2015 is gone.
Language wise I concentrated in the Romance Language project, which was to read the major Romance languages by the end of 2015.
I had some success. The major thing I discovered is that I had a large vocabulary in the major Romance languages already.
The languages I consider major Romance languages are:
Spanish – Since this is my native language and one I learned in school until age 15 I can read it at a very high level. I can read novels with a 100% comprehension (with the occasional word I have to look up in the dictionary). In 2015 I decided to return to Spanish novels. I read La Sombra Del Viento and Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and I am working my way through El Amante Japonés and El Juego De Reaper by Isabel Allende.
Italian – When I began reading in Italian back in the first part of 2015, I was quite intimidated. I don’t know why. But once I made the effort, I discovered that my vocabulary in Italian, at least passively, was huge.
The main obstacle was confidence. I lacked the confidence to know that the words I knew meant really what I thought they meant. This mostly went away towards the end of the year and now, while I read the book Voci (Voices) by Dacia Maraini, things are going much more smoothly. I only have to look up a word about every couple of paragraphs now, but if I want to, I can read the whole book and get the point of the story and many of its nuances and get the meaning of words by context.
French – If I felt intimidated by Italian, French was a deep mystery to me.
So the book I began with in French, was the Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. As it turned out, I could read this book with little help. French, seems to me, to be so close to Spanish in both vocabulary and syntax that I could read on relying on context for words I didn’t know. It was easier to me than Italian.
Portuguese – This language, in its written form, is practically Spanish. During 2015, I read mostly online content with no problem at all. I have a number of books in Portuguese, such as O Alquimista by Paul Coelho that I plan to read in 2016. Do not be fooled however, into thinking that because one can read Portuguese, one can speak Portuguese. No, no. I can listen to the Brazilian News and understand 95% of what they say but when I listen to a native speaker talk at normal speed, that percentage drops to about 60%!
Romanian – Most people are still surprised to learn that Romanian is a Romance language. Because of its history and geographical location, this language has been the hardest to read. Because it is a Romance language however, I come into it with a nice chunk of words. It is the language I made the least progress with and I cannot read it much without the aid of a dictionary. I plan to rectify this in 2016 and already have a couple of novels written in Romanian that I will read this year.
Catalan – I classify Catalan as a major Romance language because it is reported that it is spoken by around 10 million people. I thought I would be able to read Catalan easily but it was not the case. I can do a better job now but at the beginning I struggled.
Many people, myself included, believe that Catalan is a form of Spanish. This is a huge mistake. Catalan is a distinct language and when spoken, this becomes evident. Yes, it shares vocabulary with Spanish because both languages share the same root (vulgar Latin) but many words in Catalan are unique to it or are shared with French.
In 2016, will continue to read in these languages and maybe, even speak them. We’ll see.
The new projects will be Korean, Indonesian, and Filipino.
Thank you for stopping by!