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!


What is a polyglot?

In recent years, some people have sought to redefine what a polyglot is. My opinion of this is that a new definition is not needed. Let’s go to the Webster dictionary:

Polyglot: one who speaks several languages.

Several: more than two but fewer than many.

Many: The definition of ‘many’ in the dictionary is rather hazy.

So in English anyway, a polyglot is a person who speaks more than two languages. Period. The manner in which these languages were acquired in not an issue. Nor are the language families these languages come from. More than two languages is all that is needed to be a polyglot. I think that the people seeking a new definition want more credit; they want to be more than just a polyglot.
Terms like Hyperpolyglot are now being used out there, to define a person who speaks more than several (see definition above) languages. I have no problem with hyperpolyglot. I have a huge problem with a  group of people wanting to hijack a word. One of the metrics that these people want to use to redefine polyglot is the manner by which the languages are acquired. Mainly, these people want to disqualify people who learn their languages in a natural way, i.e. native speakers. Say you are born in India and by living there you learn Hindi, Gujarati, and say, Kanada because India has a boatload of languages spoken all over the place. By the existing definition of polyglot, you are in fact, a polyglot. Not so, say these people. Their new definition of polyglot disqualifies you because you didn’t make an effort nor did you learn the third language as an adult and through sloshing your way around with a language learning method. I say leave the word polyglot alone. Invent a new term do describe you I say. I submit ‘plastiglot’ as a person who acquired a third language as an adult and/or via a language method. The term Multilingual is in the same boat.

This all rather reminds me of all the phoneys out there claiming that they speak a ‘purer’ Spanish than you, saying they speak ‘Castilian’ Ay Chihuahua! Rest assured. By the definition of polyglot in the English dictionary, if you speak more than two languages, regardless of how you acquired these languages, you are a polyglot.

O Sábado Pasado

Sábado pasado, fui com um amigo para ajudar os arqueologos a investigar um local historico. Foi muito interesante. Neste site, um grupo de pessoas conhecidas como The Donner Party, acamparam por duas semanas. Um parque de estacionamento houve ser construido lá então precisávamos de assegurar que o estacionamento não cobriria coisas de importância historica.

Finalment todo foi bem. Não achamos nada e o estacionamento será construido.



Ontem, estava refletindo sobre as razões pelas que estou aprendendo Português. A primeira razão é a musica Brasileira. Eu gosto muito de musicas do Brasil; samba, bossa nova, românticas, rock, etc. Preciso entender a lingua para desfrutar mais as canções. A segunda razão é que eu quero compreender a cultura do Brasil. Eu acho que o Brasil é un país muito interessante e quero ler sua literatura e historia. O ultimo motivo pelo que eu quero falar Português é que eu quero, algum dia, ir para o Brasil.

Mais primerio devo melhorar minhas habilidades de linguagem.

Muito obrigado.

Bahasa Indonesia, otra vez (again)

So, my language learning journey continues and I think that I am actually getting to the point where I may learn to speak a language other than English or Spanish.

I began with Japanese all those months ago (2 and a half years or so) and for a long time I just floundered about like a blind man in a dark forest and did very little actual learning. Then I tried Arabic and Turkish and this and that and the other thing all with the same results. What I didn’t know is that slowly I was learning how to learn until finally, a number of things came about.

First, I met a Brazilian man and was surprised that I could actually communicate with him in Portuguese. I was not perfect; not even close, but I knew enough Portuguese to hold conversations. This was very exciting and it fueled my desire to keep on going. Sometime after he returned to Brazil, I met yet another Brazilian and was able to communicate with him as well. Sometime around this time I tried Esperanto. With Esperanto, my language learning methodologies began to take shape and to settle down. Soon I had an opportunity to speak with someone who was a fluent German speaker and so I stopped Esperanto and took up German. By applying my now maturing language learning skills, I was able to learn enough German in a short time to impress this person. After this, my confidence was increasing and I wanted to try a language that I had never really studied (I actually took a semester of German a long time ago) and I settled on Indonesian. I had already bought Colloquial Indonesian and I decided to use it as my sole textbook for this language.

After 4 weeks of study, I can almost read the book in Indonesian I ordered (Amplop Merah Muda Untuk Pak Pos) and I am confident that by the end of October I will be able to converse in the language at a low intermediate level. In fact, I believe that Indonesian will be my third working language after Spanish and English. I am very excited.
This is what I did different with Indonesian:
A) I opted to use ONLY one textbook. With all my other languages I kept on acquiring resources and spent little time learning.
B) I concentrated on learning vocab. Instead of finding a list of the most used words in Indonesian, I simply made vocab cards using the book I bought (Colloquial Indonesian). The book introduces about 1500 new words and I vowed to learn them all. At the time of this post I have learned about 700 words passively and about 300 actively. I have noticed that the rate of learning both passively and actively increases as I go along, almost as if the language learning is fueling itself in a self-sustained way.
C) I made usage the third thing to concentrate on. Of course, this happens just by studying the text. By the way, learning the vocabulary ahead of time, makes the lessons ever so much easier.
D) Last but not least, I vowed to listen to the language a lot more and more consistently. Once my ears grew accustomed to the sound of spoken Indonesian, it became easier to learn phonetically as I could pick individual words out of the spoken resources and look them up to learn their meaning. Somehow, I learn the words actively when I learn them this way.

So that’s my methodology thus far and it seems to bear fruit. Indonesian was a good candidate to try this as it seems to be easier for a Spanish and English speaker such as me. The really tricky part to Indonesian is the use of affixes but even that is not bad. I was exposed to affixes in Esperanto so affixes seem logical in Indonesian.

On a different note, I decided not to mix languages in this blog. Originally, I thought I would write this blog in every language I learned but now, that seems silly. I will keep this blog in English and I will start different blogs in each language once I feel confident enough to do so.


I continue to work on these two languages but in a very relaxed way. I received Italo Calvino’s novel “Le cittá invisibili” –Invisible Cities and I plan on reading the thing. I was trying to read a novel by Umberto Ecco in Italian but I found him a little harder to read. An Italian friend confirmed that Umberto Ecco is best left for when I have a much better command of the language and she recommended Italo Calvino. Reading Portuguese is no problem at all for me because written Portuguese is very recognizable to a Spanish speaker. Speaking Portuguese is an entirely different exercise and I continue to work on it slowly. Once I am somewhat fluent in Indonesian, I may give Italian more time. I also plan on returning to Japanese and to attempt Swahili.

Anyway, I feel less like a fake now and perhaps I may actually promote this blog.

Thank you for stopping by!

This crazy new addiction

I continue to learn Esperanto. Esperanto is truly a ton of fun to learn and to speak. Learning Esperanto introduces you to language concepts such as cases in a structured and fun way. It also introduces you to suffixes and prefixes that may not be present in your native language.

So while I continue to improve Esperanto, I decided to begin learning German. Learning German now seems like a very doable thing. I joined Benny Lewis’ Speak in One Week project. I am amazed how much German one can learn in one week if one is motivated and one follows the advice generously given by Benny.

This is my fourth day in the project and I have successfully engaged a German native in a language exchange in iTalki.com. I hope to benefit from this exchange and to be able to help my partner with their Spanish.

In addition, I will seek German speakers locally, as there are many German speakers around here. In fact, last Saturday, I spoke a little German with the nice Mennonite ladies at the farmer’s market. While walking around the stalls, I heard at least two more people speaking German, so that could be a good place to find speaking partners as well.

Ich bin sehr aufgeregt!


Talking to yourself: It’s not just for crazy people anymore.

I am now staring at the barrel of the 6 week Esperanto Challenge gun. I have only 3 weeks left. Yikes! So I have to find a way to improve my spoken Esperanto fast. The problem is, although Esperanto has up to two million speakers worldwide, there are none to be found in my area. So what is an aspiring Esperantista  to do? Talk to himself of course!

I know that what I should really do is get on Skype and find a willing victim…er…partner with whom to practice Esperanto. I just cannot seem to pull it off however. So the next best thing is to talk to myself. This is most efficient if you record yourself. Second to that is talking to yourself in the mirror. Take a subject. Any subject will do; lettuce, mice, red paint. It doesn’t matter. Chances are that whatever subject you choose will have you running to the dictionary to acquire the vocabulary necessary to talk about the subject. That is one part of the magic. The other of course, is to get your brain and your mouth to pronounce the words. I find that after repeating a paragraph ten to twenty times, my brain begins to get it.

So there you have it.Talking to yourself is a simple, always available technique to improve your foreign language skills.