Nansi Richards – “Pwt ar y Bys” (A Bit on the Finger).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I have an interesting little polka piece (or should I say peas 😀 ) for you. I’ve read that it is originally Irish, but it is also known in the north of England, and obviously in Wales. But its history seems to be a bit tangled. Its Welsh title as you can see is Pwt ar y Bys, where pwt means something short or a little bit, so it’s supposed to be something short for the finger, and was apparently meant as a little exercise for harpists (though it’s not like it’s played only on the harp). Curiously, in England, this tune is known as Buttered Peas. The way it must have most likely happened is that some English folks heard it in Wales and heard that it’s called Pwt ar y Bys (poot are uh bees) and were like: “Eh? What? Aha, they’re saying buttered peas!” 😀 I’m not sure how Ireland is fitting into that picture, perhaps that bit of info I’ve got is incorrect, or perhaps it’s just the melody that originates from Ireland maybe some Welsh harpist came across it and “stole” it and gave it their own title. 

Question of the day.

   What’s a saying in your language that probably doesn’t have a straight-forward translation into other languages? 

   My answer: 

   Well, in my experience, when translating anything between Polish and English, it’s English that has more words that are untranslatable into Polish, simply because English has loads more words than Polish does. That being said, we do have a lot of sayings, also proverbs, idioms, colloquial or downright slangy words that are very handy yet don’t seem to have a straightforward translation into English, and as much as, when speaking Polish to a non-English speaker, I often sorely lack the huge amounts of weirdly specific and descriptive words that English has, on the other hand, when speaking English, I really feel the lack of all those very picturesque and often quite humourous and to the point sayings, idioms etc. of my native language. As you may know, I have always envied people who are multilingual since early childhood, but as my own language development keeps progressing, I am increasingly more inclined to believe someone I was once writing with who was raised bilingual, and who told me that being bilingual is not all amazing, because, according to him,   when you speak two or more languages fluently from a very early age, in a way you can’t develop either of them as well as a monoglot can, and you have gaps in each of them and mix them up a lot totally accidentally etc. I was raised monolingual, so that was not my experience, but now that my thinking is pretty equally divided between Polish and English, and my Swedish is also pretty strong, I think I am starting to see that myself. When I speak English, I still don’t know a lot of niche words or am unfamiliar with some structures, or make a lot of mistakes, or am just not sure how to express some very specific thing, or  like I said  lack some colourful idiom from my native language. But when I speak my native language, I find it increasingly difficult to resist the temptation of snobbishly throwing words from other languages in between or awkwardly calquing expressions from other languages, or otherwise it sometimes takes me ages to remember what something’s called in Polish which feels and appears ridiculous. Also I write a lot less in Polish these days than I do in English and sometimes I have an impression that ever since I’ve started writing loads in English, like blogging and having mostly English-speaking friends, my writing skills in Polish have degraded slightly but visibly, while I still haven’t developed as distinctive a writing style as I’ve had in Polish. I shared that observation with my grandad a few months ago and he said that perhaps this is evidence for why humans might not actually be built for being multilingual. It’s an interesting theory and could sort of make sense at the first glance, because in the past people rarely travelled so far that they’d need more than one language to communicate effectively with everyone, nonetheless I don’t believe in this theory one bit. AlSo yeah, linguistic dilemmas. But anyway, I’m digressing already before I’ve even managed to properly start answering the question. 😀 

   So, an untranslatable Polish saying? The first thing that comes to my mind is one that would literally translate to “to think about blue almonds”. At least on the surface, that may seem like the best literal translation for it, even though it’s not really right or exact but we’ll get to that in a minute. If you’re thinking about blue almonds, it means that you are dreaming, usually about something that isn’t very likely to come true, or, in any case, you are not doing anything to get closer to it coming true. It is also strongly associated with being idle and lazy, like, instead of doing what you’re supposed to do, for example doing your job so that you can eventually get a raise and gradually become richer and possibly very rich, you just sit there thinking about blue almonds, that is in this case  how cool it would be to be a billionaire and what you’d be doing if you were one, but you’re not even trying to increase the likelihood of it happening. I’ve also heard it used several times to signify something more like zoning out, for example, you’re in the middle of doing something, and then you stop in the midst of it and suddenly appear deep in thought, so someone might ask you what you’re thinking about and you could say: “Oh,  just thinking about blue almonds”, meaning that you’d simply zoned out and weren’t thinking about anything in particular at all or just mind wandering or something. But generally it’s most basic meaning I’d say is idle, lazy daydreaming of very unlikely or perhaps utopian things. 

   But why blue almonds, actually? Well, the thing is that they aren’t really blue. The Polish word for blue (niebieski) also has another meaning – “heavenly”. – It is much less commonly used, these days you’d mainly see it in religious texts like the Bible (lol my Mac is so brainwashed by me already that it autocorrects Bible to Bibiel 🤣 ) or hymns or prayers (so essentially in Polish Heavenly Father means the same as blue father, and I remember that when I was little I found that really odd) or such, or otherwise perhaps astronomy-related stuff where it would mean “celestial”. I guess it’s because the word for heaven (niebo) is the same as sky in Polish, and well, the sky is blue. Or perhaps there’s a more logical reason behind that. So technically the almonds aren’t really supposed to be blue, but heavenly. But since “niebieski) is more  commonly used as meaning blue these days, most people think the almonds in the saying are actually blue and interpret it as to think/daydream about something very weird/fantastical/surreal, ‘cause blue almonds don’t exist. Apparently, in the past centuries, the Polish word for almond (migdał) was also used to mean something delicious, perhaps a bit sumptuous, exotic, luxurious, that you didn’t eat every single day. So I guess a more fitting literal translation would really be something like “to think about heavenly delicacies”. 

   Or am I wrong in assuming that this doesn’t have an English equivalent? If so, please do enlighten me.

   . How about you? Or if you’re not sure what sayings from your language are or are not translatable to others, what’s your favourite saying in your native language? 🙂 

Question of the day (6th September).

   Let’s finally do some questions of the day, ‘cause there haven’t been any in a LONG time, I just don’t seem to have a lot of ideas anymore and not even my Mum is of much help. 😀 

   What’s a mispronunciation that sends you into fits of rage? 

   My answer: 

   Mispronunciations generally tend to rub me the wrong way, at least when a person doesn’t realise that it’s a mispronunciation and/or if it’s particularly glaring, because sometimes deliberate mispronunciation can be a fun way of playing with language or expressing things and I do that myself at least in Polish. But, whenever the topic of mispronunciation, misspellings or bad grammar comes up in any other of my languages, I feel kind of awkward because, yeah, I always have a radar on for such things no matter the language as long as I am good enough in a language to notice them, which can be quite annoying in itself because you focus on such details which most people don’t seem to care about and get distracted from the actually important thing, and then you’re further driven up the wall specifically by someone mispronouncing something. But, in English, I am just learning the language myself, so it feels weird for me to talk about English speakers’ – native or not – language mistakes, because obviously I make them too, so it seems kind of jerky or conceited to me, as if I was making a statement about their English in general that it’s worse than mine or something, even though it’s not at all what I mean. And what if their pronunciation is actually some uncommon regional variety or something? So I generally prefer to keep my acquired-language pronunciation irks to myself. But if I was to talk about Polish mispronunciations here it wouldn’t really be relevant for people and I’d have a lot of explaining to do. 

   One thing that I am sure is wrong and that I hear loads of, especially native, English speakers say, is “ek cetera’ instead of et cetera, as in etc. It almost seems like more people say it wrong than right, so perhaps, since language is a living thing, over time this will become the alternative proper pronunciation of this, but it would be a real bummer, because it just makes no sense. It’s not ect or ecc, after all, is it? I even used to have a Welsh English speech synthesiser back on Windows which always pronounced it like that, and it boggles my mind how no one even noticed it in the process of making it or anything, I mean it seems a fairly easy and obvious thing to catch and rather glaring in a speech synthesiser, and I assume it must have been the way the person doing the recordings pronounced it because the other Welsh English speech synthesiser from the same company pronounced it correctly. I wonder why, if this phrase is clearly difficult to get right for people, possibly because they can’t really associate it with anything in their minds that would make it feel logical, there isn’t an equally or more common English equivalent, I mean such that wouldn’t be a direct loan-phrase. I guess phrases like “and so on/and so forth” don’t seem to be used as frequently. In Polish we do use et cetera, but it generally sounds very sophisticated and intellectual, like something that someone very educated would say, or perhaps in literature or something like that, sometimes for a humourous/satirical effect as well although lately “etc.” has become more common online/in texting because of English. But generally, we have our own phrase for that. 

   I also used to be really irked by people pronouncing niche as “nitch”, because to me something about it just sounds gross, like some kind of yucky insect or other bug, or a common name for some gross skin condition that involves a lot of itching, my synaesthetic associations with it are awful too but better let’s not get there lol. And I used to think that the only true pronunciation is “neesh” which is so much nicer obviously because it almost sounds like Misha except it has N instead of M and no A. 😀 And for my synaesthetic brain it looks like some sort of stained glass that I don’t really know how to describe, and it tastes like dry wine which perhaps isn’t something I necessarily like but it certainly tastes lots better than “nitch”. But then I learned that not only is “nitch” just as okay to say as “neesh” but also that it has been a thing a lot earlier in English than “neesh”. 

   Your turn. 🙂 

Agnete – “Linna Giella” (Soft Language).

   Since recently I’ve shared quite a few Sámi songs, why not share another one today. I heard this song yesterday for the first time on NRK P1, and I really liked it right away. Agnete, who is also known as Agnete Johnsen, Agnete Johnsen Saba or Agnete Saba, is a Sámi singer from Norway, who might be known to non-Norwegian audience for representing her country in 2016 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Icebreaker.

   This song is about her love for her mother tongue, North Sámi. I found some Norwegian translation of it where the title is translated as soft language, but I have no way of verifying it. 

Question of the day.

   What is your best insult, without using curse words? 

   My answer: 

   Well, one insult that me and Sofi use literally translates to English as “Roll a candy drop” (Turlaj dropsa in Polish, in case you’re curious). I have to say though that it wasn’t either of us who was so creative and made it up. Sofi used to have a friend with whom she had a really stormy relationship. They were friends for life a couple months, going everywhere together, sharing each other’s deepest secrets, what not, and then after those couple months something ridiculously insignificant would make them worst enemies, or at least the way it looked like from where I am sitting was that that other girl would blow something out of proportion and get absolutely incredibly mad at Sofi compared with the level of her guilt (like being late to the park where they were supposed to meet), but perhaps if I were to hear both parts of the story maybe Sofi did also contribute to the drama in some real, meaningful way, I don’t know. Anyway, as soon as she’d go mad, instead of just leaving Sofi alone like a reasonably thinking person would (if I’m THAT furious at someone, why would I want to talk to them?) she kept drowning Sofi’s phone relentlessly with quite unsavoury texts, unsavoury especially given her age, and most of them, especially the first ones, quite unoriginal and laughable. Sofi wasn’t worried or anything, but understandably was quite angry, and it doesn’t take much to set Sofi off, so she found it very hard to resist responding to those texts as they came, despite Mum and me repeatedly told her not to and were wondering why she didn’t block her right away. Anyway, further down the road, her texts have become somewhat more creative, some of these expressions that she threw at Sofi neither of us had ever heard before. I’m pretty sure that neither had she and she just looked on the Internet for “how to diss someone” or something like that. And at some point she told Sofi to “roll a candy drop”. Sofi knows a lot of slang words, but she didn’t know that one and it had both of us in stitches. Turns out it simply means fuck off, but why?! Why roll a candy drop?! I’ve no idea. It just seems like the most random thing someone could come up with. Not that I have a problem with that, Sofi and me also make up random code words for stuff, it’s just weird and funny. So we would say that a lot to each other, of course more in a playful way, to make each other laugh, rather than to actually tell the other one to fuck off, though occasionally that would be the case as well. After a few months of radio silence, Sofi’s hot-blooded “friend” resurfaced again, all apologetic, asking her if they could be friends again. They had tons of stuff to talk about and Sofi felt like they were on the same wavelength, so after some initial resistance and, again, despite absolutely everyone was telling her to quit that, she decided to meet up with her and the cycle began all over again, with them being the best friends in the world for a few months and then parting in a dramatic way. But while they were still friends that second time, Sofi asked her where she got that “roll a candy drop” from and she confirmed that she got it from the Internet. When they broke up their “friendship” the second time, Sofi was racking her brain for some equally random and funny insult that would also still sound equally legit as an insult as “roll a candy drop” does. So eventually she came up with “Roll a lollipop” (except in Polish the word roll is two distinct words in “roll a candy drop” vs “roll a lollipop”, I don’t know, maybe it should be something different in English too, but I’m not sure what would fit best… twist? Spin?) So she told her to go roll/twist/spin a lollipop and that’s pretty much the end of the story as far as I know. But we still use both, with one another and with other people as well. Sofi often tells her school mates to roll a lollipop if they annoy her or something but she doesn’t want a drama to blow up, so this is a pretty easy way for her to insult them without them knowing, they’re just like: “What???” Later we also tried making up other such insults, involving some verb and a food item, but the only other one that has actually survived to this day and is in use for very special occasions is the seemingly most trivial – “Eat bread!” – And this is also Sofi’s creation, and it’s also her who came up with how exactly it’s supposed to be used. If Sofi tells you to eat bread, things are not good. Unlike drop candies and lollipops, the “eat bread” one is not used when you’re simply mad at someone and don’t want to have to do with them, whether temporarily or ever again. You tell people to “Eat bread”, for example, when you’re really disappointed, or disgusted, about something they did. Maybe you expected a lot more, or maybe something they did was really immoral or just insanely dumb or cringey so that you no longer really feel like associating with them. It could of course also be an angry insult but more like cold angry than drops candies and lollipops are. You don’t shriek it out loud, you just say it in a low, kind derisive tone, or that’s at least how Sofi usually does it and she created it so I guess she gets to say how it’s supposed to be said as well. It’s more scornful than insulting really, like a veiled way of saying that you’re almost nobody, or something along those lines. Hence we never tell one another to eat bread, we thankfully never had such very bad  relationship with each other. Sofi says it’s bread because, well, bread is something that everyone eats, most people do almost every day and it’s just a normal thing, while drop candies and lollipops are candies and most people consider them good rather than neutral things. So if you tell someone to eat bread, they don’t even deserve to roll drop candies or lollipops, they’re just good enough for bread. Not sandwiches, not toasts, just bread. 

   What’s such an insult that you use? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What’s a ridiculously fun word to say? 🙂 

   My answer: 

   Oh my flip! This is gonna be a long post, no matter how hard I try! 😀 There are so many fun words! And, which language are we talking about? Whenever I think about stuff like this, I always have extreme trouble thinking about just ONE word, even if one for each language that I have any  idea about. Because really, there are so many words that feel fun to say, and fun in all sorts of different ways. And English is particularly difficult because it has such insane amounts of words, which can not only sound fun but also be so weirdly specific in what they mean. Also, I suppose that when most people think of words that are either fun or beautiful, they think words that aren’t used that often, whereas for me, a fun word can be something that’s part of daily vocabulary, for example ever since I learned about the English word pillow, I really love it and I think it’s so cute. And I’ve already wrote of my love for the English word sleep. Both English and Swedish have such a weird quality to them that they have so many words that sound absolutely cute and that are in regular use and I really like it. In the past, I even used to do rankings of my favourite words for each language I knew – so then it was Polish, English and Swedish – because I wanted to keep them all in one place or something, so I’d do yearly rankings for that. But there are too many cool words, and also I finally realised that a ranking isn’t perhaps the best way for me to keep track of anything, because as my brain doesn’t really do numbers, it only made things more complicated when I had to think which word I like more and put them in such very specific order. 

   So, I think rather than sitting here for hours and thinking about my ABSOLUTE most favourite English word, I’ll just tell you about one that I learned about quite recently, and it’s jackanapes! Does anyone still even use it?! :O I mean spontaneously of course? I wonder if an average English native speaker even know what it means? I’m very curious, but if you don’t, I’ll tell you that from what I learned it’s a fancy word for someone who’s misbehaving, or being mischievous, or downright impertinent. I’m nnot sure though if it’s supposed to have more of an insult vibe or is used in a lighter, joking context. Being a Jackophile , I love how English has so many jac- words, and so many of them are slangy and quite funny or quirky. Like, apparently in Ireland people use “the jacks” to mean toilet! 😀 I love it! 

   I think I already wrote about it in some distant past on here that one of my very favourite Polish words is mózg (MOOZG, though actually when pronouncing it on its own like that the zg goes unvoiced so it’s practically MOOSK) which means brain. No other language I know has a word for brain that would be equally or more satisfying to say than this. I generally find the brain fascinating, I like the word mózg, so I end up using it a lot, just like I do in English, even when most people would rather use mind or soul or head or something like that. For example in Polish I usually wash my brain rather than hair, which some people find extremely funny. Back when I was in college/high school/whatchamacallit in your country, I once let my Math tutor in and she had something she wanted to tell my Mum straight away, but I told her that unfortunately, right now my Mum’s washing her brain (meaning hair of course) which at first really puzzled her, and then after a while she started laughing like she never heard a better joke. When I have a migraine or a normal headache I also say in Polish that my brain’s aching. The English brain sounds not very cool though, it has an odd texture and tastes like plastic. Swedish hjärna and Norwegian hjerne are cool and quite passable but nowhere near as cool as mózg, and the Welsh ymenydd is incredibly bland. 

   In Swedish, one of my many favourite words which I learned quite early on and fell in love with passionately is krimskrams, which means knick-knack. It’s so cute! I also really love the Polish equivalent which is bibelot. It almost sounds like Bibiel! 😀 I don’t care about the English word though, because while all these words clearly sound like what they mean – something that’s not very practically useful and just gathering dust, at least the Swedish and Polish words sound like these things hold some emotional value to the owner, while knick-knack doesn’t give such a vibe, at least not to me. – 

   In Welsh, I love pilipala, which is one of several Welsh words meaning butterfly, it’s extremely cute. And the Swedish equivalent, fjäril, is so stunning and has very distinct tangerine flavour to it! The English word is quite disgusting though. And I’m fairly neutral about the Polish equivalent – which is motyl – it sounds like motility or something like that. 😀 I don’t have any stronger feelings about the Norwegian sommerfugl when it comes to its sound, but it means summer bird so that’s quite nice. Also when it comes to Welsh, I love the word achafi for how expressive it is, it’s not a swearword or even close to that but it can be loaded with so much expression that it can almost feel like one at times. Honestly though, after so many years of Welsh learning, I’m not perfectly sure whether it’s actually a proper Welsh word, or more of a Wenglish invention, that is something that’s actually originated among Welsh people whose dominant language was English, because most often when I hear it it’s thrown into English. Anyways, it means yuck, and from what I’ve noticed it isn’t only used when something is yuck, but also when you disapprove or feel indignant of what someone’s doing or when something generally doesn’t go quite the way you’d like. 

   Also, now that we’re talking about fun-sounding words, after I’ve mentioned one of my first loves in the Swedish language, and after having read Ashley Leia’s post about the versatility of the word fuck not long ago, I am reminded of another of my early infatuations in the Swedish language, namely, the word knulla, or, more exactly, knullar, which is the present tense of this amazing-sounding verb, as that was the form in which I heard it for the first time, being about 10-11 years old and totally unaware of it. I had just started learning Swedish not long ago, and, just like I did before I started learning, I loved to watch Swedish movies just to hear the language. I am not and never was a movie person, and I hardly focused on the actual movie, it’s plot line and all that, I just listened to the language, relished it and tried to understand as much as I could. And one day my Dad told me there’d be a Swedish movie on the telly in the evening, and we watched it together. I have no idea what movie it was and don’t remember what was going on in it at all. I only remember that it was something quite old, historical I think, and there was a dude who was yelling at what I think was a young woman/girl, and he used this word, and it sparked my attention right away, ‘cause it sounded so lovely and the more I thought about it, the more I loved it. “Knullar…” I was so excited about this new word that for the rest of this movie, I couldn’t focus on anything else. Then I went upstairs to enjoy and savour this new found word in the privacy of my room. I wonder, if any Swede would have seen me then, sitting on my desk, happily swinging my legs and stimming/“sensorisming” away with my fingers while repeating the word “knullar” to myself, what would they have thought of me. 😀 Thousands of different ideas went through my brain as I thought what this lovely, cute-sounding word could mean. To the tactile synaesthetic bit of my brain, it looked like a very flimsy-looking, small flower with very gentle, small, kind of velvety leaves. But it sounded like kötbullar (meatballs) and tasted like grilled cheese to the gustatory synaesthetic bit of my brain, so I figured it could be some kind of dish. I knew it probably wasn’t that for real, but I really liked the idea. Bulle (plural bullar) is bun, kötbulle (plural kötbullar) is meatball, so knulle could be some kind of cheesy ball or something. You could have some food place called Knullar, Bullar & Kötbullar, I thought. LOL if only I knew…! 😂 And then I entertained myself with thinking about what exactly these knullar could be, what they’d be made of other than cheese and how they would taste.

   Every time I had my Swedish lesson, my tutor would give me time where I could ask him all sorts of Swedish questions, be it about language or culture or whatever, that was unrelated to the topic of the lesson itself. So during our first lesson after my knullar discovery, I happily asked him about this beautiful word, and was very surprised with his odd reaction. First he went totally quiet for what felt like ages, so I wondered if perhaps he doesn’t know what it is but doesn’t want to show his ignorance, but that didn’t make sense as it had happened before that he wouldn’t know something I asked him about and had no problem admitting that. So I wondered maybe I didn’t get that word right and the guy in the movie actually said something else. But it felt kind of awkward. Finally he asked me in what still felt a rather odd way, where I came across this word, so obviously I told him in a movie, and then he calmly explained to me what the word knullar, or rather knulla, as that’s the infinitive form of this word, means, namely that it means to fuck. Now that was quite a surprise! Now that I’ve known this for years it’s normal to me but then I remember being really shocked because it totally didn’t sound to me like what it meant. And while I still think it sounds quite endearing, after I learned that, it lost a lot of its initial appeal. As far as I’m aware and from what I’ve noticed, it’s only used in the sexual context, you wouldn’t use the word knulla to mean fuck as in “fuck you” or anything like that. At least I’ve only heard it used in this one context and I’m pretty sure it’s considered quite vulgar and heavy. But once I managed to get over the shock and accept the truth, I did have a good laugh at it. 

   And, speaking more interlinguistically, I think the word mishmash, which as far as I know exists in many different languages, is very fun to say. Speaking of mish- words I alsoo like the English mishap, and I seriously used to think it’s pronounced MEE-shap. But I like it still, even though it’s not. 

   What’s such word(s) for you? In any language(s)? 🙂 

(Almost) ten things I am really good at.

   It feels like, ever since I’ve got my Mac, I haven’t really posted anything longer. But now I’m mostly used to all the basic stuff on it, and have figured out how to blog from it, so I figured I’d finally do some journalling prompt-inspired post now. 

   I am going to go with a prompt from the book called 200+ Journal Prompts for the Mind, Body and Soul by Riley Reigns and the prompt I chose to do is as follows: 

   What are 10 things you are really good at? 

   I have to say that these kinds of prompts aren’t really easy for me and I don’t really like them, because I never know what to respond with. I mean, sure, we’re all good at something, have some good traits etc. But I usually have a hard time coming up with things and also even though I’m normally not a perfectionist, I feel like I’d have to be significantly good at something to include it in a list like this. But, I decided to take it as a little challenge and see how it goes and if I can actually come up with ten things. So, here we go: 

  1.    Language stuff. As I frequently say, I don’t believe there’s such a thing as language talent. You simply have to like a language and find a learning method that suits your particular brain architecture, because when you like something, it’s easier. Or at least the difficult aspects of it are a lot less daunting than they were if you hated it, and you have a lot more motivation. I feel for people who have to learn a language they dislike or feel meh about, for school or for business purposes or due to emigrating or whatever else. That being said, I think there is an area in language learning that is definitely easier if you have a bit of a talent for it, and that is picking up the sounds. And I feel lucky in this aspect too. It used to really surprise me how people often don’t hear the difference between sounds in a language that are similar yet, to me at least, clearly different. But it seems to happen to people frequently so I feel really privileged that I hear those things, it makes learning languages a lot easier. Often it also means that I have it easier to reproduce these sounds even though they may not be a part of my native language, though sometimes it may still take time for it to sound natural and other times I may be able to differentiate sounds in someone’s speech but be clueless as for how the flip they make a particular sound, like I don’t think I would ever be able to speak Danish convincingly, although I’ve been told that apparently getting drunk and speaking Swedish is a successful strategy for some people but I don’t even drink at all these days so thank God that I’m not in love with it or have never had a faza from Denmark or I’d have a huge problem. Even in Swedish, they have a sound called Viby-I, or Lidingö-I, which is a variation of your usual ee sound except it’s definitely not the same. It’s something that used to only exist in some rural areas  but now, for whatever reason, it’s common in Stockholm and Gothenburg and is considered a posh thing. I was always taught that the letter I is pronounced as ee in Swedish, just like it is in Polish, except I would so often hear people pronouncing it in a way that sounded really odd to me especially when the I was long. Even when I got myself a proper Swedish speech synthesiser, she also pronounced the ee like that. I once asked my Swedish teacher about it but he seemed like he didn’t know what on Earth I was talking about. It bothered me, because it felt like if I can’t reproduce a sound that seems so common in Swedish and that people use all the time even in the media, I ca’t be like a really really good Swedish speaker, but eventually I just let it go, because I saw that some people don’t do it at all, so it can’t be a huge crime if I can’t, plus it doesn’t really sound all that cool. I once saw someone online describing it that it sounds as if you have a bit of peanut butter stuck in your throat, which is quite accurate imo. 😀 The normal ee sounds a lot better. But then I started learning Welsh and I was particularly interested in North Welsh, which has a very similar, but not quite the same, sound for the letter U. So if I wanted to sound properly North Welsh I just had to figure it out. It took me some time but for some reason was a bit easier for me than the Swedish I even though the difference there is very slight. And once I figured out the Welsh u, I was also able to do the Viby-I as well. Although I don’t really like it so it’s not how I actually speak Swedish, I don’t think it fits me at all and it feels kind of exaggerated. Also what I mean by “language stuff” is that I, at least in my native language, have quite an extensive vocabulary. People always say that to me and people in my family always come to me when they don’t know what some word means or aren’t sure how to say something. 😀 I really do like words and word play and learning new words and using them in interesting ways, and creating my own words. 
  2.     Judging people’s characters, observing people and analysing what I know about them. I don’t often feel like I am as good at it as some people tell me I am, like my grandad who goes as far as calling me X-Ray lol, mostly because i feel there’s so much I always miss because of not being able to see, as people always send so many visual cues about themselves – appearance, clothing, facial expressions, body language, gestures  – that are important, and sometimes not being able to pick up on those cues can skew the whole picture completely. But if we put all my limitations into consideration, i guess I’m quite good at it indeed. I like to rely on this skill a lot in my interactions with fellow human beings, as I always find them – the interactions, not necessarily the human beings as such, collectively – difficult, and having as many cues as you can is always helpful to some degree.  Plus, people are generally quite interesting and so complex and multi-dimensional. The variety in people’s personalities fascinates me quite a lot. Sometimes it works as a sort of defence mechanism as well. The downside to it is that when you use something like that a lot and it often works well, you might lose vigilance at some point and rely  on this too much, and it won’t always be right. I now know that my judgment isn’t always right and that I always have to keep it at the back of my mind that there’s a possibility that some or all of my assumptions are wrong, but I had to learn it through experience. 😀 
  3.     Listening. I like to listen to other people. Their problems, their stories, their fascinations. I like to listen about how they feel. And I believe a lot of people like to share their stuff with me because they often tell me things that I would consider personal, or. ask me for advice or something. And I’m happy about it, because often I feel like this is the only substantial way in which I am able to help other people, so it makes me feel useful. I’m not sure why people like me so much as a listener, other than that I’m an introvert and introverts are apparently generally considered good listeners (which I don’t think is a rule) but I’ve heard it a lot that people find it easier to talk about personal or difficult stuff when they’re not looked at and I can relate to that myself as well very much. So it makes total sense to me . I am often able to perceive when someone’s looking at me, particularly if they’re doing it in a very persistent way, and more like staring actually, though it’s not like I can feel it always, and sometimes I feel like someone is looking at me even though it ends up not being true. But I really don’t like talking to people about stuff that I feel kind of emotional about when they are looking at me, so I can understand that they might find it easier to talk to me than anyone else because I don’t look at their expressions. Also, listening to other people  saves me from talking a lot myself, or from having to deal with people focusing their attention on me. A lot of introverts don’t like to talk about themselves. I can’t say I always don’t, because with people I like and feel some common ground with, I like to talk about myself, but only when I want it, not when I’m forced to do so by circumstances and the expectation to do small talk, so in such situations I’d much rather listen. And you can learn a lot of interesting things this way. Sometimes, it gives you a totally new perspective on someone and their life than you’d have otherwise. Sometimes, when you have a lot going on in your own brain, listening to others is difficult and quite daunting, but I usually try not to show it too much unless I really feel that my brain can’t deal with someone else’s shit on top of my own and no one is going to benefit from this. I appreciate it that people consider me a good enough listener to come with their joys and struggles to me, and I try to be helpful and as attentive as I can. 
  4.     Avoiding people and scary situations. Well, I have AVPD for a reason I guess. 😀 I can be really creative and go to great lengths where avoidance is concerned. I can go as far as going out at night barefoot and in my PJ’s onto the terrace covered in snow and wallow in it to get sick and avoid going to school the next day. 😀 I hate peopling passionately and, as regular readers of my blog will know, I have lots of anxieties and phobias, big and small, so there’s lots of things that I avoid regularly and have a lot of strategies to do it and do it successfully most of the time. If I decide not to avoid something, it’s usually for someone else’s benefit, for example I go to some family gatherings because I know that there are some people in my family who are so weird that they’d blame my Mum if I didn’t go, or my grandad would be worried that I’m having a migraine or disappointed that I didn’t come, and I care about my Mum and grandad. 
  5.     Not eating, or perhaps I should say dealing well with hunger mentally, because I’d been so good with not eating in the past that I no longer am as good. As a lexical-gustatory synaesthete, I really love food. I can be picky with what I like, but generally, I love food. Yet, I don’t seem to have as much of a problem with not eating as many people seem to have. I’ve noticed that stuff like not eating for a day scares many people, or blows their minds as something that they wouldn’t be able to do or would never ever want to do for any reason. For me, of course it’s not pleasant or fun, but it’s absolutely not a huge problem. Whenever I’m under a lot of stress, especially if it’s something temporary rather than more chronic, I tend to eat very little, if at all, and what little I do eat I have to just force into myself. It’s because I usually have nausea when I’m really stressed or anxious, but also it feels like all my energy goes towards dealing with the stress, and all the other functions freeze for the time being so even if I’m not nauseated I rarely have any appetite, or simply forget about eating. It doesn’t even have to be stress, can be strong positive excitement or a lot of changes, good or bad, going on. It’s only after everything’s over that I start to feel super-weak and ravenously hungry and usually eat something like a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar in one go. When I was a kid and teen I also had a few extended periods where I’d be unable to eat much if anything at all during the day because of generalised anxiety and the accompanying nausea, or emetophobia (fear of vomit). I also had times as a teenager when I wouldn’t eat as a way of self-harming or solely because I didn’t like having needs like that and it made me feel out of control, or I’d eat very irregularly and sometimes very little, and sometimes a lot. I still struggle with eating when something triggers my emetophobia really badly, and still sometimes have times where I have a control or self-loathing issue with eating, or other times I’m so engrossed and absorbed with something really fascinating that food is the last thing on my mind until I go back to normal earthly functioning or start to feel so weak that I can’t ignore it any longer. Also, as a Traditional Catholic, fasting is something I’m very much used to and something very normal to me. I know some people, like our Sofi, for whom fasting is a big sacrifice and they find it really difficult to resist not eating, but for me, while of course it’s an inconvenience, it’s not a huge one. Just enough to be a bit of a challenge but not like: “Uhhh no, it’s Ash Wednesday again!” Or anything like that. However, I feel that all my eating troubles have screwed me up a little physically. Because now I’m generally unable to eat larger portions, or even just normal-adult-people portions, of food in one go. Or if I do, I feel ridiculously full ridiculously quickly. On the other hand, while I can mentally deal well with hunger and fasting, physically it’s sometimes different, because often if I don’t eat at all for a full day, I’ll start feeling real weak and wobbly towards the end of the day and it’ll get a lot worse towards the morning and I’ll barely be able to drag myself out of bed and it feels kind of scary because even standing is exhausting and feels like I’m going to pass out and I really don’t know if I’d live alone how I’d even make myself food in such condition so I’m so glad I have a Dad who can make me sandwiches in the middle of the night. 😀 I also had this weird thing going on even when I was little, but it was a lot less frequent, only when I was ill at the same time or something, so I suppose my shitty eating habits must have exacerbated something that I have a natural tendency to or something like that. Therefore, these days I no longer do full-day fasts, even when it’s actually an obligatory fasting day, I just do intermittent fasting, otherwise it’s rather counterproductive and it’s obviously not the point of it. Even with intermittent fasting I have to be careful and not too ambitious and if I start to feel weak I eat something, even if it’s something small as it’ll usually do the trick and see me through the rest of the day. Now that my migraines have become more frequent and easier to trigger, I also have to watch out for that if I don’t eat for a longer period of time, as not eating can be a trigger, and if that’s what has triggered it and I manage to eat something before it develops fully, I may even manage to nip it in the bud without any medication. Oh yeah, and speaking of migraines, when I have a full-blown one, I always have awful nausea, so I never eat when having a migraine either unless I end up feeling weak like what I describe, and when it happens during a migraine it’s really shitty because you’re already drained because of a migraine, and you’re so nauseated that the last thing you feel like doing is eating, yet you have to eat because otherwise you’ll keep feeling more and more drained, and when you do eat you feel even more drained because when you’re already drained to begin with, eating’s more draining. 😀 Ohhh yeah and add emetophobia into the mix. SO yeah, these days, I’m rubbish physically at not eating, but hunger itself isn’t really a significant inconvenience for me on a mental level. 
  6.     Misha. Yeah you can probably tell by this that I’m running out of ideas. So I asked Sofi, and that was the first thing she said. I asked her what she means by me being good at Misha, but she couldn’t quite explain. 😀 So yeah, let’s say I’m good at Misha. It sounds like a perfect thing to put on your CV! 😀 Well, I have a good relationship with Misha, though naturally he has best relationship with Mum because she’s like his Mum too and he always seeks contact with her the most and misses her most when she’s away, and, more important than that, she’s his main food provider, so he just associates her with food, and food is his meaning in life. But we do have a very good relationship and we often sense each other’s feelings and states of mind. If he associates all of us with something, then I’d say he most likely associates me with sleep, because we often sleep together and he often sleeps in my room during the day and there’s lots of places for him to choose in my room where he wants to sleep and everything’s designed especially for him. Communication with Misha, in particular understanding his needs, is rather challenging for me, because he’s generally not very fond of touch or closeness, and his language is mostly movements and facial expressions, so it’s usually my Mum who will pick up way faster and easier what he wants or if he’s feeling physically poorly. Yet there are things with which I feel like I may get him better than other people here, though we’ll of course never know for sure. I can usually spot when he’s feeling anxious or distressed with something based on his behaviour quite easily, and when I can touch him his muscles are all tense and twitchy then. I think I can pick up on Misha’s moods fairly well but I don’t really know what that’s based on, guess just my intuition mostly though he does tend to be more vocal when he’s happy or playful and they’re of course happier sounds then. And, as much as Misha isn’t into closeness with humans, with me he’s more physically affectionate than anyone else here. He has his very complex routines around sleep, and when he sleeps here in my room and I’m with him, he won’t settle unless I give him at least a small treat and lay down on the bed. Then when he’s finished eating, he’ll very slowly and carefully go on the bed as well and go on top of me. He’ll put his head next to mine and gently sniff my, hair, then my cheeks. If he’s in a particularly exuberant mood, he’ll even try to lick my cheek, but I’mm not overly fond of that so I don’t really let him. This whole licking and sniffing business only started a year or two ago. Then he’ll start kneading me and eventually will lay on my chest or tummy, and then he’ll silently yet forcefully demand an in-depth head, ear, nasal bridge, cheekbone and chin massage, purring louder than he normally does. This is still not as loud as your usual cat purr, but it’s very loud and powerful for Mish standards. Sometimes this whole session lasts just five minutes, other times even half an hour and we both end up having a nap until Misha wakes up with a start, horrified at the extreme weakness and softiness he has shown, picks up what’s left of his dignity and slowly moves onto the blanket, as far from me as possible, and starts the kneading all over again, or rather, as Sofi calls it, sleep-waltzing. Then it’s grooming time, after which he still sometimes wants to copulate with my feet no matter how much I discourage it, although he’s way better now with this than when he was younger, and then, provided that everything goes to plan, little Misha falls asleep. But if I dare  get up from the bed, or even move to much, he’ll jump off and go sleep somewhere else and there’s no coming back. When he’s very sleepy or upset, the whole sniffing and massage and sleeping on Bibiel part is left out, but if I’m here I still have to be with him on the bed ’til he falls asleep. Of course, he normally won’t do it either when someone else is in my room, now that would be too much of a disgrace, right? But my Mum has managed to catch us like that a couple times and apparently she’s never seen Misha with an equally blissful expression on his face. As much as he loves Mum, he rarely lies with her, because she doesn’t like it for some reason, and she never allows it at night. So when she does sometimes have a whim to have a nap with Misha under the duvet, she usually ends up regretting it, because he scratches her legs (I think he does it in his sleep actually but it must be painful nevertheless) and feels strongly attracted to her feet as well, which always ends with her calling him a pervert and kicking him out. So yeah, maybe I’m good at Misha, whatever that means. 
  7.     Not vomiting. I’m forever grateful that I’ve got a brain like this, which, most likely, blocks me from vomiting. Apparently that’s the case with a lot of emetophobics, and it seems to be with me too. And even if it’s not, otherwise I’m good at avoiding situations that could lead to vomiting. I’m gonna assume that I’m both. 
  8.    Ummm… what else…? Sofi says playing BitLife, but I think she’s biased here because she knows no one else who plays BitLife other than herself and me and to her I’m the ultimate BitLife player who knows everything about the game and does more than just endless crime (which is what Sofi does). I do like BitLife, even though I no longer play it as much as I did at the beginning when I heard of this game. I have an impression that BitLife is getting worse now, but it’s still fun to play once in a while. And I know people who are much more into it and have played a lot more than I do. I haven’t even completed any of the official challenges, I’d rather do my own thing. I like to think of what sort of character I want to play and who I want them to be and what I want them to do, and then play that character over the course of a couple of months. Of course there’s only so much you can do In BitLife, but I like to imagine that character’s life in more detail and think about motives behind their various decisions and try to go into their head while living their life. And then I like to live their child’s life, and then their child’s child’s life and so on and have a little saga of my own creation kind of. I’ve had one family which went on for 16  generations. Oh and I love naming kids in BitLife, I once had TWENTY babies (playing a man) and I relished being able to name all of them. That wouldn’t be quite so fun in the real world when I’d actually have to raise all those children. But I think that there’s one thing that Sofi is incomparably better at me in BitLife. Not counting things like burglary which don’t seem to be properly accessible or I don’t get it. This thing is winning money on horse races. Sofi gets it right most of the time and I have no idea how she does it, but she does! I wonder if she has the same luck in real life. 

   Uh, no, I’m not going to come up with ten! Actually, to be honest with you, I was only able to come up with the first two, and then I had to ask around and enlist my Mum’s and Sofi’s help, but even they weren’t able to come up with as much as ten. As my Mum stated, ten is a lot! But, so is eight, isn’t it, and I think I’ve made up for this with that I’ve elaborated on each of the things on this list. . 

   What things are You good at? List how many or few you want. 🙂 

Question of the day (18th December).

What weird word or phrase does your family say but nobody else would understand? How did it come to be?

My answer:

Gosh, we use tons of weird words or phrases in my family. I really love word play and so does my Mum, so we create a lot of inside slang and neologisms and stuff. Sofi or my Dad aren’t huge wordsmiths overall, but still like it to and with Sofi we have a lot of words that only we know what they mean, or rather, people do know what they mean because they’re just normal words but we use it to mean something totally different, and my Dad does create a lot of weird, very peculiar-sounding neologisms too which he often claims are legit Kashubian words but upon research it always turns out they’re not. He also has such weird behaviour that sometimes he’ll hear a word that will stand out to him for some reason, for example because it’s new to him, and then he’ll repeat it over and over and over again with no context, and sometimes over time such word will gain some new meaning for us. For example he once watched the film The Great Gatsby, and then would be saying “The Great Gatsby” all the time for a day or so, and in the end for some reason me and Sofi ended up adopting the phrase to mean something like never mind. Olek doesn’t have such inclinations, but he’s always the first to understand weird language-based jokes and such.

To give you some more specific examples, Sofi is very uncomfortable when it comes to talking about all things sexual, even though my Mum isn’t this sort of person who would discourage healthy discussion about it or who wouldn’t make her children aware of the birds and the bees when it seems appropriate. Sofi’s repulsed by all that but at the same time interested in learning about various things to do with sex, and the weirdest thing is that, if ever she does want to talk about it, ask questions and stuff, the only person she seems comfortable doing that with is me, and she says she is really embarrassed to talk about it with Mum despite Mum definitely encourages her. I say it’s weird because, well, unlike my Mum, I don’t have any practical experience in the field, so I always tell her that she should talk about it to Mum, but she doesn’t want to. Sometimes I think I should seriously consider becoming a couples’ counsellor or something like that, because people often come with things like that or their relationship problems to me when I have no idea about it because like I often say I’ve never even dated or anything. 😀 So anyway, Sofi has a problem even with the word sex, and other words around this topic like body parts, and it seems like her embarrassment about using them is part of why she finds the topic so difficult to talk about. So I figured the best way to get rid of at least that part of the problem is to change the words. It certainly doesn’t work in all situations and circumstances, but I felt that it would here and it does, though it doesn’t get rid of all Sofi’s problems, of course. So we started creating our own, new, unique sexual vocabulary. The process was really simple, and funny. We got a random and would open it at some random word, and then from then on that would be the word we used instead of some specific sex-related word, if we both agreed that it worked well and fit. Some are really crazy, for example for sex itself, we use the word biel which means whiteness in Polish, and the crazy part about it is that I often go by Bibiel so it sounds very similar. 😀 For vagina, we drew the word jabłko, which means apple, except in the end we use the word jabłco more often, which is like the opposite of a diminutive. I guess there’s no such phenomenon in English but in Polish we not only have diminutives but also an opposite thing which is used to make something sound either pejorative, or bigger than standard, or sometimes also kinda affectionate but in a sort of rougher way than when you’re using a diminutive, or just plain funnier. For us, it’s about that last thing. We made that whole vocabulary thing up before either of us had any Apple products, but even now that we do, we still use this word because Sofi got used to it, and sometimes things get quite hilarious. We also use it in other contexts now, not just to mean the actual vagina, but for example we’ll sometimes say to each other: “Shut up your apple” when we don’t really care what the other has to say, but it’s more good-humoured and teasing rather than insulting despite the way it sounds.

Also, since we’re talking about sort of intimate or taboo or politically incorrect vocabulary, we’ve invented something else quite recently, about a month ago when we had that wave of sickness go through our house. Maybe goofiness is another symptom of Covid, or maybe we were just too bored or something. But we sometimes just do have phases like that. 😀 Namely, our Dad said that someone was an asshole, and then Sofi had some weird musings that she shared out loud, about how it’s okay to use vulgar words in a derogatory way (specifically dupek (which means asshole in Polish) for men and pipa (which means pussy) for women, but it would sound a lot more inappropriate if you called someone an anus or a vagina or something like that). That made my Dad and me laugh and my Dad said that if we’d use anus (odbyt in Polish) for men, then rectum (odbytnica in Polish) would sound more appropriate for women and we bot had a fit of giggles. And then we started using these words and calling each other that and Dad happily joined because he really has some weird liking for using neologisms of his own creation that sound like horrible insults to refer to his loved ones in what’s meant to be an affectionate way. 😀 In fact, Dad seemed to have most fun with it. After a few days, however, we naturally stopped using rectum for some reason and we all referred to each other as anuses, regardless of gender. It was only for a few days until we got bored of this, but in the meantime we used that a lot and Mum looked at us as if we were crazy. I was thinking what would someone from the outside think if they just came to us and sat quietly and observed things, and hear our Dad come to us yelling excitedly: “Yo what’s up, little anuses?!” and me respond phlegmatically: “Nothing, giant anus”. They’d probably feel like involving social services or something. 😀 I think if Dad wouldn’t get so excited about it, we might have ended up using it more between each other with Sofi, but he talked like that ALL the time so it became boring and rather childish for the two of us very quickly.

Other than that, I actually already wrote a post on that same topic three years ago, specifically on a phrase “without cheese” that we use, and you can read this post

here.

How about you and your family, or other people you mingle with a lot? 🙂

Question of the day.

What’s difficult to explain, but easy to understand?

My answer:

A lot of language stuff, imo, is fairly easy to apply in practice but freakishly difficult to explain in theory. I know I am terrible at explaining language, or so it seems, and so it always irks me when people assume that just because you know a language, you can teach it to other people. I think knowing/being able to do something doesn’t automatically mean you’re able to teach it to others. It shows particularly well if you try to help someone learn your native language when you actually have no experience of how to teach it to non-natives. It seems easy because, well, you know the language, but it’s not. It’s freakishly difficult to explain things to someone for whom it’s just not intuitive yet how your language works. I suppose it might particularly be a problem for me because I tend to learn a bit differently than people do in conventional language schools and stuff. I learn my own way and I comprehend things my own way, which doesn’t have to be right for everyone and which is difficult to explain to other people who are outside of my mind. By my own way, I mostly mean that I don’t really focus on theory so much. Like, in normal schools and many language schools, there’s so much emphasis on grammar, and more often than not, it’s done in a very theoretical way, like rather than just learning grammar through practice and exposure and noticing different patterns in it and stuff, there’s all the notetaking about what present simple is and how it’s used and then memorising it along with example sentences, and then doing exercises in a textbook which consist of filling the blanks in sentences with correct grammar forms or place the words in the right order to make a logical-looking sentence. To me, that’s quite boring. Also, when I was going to school, I seriously struggled with all these theoretical definitions. And it made me a bit concerned that perhaps something is wrong with me and that I’m not doing something right. After learning some grammar structure at school, I usually didn’t have huge problems using it properly, though of course I’d make mistakes sometimes like any non-native and I still do, but remembering the whole theory thing… nah, it was always rather abstractive to me. Even now, if you asked me about what is, say, a subjunctive, or even how articles work in English, I may have a problem explaining it, but if it’s some structure that I’ve become sufficiently familiar with, I’ll be able to apply it in practice anyway. I used to think it’s weird and perhaps just another example of how quirky my brain is and how it so often doesn’t do things the normal way. It was only when I started to try and help non-natives learn Polish language when I realised that, in a way, perhaps my way of perceiving and learning/absorbing grammar is better, because it looks a bit more like how natives perceive their language and thus I guess is a bit more natural. Inn Polish, we have something called reflexive verbs, and one guy who was learning Polish and with whom I was penpalling asked me if I could help him figure out how that works. Well, except… I don’t know… I just use them, and I know that I use them right, because it feels right, and any other way would feel wrong. I tried my best to help him out but writing all that down in theory seemed so infinitely more complicated than it actually is. I don’t need to know the definition of a reflexive verb in the Polish language to be able to use one and know when to use one etc. I highly doubt that there are many people in Poland who aren’t linguists, teachers or real huge language geeks or something like that who’d know what reflexive verbs are at all, let alone be able to clearly explain to someone how they work, just like people in the Anglophone countries don’t memorise all the irregular verbs because they just know how to use them. Because, of course, we acquire our native languages through constant exposure to them, rather than studying textbooks and memorising definitions. By that, I’m not saying that studying textbooks when learning a foreign language is total bullshit, I do it too (assuming I have access to such things as textbooks in a specific language, I don’t have any Welsh ones for example and I don’t really feel the need to) just that, if you base solely on a textbook, it’ll never become natural. Also, unfortunately you can’t just acquire a new language as an adult, or not nearly as easily as a small child would, even with a lot of exposure and practice, but for me personally, observing how the language is used and thus getting concrete examples, is more intuitive, and far more interesting, than basing primarily on dry, often long-winded and full of exceptions to the rules textbook definitions, and it clearly gives me more than the dry learning, given how insanely fast my English started progressing as soon as I started self-teaching and distanced myself a bit from the way I was being taught at school. I also often try to help Sofi with her English homework, but I always end up exasperated at all the boring theory in there they have to digest and all the silly exercises. No wonder that the poor kid hates English. 😀

What is such thing in your opinion? 🙂

Question of the day.

What took you an embarrassing amount of time to figure out?

My answer:

Maybe not as much as embarrassing, but it took me quite long anyway and now I consider it funny, namely all the weird assumptions I had about some things in English. For example, even when I was already a reasonably good English speaker, I thought some words were pronounced different than they actually were, or that some words or phrases mean something different than they actually do. I can’t think of very many such things at this very moment but there have been quite a few and some pretty hilarious. I’m thinking maybe I’ll have to compile a list of such things whenever I’ll be reminded of them and then I’ll share it on here. 😀 Like, for ages I had no idea how the word queue is pronounced, and I pronounced it like CUE-wee. 😀 I think even some five years ago I still pronounced it like that. And I think I already wrote about it on here that, for the longest time, I thought niche was pronounced nee-SHAY, much like cliche is pronounced in Swedish and also apparently in English. 😀 As for cliche, I’m still not perfectly sure what syllable should be stressed in this word as I’ve heard both people who pronounce it as CLEE-shay, as well as such who say clee-SHAY, maybe it’s an accent thing, dunno. Oh, and now I’m remembering that it was only when I started having lessons with my English tutor before finals, he enlightened me that deaf is pronounced DEF rather than DEEF. 😀 At that point I was already immersing myself in spoken English a lot, nearly all the time, but must have not heard that word actually spoken before but now that I think of it it’s kind of weird that I wouldn’t have figured that out earlier since dead for example is also pronounced with a short eh rather than an ee. As far as phrases go, I used to think that if you’re cracked up means you’re depressed, kind of as in, you’re quite sad to begin with and then something else happens and it “cracks you up” and you’re properly devastated, something along these lines, when in fact it means to burst out with laughter. And like I said there have been many more things like this but I just can’t think of anything else at the moment.

You? 🙂

Synaesthetic Q&A.

I’ve recently been seeing a lot of synaesthete people in various places post asking people to give them some things like pieces of music, numbers, pictures, words, even names in name geeks communities, whatever their synaesthesia is about, and they’d tell them what are their synaesthetic associations with this thing. I myself have also had people ask me especially about their own names, what I associate them with, and some seemed quite flattered when I told them that they taste like something very yummy, as if it was something I actually had any control over and said it on purpose to give them a compliment. 😀 Good thing though that people don’t get offended when I tell them that I associate their name with something generally considered totally mundane and insignificant. So anyway, I thought perhaps I’d do it on here, for any of you that might be interested in this and how it works for me, of course I’m not going to be talking about other people’s synaesthesias because I’m not other people so I only know their experiences second-hand and feel competent to only talk about how it is for me. Everyone experiences it differently and has different associations with different stimuli. I have lexical-tactile (word-touch), lexical-gustatory (word-taste), and a bit less developed auditory-tactile (sound-touch) and auditory-gustatory (sound-taste) synaesthesia, but as you can see it mostly evolves around all things lexical, so if you’re curious what are my synaesthetic associations with any words, feel free to ask. Also if you have any other, more general questions about my specific synaesthesia, they’re welcome too.

I’ll just add for clarity’s sake that it seems like mine is a bit different to what I’ve heard of most people’s synaesthesias, so that I actually for a long time didn’t even call it synaesthesia despite it seeming very familiar and similar and despite I knew about the term, because I just wasn’t sure if it classifies. Even now I’m not exactly sure, but it has to be called somehow, and despite some differences, I guess they generally do count as synaesthesias. As a small kid (that is after I realised that, wow, other people don’t have it like that! which took me quite a long time to understand) I used to think that it’s something to do with my blindness. I still think that it possibly might somehow be related, some way of compensation or something, but that’s just my little theory which doesn’t have to be true at all. The differences for me vs most synaesthetes I’ve talked to/heard of are that there are things with which I have very strong, clear associations, and some that have either always felt kind of muffled, or have faded over time, so that sometimes I may feel for example some vague shape or texture of the word I’m hearing or reading or thinking about, but I’m unable to make out how it looks exactly. There are words, especially ones that I’ve acquired later on, that I don’t associate with anything at all, but it’s not like it’s a rule that I never have associations with such words, it just depends on a specific word I suppose. In languages other than Polish, especially ones with wild spelling vs pronunciation differences like English, I sometimes have separate associations for spelling and pronunciation. I generally don’t have to speak a language to have associations with its words but if something’s super exotic and unlike anything I know I probably won’t have any or clear ones. I’ll often have several things that I’ll associate with one stimulus, for example there might be a word with which I’ll have several tactile associations, or several gustatory ones, or both a tactile one and a gustatory one, or even several of both tactile and gustatory ones. On the other hand, there might be several words that I associate with the same or very similar tactile or gustatory thing. Often when I associate several words with the same thing, it’s because these words have something in common, especially in the way they sound, like, they may have the same prefix. A lot of my tactile associations tend to be things or fragments of things, sometimes a bit distorted I guess, of things that I experienced in very early childhood, but sometimes it’s quite difficult to figure out what the original object might have looked like. From what I’ve noticed, a lot of lexical-gustatory folks tend to have very weirdly specific and detailed, quite hilarious associations, which sometimes is the case with me and sometimes is not. With auditory synaesthesia, like I said it’s only like partial, it’s definitely not like every single sound has some synaesthetic association for me, but those that do tend to be very clear and powerful. Sometimes it takes a while for an association to form in connection to a sound, so it’s after I’ve repeatedly heard this sound, which I’m pretty sure is not a usual case with synaesthesia. Usually the kinds of auditory stimuli I’m likely to have/develop synaesthetic associations with are people’s voices, instruments, an overall sound of a language, pieces of music, some small, short-ish sounds, and when I was younger also space acoustics, I mean what the acoustics were in a specific room. I still remember what sort of synaesthetic associations I had with some space acoustics but I no longer feel it and it feels rather illogical for me nowadays the way it worked, it doesn’t make sense anymore at all, I would even have trouble explaining that in more detail to someone.

So yeah, that’s a bit of an introduction as to how I feel my synaesthesia or perhaps some near-synaesthetic experience works so that you know the basics. I’ll be happy to answer any of your questions whether about some specific stimuli or the nature of my synaesthesia in general, and if you have some kind of synaesthesia, I’m very curious to hear about yours. 🙂

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. 😀 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. 😀 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? 🙂

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? 🙂

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. 😀 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? 🙂

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. 🙂

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 krindż, 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 krindż 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. 😀 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? 🙂

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. 🙂 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! 🙂

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. 😀

 

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

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. 😀 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) bokmål Norwegian (there are two written Norwegian languages – bokmål 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. 😀 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 😀 ) or only give you an idea about some stiff, official bokmål 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. 😀

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! 🙂

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 Wyszyński, 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 Elżbieta Róża 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 Elżbieta (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 Elżbieta 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? 🙂

 

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. 😀 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. 😀 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. 😀 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. 😀

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? 🙂

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. 😀 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 spać, 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 śpij (SHPEEY) and that sounds so much better. Or you can ask someone “Śpisz?” (SHPEESh) (Are you asleep?). I wish the infinitive form was śpić, not spać, it would sound more like what it actually means. The Swedish sömn 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. 😀 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? 🙂

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. 😀 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? 🙂

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? 🙂