them weird dialects and because they have two languages instead of one so I’d probably have more fun. All of these people would probably be happy now that it has come true, after all, lol.

I also have THREE uncles who all work in Norway (one full-time and two get sent there from time to time for some longer-ish periods) and one has told my family that apparently he’s learned to communicate in the language decently. He never said that to me, although we have talked about Norwegian vs Swedish several times, and he never talked Norwegian in front of me, but now I have to admit I’m looking forward to some bigger family gathering where all of these uncles of mine will be present so I can break the news to them and we can find out who can snakke (speak) better than Bibiel *evil laugh*. Or maybe I’m in for a surprise and any/all of them actually snakker better than Bibiel, which would be just as cool, they’ve certainly had more exposure than me and more potential opportunities to practice with people! ๐Ÿ™‚

If we were having coffee, I’d mention that we’re having a bit of a national Catholic holiday today. This is because it’s the day of beatification of cardinal Stefan Wyszyล„ski, the Primate of Poland. Beatification means that he is now known as blessed (which is like a step below canonisation when a person is proclaimed saint) and a primate is the archbishop of a country. Even due to his function alone, he was a very important and valued figure in the Polish Catholic church during his life and still is very much valued and respected due to his huge positive influence on the church and aspects like the so-called folk devotion to Mary, to name just one thing. Along with him, another person who was beatified was mother Elลผbieta Rรณลผa Czacka who was the foundress of the religious order who leads the blind school I went to, and also the foundress of the school and everything around it as well. She was blind herself ever since she was 22, I believe, and is said to be the first person in Poland who has taken the problem of education of the blind seriously. This school is relatively well-known and quite a few people who have nothing or very little to do with the blind have heard about it somewhere and back in my school days they would ask my Mum whether I go to THAT school. I am talking about this because now that she and the whole blind centre and the order she founded have been talked a lot in the media and churches in the period leading up to the beatification, I’ve got quite a few people from my family and even beyond, asking me things like whether I’m happy that she’s gonna be beatified, and I found the amount of that and this specific phrasing of the question quite interesting so I thought I’d write a little bit about that and how I feel about it. Am I happy? Yes, I’m very happy! I feel tempted to throw an “obviously” in there, but since I’ve got this question so often perhaps it’s not so obvious for some reason. But I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t be happy. We definitely can’t complain about lack of representation of disabilities among saints but the more the merrier, and also I’ve got a feeling that blindness in general has gotten a little bit of spotlight in the Catholic church due to this, because they are telling her story everywhere now and obviously it’s impossible to tell her story without talking about blindness and the blind. Also while I can think of several blind saints, most of them have lived quite a long time ago and when reading about their lives there’s not much you can learn about their experience with blindness specifically, perhaps except for my dear patron saint bl. Margaret de Citta di Castello but she has also lived quite some time ago. So I think mother Elลผbieta (or should I be saying Elizabeth in English now?… I never know if you should translate saints’/blesseds’ names or not, it seems so inconsistent) is going to be particularly relatable and close to the hearts of many blind people, and I think that sort of connection is important. I know many who have loved her long before she has been beatified, even if they were too young to know her or didn’t get a chance to meet her personally. I’ve heard of some blind people from that school who actually regard her as a sort of mother figure or something. And beyond that, whether it’s her or someone else, I think a beatification of someone new is generally a very happy event in itself for the Church as a community. My Mum also asked me whether I feel any sort of bond with her, which I think is a more interesting question. We’ve both had the same disability, so on this level I think there is some connection that I feel to her. Also, while personally I have very mixed feelings about both the school and my experience there, i feel grateful to her for the mere fact that she founded it, because the whole thing was extremely courageous of her, and that she devoted herself to the blind so much and on so many levels. One thing I’m extremely grateful to her for is that she adapted Braille to the Polish language. But I don’t feel much of an emotional bond with her like a lot of blind folks do. Or a very strong spiritual one. When I was at school, they’d talk a lot about her and I remember one person once suggested to me that if I struggle with homesickness and stuff like that, I could think of mother Elลผbieta as my second mum or a mother figure or something, that some people have this sort of bond with her. I initially really tried and really wanted to, but somehow didn’t feel it. Then not much later I got truly sick of all that talking about it being our second home and stuff like that and I internally rebelled against it all, so there was no way I could think of her as my mum. When I was older, I read her writings and letters and several biographies and a couple memoirs involving her. She was incredibly wise and virtuous and strong-willed and in many aspects very extraordinary and fascinating, and while I didn’t see that at school because I had vastly different outlook on things and vastly different things on my mind, now I do admire her deep devotion to the Cross. Yet when I read her writings she doesn’t come across as someone whom I could truly feel close to. With all her admirable traits and all the great things she did, I think we just are too different for such a close bond to be possible. Or maybe I just have a somehow skewed perception of her despite all the stuff I read about her. And the mixed feelings I have about the school surely get in the way too, even though it doesn’t have to do with her directly. Like I said, the saint I do feel more of a connection to, and who also happens to have been blind and multiply disabled is bl. Margaret of Castello.

If we were having coffee, last, but not least, I’d share about a major purchase I recently made. I got myself an iPad, YAY! Now this is really a huge thing because not long ago I thought I wouldn’t be able to be able to use a smartphone, due to the touchscreen, and now I’m getting a second Apple device. This is because, actually, recently I had been considering a possibility of transitioning to a Mac from my Windows computer. Yeah, I’ve transitioned to a new computer over a year ago, but I’m sure Sofi would be more than keen to inherit this one from me, and also some of its parametres are well above what I need. I’ve recently got to hear a lot about how it looks in practice to use a Mac with VoiceOver (the built-in screen reader) and I was like, huh, this doesn’t sound quite as difficult as I thought. It sounds way more intuitive and non-geek-friendly than Windows. And I really have grown to like the way Apple does things ever since I’ve got my iPhone, while at the same time Windows irks me in more and more ways. Yet I’ve also heard about several blind people who have tried using Mac and it didn’t really work out too well, and because it’s not like I am incredibly tech savvy or anything, it felt risky, especially that Mac OS computers are not the cheapest in the world as everyone knows. So I was playing around with that idea for a long time until I figured that perhaps a cool golden mean would be getting an iPad, because I’ve heard of some blind users who just use an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard as their primary device rather than a laptop or a computer, which they only use when something is just physically impossible to do on an iPad. Perhaps if I tried that, I would be able to say more decidedly in a couple of years how worth it and how risky for me getting a Mac is. And I guess in a year or two I’ll be able to apply for funding which you can get for an assistive device, and a computer counts as one. Since I don’t need anything more than a MacBook Air, perhaps the funding would even cover that if I’m lucky and counting right.

So in the end I got an iPad 8 and Apple says it should be here tomorrow and I’m really really curious and a little bit apprehensive. One thing I’m kind of afraid of not working out as well as I’d like is typing. I do a lot of writing, but while I have a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPhone as well as my Braille-Sense which works like a Braille Display and Bluetooth keyboard at once, I find writing on iPhone a pretty arduous experience, especially on the Braille-Sense which I prefer for longer writing because it’s easier and faster to review what I write. Except in the end it’s not because the cursor often flies around so it’s hard not to make mistakes, or in some apps it will randomly throw me out of the edit field after every few characters, or it will be very slow and freezy or otherwise buggy. Since iPad is essentially the same system, I’m not sure whether I can hope for much difference there. But it’s not like I am supposed to ditch the Windows computer and rely on the iPad for everything from tomorrow on. If, after a year or a few, I’ll come to the conclusion that I like the Apple ecosystem increasingly and the only thing that stops me from using iPad full-time is the typing, I might still get the Mac as I don’t think it has the same typing issues as iOS devices do.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee? ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Question of the day.

What are three things you like that other people don’t like?

My answer:

I like liking things that other people don’t. One reason is because it feels kind of quirky, and since I’m quirky anyway it comes to me without even trying particularly hard. Another one is that I like and have a strong tendency to personalise things or even abstract concepts, so my mentality is like if no one likes them, they must be really sad. ๐Ÿ˜€ And since I am an (overly, as it seems) empathetic person, I feel a genuine need to compensate for that.

One such thing that I like but very few other people seem to do as well is the beautiful Dutch language. The funny thing is that I also used to consider it quite an unattractive language when I was younger, but everything changed as I started to listenn to Cornelis Vreeswijk when I was 17 and got a faza on him (he mostly sang and wrote his music and poems and everything in Swedish and lived there most of his life since he was 12 but he was born in the Netherlands and also had some sort of a career in his native country however much less impressive from what I understand and it’s like he’s sort of known in his country for being famous in Sweden). Fazas can change one’s perspective quite a bit, and while it took me quite a while to take a liking for this language, at some point it was just like something randomly switched in my brain and suddenly I was like “Awwww it’s actually such a really really beautiful language!” and my brain was all melting with delight as it tends to in such situations. It feels weird these days that I could ever have not liked it. I’m not one for the Romance languages and the like. One reason is that they’re “over-liked”, everyone wants to learn them and considers them beautiful. Aside from that, I often say, and have said on here as well, that I believe a language is similar to pasta in that it needs to be al dente. Swedish is a perfect example of that. Perhaps Dutch is a bit undercooked to be considered al dente, but that’s still way better than overcooked, I totally don’t mind the former and as a kid even used to eat dry pasta or noodles, but I can’t stand the texture when it’s overcooked, ewww! Like a dish, a language also needs to be spiced just right, and not be bland or wishy-washy. I usually don’t like things that are aesthetically, as my Mum calls it, “farting sweet”, or cloying, unless it’s genuinely cute. Dutch is really hot and I guess not everyone has high tolerance for spicy food so perhaps it’s the same with this language. Anyway, most Dutch natives I’ve talked to seemed very surprised whenever I mentioned that their language is on my list of languages that I want to learn and that I love. They’d usually find it difficult for some reason to understand why I’d want to do it, and many would admit that they actually don’t like the language themselves, and that they prefer English. ๐Ÿ˜€ I love English too, but it’s everywhere so it’s a bit boring, why limit myself like that? And some would even tell me how their language is actually quite difficult. I mean, I don’t speak it just yet, but I don’t really see how it would be extremely difficult for me, when I already know two Germanic languages (three if you include my kinda sorta making friends with Norwegian since about a month). Perhaps I’m overly confident here or not aware of something but it seems pretty straightforward and I find it very encouraging that I can already understand small bits of vocabulary with the languages I know, so it feels like one of the easiest languages on my list, if not THE easiest one. Some things about the sentence structure, like sticking the verb at the end of a sentence, is fairly odd to me, but I suppose it’s just a matter of enough exposure and practice until it will no longer feel odd. Swedish sentence structure in some more elaborate cases, especially where time is involved, is also different from the Polish (which is quite loose really or at least not permanently fixed) or English one and felt slightly intimidating to me at the beginning and difficult to understand, but, while I still do make mistakes with it, overall it feels completely natural that that’s how Swedish works because it’s Swedish, if that makes any sense to anyone other than me. Or it’s amusing what I sometimes hear Dutch language learners say, that they visit or move to a Dutch-speaking country to be able to practice their target language, but it often turns out impossible because as soon as people figure out they’re non-natives, they speak to them in English. ๐Ÿ˜€ Some of my Sweden experience was very similar, and it was kind of confusing because it made me feel like my Swedish must be really shitty if they find it easier to communicate with me in another language rather than their native one, even though I theoretically know it’s because people want to be helpful. Anyway, I myself am quite a patriot and love my own language and country so every time I’ve heard Dutch people being so underappreciative of their language, I honestly felt really shocked and also kind of sad, and that gave me just another reason for wanting to learn that language, to give it some love it totally deserves. I also love and plan to learn Frisian, which also gets some really interesting reactions sometimes. ๐Ÿ˜€

Another thing I love truly and deeply but everyone uninitiated seems to hate, or at best just not get my love for it, is kefir. I drink loads of it, so does Sofi, it’s very healthy and yumilicious and very refreshing, and is good for your guts so a perfect thing to drink if you’re emetophobic and happen to need to take antibiotics or something. It’s also okay for people who have lactose intolerance like my Mum. Obviously there is kefir and kefir though so you have to find the right one which has some better quality if it’s really important for you that it has the health benefits it’s supposed to have. Aside from water, I think this is the best drink when you’re properly thirsty. I rarely drink it on its own, unless I’m very thirsty and happen to crave kefir, but I drink it with most meals. I also used to get bad culture shock in my early days of penpalling when I’d mention kefir to my British pen pals and they’d be like: “Uh, and what is kefir?” I have an impression though that it’s become more popular over the last few years in regions where it hadn’t been previously known.

And another such thing are olives. I guess it’s not like everyone dislikes them but there seem to be two camps, people who love olives and people who dislike/hate olives and hardly anything in-between. I much prefer the black ones, but the green ones are okay too, certainly better than none. Olives weren’t a thing my family would eat when I was a kid, as we’re not very fancy with food really, and I remember the first time I ate them was on the train station in Warsaw when my Mum and me were waiting for a train to go home from my school. We were ravenously hungry so we bought one big Greek salad for us both, and that was how I discovered olives and immediately fell in love. Even though I have always loved them, I think I get why people wouldn’t, they really do have a very particular taste, and even I wouldn’t be able to eat a lot of olives without something that would complement the taste, it starts to feel weird pretty quickly. Since my Mum loves olives too, when she found out that so do I they became a regular ting in our house, even though everyone else here hates them. I also love capers, which seem to be even less popular with normal people.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What is your favourite word in the English vocabulary?

My answer:

I honestly wouldn’t be able to pick just one, in any language that I like. There are too many words I like and I like them in different ways, so it’s kinda like asking a child who she loves more, mummy or daddy. But I did decide to pick one word, just for the sake of this post.

When talking about favourite words, people often focus on the really sophisticated, long ones, or the particularly weird or funny slang words that they like, or some swear words that they find particularly useful, expressive and/or versatile. But people rarely talk about the really mundane, common words that are used on a daily basis. Perhaps they’re less thought about because they’re so rare, or perhaps no one likes them? So I decided to talk about one really mundane, simple English word that I LOVE very much, and perhaps part of why I love it so much is this simplicity. This word is sleep. No language out of those I know has a better word for the thing! The word sleep just says it all and encompasses everything about what sleep is. And it sounds so insanely cute. I like saying it. It’s so calm, peaceful and fluffy, like a sleeping baby, better even, like a sleeping kitten. In a tactile way, it feels really nice too. It’s also round and… not quite fluffy, because it’s made of something hard, metal I think, but it’s small and cute. And gustatorily it tastes like walnuts. The Polish word for sleep – sen –
feels insanely bland and flat in comparison. Plus at the same time it also means dream, not like a daydream but specifically the dream you get while you’re asleep, so it’s also not very logical because they’re too different things even if they occur together. If I’m Polish and it’s illogical to me, I guess it must be all the more illogical for non-native speakers. ๐Ÿ˜€ So mostly when I see the word sen without any context, I think dream, not sleep. It’s also cheesy, because synaesthetically it feels and tastes like cheese, perhaps because cheese is ser so it’s just one letter’s difference. And it’s not even good quality cheese in this case, it tastes kind of artificial. The Polish verb for to sleep is spaฤ‡, and it’s also very boring, even more so actually, but I’m a big fan of some of its conjugations. Like the imperative form of this verb is ล›pij (SHPEEY) and that sounds so much better. Or you can ask someone “ลšpisz?” (SHPEESh) (Are you asleep?). I wish the infinitive form was ล›piฤ‡, not spaฤ‡, it would sound more like what it actually means. The Swedish sรถmn is way too heavy for a healthy kind of sleep, like you’re sleeping on particularly strong sleeping pills or something, or like you’re drunk and when you finally wake up, whenever that might be, you’ll be mightily hungover. Much like I always end up on Hydroxyzine. ๐Ÿ˜€ And the Welsh cwsg (COOSK) is really nice but too light in turn and just not enough personality (which is rare with Welsh words but here it’s just how it is), so like sleeping with no dreams and waking up at every smallest rustle. Sleep is just right. It’s the kind of healthy, peaceful sleep from which you wake up rested, happy and refreshed, and looking forward to when you can go to sleep again, but not because you’re sleepy or have nothing better to do, it’s just a nice state to be in.

What’s yours? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day (17th August).

What should every person do at least once?

My answer:

I’d say learn a language, or at least try to and experience what it feels like. I think it’s a very enriching and interesting experience and it makes me feel sad that a lot of people miss out on it entirely, without even knowing whether they’d like it or not, either because they don’t have any real motivation for it or because they think they don’t have a “talent” for it, whatever that elusive talent thing may be. Also the brain benefits long-term are a huge advantage in my opinion. Not to mention that it can open various doors for you, like to an entirely different culture and mentality, help you meet some interesting people. Most of all though, the reason why I think everyone should try it is that every language you know gives you a different perspective on things, a slightly, or perhaps sometimes not so slightly, I guess depending how different from each other your languages are, way of thinking, since language plays a huge role in how we think about or perceive different things. I’d even go as far as to say that with each language you acquire, be it in early childhood or later on, a different layer or aspect is added to your personality in a way, that is absolutely congruent with the rest of your personality and doesn’t create any conflict or anything, because your languages exist peacefully beside each other and complement each other rather than compete in your brain or exist in some separate, distinct realms, but speaking and/or thinking in more than one language simply makes you more multi-dimensional or something like that, and it lets you think more flexibly and in more ways.

Only there’s a problem, because at the same time I firmly believe that you have to actually, truly like your target language to do it and be successful at it and experience all the benefits of language-learning. If you don’t like it, there’s no point whatsoever. You’re neither going to be good at it (unless you seriously have some brain superpowers or are extremely disciplined and strong-willed) nor are you going to experience anything good from such learning. So while in theory I think we would all benefit from it, I think in practice one would first have to find a language that one finds really appealing and has some true motivation for learning it, because otherwise it just won’t work. I feel so much for all the kids who have to learn a foreign language they don’t like at school, like Sofi says she really doesn’t like English, although with her I’m not sure whether she seriously doesn’t get along with English as a language, or started to dislike it due to school and being unsuccessful at it. I – and it’s not just me –
always say that there’s no such thing as a language talent, unless you’re talking stuff like learning a native accent, but I think for most people who are accused of not having a talent or say so about themselves, the real problem is that they don’t really have much love for the language they’re learning, so it’s hardly surprising they’re not making much progress at it, or if they do, it feels painful and/or slow. Since I like learning languages people usually consider me very talented, but when I was learning German at school, which is a language I merely like and not love the way I do all “my” languages, I was very mediocre at it. Or when my Mum once had a dream to learn Italian (which, like all Romance languages, doesn’t really appeal to me very much in terms of sound and also I guess too many people like it for it to be truly loveable for me), and asked me to help her somehow, I tried to learn the basics, thinking just like my Mum that I’m apparently so good at languages so it’ll be no problem for me to learn and teach her the very basic stuff, except the grammar didn’t really make much sense to me and it all felt extremely arduous so I gave up after like two weeks. ๐Ÿ˜€ I feel for people who have to learn a language for work-related purposes but don’t have more of a relationship with it so it only feels stressful and forced and no fun at all. I guess it must be like being forced into an arranged marriage as opposed to being with someone you actually love, or making friends with someone solely because you’re colleagues and it’s useful rather than because you have anything in common and you want it. But there are so many languages in the world that I think if we all just looked around, or rather listened intently, most of us could find at least one language that we’d really fall in love with.

What’s such a thing in your opinion? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What was the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?

My answer:

Village School by Miss Read. I’d been wanting for the longest time to read something from this author, particularly Miss Clare Remembers and No Holly For Miss Quinn, which are two books in her Fairacre series which inspired Enya (one of my faza people) to compose two pieces of music with the same names. Just listening to those songs I always thought that if they have book equivalents, they must be great, and reading their synopses made me think they were right up my alley, but there was no Polish translation, or at least I couldn’t find any, and it’s fairly recently, some two years ago I guess, that I’ve seriously started reading English-language books of all sorts more regularly and casually, that is not solely for learning the language and new vocabulary. GoodReads must have also figured that it would be right up my alley, because recently I’ve found the first book from this series (the aforementioned Village School) in my recommendations on there, and since now I have access to different places where I can get English books and I read them regularly, I figured I really need to give this series a go now. It took me some time to get into it properly, but I really did enjoy this book and I felt really at home in it by the time I finished. It was really sweet and charming and I absolutely loved her way of describing characters, I love authors whose characters I can actually imagine and who seem life-like, her way of describing things in general is amazing, and I liked her sense of humour.

At more or less the same time I happened to learn that a guy I used to follow quite regularly some years ago, who teaches Swedish online and is a Swede himself and generally seems quite crazy about languages, has written a handbook for Swedish learners, called A Lagom Guide To Swedish. I figured I could really use some good Swedish offline resource that I wouldn’t need to scan or anything, so I bought the ebook right away. And while it’s a handbook, so generally not something you’d just read like from cover to cover, that was precisely what I ended up doing, in just a few sittings. ๐Ÿ˜€ I was quite curious how much of the things in this book I would have already known, so I started just skimming through it, but then got positively surprised that I actually know SO much of the stuff he covered in it, and even more surprised and happy whenever I came across something I didn’t know or realise, that I just didn’t want to put it aside. It really boosted my self-esteem in terms of Swedish, because ever since my English has leapt so much forward, I’ve been feeling less confident about my Swedish than I was before, even despite I managed with it quite well in Stockholm and I can get along with people just fine, I always have an impression that my Swedish, compared with my English, feels kind of clunky and it’s not as easy for me to express everything in it as it is in English, even though there was a time when my Swedish was waay better than my English. So I’m really glad I came across that book, even for this one reason. And it’ll definitely still be useful in different situations.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Maria Mena – “Speil” (Mirror).

Hiya people! ๐Ÿ™‚

Earlier this year, I shared with you one song from this singer already. This one is, from what I know, her first original song in her mother tongue, which is Norwegian. And just like that song I shared with you before (“Not Okay”) and like a lot of her music in general, I think we can also say that this one is very much a mental health song, dealing with the topic of low self-esteem and how it’s so strange that we often see ourselves so badly and want to have traits that we don’t have when other people, like our friends, see only good things in us and consider the things we don’t like in ourselves our good traits. This is a very happy, heartening song, encouraging you to use your friends, and all the positive opinions they have about you, as a mirror to see yourself in. I like it a lot, and as someone with AVPD, I can certainly relate to it, with my own view of myself and the good and bad things about me not seeming very congruent with what others think, but also I’ve always been wondering how it actually is, is it an individual herself or the people around her who get the clearer picture of what this individual is like? I’m inclined to say that it’s the person in question who knows it better, because you are with yourself 24/7 whereas your friends only see some bits of you that you share with the outside world so it’s impossible for them to know you as well as you do yourself. And obviously the bits you’ll want to share with others won’t be the worst bits of you, so quite naturally they’ll usually get to see the good things. On the other hand perhaps because they have an outside perspective they can be more objective in some way. Regardless though, whether it’s you or other people who are “right” about how good or bad you are, it’s always nice to think about the positive things that people have told you when you’re feeling yucky and self-loathing.

I guess I haven’t shared this on here before, but I’ve been playing around with Norwegian a little bit for the last couple months, trying to figure it out a bit more than simply by understanding some of it accidentally via my Swedish, learning about the grammar, vocabulary differences, all the dialects and stuff, mostly out of curiosity simply because it has never been on my most most favourite languages list, but who knows, maybe I’ll actually want to get fluent in it too. It’s certainly possible and since it’s so similar to Swedish I feel capable to learn it while still having Welsh as the language I’m learning primarily at the moment, because it’s not really like I didn’t have a clue at all about Norwegian to begin with and need to put as much work into it as I would into a totally brand new language. So today I decided I’ll try to do a translation of this song, and I actually did translate almost the entire song, but then figured it was sooo lame that I deleted it right away, even though I sat with it for like an hour. ๐Ÿ˜€ I constantly had a feeling that something was very wrong with it. I still don’t feel confident with Norwegian at all. Talk about low self-esteem. ๐Ÿ˜€ I generally don’t have this problem with my languages, but maybe I do with this one because it doesn’t really feel like one of “my” languages, or not yet. But I guess since this song has quite a clear topic and I’ve already told you what it’s about it doesn’t need a literal translation really to hit home.

Question of the day.

What did your school teach you that turned out to be a complete lie?

My answer:

That you absolutely HAVE to pronounce the -ing endings in English with the standard English ng sound, or the velar nasal consonant linguistically speaking, as opposed to the way most Polish people with little practice in English pronunciation/accents tend to do.

When I was in my later years of primary and then early secondary, we had an English teacher who was generally quite demanding and also nitpicky in some respects and seemed to genuinely like creating the sort of image of a very stern and not particularly connected to her students teacher. Understandably, a lot of people who didn’t do very well at English were very stressed of having lessons with her, and even many who did well at English were still stressed. I did well at English for my class’ standards and didn’t like neither her nor English as a subject at all and found it extremely boring most of the time, yet I didn’t find it very stressful for some reason, guess because I generally didn’t overly care about grades. She had a habit of choosing a few people at the beginning of the lesson whom she would question from the previous material, and people usually dreaded it very much. One of the things she was particularly nitpicky for some reason were the -ings. Which would be absolutely okay with me as an accent freak (although I definitely didn’t have a normal English accent back then yet) if not the fact that it was very hypocritical, because she herself said them wrong half the time and lots of people noticed it and were annoyed about it, and generally looking back from my current perspective she didn’t seem to have the best accent. Neither did most of her students, thanks to this method, including, like I mentioned, myself. It was frustrating because, as is always the case in schools, there were children who learned slower than others, and still lacked some vocabulary or didn’t understand some grammar and she would also overwhelm them with such tiny details. Or on the other hand there were quite a lot of people who were good at English, especially in writing, but were shy when speaking because of stuff like this.

Years later I was learning English by myself, having a lot of fun with it, and immersing myself in a lot of different accents, discovering a lot of dialects, especially British ones, and their weird vocab etc. and trying to imitate all these accents and dialects and stuff and learn to tell one from another. And I grew quite fond of northern England accents, though frankly I love all of the British accents, when people ask me which one I love most I always say the one I’m currently hearing, because I can never decide. Yet I do prefer the northern ones slightly because they’re less ever-present and I like the rusticality I guess. ๐Ÿ˜€ And I started to notice that people from like York or Sheffield, I guess also some people in Manchester and Liverpool areas, would say their -ings “wrong”. The first couple times I figured I must have misheard it or something, you don’t say -ing like that, after all, but then I found it stated somewhere explicitly that people in the north of England do pronounce ing with the g. It IS different than the way Polish people typically do, because it’s still softer and more nasal, but still, it reminded me of that teacher and it made me laugh. I’m too used to saying my -ings “right” at this point, but I sometimes say it the northern way when I feel like it.

I personally pay A LOT of attention to things like accent in a language, because it’s freakishly interesting for me as someone whose native language has developed to be very universal across the country, and because at this point I can’t not pay the attention. But generally I agree with most of language teachers and mentors and learners and what not that accent isn’t the primary thing to be paid attention to when teaching/learning a language. Pronunciation and language melody and being understandable to natives as much as possible – yes – but purely accent not necessarily. I guess it seriously can affect the self-esteem and create a lot of mental blocks for people, who not only have to focus on a load of grammar rules (usually dryly memorised by heart because some people just like tormenting others and/or themselves like that), but also on the mini details like the -ings, and then when they actually get to talk to someone in their target language they can’t because they’re scared that the other person will laugh at them or kill them because they said one word wrong. Not to mention when we’re talking children. And especially when the teacher herself can’t show how to say something properly, so that people maybe don’t even realise how it should sound actually. From what I know, a lot of people, not just me, are a bit puzzled why foreign language classes aren’t taught in the target language altogether. I think that would make it way easier for students to learn to pronounce these -ings. As it is, a single individual hardly gets to say more than a handful of example sentences they’ve learnt from the textbook, and the majority of the lesson, all the real teacher-students interaction, happens in Polish, in most schools anyway. When people don’t talk or listen, but instead fill in the gaps in the book and memorise useless crap, how can they learn the fun stuff like accents, or whatever really? And, most of all, I wonder why it’s not solely native speakers who teach their native languages. They do have a different perspective than someone who’s just learning this language, for sure, and may not understand some mistakes they make due to their first language’s structure, but overall I think the upsides outweigh the downsides here. And then there are also some people who just don’t hear mini differences like that in a foreign language, like our Sofi.

How about your school? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What’s the most difficult thing to define?

My answer:

Just very recently it struck me again how difficult a concept to define is self, and how ideas about what it is may vary depending on loads of things. Another such thing that also got me thinking a while back is consciousness. We talk so much in psychology and even in normal conversations about conscious, subconscious, unconscious, but it seems difficult to clearly define all that. Another such thing is pain, since there are multiple kinds of pains, and even within the same kind of pain everyone will experience it at least somewhat differently, and describe it differently as well, and we don’t even know how different these experiences are one from each other as there’s no objective way of experiencing or even measuring someone’s pain. There are all those adjectives to help describe it, like sharp, dull, pulsating, burning etc. etc. but I guess sometimes they may contribute to the confusion even more so, because what one person would describe as dull, another might not, even if the feeling is more or less the same. Oh, and it’s interesting with love, but not exactly because it’s hard to define in itself, but because so many languages lack words to describe all the different kinds of love you might feel. Like, I don’t get it, all Indoeuropean languages have taken so much from Greek, yet while there are multiple words for different kinds of love in the Ancient Greek language, I don’t know of any other European language that has that sort of distinction. And we were talking with my Mum a while back how it probably contributes to why so many people have trouble with this word and its understanding.

What’s such a thing that comes to your mind? ๐Ÿ™‚

2002 – “Cariad” (Love).

Hey guys! ๐Ÿ™‚

So yesterday I wrote about how this group’s music very often sounds kind of sensorily creepy to me, but the song by them that I’m going to share with you today sounds anything but creepy. What drew my attention to it is that it’s quite obviously inspired by the Welsh language, and as it seems especially the Welsh concept of cwtch. This enigmatically looking word, as you’ll figure out from the song, is pronounced cootch, and if we wanted to say what it means in English, we’d say a hug or a cuddle, except it’s something more than that. The situation here is very similar as with the Welsh word hiraeth, which is usually translated as longing, but the real feeling behind it is a lot more difficult to convey through English. If I understand it correctly, cwtch is a particularly safe, yet unreserved and containing type of hug, one you really invest yourself in. The cosy feeling behind it is kind of similar to the Danish hygge concept. But also, cwtch is a word that is particularly tied to the Welsh identity. I may well be wrong about it, and if I am and if there are any Welsh people that are gonna read it feel free to correct me (I don’t even live in Wales, after all), but I have a strong impression that while it’s both Welsh speakers and English-speaking Welsh people who use this word, it seems to be more frequently used by the latter, as a way of connecting with the language as part of their national identity even though they don’t speak it fluently or in daily life. I tend to hear it a lot more often when someone is speaking English, especially people from South Wales, so I have a feeling it’s more like a Wenglish word, especially that it actually comes from the Middle English word couche, meaning a resting or hiding place. The “tch” cluster is also not common in Welsh. Yet, somehow the cwtch is almost like a symbol of being Welsh, an essence of Welshness, and also one of the Welsh words that people from outside of Wales are most familiar with, if they’re familiar with any Welsh words. I guess only popty ping, meaning microwave, is more famous, except it doesn’t seem to really be in use, because the actual Welsh word for microwave is meicrodon. ๐Ÿ˜€ Kind of like with this village in Anglesey called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which everyone calls just Llanfairpwllgwyngyll or simply Llanfair PG, and the sesquipedalian official name, from what I understand, is only used for the sake of tourists.

Anyway, as a Welsh learner, I thought it was really cool that this American band embraced even just these two Welsh words, cariad (love, sweetheart) and cwtch, because this is such a small, plus endangered language, so I figure it’s always somehow heartening with languages like that when someone knows even a word. I also really like the angelic vocals of Sarah Copus in this piece.

Gwilym Bowen Rhys – “Hanes y Sesiwn yng Nghymru” (The Tale of the Session in Wales).

And for today, I chose a song from my other faza peep, Gwilym Bowen Rhys, from his album Detholiad O Hen Faledi I (A Selection of Welsh Ballads I). This is the first song on it, and one of a few quite hilarious ones on this album. It was written by the satirical poet and pamphleteer John Jones (1766-1821) better known under his bardic name Jac Glan-y-Gors, called so after his birth place, Glanygors in Denbighshire, and set to a traditional melody. It refers to the situation that happened in Wales after the Welsh act of union, when English became the official language of the country, but most people only spoke Welsh. The song takes place in 18th century when the linguistic situation is still the same. It tells the story of a rural Welsh court where people can’t really communicate effectively due to that barier, which the judge finds quite frustrating, and the whole thing is really comical.

Question of the day (17th June).

What is your biggest non-academic, non work-related accomplishment?

My answer:

Well, I think that would be my language learning achievements, especially when it comes to English and Welsh, as with Swedish I had a tutor for a long time so you could say it was kinda academic, but with English and Welsh I’ve been doing it mostly by myself. I did of course have English throughout my formal education, but, as I said many times before, I don’t feel like I learned anything more than just the basics this way, and anything else I wanted to achieve, I had to take care of myself, and only reached fluency in my last years of schooling when I had plenty of time to work on my English as I first had a year of individual education and then did schoolwork part-time and mostly from home. With Welsh, even though I don’t feel fluent yet at all, it feels like even more of an accomplishment because, even though I’m not fluent, I sort of doubted I could achieve even the level I’m at now, given the limited resources and their frequently limited accessibility and/or availability where I live.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day (11th June).

What is something you enjoy doing, but others don’t?

My answer:

I really like reading dictionaries, while it’s just flicking through them (with or without a specific purpose) or reading them as you would a novel. I find words extremely interesting and sensorily stimulating as I have several forms of lexical synaesthesia (lexical-tactile and lexical-gustatory). I don’t do it very often because accessibility of dictionaries isn’t very high as a general rule, I had a dictionary of foreign words/loanwords in Braille as a child but now no longer have it as it took up a lot of space that I could have used for other things, plus when I started to use technology more it became useless because if I’d really need to look up something in this dictionary it’s in public domain so I can very easily do it online. I also have some Swedish-Polish/Polish-Swedish dictionaries in normal print which I’ve also scanned so I can read them, but these scans are actually pretty bad and difficult to read so it’s often easier for me to go online and do research if I need to figure out some Swedish word and how it’s used. Then now that I have an iPhone I also have tons of English dictionaries on it, and a couple Welsh ones – one very detailed with all sorts of information you may need and quite confusing sometimes if you’re a learner, and the other a lot more concise. – But you can’t really go through a dictionary app on your phone as you can through an actual book, plus the Welsh ones are not overly friendly when you’re a screen reader user which is discouraging. Still, I do like reading/browsing through dictionaries when I can and I think I do it a lot more often than average, not just because I’m learning languages but out of plain curiosity.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What are you in the 1% of?

My answer:

I hardly care about percentages, but let’s think… The first thing that springs to my mind is that (touch wood) I’ve never really had a proper cavity, despite my dental hygiene being rather crappy most of the time and not caring overly about what I eat. My Mum says it’s a miracle, I’m more inclined to think it’s genetics ’cause my whole family have very healthy teeth. The reason why this springs to my mind first is that I recently actually chipped my tooth slightly, but at the same time must have been badly enough that it hurt. It wasn’t a terrible pain, but rather annoying and wouldn’t go away for about two weeks so I was rather concerned. I guess it’s now gotten used to being chipped ’cause it now only hurts very very slightly and occasionally and the dentist didn’t even see any problem with it on an X-ray, but I got quite freaked out by how suddenly and easily it chipped and didn’t know what was going on. At the same time, strangely enough, my other teeth also became temporarily more sensitive so I was seriously wondering whether perhaps my lucky time is over and now my teeth are decaying all at once. ๐Ÿ˜€ Which is a real scary prospect when you’re emetophobic, hate gagging and having things in your mouth which is unavoidable at the dentist’s. So I had a full mouth X-ray to see what’s going on in there and both the X-ray technician and then my dentist couldn’t stop saying how healthy my teeth are and how they’d like all their patients to have such teeth as me. ๐Ÿ˜€ Back when I was going to school and when my emetophobia was bad enough that I really struggled brushing my teeth, whenever we were told that we’d be having a dental checkup, which we’d typically learn right before it was about to happen, I’d just brush my teeth beforehand or if there wasn’t enough time just run to the loo and scrape my teeth with my finger until they felt smoother, and the dentist’s reaction was always the same: “Wow, you have very healthy teeth!” I’m so freakin’ grateful for it, I seriously feel for any people out there who are emetophobic or have other phobias that get in the way of dentist appointments and who have more trouble with their teeth. Or maybe life is merciful enough that bad teeth plus emetophobia just don’t happen together? Still, the whole experience and the fear around it did set my phobia back a fair bit. Which also means that again I have to take a break from working on my post about all things emetophobia ’cause I don’t want to make it even worse.

So yeah, I don’t know how many people don’t develop cavities, and also it still might happen to me, although obviously I really really hope it won’t, but still it seems like I’m in the minority.

Another thing is I often wonder how many people in Poland can communicate in Welsh on any level, and I’m actually very curious. Of course it’s a minority language to begin with and I don’t even know what percentage of people worldwide can speak it. What I’m even more curious of is, if we exclude any potential Welsh natives or Welsh people who acquired it later in life and can use it to some extend, who may live in Poland, and people of any other nationalities who were born in Wales and acquired the language there (or perhaps in Patagonia where it’s also spoken), and any Polish people who learned the language to whatever degree in an academic setting (you can study it here at one or two universities) or while living in Wales (there’s a big Polish minority), how many people are left who can speak it? Is my family very far off in thinking that it’s just Bibielle? ๐Ÿ˜€ I’d like to know if there are other people in this country who are learning it like me – non-academically and plain because they like it, without ever having been there, having family there or anything like that. – If I’m the only one, it’s cool because it’s quite hilarious as I’d be literally one in like 38 millions, lol, but it would be just as cool if there were other such weird individuals here ’cause the more the merrier, at least this is the case when we’re talking about an extinct language. I’ll surely be even more of a phenomenon when I start learning Sami or Frisian, as, as far as I know, there’s no way to study these languages here in Poland. I hope I can do this.

AVPD is quite rare, or at least rarely diagnosed, can’t remember how many percent now, if I ever knew it to begin with, but maybe it could be around 1%. Actually in Poland alone it’s very possible. Then I am also a synaesthete, and one of the types of synaesthesia I experience is lexical-gustatory, which is apparently the most rare. Google claims there are 2-4% of synaesthetes so perhaps this could count.

I’m also such a strange peep who hardly ever feels any smells unless very strong and chemical ones, and even then it’s more like I feel them at the back of my throat rather than in the nose, yet at the same time I can’t say I have any problems with taste and flavour, or if I do it’s towards the other extreme that I guess I’m overly sensitive to some flavours. I have totally no idea why that is, I know there’s such a thing as hyposmia/anosmia where you have little to no sense of smell but I guess those people don’t experience flavours either, plus these are medical conditions as far as I know and I can’t really say my smell anomaly impacts me in any negative way, I’d rather say it’s the opposite ’cause I don’t have to feel all the yucky smells of this world and don’t miss the beautiful ones as I don’t know/can’t recall them.

Also I don’t like some things which most people seem to like and it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t. For example I dislike Harry Potter. Not just because it’s not okay with my religion, but it just totally doesn’t interest me, I don’t like most of the modern fantasy genre I suppose. Same about Star Wars. Or Twilight, and all the other vampire stuff. I actually did give Twilight a fair chance and I totally see why people may find it appealing, but don’t share the excitement and don’t want to. I don’t like a lot of books that normal people do, or at least don’t see anything special in them.

Oh yeah , and on another note, I don’t like pizza. Don’t hate it, but don’t like it either, and it seems to be a very unpopular opinion, at least among people I know.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What’s one thing you absolutely want to do, given the chance, before you die?

My answer:

It’s nothing unpredictable for people who already know me. The thing I particularly want to do out of the things I want to do before I die category, is to, hopefully, learn all “my” languages to such a level that I can understand them without too much difficulty. I don’t know how realistic it’ll be, given that some of my languages are extincting, or already extincted and revived, and thus the amount of resources available to learn them is limited in comparison to, say, English, or even Swedish, and also I don’t like the idea of having a very long life. Plus there are other problems, including, but probably not limited to: because I am blind, the amount of resources shrinks even more; I live outside of the territories where these languages are spoken and with small languages like that it is a big deal, it may be difficult to find native speakers online, for example I still don’t know any Scottish Gaelic native, or a Sami one; some of them don’t have their own Braille alphabet and I do find it a lot easier when I can read and write in a language and not only listen, some don’t have good speech synths or none at all, for example there’s no Cornish speech synthesiser ’cause it doesn’t pay off for sure to make a synthesiser speaking a language that was once dead and then resurrected but still has like 500 speakers, and there are probably more things that can get in the way that I can’t think of right now. So while I don’t really know how well that will go in practice and how much of it is actually achievable and how much is just Bibiel’s lovely little dream like a lot of things have turned out to be, I’m going to do what I can do to make it work and to learn as many of them as possible. I’m doing quite well with Welsh, which is an endangered language, even though the beginnings were quite hopeless and infuriatingly frustrating, but that has been the case with every single language I was beginning to learn, so I’m taking the risk by being carefully optimistic about the rest that things will go well after some initial significant upheavals. We shouldn’t forget that technology also keeps developing so who knows, maybe those resources which aren’t accessible for me now will become later on.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What is the weirdest thing you have ever heard in a public place?

My answer:

I like to eavesdrop on people’s conversations discretely, but the only thing I can think of right now is from a few years back when we were at the beach, or actually walking back to the car from it, and we were passing two young people, a girl and a boy, who in turn were walking towards the beach. That is when I learned that north is actually west in English. Like, the word for west is “north”. ๐Ÿ˜€ My Mum doesn’t know English beyond some words and phrases she has passively absorbed from TV, music, technology, Sofi’s exercise books, me etc. but even she knows what north and west means in English and both of us were quite amused. These people could be like uni age or older, so they definitely must have had English at school and surely would already have covered things like directions, which, if I remember correctly, people normally learn in third grade in primary or so. That might give you a bit of an idea about the level of foreign language education in Polish schools, and how much attention is paid to people actually retaining and being able to use what they learn. The school way of teaching languages is pretty tragic, uninteresting and severely lacking in creativity. So I can’t even blame people. Of course student involvement is key too, but you won’t get a student involved if you won’t interest them with your subject, and few teachers care about that. My Sofi says it all the time that she is intimidated to say in her English class that she doesn’t understand something ’cause the teacher will be like “*sighs* But Sofi, what do you still not understand? I have already explained it!” It seems like most of her class must have some understanding problems as the vast majority takes extracurricular private lessons at a language school, which of course are paid. People who actually are interested for some reason (like this Bibiel here happened to be) are bored to tears in class and need to do everything on their own if they want to progress, which, I can imagine, can be discouraging for many, in fact, I myself started to dislike English as a subject quite early on, and wasn’t far from disliking it as a language at some point.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚