Question of the day.

What was the greatest pleasure you ever felt?

My answer:

It’s really hard to pick just one thing, since there were several experiences in my life that I felt great pleasure from, and now after some time has passed it’s difficult to say which one was actually the strongest. But I often have a whole lot of pleasure from hearing “my” languages. Sometimes it’s to the point where it goes beyond just being aesthetically pleasing or even synaesthetically pleasing and I feel it like on a physical level, especially right before I fall asleep or when I wake up but haven’t yet woken up fully, and when I hadn’t heard the language in question in a long time and the speaker has an interesting accent or uses some word that I like the sound of and that is new to me or something like that, it’s absolute bliss when it happens. The same thing can sometimes happen to me when listening to music when something really really really really really resonates with me on, like, a sensory level, I don’t know how to put it. Just like there is music which can give me sensory heebiejeebies, so there can be music which works in the opposite way, except the latter phenomenon is sadly less frequent. It’s kinda like frisson except more intense because I get frisson a lot and it’s not quite the same.

Another thing that stands out to me is the intense relief I felt after my final exams were over. I guess it was only then that I fully realised how much of a strain on my brain the whole year has been, especially with all the preparations for the math part. At that point I didn’t have the results yet, except for oral exams and I got 100% from both oral Polish and oral English (with oral Polish it was mostly just a stroke of luck that I got the best question I possibly could), and while from the beginning I knew that it’s entirely possible that I won’t pass the math (and I didn’t, as you may know) for the time being between passing all the exams and getting the results I decided not to think about it at all. And I can still quite clearly remember the feeling I got after all the exams were over and when I came back home (I wasn’t taking them in my actual school but a special school for the blind a few hours’ drive away, but a different one to the one I used to attend earlier, which from perspective I can say wasn’t a good idea because it only ended up being way more stressful and didn’t give me any benefit over taking them in my actual, local mainstream school). I came into my room and it was like I got hit by a wave of euphoria and relief and like my brain was flying, it felt so good not having anything to do with the screwed education system anymore haha, and not having to deal with all the math stuff or travelling to that fricken school anymore. It was like all the stress I’d been feeling for the past year suddenly left me all at once.

Also when I have some real cool dreams, the first seconds after waking up feel priceless. It feels a bit sad because you know the dream is over, but you’re still stuck in the dream with one foot and you can still experience the great feel of it while being almost awake, I just totally love it.

What was such a thing for you? 🙂

Question of the day (17th August).

What should every person do at least once?

My answer:

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

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

What’s such a thing in your opinion? 🙂

Question of the day (17th June).

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

My answer:

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

You? 🙂

Question of the day (11th June).

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

My answer:

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

You? 🙂

Reasons why I love Polish.

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

reasons why I’m learning Welsh

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

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

reasons why I’m learning Swedish

and last year

reasons why I’m learning English.

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

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

Here are all the reasons why I love Polish:

   1.

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

   2.

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

   3.

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

   4.

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

   5.

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

about gingerbread,

for example, if you want to learn more.

   6.

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

7.

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

8.

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

   9.

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

   10.

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

   11.

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

   12.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question of the day.

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

My answer:

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

You? 🙂

Question of the day (23rd September).

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

My answer:

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

How about your family? 🙂

Question of the day (22nd September).

Did you ever study a foreign language by yourself?

My answer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day (21st September).

Did you have foreign language classes in your school?

My answer:

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

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

Question of the day (20 September).

What other languages do you speak, if any?

My answer:

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

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day (19th September).

Hey people! 🙂

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

What’s your native language?

My answer:

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

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

What is one language you wish you could know, but don’t?

My answer:

I haven’t started learning many of my favourite languages yet, that I plan to learn in the future. I have some very basic idea about them, like know some basic words and phrases and whatever I’ve been able to catch of them along the way so far, and also I think I have a pretty good idea about how the phonetics of each of them work, and how they relate to spelling, but I am by no means able to communicate in most of them, so I would like to learn them. But since that’s quite obvious if you’ve been following my blog for a while, I can also say that I think it would be cool, in case I will ever learn all my most favourite ones, to try some others, that I also like, not quite as much but still, and find them interesting. Like, perhaps other Slavic languages or the Uralic ones, or the other Scandinavian languages apart from Swedish and Faroese that are on my favourites’ list. If I could go that far, I think the only limitation for me would be that I’d have to stick to the languages with Latin alphabet, because I learn to a large degree by reading and writing, and even if not, I do like to know how something is spelt to be able to imagine it in my brain with some sort of structure, and I can’t do that when I only know the pronunciation, also then when I don’t know how it’s spelt I’m more likely to pronounce it wrong, but I somehow don’t feel comfortable with the idea of learning one or more foreign alphabets especially that from what I’ve heard the support for them in Braille displays can vary a lot, and from what I know my Braille-Sense is not able to display other alphabets whatsoever so it would be a bit of an abstraction. Also, I am an accent freak and I like learning, or at least learning about, different accents and dialects of my favourite languages. Until not very long ago I used to think that I’ve come to the point with my English where I know really quite a fair bit about all sorts of accents and dialects, especially British, at least as for a non native who’se never been to any English-speaking country. I suppose I can’t imitate all of them super convincingly, and I haven’t got very much feedback, but I think I have an idea about how to do most of them and am able to distinguish them and usually understand people unless they’re talking really slangy or fast or whatever. I love all of them, just as I do all my languages. But recently I’ve come across a Geordie Youtuber who made a video about her local accent, and I was virtually gobsmacked! Firstly, I realised that, despite of course I knew such an accent as Geordie exists and, very basically, what it sounds like, I somehow missed it in my accent education! 😀 All the glottalisations are a bit crazy! And secondly, I also realised that it was really pretty hard to imitate, harder than even Scottish! And it’s strange in a fun way! I’ve done a little bit of research online and people generally seem to think it’s difficult, which made me think that I’d like to learn it. It’s fun, just like all the British accents are to me, but the added extra challenge makes it even more intriguing to me. And if I could learn to understand and speak it at least to the extent I think I can do Glaswegian Scottish, I think I would feel even better about my English since it seems to be so hard, haha. I’m not saying I will do it, and I’m almost sure I will not do it right now while I’m doing my Welsh, which requires a lot of creativity and motivation and imagination from me with the amounts of resources available, I’d rather tackle it when doing some lighter language and until then I might change my mind or just forget about it, but I hope I won’t! It’ll be a quirky, fun thing to do I think, even if not particularly useful in life, but which of my languages are going to be practically useful for me? 😀

So how about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

In how many languages can you say thanks?

My answer:

Well I may be good at languages, but definitely not at counting and find it pretty unimportant and timewasting, so I think I’ll just tell you in which, and you can count if you wish. 😀

I guess more than I can actually speak.

First my favourite languages, I know how to say thanks in all of them even though I can only speak Polish, English, Swedish and Welsh.

Polish – dzięki, or dziękuję if you want to say thank you and be more formal.

English – thanks.

Swedish – tack.

Welsh – diolch.

Finnish – kiitos, or actually kiiti or kiitoksia, kiitos is more formal than thanks.

Dutch – dank je.

Irish – Go raibh maith agat.

Scots – thank ye, though I’m not sure if it’s actually used in this form as I have never heard anyone saying this in Scots.

Scottish Gaelic – Tapadh leat.

Manx – Gura mie ayd, apparently.

Cornish – Meur ras.

Frisian – tankje.

North Sami – giitu.

Faroese, – takk fyri, takk is also Norwegian and Icelandic, though Norwegian and Icelandic aren’t among my very very favourite ones, though I like them.

And then there are other languages that I most probably won’t ever learn, but know how to say thanks in them.

Danish – tak, well very similar to Swedish so easy to figure out.

Chinese – 谢谢, I had to find the spelling online as I don’t have neither Chinese keyboard nor the slightest idea about Chinese alphabet, but I’ve learned it at school and know how it should sound, haha.

Czech – Dík, know it from my Dad, and heard a lot when we were in Czech.

Russian – Спасибо, from my Mum.

Slovak – Vďaka, again heard it from my Dad.

German – danke, I was learning German at school.

Lithuanian – Ačiū, my Grandad taught me.

Swahili – Asante – I learned some Swahili when I was at school and my aunt’s acquaintance often visited me there, she was teaching me English, but she was also a missionary in Africa and she could speak a bit Swahili.

French – merci, well I guess everyone knows it.

Italian – grazie.

Spanish – gracias, also quite widely known and even if I wouldn’t know it earlier, Zofijka watches a lot of Argentinian series nowadays so it’s easy to figure out.

Wow that’s quite a lot actually, wouldn’t think it’s so many languages haha, it’s funny how some things just get sucked in by our brains. How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

Any goals/plans/things you’re excited about for the rest of March? My answer:
Nothing spectacular. Maybe I’ll be able to pass at least most of my school term exams until Easter, although that’s highly doubtful. As always I hope to develop all my languages, I try to not miss any opportunity to it, although I think I should work more on my Swedish, it’s been my most neglected child lately in all that storm of blogging and writing in English and learning Welsh. And that’s it, I suppose. You?

New gem stones in my collection.

I’m really starting to wonder about taking photos of all the stones in my collection and putting them here. It would take a lot of time and obviously I would need someone else to involve in it and take the pictures, but I think it could be a good idea. What do you think?

My Mum wanted to make me a surprise and bought me some more stones which are really beautiful. They are standing on my window and everyone says they look brilliant in the sun. It’s very snowy here recently, but also the sun is shining a lot so they have great conditions to present themselves. I am really happy I got so many new stones recently. I plan to go to the Festival Of Minerals which will be sometime in August in Silesia. I’d love someone acquainted to take a look at my collection and tell me whether all of these stones are really natural and I’d love to take a look at some minerals I’ve never seen before.

As for other things, yesterday I had an intensive Welsh day, well I’ve heard of people having much more intensive days, but it was the most intensive Welsh day I’ve ever had, because I did 5 challenges during one day. My brain felt drained, but, in contrast to the brain drainage I always get when I have Maths, that one felt really good and I felt glad and proud of myself, not depressed and tired as I usually am after my Maths lessons, simply because my achievements were much much bigger. I decided to praise myself for that and when we were going for a walk with my Mum, we also went to the grocery shop as she needed some vegs and I bought myself a chocolate with nuts which is really yummy. We had a really long walk which I definitely needed after all that brain fitness and which felt very refreshing, and my leg didn’t go as crazy as it did recently, I think it’s healing and going better, slowly, but surely. I can’t wait when I’ll be able to go horse riding finally, gosh I didn’t ride for TWO MONTHS! My horse will forget me! 😀 No, seriously I don’t think he will, I had a few years break time years ago and he seemed like he remembered me. 😀

Today I went to my GP in the morning, as he finally came back from vacation. I decided I will listen to my therapist’s suggestion and will ask him to prescribe me Afobam again. Also I asked him for some more Hydroxizinum as I was running out of it and then picked my prescription along with that from the dermatologist I got on Thursday.

I did some more Welsh today too.

I just had a very yummy dinner, pasta with Napoli sauce. Dad and Olek are both at work, so we don’t necessarily have to have some meat. They must always have meat for dinner, but not me and my Mum, so always when they’re not at home, we have something we like and Zofijka usually likes it too, or she eats at school.

Today I also helped Zofijka with her English homework a bit, but it only led to both of us being frustrated. Zofijka is very hard to teach, it is difficult for her to focus and she hardly ever listens what you tell her and doesn’t really get English and I am not really good at explaining language stuff to people and the last thing I’m good at is teaching anyone anything, but since as for now she doesn’t have any English lessons besides school as she used to have, I try to help her as it’s at least something.

Reasons why I’m learning Welsh. *long post*

I decided to make a whole list of reasons why I’m learning Welsh.

I wrote them in my diary at first, but then posted it also on my Polish blog, which I had until December. They aren’t in any speciffic order, I just wrote them down as they were coming to my brain.

So I decided to put this list here as well, and maybe continue it in future with writing lists of reasons why I’m learning all the other languages I’m learning or why I want to learn those I plan to learn in future. The list might be longer than the one I published on my Polish blog, because some time has passed and I found some new reasons. Unfortunately I didn’t write them down anywhere so it depends on whether I’ll be able to recall them all. I might add something to some of them to make them more clear for you.

1. I extremely like it.

and it belongs to the group of my favourite languages, in case of which I have a constant feeling like I just should not even learn them, but have contact with them and moreover to speak them.

2. Because I want to read the Mabinogion in Welsh in future.

As well as other books about the Celtic culture and Welsh folklore, there are so many great Welsh fairytales and I want to read them not only in English, but in Welsh too.

3. I like Welsh music.

Especially Welsh language music, as you surely know well, if you have seen my song of the day series.

4. My current musical crush is Welsh, and he makes Welsh language music.

I started to learn Welsh before I got to know Gwilym Bowen Rhys and his music, but still it is a very important reason for me, even if not direct, and it makes me somehow even more motivated. And it is a direct reason why I chose a North Welsh dialect over South Welsh. Because Gwil is from North Wales. And because people say northern Welsh is more difficult.

5. In a bigger or smaller degree, I have some sense of bond with all the nations which languages are my favourite.

Of course when it comes to Poland and the Polish language, it was rather inversely, because of the fact I’m Polish and via my bond with Poland as my motherland and the Poles, I’ve naturally started to like Polish very much.

Anyway my bond with Celtic nations is quite speciffic and strong, I guess even stronger than with Sweden or Finland or others, which I consider also as a reason in some way, because I’d like to know more Welsh-speaking people and see, if seriously I haave any reasons to feel so much attached to the Celtic countries and if really me and them have as much in common as I feel. As for now, I have one Welsh-speaking pen pal, with whom I’m getting along really well and we seem to have loads of things in common, and I know more or less some people from the online community in which I am learning Welsh. They are learners like me, but most of them are Welsh. With some of them I talked a bit more than with others and I like them.

6. I think that the Welsh themselves – ptui! a large amount of Welsh people – still don’t appreciate their language as they should.

Although in the last few decades situation of this language has significantly improved, it’s still listed amongst endangered languages and it’s mostly in North Wales where it is in everyday use. So… someone has to show them somehow, what a unique language they have. 😀 Although ENglish is also an undenianbly beautiful language, nowadays almost everyone can speak it, so they should be proud that they have their own, in my opinion.

7. To make people ask why and feel amazed. 😀

And to make a good conversation starter of it. Very useful if you have social anxiety like I do and when you are introvert and hate smalltalking about the weather, school etc. Like I do too.

8. To develop my brain and not become intellectually senile  and not to go even more crazy at my old age.

I certainly have kind of obsession about developing my brain, I am terribly afraid of neurodegenerative diseases and all that reduces brain efficiency. And multilingualism definitely lessens the risk of reduced brain efficiency in future. For the same purpose, I eat food which improve my brain and as i have Mum who is a lifestyle expert, it isn’t difficult. For example I don’t add lemon to the tea, only ascorbic acid, or sodium ascorbate, Mum always has a lot of it, and it tastes just the same as if you had it with lemon, while when you add lemon to warm tea, you’ll get aluminum citrate and will storage in your brain, so… umm, no, thanks. 😀 But seriously, I’m really sensitive for brain well-being matters, probably more, than the standards anticipate, if there are any. 😀

9. To be able to write something so that noone undesirable should get what it is on about.

I mean such things like my diary for instance, or other notes like that. Right now, my personal diary is a mix of Polish, English and Swedish, sometimes I put some Welsh if things I’m writing about aren’t overly complicated, but I suppose that once I get Welsh well enough to be able to express my thoughts clearly, I will use mainly Welsh. I’ve already told you I am slightly paranoid about my privacy, so, I think that’s a great idea.

Or if I feel like swearing a bit. I think it sounds better in Welsh than in Polish or in Swedish, or even in English. I am not one of those people, who have a habit of swearing on every occasion, but sometimes… can’t resist. And then most often I do it either in Welsh or in Finnish, as it’s also great.

Last year in June there was a situation when some guests came to us for a night. It was my cousins’ First Communion. Mum wanted them to eat the supper first. While I was in my room, but wanted to go downstairs, challenge myself and socialise even jjust for a while. So we went downstairs with Misha, to see what’s up. But they had all they suitcases spaced out around the corridor and one was so perfectly placed in the middle of my way to the living room, so that I hit it with my tibia with a lot of rumble and before I could form any logical thought, I pretty automatically swore in Welsh, (not sure if I should quote it 😀 )

My Mum got a bit scared and screamed “What happened?!” while my Dad only asked me from the kitchen: “Which language are you swearing in?”, loud enough to be heard by the guests, so I said that in Welsh, and so I provided a topic to discuss again and people asked why Welsh. But usually I don’t make such big performances as it was then, it’s way too embarrassing. I just swore almost involuntarily as I hit my tribia really strongly and it hurt badly. 😀

10. To talk to Misha in another language and check if he reacts.

Misha is a very clever creature and knows many things, sometimes such things that I wouldn’t ever think he may know anything about. The idea about talking to Misha not only in Polish came from my Swedish teacher, who talks to his cats in Swedish and he says they understand. I was rather skeptical and thought it’s just his autosuggestion, but decided to try, as I already noticed that Misha responds when you call him Mishka, Misheczka, Mishątko and with other nicknames like that, for example when he sits somewhere high and you just say Misheczka, even talking to someone about him in a rather normal tone of voice, he’ll turn to you. Of course it works only when he isn’t absorbed by something else, more interesting, people also don’t always do what you expect them to do at the moment. So I tried and it turned out that Misha comes to me when I’ll call him “Misha chodź” (in Polish), or “Misha, chodź tu” (come here) or “Misha, come here” or “Misha, kom här” (come here in Swedish). Other than that, we rarely call Misha “kici kici” (which is Polish for here kitty kitty or something like that) or if we do, it simply doesn’t work. My Mum has read somewhere, that everyone automatically would call the cat kici kici so he’ll come to anyone, hence Mum came up with an idea that we can whistle to call him, but then Zofijka and me started to call him Mish Mish Mish. 😀 So since both Misha come and Misha kom work and Misha seems to get what’s going on when I just talk to him in another language, so that when we for example go to sleep and he goes behind me upstairs, I decided when I felt a bit more comfortable with my Welsh, that I will try with Welsh too. “Misha, tyrd yma, melys” (Misha, come here, sweetie). And Misha – although very slowly and offishly (he isn’t very responsive overall and, as my Dad calls it, tends to “freeze” easily, so it took him some time) – but came to me and got immediately that I want something from him. So I talk to him in Welsh too, even though I can’t say much and am far from fluent. And I rather talk to him in any other language when we’re alone. I really like to talk to him in different languages.

11. Because I want to see how it is like to learn a non germanic language.

Until now, I’ve only learnt English and Swedish, and a bit of German at school, so I didn’t have any idea about how it is to learn a Celtic language. Needless to say, it feels brilliant!

12. To understand Wenglish better.

If you don’t know what  Wenglish is, it’s simply a mix of Welsh and English, the Welsh English dialect. I love it and Welsh English accent too – as all the British accents and dialects.

13. To understand what they chat about in Radio Cymru and S4C (Welsh tv channel).

I listen to them a lot, so it would be reasonable to understand it, wouldn’t it?

   14. To have a laugh at Tolkien’s fans and talk to them in Sindarin. 😀

While creating the Sindarin language, Tolkien apparently was inspired with Welsh and actually if you can read Welsh (know its phonetics), you can as well read in Sindarin. at least that’s what I was told.

15. To scare my gramma.

My gramma is a bit obsessed with theology. She isn’t a bigot, like many elderly ladies, she was just always interested in theology, she even studied it. She insists that Welsh surely is a Pagan language, because the Celts were pagans and those Welsh people who speak Welsh are too, that all the Gaelic languages are pagan languages and that they are nazis, because Celtic cross is a symbol of nazism. She always asks me different things about Celtic spirituality, the early, pagan one and the Christian spirituality, when all those monks started to arrive to these lands and she still can’t believe that Christian people seriously pray in Welsh, Irish and Scottish, that they had their own, speciffic, Christian spirituality. Indeed, with some elements of their old traditions, but we Slavic people also have traditions that are post pagan, but they are a part of our spirituality.

16. Because I want to watch Rownd A Rownd series in which my crush had apparently played.

And I want to know what it is about obviously.

17. Because I want to be able to do something niche.

Niche things are often interesting just because they are niche, and I want to be able to do something interesting.

18. Because I love to hear people switching languages easily.

I love to hear people talking in English, then switching to Welsh, then back to English and I want to at least be able to do so.

19. To scare strangers.

No, not all strangers. This is another idea brought to me by my excellent Swedish teacher. He liked to tell me stories and once he told me that he had a situation when a drunk guy came to him and started to talk bullshit to him and also asked him for some money. And my teacher, who also speaks Latin, started to talk to him in Latin. 😀 Poor guy looked confused and scared and looked at him like he was insane, and walked away. Isn’t that a great way of dealing with intruders? 😀

20. Because I want to challenge my social anxiety.

My social anxiety is very strange. It comes and goes in different situations and sometimes I can’t predict when it will come. Sometimes I might chat freely with my extended or close family and be unable to talk to strangers, sometimes I find myself feeling very comfortable around someone I’ve never seen before and have trouble talking to even such close people like my brother. It’s very flexible and it’s hard for me to notice any patterns of it. One thing it amazes me with is that I am often a bit less anxious when I speak to people in another language. I’ve never had those kind blockades while talking in another language, which many people do have and I suppose my love for my languages is bigger than my social anxiety. So, when I get a chance of talking with someone in English or Swedish, most often my language obsession wins, and although I may be anxious, I jump on it. And it gets better while I’m speaking. My most hardcore experience is staying in Stockholm for a week with my family. My family speaks no English, and no Swedish too. So I was like their translator. I was literally scared. I wanted desperately to go to Stockholm, I planned it for so very long, but finally when I knew it will happen for sure, although I still wanted to go there, at the same time I wanted to escape and not think about it anymore. But I got there and although talking on behalf of three people was extremely challenging and just knackering, it was also very rewarding. So, I want to have another language to help me with my social anxiety. As for now, I’ve never talked to anyone in Welsh, only have written emails or other kinds of messages, and I get anxious when I think about it, but I also want it to happen. So yeah, languages seem to be the only thing which can lessen my anxiety in social situations for a while. And I have a quiet hope that maybe someday I will be able to go to Wales and test my skills. The thing is not with organisation, as I think it wouldn’t be hard in my case, but I need to feel emotionally ready, which may take a lot of time.

21. Because it helps me with depression and all the other kinds of anxiety I experience.

Social anxiety isn’t the only kind of anxiety I struggle with, I very often experience pretty general anxiety and have a bunch of speciffic phobias. When anxiety hits me, it’s rather hard to focus on anything else besides the object of your anxiety, so you won’t absorb any new languages. But you need to distract. Even if all your thoughts are full of anxiety, you can switch to another language in thinking. English doesn’t work, because I already think a lot in English during the day along with Polish and it doesn’t need as much effort as with Swedish or Welsh. And then, when I start to think in that other language, in my case, my thoughts  slow down – because I usually have to have more time to form them – and I can gradually distract from feeling anxiety, without desperately trying to find some activities or other topic to think about or something to focus on. I often write down my thoughts then as well. I just let my thoughts go, but in another language, and then they just change their paths and I realise I’m actually thinking about something different that isn’t anxiety provoking. This strategy doesn’t work always, it depends on how severe the anxiety is and how much I can focus right now, but it works usually, to a varying degree. It happens that I can distract from the anxiety completely and it just passes away.

Same is with depression. Or low mood in general. Right now, I am rarely so depressed that I feel really anhedonic, that nothing can make me happy just at all. I’m very glad about it. All my language achievements really boost my mood and I try to celebrate even the smallest ones (although my linguistic skills are the only one area I’m a perfectionist in and it’s always not enough for me). If I feel very depresed, I can listen to music in my favourite languages, write something in one of them and it often lifts me up a bit. I always feel like my favourite languages correspond with different feelings. So when I feel a certain way, I prefer to write in a language that represents this feeling for me, although of course I now only know 4 of those languages so my possibilities are limited. But as for the Welsh language, I feel like the feelings of anger, longing (in any sense of this word), frustration, enthusiasm and joy, like the kind of joy when you see something beautiful, correspond with this language in my mind. But anger and enthusiasm seem to correspond the most. Besides, I always set myself some goals as for what I want to reach in a certain amount of time. So that gives me some routine that I should stick to, something I can go to in life at least short term, so the life doesn’t seem so extremely pointless when I feel very low. When I feel like severely depressed and do  have some anhedonia or feel like I just can’t drag out of bed or do just anything, I try to motivate myself to do at least a bit of practice with my language, but if I can’t do it, I don’t punish myself for that. Sometimes the only thing I feel like doing is sleep and I think everyone has the right for feeling this way and it’s OK, even if not nice and even if people may not get it why you’re so non functional at all.

22. Because I want to learn to pronounce…

Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch

and in order to pronounce it properly, I need to know at least basics about this language’s phonetics. In fact, I actually achieved it and I can read it as it should be, but my main goal as for that is to learn to pronounce it by heart. Why? JUST for fun. On a Polish site called Nonsensopedia they wrote that you’ll faster get diarrhea than pronounce it. I just wanted to test.

23. Because so many people think it’s difficult.

It is. But Polish is too. And English, in some ways is too. It all depends on your autosuggestion.

 

WOOOOOOW!!!

23 reasons! Quite a lot, huh? Exactly. So now I’m even more sure that it’s a job worth doing.

Are you learning any language? Why do you do it?

Let me know if you want me to do it as a series and write reasons for my other languages too.

 

Song of the day – Maja Koman – Babcia Mówi (Grandma Says).

Hi! 🙂

I wanted to share another Enya’s song with you today, but then realised that oh wow it’s International Mother Language Day, so, well… mother language, yay! It’s definitely a time to show you something in Polish, this blog exists almost for a month and still nothing in Polish here.

The truth is… I don’t listen to Polish music very much. It’s not I don’t listen to it at all, ’cause I do at times,  and it’s not I’m not patriotic or don’t like my mother tongue, in fact I love it and (pretty obviously I think) it’s one of my around 12 favourite languages, I think me and my whole family are very patriotic. But I just listen to so much music in other languages, in Swedish, in all the endangered languages I love, in English obviously, so that most music I listen to in Polish are just random things I hear in radio in the kitchen or somewhere else, and when Ilisten to something in Polish just because I really want to and enjoy it, I mostly like it for the lyrics, it’s most often something alternative, or reggae, some folk at times. So I felt like it would be hard for me to make you like it if you won’t be able to understand the lyrics. So I wondered for quite a while what to pick.

But finally I picked something. It is a humourous, ironical, but also very true song and although lyrics are most important in it, I think you’ll like it.

Maja Koman is a young artist from Greater Poland, she writes songs for herself and plays ukulele, is a bit of an eccentric and her lyrics are usually ironic, honest, funny, a bit sarcastic. She also writes songs in English and French, but most of them are in Polish.

This particular song – “Babcia Mówi” – is basically about how men and women, very generally, changed since our grandparents were young. This song should be definitely taken with a grain of salt and it’s surely not a generalisation, but it says that men become less masculine, more like females, while women aren’t as feminine as they used to be either. 😀 By the way, I feel like it’s a perfect example of that hiraeth thing I wrote about a few posts ago. 😀 And although if I’d take it literally, there are some things I can’t agree with, generally, as a person with quite traditional views, I think it’s pretty true. I really like this song and it still makes me smile when I listen to it even though I know it since  a few years already.

It’s a pity there aren’t any English lyrics to it anywhere, I tried to translate it on my own, but realised I’d probably only make a bit of a hash of it, because there are lots of colloquialisms, metaphors and words that are more or less emotionally charged and I’m not sure of their adequate English equivalents, so it wouldn’t be as funny and natural. But still I hope you’ll enjoy this song.

Song of the day – Caryl Parry Jones – Babis Bach Mis Awst (Little Babies In August).

Hey! 🙂

Today I have a nice and funny song for you which is just about babies. Its title may mean little babies in August but I guess that also little August babies. It is the first song in Welsh language that I’ve ever heard. Well at least consciously, I don’t know, maybe I’ve heard something before but just don’t realise, I highly doubt it though. I wanted to find out some Welsh music as I was starting to learn Welsh as my new language and this was just a first thing that I found on Spotify on some playlist. And I liked it for three things – because of its cheerfulness, because it is fairly easy so even though I was just a complete beginner I was very happy and proud of myself because I could understand something, although I still don’t get exactly every word in this song, as I’m still quite a beginner, and the third reason was, I showed it to Zofijka, I often share some music with her if I think she might like it, and she made a discovery, that you can hear something… ahem, a bit undecent, in Polish, at the beginning of the refrain. 😀 Because it’s slightly odd what we hear there, I think I won’t share it publicly, anyway when we listen to this song together, we still always have a good laugh of it, even though in fact it is so innocent and childish. It’s weird though that Zofijka, being a child, heard it out much quicker than me. 😛 Oh, and you have quite a bunch of Welsh baby names in it, so that’s another advantage if you are a name geek, although of course I’ve heard them much earlier already, so it wasn’t anything new to me.

I’ve even wondered if I could make an English translation of the lyrics, because as far as I know there aren’t any online and the lyrics are fairly easy as I’ve said, but it was quite a spontaneous thought I had today so I don’t have it done yet, but maybe I’ll take a risk and add the lyrics in my own translation later on.

As for the performer of this song, Caryl Parry Jones, she lives in Glamorgan Vale and besides being a singer-songwriter, is also an actress and has her own show on BBC Radio Cymru, which is a Welsh-language station. She comes from an artistic family and her own children all work in arts as well. In seventies she was known as a vocalist in the band called Bando.

Here’s the song:

Quiet Saturday.

Today I am also having a very nice day. It’s 7 PM now here as I am starting to write this post. My mood is still rather uplifted which I am happy about. And I slept really well again, although quite long, I definitely didn’t plan to sleep for so long and didn’t want it to be honest. I fell asleep around midnight and woke up at 10 AM. I spent a lot of time today with Zofijka. Also I learned some Welsh. Guys I can’t believe it I am at challenge 5 of level 2 already. It goes so fast. I am still far from efficient or fluent in this language, but still… it is an Achievement, even if it’s always rather easy for me to learn languages. Welsh is pretty different from any other language I’ve spoken before. One day I want to speak all the Celtic languages fluently. Hope it’s not too big dream to achieve.

Also, staying with Celtic stuff, I’ve been discovering a lot of Cornish music lately. Recently I realised that despite my love to Celtic music and culture and Cornish language, I don’t know that much Cornish music. So decided to change it. And today I discovered quite a bunch of great songs and artists.

Today my grandparents from Mum’s side visited us and stayed for lunch. We are a bit concerned about grandad, he’s having very severe spine pain, so severe that it also affects his arm and hand. It’s so hard that he was supposed to put on morphine but he’s allergic so has to take horrid amounts of pain killers. And it all affected his health in general. You see, he was quite a strong man, tall and well-built, very fit. And now, in maybe three or four months he become much skinnier, I mean almost scrawny (don’t know if that’s the correct word for it for sure, but hope you know what I wanted to say and seems faint and barely eats. And now he told us he has spine surgery planned for 13th February. As he says it won’t be really complicated, even though what he suffers from is discopathy so quite complex stuff I suppose. We really hope all goes well. My Mum is very worried.

OK, so that’s all from me for today. Hopefully tomorrow we can write something with Misha, at least his intro or something like this. Wanted to do it today, but now I don’t think I’ll be able to.