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? 🙂

Question of the day.

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

My answer:

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

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

Hi! 🙂

What’s one pet peeve you wish you could get rid of, because it hammers your enjoyment of life?

My answer:

I have a lot of pet peeves, though I’m not sure there are any that affect my enjoyment of life overall on a consistent basis. But one thing that I put way more attention to than I would like is the way people speak. I mean, I love language, so in a way it’s completely normal, but it can really be annoying to me when someone uses a word not knowing its actual meaning, or their grammar is bad or something and they’re not doing it on purpose but clearly out of not knowing that they’re making a mistake. I often wonder how can people not know such basic things, and when someone’s language skills are particularly poor (like my gran for example) then it’s hard for me to communicate with such people, because I’ll either have to hold back bad fits of giggles at how ridiculously they speak, or will be meticulously registering every word they say wrong and feel annoyed at their linguistic ignorance, and I then might not be able to focus enough to actually follow what they’re saying as a whole. And I am not a language purist overall, I don’t think so anyway, when I speak or write in Polish I use lots of colloquialisms together with very sophisticated words, archaisms, sometimes don’t care about grammar rules because I feel like something sounds better another way than it’s usually said or better fits what I’m saying, and after all I don’t always know everything about it either, even though I do know a lot and have some sort of a language intuition I guess so people often ask me about some language things, how to say or spell something and I usually get it right even if I haven’t used the word ever before, but just as I said, not always, no one’s infallible. So it’s a bit like my own pet peeve irritates me, lol. 😀 Sometimes it gets even worse because I’ve found myself correcting people pretty much automatically, and while I don’t think anyone of those people felt hurt or pissed off or anything, or some luckily didn’t hear me doing that or seemed like they didn’t understand what I was actually alluding to, haha, I think it’s generally quite a rude thing to do, even though that’s not my intention. But my Dad for example does like when I correct his language mistakes, and it’s him who makes them most often of all the people I talk to regularly, the rest of my immediate family is quite language-conscious and my Mum is a bit like me, so maybe that’s also why I have that habit of correcting people. It’s strange because normally my Dad hates being told that he’s made any mistakes or that anything is his fault and has real trouble admitting it or apologising, yet as I said he does like me to correct his language mistakes. Then again, usually he does the same ones over and over so it does little in practice, and always says “not in the least/not at all” instead of “at least” (the former is “bynajmniej” in Polish, and the latter is “przynajmniej”, LOTS of people confuse that). Of course that applies mainly to Polish, because I’m not good enough myself with other languages to spot such things, though sometimes when I do know that someone said something wrong for sure in English it also makes me flinch, like pronouncing niche as nitch, ew how gross! But I myself used to pronounce niche even worse some years ago, that was really funny. I used to think that if there’s cliché and it’s pronounced like CLEE-shay, then niche should be NEE-shay, or actually, because I was more familiar with the word cliché in Swedish, where it is pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, my English pronunciation of the word was also more like nee-SHay! 😀 Isn’t that so absolutely fanciful and snobbish and over the top? I was really surprised to learn that it’s NEESH, and quite happy, because then it sounds almost just like Mish, just like the Polish word for niche (nisza) sounds almost like Misha. It’s certainly better than nee-SHAY, in any case.

But yeah, it wouldn’t be bad if I didn’t have this pet peeve as strong as I do.

You? 🙂

Reasons why I’m learning English.

Nearly a month after starting up this blog, I wrote a post about all the

Reasons why I’m learning Welsh

and a year ago, I wrote a similar post concerning my

Swedish.

With each of them I felt like they got quite a bit of interest, so I’m going to continue it this year as well, and write about English. Let’s see how many reasons I can come up with

1.

Isn’t it obvious? English is obligatory in schools in most countries, I guess. Or at least in all countries in Europe. So, you could say I didn’t have much choice. 😀 Before I went to school though, I was already subjected to English thanks to my Godmother, whose English was on a pretty good level for a person growing up in the 80’s (communist period – learning Russian as a second language at school) and not needing English for professional purposes. I guess it’s more common for people about her age or older to learn English now even if you don’t need it for work, but I guess back then in early 2000’s there wasn’t as much pressure yet. I believe she started learning English around college and took private lessons and while she wasn’t and is not fluent, as I said, the degree to which she knew English could feel a bit unexpected, plus she’s very communicative by nature so such people don’t need a whole lot of vocabulary to be understood. Anyways, she taught me a lot of things before I went to school, and one of them was some very basic English vocabulary and a bit of fondness for English, which probably helped me more than I normally realise to remain positive about the language itself even when I started to see that English as a school subject is MEH, and pushed me to learn it anyway. So by the time I reached school, I remember I was actually euphoric when I heard on my first actual day of school that our next lesson is going to be English. I associated it with home and with fun things and I liked it as I said, so I was super happy that I would be able to learn it at school. Sadly, I didn’t have particularly much luck with good English teachers throughout my education. I’m not saying they weren’t competent or anything like that, probably some were more, and some were less, some were very nice, some were very unpleasant, some rather bland, but the great majority of them just didn’t do anything to me more than help me prepare for the necessary tests and exams. Of course I had to learn basics at school and I did, but after that, although I was learning English throughout my whole education, I feel like school didn’t give me much in that respect and I taught myself the most. Neither did school motivate me to learn English, in fact, my first English teacher wasn’t particularly likeable person and I don’t think she cared much if we liked her subject or not. I became disillusioned quite quickly and realised that, while English may be a cool language, the subject is just deadly boring. And my view on that became even stronger when I started to seriously learn on my own and became actively interested in learning English and not just ticking off exercises in the textbook. I don’t think it is solely that I just happened to have bad teachers. I think it’s the case with most people here, and that simply the way language learning and teaching is perceived in our country and the level of English education in our schools is terrible. Basically, unless someone has some extra English classes, or wants to learn on their own or something like that, most people go out of education being barely able to communicate. And since Polish language is way more complex than English, the problem cannot be with people”s brains. People get out of schools with the mentality that they are supposed to speak perfectly, with no grammar mistakes or otherwise someone will kill them, and if they can’t do that, they won’t speak at all, even if they do have enough vocabulary to speak decently. And English lessons are not interesting, or at least they are rarely as interesting and fun as language learning could be. My Sofi writes down tons of words and rules she doesn’t understand, and when someone in her class is thinking independently enough to ask the teacher for some explanation and say that they don’t understand something, the only thing she’ll say will typically be: “*sighs theatrically* Oh my, what do you still can’t understand? It’s easy. You have to practice more at home. How many more times am I going to have to explain it?”. Well, the majority of Sofi’s class go to extracurricular English at a language school. Those who do not, have very bad grades. And I assure you that Sofi’s school is not an exception. But OMG I could rant about education system and terrible attitudes of people towards language learning for ages. 😀 Anyway, I did get the basics of English at school and I’m grateful for that, but that’s all that any school or individual teacher did for my foreign language education. There also was that teacher who was having conversations with me for a year in preparation for my final exams, and admittedly he helped me to feel a bit more confident in speaking, and most certainly contributed to the fact that I got 100% from oral English,but not much else, although I hoped he would be able to teach me some new things. He was most keen on talking about himself though. 😀

2.

Because English is everywhere. That’s why I kind of feel for English natives. On one hand it’s so cool when you can go almost anywhere in the world, read almost anything you want and not have to make the effort of translating, understanding or learning another language. But on the other hand, people miss out on so much when they don’t learn a new language, and when everyone speaks your language, what motivation can you have to do that? So it’s a bit unfair on the English-speaking folks and only for their sake I wish we had some artificial or dead language to use internationally, rather than deprive a certain group of people – a large group of people – from the benefits of learning a language and developing their brains even more. Anyways, the rest of us does have to learn English if we want to have a somewhat broader perspective on the world. Internet is huge and you can read a lot in it, do a lot with it and learn a lot, but Polish-language part of the Internet seems so mini mini compared to English. I wouldn’t be able to do so many things that I do if I didn’t speak decent English. I wouldn’t be able to restore my synths, to give you a recent example, haha. My Mum tells me that about once a week “You’re so lucky that you speak English” or “I’d like to know half of your English”, so I am constantly reminded that I should be grateful for that, and that I was given enough determination to learn it myself, and, more than determination, just plain luck, because I don’t really feel like I made some huge effort with my English, from some point on it just came to me on its own, I guess via a lot of exposure. But perhaps not everyone can be that lucky, or not everyone can make use of it or realises it. Some people like my Mum constantly complain that they can’t speak English but when you actually confront them about it “So why won’t you try to learn it?” they will have tons of arguments, including that they are too old, too stupid, too busy, too lazy, don’t have a talent (there’s no such thing as talent for learning languages unless you want to have a native accent, you just have to find the right method for yourself and that can be tricky) to name a few.

3.

Because I plain like it. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I didn’t like English though. Would I still be so keen on learning it? My experiences with other languages show that not necessarily, because my effects at it seem to be strongly correlated with my feelings for it. I can’t quite imagine learning and being good at Esperanto for example, even if it was the international language. Of course I would learn it at school if need be, and would continue it if I really needed it, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be anything more than average. I was learning German at school (and I like German more than Esperanto, because I don’t like Esperanto at all) and, unless I put a lot of conscious effort into learning it, I was just having rather mediocre results, and forgot most of it very quickly after finishing my German education, even though I did have an ambitious plan to continue learning it on my own, but that just went out the window before it started properly.

But I do like English, and I do like the culture surrounding it, the diversity of its accents, which we don’t have in Polish, and – what I’ve mentioned in both Swedish and Welsh posts, I feel a kind of bond with the nations speaking my favourite languages. English is also the most boring of my languages because it’s so mainstream-y and it’s everywhere and it spoils the experience massively, but still, it’s so cool and so rich!

4.

Because it can serve as a bridge to the whole Celtic world for me. Of course English is used in Britain and all its Celtic regions, and as a Celtophile it’s very important to me. It helps me to develop my Celtic passions and discover more about all the Celtic stuff, the folklore, the languages, the people…

5.

Because it enables me to meet interesting people whom I wouldn’t be able to meet otherwise. As well as like-minded people. Actually, the most development of my English skills is largely due to all of my pen pals. With some of them I’d onnly written for a while, more or less short, but with some I have developed great connections and friendships and I am so thankful for that.

6.

Because it helps me with blogging, and generally expressing myself. I used to blog in Polish for years but it wasn’t quite as fun as it is now. I feel like I can be more candid about a lot of things on my English blog and that it was one of my better ideas in my whole life to start an English blog. It works both ways – my English learning makes my blogging better, and my blogging stimulates my English learning in an incredibly effective way. – As for expressing myself, since my English skills have improved so dramatically over the last few years due to a lot of exposure, penpalling and blogging, I also write my diary mostly in English. I’ve written frequently about that I find each language useful for different kind of writing, and that it also corresponds with different kinds of emotions for me. I will write about the specific emotions of English in a while, but first, I want to say more generally that I find it much easier nowadays to express myself emotionally in English. Where feelings are concerned, but also more specifically, any kind of mental health difficulties, especially more complex stuff, somehow it’s much easier to put it in English. I’ve come to the point where sometimes it’s easier for me to find words describing some things in English, rather than in Polish, and what I want to say sounds more clunky in Polish. 😀 The emotions that in my synaesthetic view correspond particularly strongly with English are especially love, pain, sarcasm, playfulness, sadness, emptiness, anxiety, comfort, passion, euphoria and loneliness.

7.

Because it has enabled me to build a more stable support network and become both more aware of my mental health struggles, as well as deal better with them. Again blogosphere and penpalling have helped me immensely with that. Previously, I couldn’t really say I felt free to talk to anyone about what I was experiencing. Partly because I didn’t really understand it myself but also because I simply either didn’t feel like I could trust them, or I knew they wouldn’t understand. Now, thanks to my English, I have found a lot of people who have similar experiences to me or even if they don’t, they are still very supportive and I want to support them as well, and I feel like I’ve made more meaningful connections with people even though they are just online. All this keeps me motivated to develop my English further, and actually makes it develop on its own because obviously the more you use a language, the more it develops.

8.

Because there’s lots of great music in English and I want to know what it’s about.

9.

Because then I can be helpful to my immediate family who are all practical monoglots and sometimes need to translate something from English. Especially my Dad who is a tanker driver, and it’s hard to be a tanker driver and often supply foreign ships with fuel and speak no English. I often don’t have the vocabulary that he needs anyway, but some vocabulary is better than none. At least I can help him how to describe the word he needs to use and then because they are oriented in the field, they understand quickly what he wants to say, unless their English is poor too. 😀

10.

Because there are so many cool accents. I’ve already said that, but it deserves a separate mention. I LOVE that feature of English that it’s so rich in dialects and accents! You can tell where someone’s from just by their accent, and here we can’t really do that, or at least not to such an extend as you! Polish language is much more universal. There are several major dialects that are commonly recognisable, but they aren’t many and not many people choose to speak them on a daily basis, and our dialects are mostly different because of specific words that we use in different regions, rather than accents as in pronunciation differences. That doesn’t mean there are none, but an average person who is not a language geek and has no interest in such things will not hear those subtle differences or at least certainly won’t be able to tell someone’s location by them, unless someone’s accent is really super strong and very commonly associated with a specific area which mainly concerns eastern accents that are influenced by languages like Russian or Belarussian or Ukrainian or perhaps Lithuanian. My grandma has roots in all of the above mentioned countries and despite living in the north for years people can usually hear her long and soft vowels and identify correctly and always ask if she’s from the east or something. But that’s a rare case. I consider myself a language geek and the only things I can recognise are those Eastern accents, some subtle things that are specific to Silesia or Lublin area, and some stuff specific to the highlands and that’s it pretty much. This is due to the fact that after WWII people were massively migrating from countryside to towns and moving around different regions, so the accent has unified a lot. I think it’s such a pity. That’s why for some people the whole concept of an accent is a bit out there and they don’t really know what it is in terms of English. For example my Dad asked me not long ago what that whole accent thing is in English, is it about word stress (because that’s what we call akcent in Polish), or that people have some speech deffects or what, hahaha. And for a long time I didn’t get that either. Like how can you hear that someone is from Sheffield or New York or Glasgow or wherever unless they tell you? 😀 I didn’t hear those differences for a long time either. Only at some point one of my earliest English online friends started to teach me about accents and then one day something clicked in my brain and I started to gradually hear them and now I think for a non native I’m pretty good at distinguishing at least the British ones and of course between which one is British, which Australian and which American, though I have a very hard time distinguishing American accents from each other or I can barely recognise English US from Canadian or New Zealand from Australian. With understanding it really depends on how out there someone’s accent is and how quickly they are speaking. I also like to think that my own accent is very good for a non native, and that’s what people have been telling me, both natives and non natives, though I’m sure I do have to have still at least a bit of Polish accent, not that I can hear it myself (I can’t, but you can’t be a good judge of your own accent I suppose), but because I don’t know many people who have just gotten rid of their accent, and also it is not something I am aiming to in itself, because I guess it would feel weird if people couldn’t tell at all that I’m Polish, as if I was a bit less Polish or something and I don’t want that, and I like to imitate different English accents though, while I can speak some kind of US English (or so I believe) I am much better and more comfortable at British and I have more clue about how to imitate different British accents than American ones, especially the of more or less general southern-ish/Rp and more or less general northern-ish. The only British accents that I know that I cannot imitate convincingly are Geordie and Scottish. But being able to fake different accents has come to me much later on and after a lot of immersion and listening, before than my accent was just kind of Ponglish. Now the only Ponglish I can make is the very extreme one, I believe I can’t speak sort of in-between any longer like I used to – with not overly strong but definitely audible Polish accent – it’s either hardcore Ponglish or normal English (with a possible little bit of Polish as I said), and the extreme Ponglish one I use either for making fun of some kind or with Poles who can’t understand my normal, English English otherwise like Sofi. 😀 Playing with accents is so fun.

11.

Because English is so rich in colourful phrases, idioms, sayings and words. I believe that must come from the very wide variety of influences on this language. Polish is a very rich language in this too, but English seems much more than any of the languages I’ve learnt and sometimes it overwhelms me how many brilliant and fascinating words I don’t know how to use yet. Every language has its words that are untranslatable, but English has just so many! Or maybe it’s just my impression? It’s so flexible and you can do so much with it. Swedish is also flexible and you can make a lot with it, but I guess not to such an extent. I really lack some of the English expressions in Polish these days, especially when talking to someone who speaks only Polish. 😀

12.

Because it lets me read more books, and because reading in English is fun. And because I want to read even more in English. I already read most of stuff on the Internet in English, but with books so far the majority of what I read is still Polish, even thoughh there are more and more English ones thrown into the mix.

13.

Because it lets me learn more about my music crushes/fazas. Even if they aren’t English natives. Usually, especially at the beginning of a faza, it’s easiest for me to find info on my crush in English.

14.

Because, apart from helping me to develop my already existing interests, it helps me to build new ones.

15.

Because I can learn other languages through it. Like I do with Welsh right now. It has its upsides and downsides, but if not my English skills, I wouldn’t be able to access Welsh resources that I can.

16.

Because it shares a lot of similarities with other languages. Swedish for example – when I first started it, I was told it’s just a blend of English and German. – It’s very simply put but it’s true to a large degree, and my English and Swedish definitely help each other. Also while English is a Germanic language and Welsh is Celtic, they influence each other so that helps to some extent as well. And I’m going to learn some more Germanic and Celtic languages in the future, so I am sure English is going to be helpful with those too. Both because I am most likely going to learn them through the medium of English, as well as because they share more or less similarities.

17.

To develop my brain. I’ve written on my brain paranoia and wanting to avoid cognitive issues especially in the Welsh post. It’s hugely important to me.

18.

So I can talk to Misha in English or to myself. If you want to read about my experiments with Misha and foreign languages, I recommend you reading the above mentioned posts. Of all the foreign languages, my English is the best, and so I can communicate with Misha the most easily, if I want to talk to him in a language other than Polish. I also think he responds to it the best except for Polish of course, but that could be due to many reasons, including my autosuggestion.

19.

Every language makes your perspective broader, and kind of adds you a new personality. This is just interesting to observe, but is also great in some self-development, or just self-discovery. It’s interesting to see your thinking pathways in Polish vs in English vs in Swedish, for example. It’s interesting to see in which moments and in what kind of situations my thinking switches from Polish to English or back to Polish or to Swedish, or when it’s a mix of all that plus Welsh. I definitely tend to think about more emotional stuff in English, the same as with writing. Recently I’ve even started automatically praying in English. 😀 The first time when that happened, I only realised that I’m praying in English a few minutes after I’ve started, and that was so hilarious. But obviously God is very multilingual so I let my soul and brain pray in whichever language it’s convenient as long as that doesn’t get in the way of prayer itself because for example I think more of how I should put things rather than focus on praying itself and on God. My dreams have been a linguistic mix for years now.

20.

Because it’s fun to have more than one language to swear in. Even though Welsh or Finnish is better for that than English, English is quite bland and cliche I don’t know why, and most people here know the basic words like fuck or shit so it doesn’t feel the same.

 

21.

Because it can help me with anxiety, as well as with depression, see the posts above for details.

22.

To be able to understand at least some slangs to whatever extent possible, as well as dialects and other such interesting language creations.

23.

To have access to English-language media, like radiostations, and actually understand what they are saying, and not just immerse myself in the language as I’d been doing for years.

24.

To challenge my social anxiety. See the posts above for details.

25.

Because it’s easy. So why not?

26.

Because people wouldn’t treat me seriously if I only were learning some endangered, minority languages. I wrote more on that in the Swedish post. But also, even if I spoke Swedish, I guess that still wouldn’t look as serious if I didn’t speak any English. 😀

27.

Because, just like with Swedish, I hope it will be also useful in a more practical way, occupational for example. Who knows.

Yay! I thought there will be less reasons for English because it’s so obvious but there are even more!

If you are a native speaker of English, what do you like it for, or why do you not like it? If you are an English learner, what are your reasons for learning it? 🙂

 

Question of the day.

Hi people! 🙂

Say you can immediately speak ten languages. Which ones do you choose?

My answer:

OK, so I’m not counting in the languages I already speak/am learning, which are Polish, English, Swedish and Welsh. The 10 languages I’d like to be able to speak immediately would be: Finnish, Sami (North, or Luleå), Faroese, Dutch, Frisian, Scots, Irish, Scottish (Gaelic), Manx and Cornish. Oh how cool, I’ve actually managed to squeeze in all my languages! That being said, I’d love if that would also mean my English, Swedish and, particularly, Welsh, would become more fluent.

What are your choices? 🙂

Question of the day.

What’s your favourite language?

My answer:

For me, it’s a damn hard question! I just have too many favourite languages and I really, seriously can’t tell you which is my most favourite! It’d be like asking a parent which child they love the most. I love each of my languages in different ways, although they’re much more like my life partners than children haha. Each of them has something different that I love in it. It’s also a little bit like that when I’m hearing or speaking or having to do in any way with one of them it feels like I love it the most. 😀

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

So how about we talk about languages for a while now?

Do you have a favourite language family (Germanic, Romantic, Semitic etc.)?

My answer:

Yeah sure! My favourite language family is Celtic! Celtic languages are so magical and full of something indescribeable for me that I am addicted to. I am also quite fond of Germanic languages, many of them, especially the Scandinavian ones, as well as Finnic, and Slavic are cool as well. But Celtic are my favourites, they make my brain feel ecstatic.

What’s yours? 🙂

Song of the day (29th September) – Mari Boine – “Alla Hearrá guhkkin Osllos” (Hey, Mr. Almighty Down There In Oslo).

Here’s another Mari Boine’s song. I originally wanted to share it with you on one of the future Sami National Days (February 6), but I might as well do it now ’cause why not. This is a very interesting song for someone like me who is passionate about endangered languages and rights of the speakers of such languages, media in endangered languages and all that. I have no English translation for you, and I can only clearly understand one word in the Sami lyrics – “giella” which means language. – But, hey, not all is lost! There is a part in Norwegian in the lyrics, and actually, that Norwegian bits and pieces are of very deep historical and personal value for me, because that was the very first thing I was able to understand in Norwegian. I don’t speak Norwegian, mind you, but of course Swedish and Norwegian are close enough to be very much mutually intelligible. I used to be frustrated because I could never understand more than a word, or a small string of words in Norwegian, and that if I was lucky, I didn’t even understand svorsk too well (svenska – Swedish – +norsk – Norwegian – =svorsk). I still often don’t understand Norwegian too well but am often able to at least figure out the context. And that Mari Boine’s song was the first ever spoken – or sung, but I don’t think that matters – word, much more than a word actually, that I understood. Not all of it but I definitely got the gist of it plus some more than a gist, I’m not sure about one line. Bibiel is so smart, yayyy for Bibiel!!! 😀 And thus, Bibiel can tell you what the song is about.

“Hey, Mr. Almighty, down there in Oslo. Do you have time to listen to us? We watch Tv evening after evening, but don’t hear anything in our own language. Hey, MR. Almighty, down there in Oslo. Do you have time to listen to us? We listen to us? We listen to the radio day efter day, but hear hardly a word in our own language. Could you give us a little bit more? Language has such a great power [or your language has such a great power, I’m not sure] (…)”. And then I only understand that they are afraid of something, I am half-guessing that that their language will disappear. If there are some Norwegian peeps out there (or even better Sami!) I’d appreciate any corrections. I’m assuming that the Sami lyrics are mostly the same.

The song was released on Mari Boine’s 1986 album, originally, and, while I don’t know what was the situations with the Sami media back then, and I have no idea if they have their own TV right now, I do know that nowadays, there is a public radiostation called NRK Samiradio in Norway. I’m not well acquainted with it and I don’t know if it is sufficient for the Norwegian Sami community’s needs, but I’d think the situation has improved since the 80’s. There is also SR Sápmi to which I listen a lot, and some Finnish Sami radiostation as well. I also have no idea who the Mr. Almighty exactly is, as I don’t have a broader background context about the song.

Oh, and I forgot to mention one more interesting thing about Mari in my previous Mari Boine post. She is a paternal relative of Kevin Boine, whose song “Komm Till Finnmark” I featured on National Sami Day this year. Apart from the joiking, and even despite Mari’s huge musical versatility, the difference between their styles is vast and almost startling hahaha!

 

So You Know.

I guess I haven’t participated so far in S.Y.K – So You Know – a weekly series hosted by Candace of

Revenge Of Eve,

so here are her questions for this week, and my answers.

 

  • How long have you blogged? What is the anniversary? – I have blogged on and off since my early teens, at first I had a blog in a Polish online network for the blind, I had a few blogs on there, as I was restarting my blogging a couple times. Then I moved to Polish WordPress a few years ago, first because I wanted to reach a wider audience, and second because simply that network wasn’t working anymore. This was also when it slowly started bothering me that most people from that network, although I liked them and was friends with many, knew me in real life, and while I’d be happy to be open, even very open on my blog, and share things with like-minded people, I didn’t feel comfortable with all of them knowing me personally or knowing someone that knows me, or knowing people I was mentioning, so I couldn’t really be a very honest blogger. I also wanted to find my own niche, like people that would have similar interests or at least a similar way of looking at some things… But the Polish blog didn’t really work out, because after being on that network for the blind I was completely clueless about setting up my own blog, and messed it up, my stats were even lower than before and I was getting hardly any traffic, so I soon got discouraged. Another thing is that Polish WordPress, at least from what I can see, isn’t quite as active and dynamic as English, and people are much less interactive. Then I tried with yet another blog at another network for the blind that has been created, but I’ve been making myself some English-speaking friends and thinking more and more often about having a blog in English. It was more like my dream than something I would think seriously about for a long time, but suddenly it started to feel like something I would really really like to do, because I could find more like-minded people then, and I’ve started to discover some things about myself, including learning about or maybe accepting and defining my mental illness(es), moving on from some things, and I’ve also noticed that it’s easier for me to write about my feelings and just express myself in English, and my English started to develop speedily, miraculously and uncontrollably. So much so that now I am hardly ever in touch with any Polish people, and if I get an email in Polish I’m very surprised (or jumping up with fright because it’s either something formal or scary and means some problems 😀 ). So, that’s how My Inner Mishmash came to life! My Inner Mishmash is two years old now, soon will be two and a half. But I can’t tell you exactly for how long I’ve been blogging like altogether.
  • What was your original purpose for beginning a blog? – This one, like I said, a need to connect with people, to find perhaps something like my tribe, to improve my language skills – maybe someday I’ll make it a multilingual blog, we’ll see, – and expressing myself, because I’ve always had trouble expressing myself and writing is the easiest way I can do it, which doesn’t always mean it’s easy. 😀 As for my first blog, I guess it was just curiosity, I didn’t even fully know what blogging could be about, but it was within my reach and I’ve always loved writing, so just thought “Why not?”.
  • Did you research about blogging before establishing your own? – Before establishing both my WordPress blogs – yes, a bit. – As I said I was clueless about all the setting up and just creating your own blog in general, personalising it, customising, all that. I was especially careful with this one, because I didn’t want it to repeat the story of my Polish WordPress blog, and I also had to ask a few people for a bit of help at the very beginning. I also researched a bit about increasing traffic, but I’m far less neurotic about my stats than I thought I’d be.
  • Has your purpose evolved or changed directions? If so, what was the determining factor for the change? – With my Inner Mishmash, I guess my purpose hasn’t changed, although one thing that I’ve also decided that I want it to be an essential part of my blogging is being engaging with my readers. When it comes to my blogging journey as a whole, it has definitely evolved and blogging is so much more for me now than it used to be at the beginning. I guess what caused it was simply that I was changing, and changing my views, my situation was changing and I was growing up, learning things about people and myself, just quite a natural process I think.
    • What determines your measure of success as far as blogging is concerned? – Most of the time, I try to be laid back about my blogging. I just want it to be pleasurable for me, I’m also always happy to see that my readership is growing or that they enjoy my scribbles.

Question of the day (19th May).

Is there any random language you find interesting and would like to learn, that would have no relevant benefit to you personally, in terms of your career, heritage, where you live, etc.

My answer:

Well… do I really need to answer this question? I have a feeling that in my case, it’s pretty irrelevant. 😀 But, OK, in case you don’t remember, or don’t know, about all the languages that I find just flamin’ hot interesting and would like to learn, that, according to most people’s view, don’t have any relevant benefit to me, other than just satisfying my crazy brain, here’s the complete listonce again, excluding those I already know/am learning, of course, no specific order:

Cornish, Scottish Gaelic (and Doric too perhaps), Scots, (Ulster Scots as well and it would be cool to know all the Shetlandic/Orkney etc. dialects), Dutch, Frisian, Manx, Irish, Finnish, Sami (North Sami seems the easiest to do as it’s the most widely spoken and accessible, although I’m dreaming about Luleå Sami) and Faroese.

Some time ago, when our Zofijka was in some sort of a counting-everything developmental phase, she asked me how many languages I like – like overall, with those I can already speak. – I never know/remember how many, because in contrast to her, I never care about such things, assuming that quality is more important than quantity, and my brain just doesn’t deal with numbers. So I told her all of them and she counted them, and then she was like “Wow you’re really nutty!”. 😀 So that’s the only kind of tangible benefit you’re gonna get from learning weird languages, people will start to think you’re a nutter, so I’d advise you to think it through before you pick your random language… Kidding of course. Nuts are good for your brain, just as language learning, so in the end it’ll be you who will win. 😉

So what would be your choice? 🙂

Question of the day.

Hi people! 🙂

I have a sort of linguistic question for you today.

If you have trouble understanding a person with a very thick accent, do you feel bad about it, and you apologise if you have to ask them to repeat things?

My answer:

First of all, in Polish we definitely don’t have such a variety of accents as you guys have in English. There are accents, dialects and stuff but the language is fairly universal and most peopleactually don’t even know the features of most of them unless they’re just into observing how different people speak. So, if someone speaks in Polish with an accent that I have some trouble understanding, and this person is Polish, I don’t really feel bad, I feel surprised and like “How come they talk like this their whole life?” or something. I listen to English every day, write in English and read English, but I’ve never been to an English-speaking country and I haven’t really had many conversations with English natives, so I don’t have much experience here. But yeah, I think I would feel bad. I’m normally not really a perfectionist, but I definitely am when it comes to languages, or some aspects of language learning, and I’d just feel bad about myself in a way I guess if I couldn’t figure out what someone’s saying to me. I also love accents, I love how rich English is with all the accents and dialects and everything, so I’d be frustrated if that were a significant barrier in communication for me and the person I’m talking with, even though I do know that there are still a fair bit of English accents that I don’t always understand even though I’m normally pretty good at figuring out accents or even mimicking them as for someone in whose language they almost don’t occur, Ithink. I’d also feel a bit bad for that person, I wouldn’t like them to feel that I am discriminating them in any way or something. And my social anxiety and generally anxiety in regard to communication would come up stronger probably. But I also love a language challenge so I would also appreciate a chance to learn something new and have a new experience as a result of such a communication barrier. When I was in Stockholm, I already knew earlier that people are pretty laid back in Sweden about accents and everyone talks with their own accent, it’s like there’s no actual standard version of Swedish unless you perhaps consider the Stockholm variant as such. But I was surprised how many different varieties of the same language I could hear. I also had a long conversation with a gem stones shop owner who was from Scania, I always have a bit of a trouble understanding people with a strong Scanian accent. It was difficult, and because of my anxiety a bit exhausting, but also very rewarding. The whole Stockholm trip was like that for me. And it was so interesting to hear all those different dialects, even though I think in English they are even richer and more diverse. SO how about you? 🙂

Bwncath – “Cân Lon” (A Joyful Song).

Hi people! 🙂

So, as I promised, I’m bringing you another song by this year’s “Cân I Gymru” winner – Elidyr Glyn – or actually his band called Bwncath. This is a beautiful song, however it’s a bit of an enigma to me honestly! As you’ll be able to hear (hope that you’ll be able to hear at least a bit even if you don’t have Spotify, it’s annoying how it works that if you don’t have it you can only listen to an excerpt of a song) it’s actually a very sad song, both regarding the music, and, as far as I can tell with my lame Welsh skills, the lyrics as well, it even says “Cân o dristwch ydi hon” if I got it right, which means “This is a song of sadness”. Yet it’s called a joyful song. Irony or what?! Seriously, I guess that there just might be something key in the lyrics that I don’t get. Because at the beginning he sings “Mae gen i gânau o lawn llon…” (I have songs full of joy) or something like that, and I guess later on there is something like that this one is different. Well yeah, figuring out the lyrics while not being fluent in a language, that can be very interesting at times. 😀 But in any case, I love this song, and if there is indeed something ironic, I like that a lot too, I like some irony in music, like when you have a very cheerful melody and tragically depressing words. And if it’s not irony, maybe when my Welsh gets better I’ll be able to figure out exactly what’s the point here.

Question of the day.

What are you looking forward to?

My answer:

Hm… I guess I don’t have any very specific plans or anything that I would specifically look forward to very much. But because, again, I am writing this post almost straight after my little language learning session, and a little frustrated with myself, I’ll say that I’m really, really, really looking forward to the moment when I’ll be finally able to understand more in Welsh, and have better listening skills in this language. I always like learning my languages, but recently it’s been quite a struggle with Welsh and I can see that my understanding of what people are saying is not the best. I may pick up a lot of separate small words or phrases but somehow often can’t make sense of them together. And there have been so many things lately that I’d like to understand, and often I can’t even get the gist. You’d think that because I pick up the phonetics quickly, and have been absorbing new vocabulary speedily in the last couple of weeks, that wouldn’t be a problem, but it is. I suppose that it just simply needs time and even more practice, but I still wonder what if there is something that I’m doing wrong, or maybe I should do something more, or not do something. 😀 I must also admit that I am not used to that much trouble with a language. I mean both my English and Swedish have been evolving a bit like by some miracle. I was learning English at school, but didn’t like the subject, and although I was fairly good in comparison to most of other students, I was still rather mediocre and couldn’t really communicate, because school won’t teach you that, not a Polish school at least, unless you put a lot of your own effort into it and will do more than they do at school. Only when I started to teach myself more, it turned out that I actually don’t have to teach myself anything, because my English was practically developing on its own at an extreme speed and the only thing that was left to me was observing this strange process happening, until I suddenly found myself blogging in English and thinking in English often very automatically. 😀 With my Swedish it was like that I had a very long break in learning, so that I had to actually start all over again, but it went really quickly and as my teacher said, I sort of skipped the most difficult and laborious stage of learning Swedish, which was kind of mysterious for both of us, I was a beginner, and then suddenly started to express myself in a very sophisticated way, translate pretty complex articles and such. Both my English and Swedish, especially Swedish, are still in development and I have to put a conscious effort into it, but the most difficult things my brain did on its own, so that it feels as if I skipped some of the learning process, if it makes any sense. My language learning was kind of happening beside me. And with Welsh it’s much more real work. Not that it discourages me, not at all, but just frustrates a bit. Maybe something radical must happen and then my Welsh will speed up too, I don’t know. So I just can’t wait until I’ll finally be able to understand people efficiently without my brain getting all sore from it. 😀

And you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What are your feelings/thoughts on butterflies? Do you have a favourite type?

My answer:

Don’t have a favourite type, but I really like butterflies. Can’t exactly pinpoint why, because, well, if you’re blind, you wouldn’t think you can have much to do with butterflies, right? I had butterflies sitting on my hands a few times but you can’t really touch them so that you could get an idea of them as they are so fragile. But I like butterflies. I like the fragility of them, that they are so free and beautiful, and some of their names are cute and beautiful and evocative. Misha also loves butterflies, but his love is a little bit, hm, intricative and sadistic. I also really like the words for butterfly in different languages. I particularly adore the Welsh word pilipala, isn’t it soooo cute? And Swedish fjäril is very lyrical in my opinion. I also like Polish motyl, though in comparison with fjäril it sounds a little bland. Even French papillon is very nice, though I’m generally not big on French. But I absolutely hate English word butterfly. When I think of it, I see a big, fat, heavy fly, being trapped in a butter-dish, or some similarly aesthetic imagery. I just don’t know, whoever came up with this word had to lack imagination quite severely. 😀 But that’s all I can say about butterflies.

How about you? 🙂

Friday nights in Sweden = ‘Fredagsmys’!

Funny that I only heard about a similar thing in Denmark, from a friend who used to live there, – don’t know how they call it there but he told me they like to have it hygge at Friday evenings, eating yummy food and watching the telly – but never knew it’s a thing in Sweden too! What a powerful thing for marketing it must be! But even though, it really sounds good to me to have such a nice and cosy end of the working week and start to the weekend. What do you think. Shouldn’t fredagsmys be introduced to other countries too? 🙂 I’m all for it! It somehow appeals to me despite I am usually not too crazy on all those newly invented traditions created mainly for marketing reasons as I feel like they are often a little artificial.

Watching the Swedes

fredagsmys2

I was just in my local supermarket doing a quick bit of food shopping. Although the place was relatively empty at that time of day,  I noticed that a few of the aisles were the most popular. Throngs of people gathered in the TexMex aisle, the soft drinks aisle and the aisle displaying crisps.

Of course, I thought! It’s Friday! And in Sweden, that means Fredagsmys!

‘Fredagsmys’ is loosely translated as ‘Friday Cosying’, and it is a relatively modern ritual in Sweden established in the 90’s. Prevalent up and down the country, ‘fredagsmys’ is when friends and families gather together to mark the end of the working week. it’s mostly associated with families and children and traditions differ family to family. However,  one common denominator seems to be that food should be easy and quick to make. In other words, Friday night is a huge night for tacos and pizza in Sweden.

Gathering around food for cosy…

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Reasons why I’m learning Swedish.

Hey hey people! 🙂

Do any of you who were already around here a year ago remember my post

Reasons Why I’m Learning Welsh?

Well I got an impression that it got quite a lot of reaction, at least more than I’d suppose it could on not even a month-old blog, and it seemed like people were interested, and some time before I published that post on my Polish blog where even though I had only a couple of readers it also got quite a lot of attention and more that I initially expected. It was also lots of fun for me, so let’s see how it goes with Swedish this year. I actually should write the Swedish post earlier since I started learning Swedish earlier than Welsh, but who cares about chronology nonsense. Not me anyway hahaha.

I’m going to refer to some reasons I posted in the Welsh post because some of the reasons for learning both languages are the same for me. Also they are in no particular order, just as they come to my mind, and I don’t have any particular number that I’m aspiring to, we’ll see how many I can come up with.

1.

Because I just plain like it. What better reason can you have? I like Swedish language, I like Swedish culture, I like Swedes, (even though I don’t always agree with them or support them in all that they do and in all that is going on in their country but I don’t have to, and diversity of views, opinions and ways of doing things is in my opinion, among others, one of things that makes this world interesting 🙂 ). I love the sound of Swedish. My first contact with Swedish was when I was a very little child, we lived in the countryside, on a bit of a hill, so that when there was good weather, or after the storm, and you went upstairs, you could find Swedish radiostations in the radio. And sometimes I listened to them, absolutely hypnotised by the sound of swedish. I didn’t even know for sure whether it’s Swedish,I asked my parents what it is and they said maybe Swedish, maybe Norwegian, maybe Danish, or maybe something else. But I liked to think it was Swedish, and it was Swedish. I could listen to it for hours, and I still can. After some time I watched “The Six Children Of Bullerby” with my Mum. I always loved the book and Mum read it to me countless times before watching that film. She read the subtitles to me so that I knew what they were saying, but I remember that I didn’t really care about it, I didn’t care about what was going on in the film, I just listened to the language and nothing else interested me, it was so beautiful. So then my obsession with Swedish developed fully and when I was 10 years old, Mum found a teacher for me. I was at the integration school back then for two years, not the boarding school, so it was possible for me to learn Swedish at home which I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, we had to face the fact that integration was not for me, and there were also some external factors involved, so I had to go back to the boarding school,which meant there was no point in continuing my swedish lessons as they would be rare and very irregular, and when I was home from school I didn’t really feel like learning anything. I yearned for Swedish terribly though, so had to sort of suppress it, put it deep inside my brain to not have to think about the fact that I can’t learn Swedish to be able to accept it. I succeeded at it, only when I happened to hear something in or about swedish, my brain exploded with longing all over again. But I was able to restart my Swedish when I got out from there. Swedish is one of my most favourite languages, in case of which I feel some sort of pressuring need to be in contact with them, use them, explore them, just be in touch with them as much as possible. It’s a bit strange and hard to explain for someone who doesn’t have, it, it feels like some sort of a strange calling. 😀

   2.

Because one of my music crushes – Cornelis Vreeswijk – lived in Sweden, created music and poems in Swedish, and I usually tend to love my crushes’ languages, since my languages are my fetishes, yeah it might sound crazy but I’ve just had to accept it hahaha. I actually feel like in a way I owe my reunion with the Swedish language to Cornelis. It was in my last year of being in the boarding school, I was at home for some short break, working on some project for school. And in my mind I was hearing a song which my swedish teacher showed to me years ago which we used for learning some new words. I memorised it back then but I didn’t think I could remember it after all those years of not thinking about it, but turns out I did and quite clearly. The song was called “Balladen Om Herr Fredrik Åkare Och Den Söta Fröken Cecilia Lind” (The Ballad About Fredrik Åkare And The Sweet Miss cecilia Lind), which surprisingly I also remember despite the long title, and was a real brainworm, but I didn’t know who did it so I just googled it. And so it was my first conscious contact with Vreeswijk’s music, and I slowly started to get this strange crush despite that actually he wasn’t really my style. If I have a crush, I’m very nosey and want to know everything possible about them, their music, their life, their personality, likes, dislikes, views, whatever. Vreeswijk was quite easy to get a lot of info about, as he was quite (in)famous in his time and still lots of Swedes love him or hate him and he’s well known, but in order to get that info, I had to understand at least basic Swedish. So I had to learn really quickly to quench my thirst, both for Swedish and for knowledge about my crush. And, despite at the beginning before I left school I really suffered for lack of resources, it was speedy, almost miraculous! I could amost feel the words I learned before and forgot coming back to my brain, and the more I listened to Vreeswijk’s music, read and worked on it, the more intense this process of language recovery felt, and it felt gorgeous! Summer holidays came, and passed away, and surprisingly and very dynamically my life changed diametrically and I got out of that school, that’s another story, and quite a yucky one despite a happy ending so I won’t write much about it here. But that paradoxically opened new possibilities before me, and because I had individual education for the next year which was less absorbing, time consuming and anxiety provoking than normally going to school, I had a lot of time to devote myself to my Swedish studies. By sheer luck and a very weird and funny accident my Mum got in touch with my former Swedish teacher so we could start all over again. Well not really all over again, because to huge surprise and amazement of both of us it turned out that my Swedish is actually a bit better and more communicative than those six years ago. 😀 Funny innit? He said that I had to literally skip some stages of development of my Swedish. With time I learned more about Vreeswijk, among others that he migrated to Sweden with his family at the age of 12, with no Swedish at all, but managed to start attending a normal, mainstream Swedish school after a year of learning. And I suddenly felt very competitive. Because wow, he learned Swedish in a year enough to communicate in it properly, and then was fluent like a native as an adult. I want to be like this too! I’m gonna do this! I guess his task was easier than mine as he lived in Sweden, didn’t have much choice about it, and Dutch is much more similar to Swedish than Polish, he was also younger than me which I guess does make a difference. But I guess i accomplished this goal really well. I still am not fully satisfied with my Swedish, but I think I would manage in a Swedish school if I had to. My crush on Vreeswijk has faded, which means that I still have it but it got dominated by my newer crush from Wales – Gwilym Bowen Rhys –  but my crush is my crush so I’m loyal to them all. Vreeswijk was a socialist and had quite controversial views on lots of things, which I most often don’t agree with him about, but I love his lyrics and poems that don’t regard politics and other stuff like that, and my dream is to translate them to Polish. Don’t know how realistic it is, and how realistic and successful could be introducing him to Polish people, but I’d like to try, and I’m still trying, very strenuously, even just for myself.

3.

Because I wanted to read “The Six Bullerby Children” in Swedish. I did. A few times. 🙂

 4.

Because of other Swedish language music. I feel like Welsh music speaks much more to me than Swedish, but they still have loads of great music.

5.

Because so many people think it’s difficult. OK I can agree with you on Welsh, Celtic languages can feel a little abstractive at times, though I am also pretty sure there are more difficult languages. But Swedish isn’t difficult at all. It’s childishly simple. It has some annoying grammar quirks and a few sounds that might be a little challenging, but that’s all. Just because you don’t hear it as often as English, doesn’t mean it’s difficult. I’d risk a statement that it’s easier than English, well my ENglish is better than my Swedish at the moment, but I think overall Swedish is easier.

6.

As I already wrote in reason #1, I like Swedes, I like all of the nations that speak my favourite languages/dialects/accents, and I feel a strange sense of bond with them. Obviously my Polish people are closest to me than any other but I feel really close to all of them. I also want to connect with my people via my languages

7.

To show Swedes that their language is beautiful. I don’t know for sure and I know I shouldn’t generalise but it feels to me like many of them don’t fully appreciate their language, even though Swedish is not like Welsh almost on the verge of extinction. I think we all often take our own mother tongues for granted. All Swedish people speak English, or almost all but I’ve never come across anyone who wouldn’t. It happened to me countless times with Swedes with whom I initiated contact online that I wrote them in Swedish and they wrote to me in English. I know it’s just their kindness and they want to adjust to me (or maybe my Swedish is still so shitty hahaha), but it always sort of frustrated me because it felt like they didn’t want to give me a chance to practice, or maybe felt like Swedish is something exclusive, I don’t know. They were of course happy with it when I told them they can write to me in Swedish, but it felt weird. Same when I was in Stockholm, whenever I couldn’t find a word and automatically used an English one, they would respond to me in English. Ughhhhh. Maybe it’s a little incomprehensible to me because many people in Poland wouldn’t do it. I think I wouldn’t either if I saw a foreigner here and realised that he can speak at least basic Polish. And maybe Swedes just got used to speaking to all non Swedes in English by default because of so many imigrants that are in Sweden who can’t speak Swedish. So I want to show them that their language is also beautiful and worth learning, not so very difficult that a foreigner can’t learn it, and it’s not them who have to make all the effort, the other side can do something too to make the communication easier. If they can learn English, why can’t we learn Swedish.

8.

Because people wouldn’t treat me seriously if I only learned some endangered languages on the verge of extinction about which most people don’t even have the slightest idea. My Dad still thinks I’m making up this whole Welsh learning thing even if I talk to him in Welsh. But Swedish, yes! Swedish is a serious language! You can earn a lot of money in Sweden, you can translate crime novels, you can work in transport or in embassy! Swedish is well respected and recognised. In Welsh post I said that my learning Welsh is a good conversation starter ’cause people always ask either why or what it is or how it sounds. With Swedish, they always say: “Aww, that must be difficult. But you can do lots of things with it.”

9.

Don’t know how anywhere else, but in Poland people really dislike German language. All the WWII associations aside, they just think it’s an ugly, harsh language. And for some stupid reason they think Swedish is as well. Especially older people for some reason. But it’s not. It’s maybe not as softy as French or Italian, it has a character and is, as I like to put it, al dente, but it’s definitely not harsh.

10.

To scare my grandma. Yes I put it already in the welsh post. No my grandma doesn’t really believe that Swedes are pagans too like Welshies, but she has very conservative views and is slightly obsessed with religious matters, and constantly worries about the whole world like Filly-Jonk from “The Moomins”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a rightist and a Christian as well, but she is a little extreme and, oh well, I just like to make fun of people, even of my tribe. So, any time she sees me and conversation is focused on me/my languages, she asks me what I see in Swedish. “Sweden is such a cold, lawless, self-devastating country of lonely people! Why do you like them so much?” She is very intelligent but can’t comprehend why I like them so much. We often talk about Swedish politics, she asks me whether I know what’s going on there. I’m not always up to date and while I do care about politics, I don’t trace it all the time and for all my favourite countries, but I try to update my knowledge at least once in a while and with Sweden it’s rather easy. So I tell her about some spicier things that I’ve heard, often colourising it, and relish her utter fright.

11.

To develop my brain. For more details on my brain wellness obsession see the Welsh post.

12.

TO scribble in Swedish in my diary. I like my scribbles to be private and in my household no one else speaks Swedish, so I can have a guarantee that if I write in Swedish no one here will get it even if they would find my diary and figure out how to get to it. Also, for me, all of my languages correspond with particular feelings. As I wrote in the Welsh post, for Welsh main ones are anger, enthusiasm, longing and joy. For Swedish it’s happiness, (not like euphoria but just calm, stable, peaceful happiness, contentment and strong pleasure), amusement, surprise, serenity and disappointment/grief/apathy. So I feel particularly inclined to write in Swedish when feeling any of those things. Also, when my crush on Vreeswijk was at its best, I tended to even write to him. You know, if someone is dead, it’s different than when they are alive and don’t know you and don’t care about you. I believe that if there is an afterlife, which I believe there is, those who passed away can know what’s going on on Earth. I was sure that he must know me, and liked to think that he would be proud of me because of my Swedish and all that, and that he likes me. So I took an example from my Mum, who also wrote her diary in form of letters and wrote letters to Cornelis, in Swedish. 😀

13.

To talk to Misha or myself in another language. It was actually my Swedish teacher who suggested to me talking to Misha in Swedish because his point of view was that cats understand every language.

14.

It’s useful! If you can speak Swedish, you can understand at least to some degree Norwegian, especially Bokmål, and even Danish though personally I find Danish rather hard to understand while listening but if I read it I can get at least the mere context. Icelandic is related though not closely enough, but it happens that I also understand some interesting bits and pieces and it’s always nice. Recently I listened to an Icelandic song and understood that “The ocean is cold”, yay for me! 😀 It’s not much definitely but, hey, if I didn’t speak Swedish, I wouldn’t have a clue about it otherwise. One of my favourite languages is Faroese and while it seems to be even further related to Swedish than Icelandic, I believe that once I start learning it, I’m going to be very grateful for my Swedish. I also plan to learn Dutch which is of course not a Scandinavian language but shares some similarities and I can already see it very clearly.

15.

It’s useful not only with Germanic languages. I strongly hope that when it will be the time for me to learn Sami and Finnish, my Swedish will help me, as English helps me with Welsh because all resources are in it. Swedish is always close to Finnish than Polish because of Sweden and Finland being neighbours and influencing each other, and there is a Finnish minority in Sweden and Swedish-speaking Finns in Finland, and the Sami are also a minority in Sweden.

16.

Because “Swenglish” accent is cute, sexy and crasily amasing! I want to know why and how it is the way it is, and what better way could be than learning Swedish, figuring out its phonetics and putting myself in the same position as Swedes.

17.

TO be able to understand what they talk about in those radiostations I was so amazed with as a kid. 😀

18.

To read Swedish books, not only Astrid Lindgren’s. My vocabulary in Swedish is still a bit limited so it takes me a lot of time and effort to read something as long as a book and focus on it and enjoy it, but I try sometimes. I still haven’t read all the Swedish books I’ve got for myself during my trip to Stockholm. Not just because of the language but uhhh scanning sucks and is boring.

19.

TO scare strangers. See the Welsh post for details.

20.

To help me with my anxieties, depression and generally my freaky brain.

21.

Because every language you know gives you a different perspective on different things.

22.

Because if not my Swedish, I wouldn’t go to Stockholm and have so much fun there. I wouldn’t realise that although my anxieties including social anxiety can be really crippling and debilitating, my love for languages is stronger. And because if not Swedish, I would miss some other cool things in life too. Like I wouldn’t meet my friend Jacek from Helsinki. My friendship with him, although a bit stormy and weird, as he was stormy and weird, was also one of the most unusual and interesting things that happened to me, and now that he’s no longer on Earth, Swedish reminds me of his spirit and charisma.

23.

Because I like vikings and Norse mythology. I can like them without learning Swedish but this way it’s more fun. 😀

24.

Because I hope that indeed it will help me in future in some way.

   25.

Because Swedish is so uncomplicated in terms of expressing yourself. I consider myself quite a complex person, with lots of complicated feelings, ideas and complicated things going on, and sometimes I find it difficult and annoying that I can’t seem to be able to express myself properly and adequately, meaning that I can say exactly what I want and how I feel, not have to say that something is either black or white, sounding naturally and not too sublime and sophisticated or silly on the other hand. But in a way I love this trait of Swedish, because sometimes when I feel that my brain goes too complex and I get trapped in it, I like to just sit down and think it through in swedish. Things usually look much simpler then.

Oh my, I wouldn’t think that there will be more reasons than for Welsh! It’s a lot, isn’t it? So i can be sure that it’s worth it! 😍