Language Log #3: Looking back and ahead

Last year (summer 2016) I started learning Korean. It wasn’t exactly a bucket list language, but I joined an evening class with a friend. I had a really fun year learning it, but unfortunately this summer classes ended (not enough people interested, sadly). I continued studying on my own, with the goal of passing TOPIK I in November this year. I was quite ambitious about what level I wanted to reach with Korean. I found it a relatively ‘easy’ language to learn thanks to my background in Japanese (and a little Mandarin). In my case, it’s a perfect language for self-study.

Well… to be honest, my motivation went down right around the time I started learning Russian. It’s a small miracle, but despite focusing on Russian more, I actually passed the TOPIK I exam! The very lowest level, and by the tiniest margin (1 point, haha), but I did it. But these past few months I also realised… and I’m embarrassed to say this… I’m not that interested in Korean. I wish I could say I’m eager to watch movies or drama series, read books, and otherwise immerse myself in the language, but… I’m not. I think I will casually continue studying it whenever I do feel like it, probably using Talk To Me In Korean, but otherwise..? I’m not sure.

As for Russian… The last language log I wrote was back in August. That was right after I started learning Russian and right before my Russian course began. I had fallen head over heels in love with Russian. And I am still head over heels in love with Russian. It was only natural that the past few months Russian has become my priority (not in the least because Russian class was a lot harder than Korean had ever been). Russian classes are fun (no, hilarious), and I can’t believe I’m actually interested in a language that uses grammatical gender and cases (I’ve been avoiding both like the plague). Who would’ve thought.

What will 2018 bring? I am definitely continuing my Russian course. That really is my only focus for next year. I hope to get to CEFR level A1.2 by summer, and after that we’ll see.

A little status update on my languages..:
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[Review] It Devours!, by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

[Review] It Devours!, by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey CranorIt Devours! by Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor
Series: Welcome to Night Vale #2
Published by Harper Perennial on October 17th, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Science fiction, LGBT+, Dystopian
Pages: 353
ISBN: 9780062476050
The verdict: three-half-stars
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Nilanjana Sikdar is an outsider to the town of Night Vale. Working for Carlos, the town’s top scientist, she relies on fact and logic as her guiding principles. But all of that is put into question when Carlos gives her a special assignment investigating a mysterious rumbling in the desert wasteland outside of town.

It Devours!? Oh yeah, I’ve read that book.

It Devours! is the second Welcome to Night Vale novel (not including the scripts) and the first book did not entirely live up to my expectations. Now that I’ve finished book two, I’m just not sure which one is the worst offender. Is this going to be another WtNV novel that we (the WtNV fandom) are all collectively going to never mention again?

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Language Log #2: My Russian Fling

Who knows how long the passion will last, or when the honeymoon phase is over, but right now I’m completely in love with Russian.

I’m treating Russian as a new project. I’m a few weeks in and so far it’s an interesting experiment. It’s the first language I am learning completely from scratch. I have literally zero previous experience in it. Before I started, I hadn’t even consumed much (if any) Russian media, not even in translation (well, with the exception of Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We).

So why on earth would I go through the trouble of learning it? Short answer: travel. Russian is by far the most useful language for my upcoming travel plans, as it’s either the official language, the second official language, or an unofficial language of many countries that are very high on my bucket list. There are apparently over 260 million native and L2 speakers of Russian, so that’s another added bonus! And frankly, the more I immerse myself in Russian, the more excited I get about almost everything – cinema, tv series, music, literature, memes (just kidding, but apparently Russian memes are pretty hardcore and now I’m curious).

My initial plan was to study Russian completely on my own, without the help of classes. I’ve reconsidered, and have now signed up for classes starting in September (the same type of classes I’ve taken for Mandarin and Korean). At this early stage feedback is going to be very welcome! And it’s also very much a social thing for me.

My short-term goal is survival-Russian. I want to get to CEFR A2.1 in about a year, which means a year of classes and a lot of self-study on the side. After that, we’ll see.

For now I’m using:

And I’m exploring Russian cinema and tv series… which is an adventure on its own! To be continued…

Running for your life

Well over a year ago I started running. The reason behind it is still a bit of a mystery to me. For years I’ve proclaimed that I absolutely refuse to run. Even though I love exercise and being outside, for a long time I still stubbornly refused to run. I believed running was one of those things that was just not suitable for me, that I just wouldn’t like it, and wouldn’t be good at it, and… However, I think it’s that same stubbornness that got me running in the end. Because what do you mean I can’t do the thing?! I will prove to you that I can do the thing.

After two false starts (a running related knee injury and an unrelated ankle injury) I finally got to a decent level of running, thanks to the Couch25K program. There are a lot of apps out there for different operating systems that help you get from zero to running 5k straight in a couple of months. Couch25K got me from a complete non-runner to running 35 minutes/6K non-stop in about three months (technically the program is 8 weeks, but running three times a week was incompatible with my schedule soooo…).

These days I’m running anywhere from 8k-10k twice a week (apparently anything is possible). Still, my attention span for anything is… short, at best. I have this newfound love for running, but how on earth am I going to stay interested?

Apparently the answer is: getting chased by zombies.
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Language Log #1: Contemplating languages

I am a linguaphile. I am completely intrigued by languages. I love looking at the links between different languages, similarities and differences, language jokes and memes, and yes, I love learning languages.

What I am most definitely not: a talented polyglot.

There are many things that get in the way of learning languages properly, but they can mostly be summarised: I have a terribly short attention span, lose interest quickly, and have very little discipline. As a result I end up doing most things half-assed. Case in point: learning languages. I always envy polyglots who work at languages systematically and end up being very decent, if not fluent at them (although everyone has a different definition of fluency and that’s a topic for another time). Me? I’m decent at best, and at worst completely hopeless.

I want to learn all the languages and I want to be really, really good at them.

But at some point the reality of the situation dawned on me:

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