Friday, August 31, 2007

Pimsleur 9

Now that I've done parts of 6 different Pimsleur series (Spanish all 90, German all 90, Mandarin stuck at 37, Japanese at 65, Russian at 38, and Swedish - done with the short course), there is an amusing little pattern to be aware of. In all of the courses, around lesson 8-10, there is a "what time" lesson, where you learn how to ask "at what time", and you learn a few different numbers (1, 2, 8, and 9 typically). At the end of this lesson, you play a hapless romantic asking a lady out. Of course, you speak both roles.

"Would you like to have a drink with me at 1 o'clock?"
"No, thanks"
"How about at 2 o'clock?"
"No, I would not like to have a drink with you at 1 or at 2."
"Ah, later then. Let's have a drink at 8"
"No, I don't want to have a drink with you"
"Not at 8? How about 9?"
"No, not at 8, nor at 9. Not at 1 nor at 2! I don't want to have a drink with you!"
"Ah, I see. You don't want to have a drink with me. Perhaps you will have dinner with me then?"
"You don't understand."
"What don't I understand?"
"You don't understand "

I can do this dialog both parts in six languages now, which is sort of hilarious to consider.

So I hit the end of the Pimsleur Swedish - they only do 10 lessons - but I wanted to do it for sentence cadence, which did help. What Pimsleur teaches in 10 lessons is introductions, polite chitchat, asking for food and drink, basic directions, and just a few numbers. It's more based around conversation than learning all of one thing or another: you actually need to make it well into lesson 40-50 before you learn all of the days of the week in the full courses. They must assume that by the end of the course, you can read a book and get the numbers and month names you need. Anyway, now I can return to my "teach yourself" book and read with a bit more confidence. I'll be calling Annika and Ricard next week. REALLY.

Russian does continue, even though my "moment in the sun" was 2 weeks ago with the Russians at the lodge. There is just something about that language that intrigues me. I love the way my mouth feels as I speak it. I feel... nefarious.

It occurs to me that of all my languages, German and Japanese are probably the least "critical", even though I love to chat with sushi chefs. But I still have yet to find an actual German speaker in the wild around here. No, the Russian, Chinese, and Spanish are "new world order" languages - being strong in these will help in the uncertain future I believe. Especially with Russia sliding back into "evil empire mode".

Add to this, the people at JapanesePod have gone and created a "KoreanClass101" site, and will be teaching Korean. I may not be able to resist this one. There are a few indicators I need to heed:
1) One my my doctors at my current client is Korean - I could talk to him.
2) The same day I learned about KClass, I was sitting at a restaurant and a group at the next table was animatedly conversing in Korean.

That's not exactly cosmic convergence. But it is supporting.

Also, the Hangul writing system is just too cool - Vowels and consonants are combined into a single "glyph", so that each syllable is a single character, but once you know the 28 "components", you can pronounce any character. Plus it's curvy with strange "o" shapes in it.

The creator of Hangul in the 15th century proclaimed "A smart man will learn this by the end of the morning. A stupid man will know it within a week". So that's my challenge - to learn this alphabet in a week... I wouldn't want to dissapoint that 15th century genius.

Allright, that's just too much language geekiness for one night.

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