How learning foreign languages enables connection

This video contains the quote from Nelson Mandela where if you speak to a person in a language they understand it goes to there head but if you speak to them in their language it goes to their heart. This is so very true of the Greek people and inside the speaker Louka will detail his journey to connect with his heritage but also the indigenous people of Australia. He will empower you to learn a language for yourself if only to keep your brain healthy and stop neurodegenerative diseases from taking hold and destroying all that you hold dear.

Wishing you all well.

Angela

Reasons for and against monetisation

I watched this video and she brings up some amazing points. These are things we all know and we all do yet we powerless to prevent them. It’s autonomy that we all crave and control. The ability to decide for ourselves what we are going to do when, how and also why. We can all live richer lives but without the riches that we think we need to do so. She draws upon Ancient wisdom but also the knowledge we learn growing up and foolishly discard as being outdated. We need money but not as much as we think. It’s about learning that self discipline and if we cannot planning accordingly so that we never run out of money.

This is the first video that deals with making money and my issues with this :-

How to make money from blogging

Best wishes

Angela

Lyric Love, Translation and Transformation

Lyric Love, Translation and Transformation

Lyric Love, Translation and Transformation
— Read on sententiaeantiquae.com/2019/02/15/lyric-love-translation-and-transformation-2/

Another Greek perspective on love this time from the famous Sappho who was said to live on Lefkás for a short period of time.

I have just watched Love and Life – Sappho on Lesbo. This is a bbc 4 program with Dr Margaret Mountford. It details some of the new evidence that has come to light about Sappho and gives a much richer view of her life than we had previously gained. It also unpeeled some of the ancient jokes that have been written about her and treated as facts. Quite informative in its content it’s shows how our perception of her and women in general has morphed quite dramatically over the centuries.

Any there any relatively unknown female empowerment figures lurking in your culture?

Best wishes

Angela

When you suddenly realise you know more than you think

It’s interesting that at some point in your language learning journey it will occur to you how much you have learnt. You may not realise this for quite some time but when you do, it hits you like a bullet.

To explain a bit about my personal story, I love the Greek language and I started from scratch. Although being an English speaker you could debate that given the amount of words that have their origins there. I used to spend many hours listening to https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=RDEMh-SVbgWi4o0giQEIFYvZUg Kostas Martakis songs because they were simple bubblegum pop and he is certainly easy on the eyes being a former model.

I followed this by watching Nikos Vertis – Eisai einai asteri https://youtu.be/6Ye0NOn7nrI
or You are a star. It is a beautiful love song that you can easily find with English lyrics. For those that are not quite so sappy try To Kyma (wave) by Melisses (honeybees). https://youtu.be/GBSqFT1yqqU

For more song practice I tunes is good as it’s one of the few places you can get hold of Greek songs and there English versions too. Beware because of the grammatical differences between the languages you might end up with some funny phrases. Helena Paraparizou sings about the love police in Fiesta https://youtu.be/TTEMu1t4BxM
but it’s also present to some extent in the Greek version but it’s agape poli or much love here. https://youtu.be/JG-TPHlqerg

If soaps is your thing, there are subtitled Greek soaps made occasionally by the Lacta company which makes Greek chocolate bars. These shows https://youtu.be/k4L0he1WC0I
are really funny and the acting while completely over the top is so very Greek. You don’t really need the subtitles unless you want to know every little thing. These are an amusing diversion from studying but your still learning.

I also have a Greek version of the BFG to progress with as it was above my level last time I tried reading out loud. This is a lot more difficult than just reading.

Now I have progressed to the point that I’m watching Ted x talks but in Greek. https://youtu.be/fZi1f2OS7nU
There fascinating for the cultural insight that they give you and the fact I just love the sound of the Greek language. There is of course huge variance just like with all languages and people. I haven’t got to the point yet where I’m understanding why he suddenly laughs but I will get that eventually.

As well as reading a Greek newspaper (see recent posts) with Google Translate and a Greek language learning FB group as backup; I can write to one of my Greek friends and she can understand. She has for instance asked me where am I on meeting my brother in law and asked when am I visiting as she misses me. I do still need help with spelling so the internet and autocorrect are helpful here. I don’t think I will ever have a native level but I’m not aiming for that. The ability to communicate effectively is sufficient. This has must certainly been quite an undertaking though. Learning a foreign language when you have dyslexia is not for the faint hearted.

What challenge have you undertaken that is now starting to yield results?

Best wishes

Angela

Lightbulb moment!

I read an article about Keira knightly who said that she was dyslexic but that they only found out a year into her schooling. This was because her mother read lots of books to her and it’s only when they came across new ones that problems were discovered. Keira had memorised them and that’s what I do with words.

It explains why I read everything in sight so this would not ever be an issue. My autism allows me to combat my dyslexia in a novel way but it’s still an acquired skill that can disappear if I’m not feeling top notch. I covered up my problems so well, that despite a few grammar issues that persisted throughout my education; nobody including myself ever thought I was dyslexic.

I only uncovered this with my attempts to learn Greek and the fact that I most certainly do not read in a normal manner. This causes lots of additional difficulties in Greek because of genderized conjugation. Grammar is also completely different and highly flexible. This requires a lot of attention to learn all of the spelling patterns and word pairings especially since I have sequencing issues due to my autism. The cases (dative, accusative etc) are a big thing here which is not quite so obvious in English. There is also the tonos to account for which isn’t present in English. Thank goodness they got rid of all the other accents and breathing marks from modern Greek that are still present in older styles of Greek.

As regards my reading I can sight read to pick up the gist of something but I may miss subtleties or I can read all of the words in a normalise fashion. I know when I’m tired as I’m reading words and there just not sinking in. They remain on the surface like bread floating on a pond instead of being submerged as they have absorbed water.

This also explains my difficulty with speech as there are so many different ways to pronounce a word and the right way depends on so many factors. Your country, age, education, class, the influence of those around you, the language(s) you speak and for what purpose you use them as well.

I have more difficulties with grammar and spelling now with the English language as well. Which is why it is helpful to write my blog as I continue to keep my level up. Without this constant practice I will certainly diminish my skill level.

Just like a muscle wastes away without use so does the skills that we learn throughout life and the abilities present in your brain. So keep active and keep positive. If you do the things that you enjoy even if your not initially good at them. This will cause neuronal growth and you will learn that activity. So nothing is impossible. As the saying goes, even the word says I’m possible.

Good wishes to you all,

Αγγελα (pronunciations produce all manner of spellings and there all right as Greek is a phonetic language.)

Happiness comes from surprising places

I saw this and then I read it – it’s the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime. Followed shortly after by this as it’s on the adjacent page. I knew nothing of what it contained so it was a real joy that I could actually read this without resorting to Google translate.

The article starts with Penelope Cruz talking about what she thinks of what I now know to be world famous Iranian director Asghar Farhadi. This bit didn’t initially make sense so I had to read it a couple times and keep coming back to it. It makes sense when you realise Penelope Cruz is Spanish and he has worked in Spain. I read this in a rather bizarre manner hence this is constructed in a rather odd way. A bit like myself really.

Where an Iranian filmmaker Asgkar Faranti, is talking about his love for his home country Iran and how long it took for the film displayed in the picture of the article and that he has just been in; to be made. He mentions being lost and without purpose as he had stayed so many years away from his country of origin. As he had previously worked in the USA, Spain and Paris. He hopes you will understand his longing to make a film in his home environment.

The article goes into detail about the struggles the actor has faced trying to build his craft and get his catalogue of films to market. It hasn’t been easy due to the political situation but he has studied hard gaining a bachelors of art in 1998 that allowed him to pursue a dream that he created for himself when he was just 14 years old. He had previously had to satisfy himself by working on Iranian television but by 2006 had transformed Iranian cinematography with 4 films.

A win at the Cannes film festival and Oscar nod in 2012 has suddenly brought his discography into the limelight. He was the first from his country to win an Oscar for a foreign language movie. Which he repeated in 2017 with honours from the Berlin festival too. He believed it was so important to showcase everyday life in Iran. It has stories about how family life still goes on despite difficulties. For the longest time he was not able to work in Iran. It mentions Donald Trump too and his fear of Iranians that was quite an issue for himself in 2015. However since he is now the biggest artist in Iran, he has become a celebrity.

Άνγκελα (This is how Angela Merkel’s name was written in a recent newspaper report and it’s always said with a hard g sound).

It’s ok to take a break

As you may have noticed the primary purpose of this blog is to write about things that are Greek in some way. I don’t always have sufficient material to write this so sometimes I take a break and write about things that while not inherently Greek; perhaps got there start there or have a rather tenuous link to the Greek culture etc

I get distracted easily so I often having many projects on the go. Reading a Greek newspaper is very demanding as I have to look up lots of words etc so if I’m not in the best of health like right now; I will chose easier hobbies like watching videos about how Greeks came to America…

It is ok when you are focusing on something so much to allow yourself a little time off. This often provides clarity and stops you getting into a rut. As an example, one of my friends is getting married soon and we went dress shopping but since she had seen so many dresses, she was getting colourdrunk. The more common phrase for this scenario is you can’t see the wood for the trees or you can’t see the bigger picture as your focusing too much on the detail.

These things trip us up more than we think and we mentally berate ourselves for not doing enough or for not being perfect. We are all human at the end of the day so we need to take a chill pill occasionally.

After the break we should have regained our energy to be able to fire on all cylinders once again. However we have to be careful not to continue with the same habits that created the problem in the first place. Our daily lives need to be adjusted to cope with more flexible working hours etc. Re-education is a constant way of reminding ourselves that there are always better ways to do things both at work and at home. Innovation only comes through rest though as stress is its opposite.

So here I am, Angela the English Introvert taking a break like I do most weekends in a bid to find some creative energy to make comment worthy posts. Filakia (little kisses) as is said in Greece.

Momentum

This is the energy that is gained when you have started a project and you really feel like your understanding your audience now. It gives you that impetus to continue making more work and allows you to overcome minor obstacles that occur in your path. Depending on how much speed you have acquired, the force that is present will propel you to greater things or it will left you languishing in the doldrums if sufficient friction is encountered.

Momentum can also be considered motivation if you don’t like the physics analogy that I was using. Sometimes looking at things from a different perspective is all that is required to create innovation or to breathe new life into an old idea.

Whatever terminology you like, find your specific angle and pursuit it with all your strength. You will find that you have a lot less resistance from yourself if you work with what you are good at regardless of profitability. The inertia that has previously been holding you back will disappear and the acceleration towards your goal will be phenomenal. The velocity that is unleashed when you know your purpose is unlike anything you will have seen before.

Just know that you may have to conduct many experiments before finding out the correct materials to use but once you have it figured out, the mathematics of it all will seem like child’s play. You will perhaps also wonder how you could have gone on for so long without knowing what appears to be so obvious now.

The building block approach

Some languages suit a bottom up approach very well. Greek is one of these as so many of the worlds languages derive from this. It’s like a starter for 10 to borrow the famous phrase from Mastermind. Other later languages can be thought of as the bonus questions that get progressively harder and therefore more complex as the set is demonstrated.

I have a detailed, logical mind that likes order and so I like to break down terms to find out how they came to be. Greek is the best language for this as it is built very much like you would construct a model out of building blocks eg the world famous Lego.

I also seem to be good at abstraction and when I have understood something complex I can break down into something much simpler. A recent example of this is that I found out a friend is a mutual fund accountant . Now living outside of the USA, I had no clue as to what this was and Google wasn’t helping. After further explanation failed to clarify; since I discovered that I didn’t even know what a mutual fund was. I came up with the definition of a mutual fund accountant is a money farmer. I came to this conclusion because they take money from clients (seeds), they plant this into the ground (stocks, securities, bonds etc) and then they nurture their plants (clients money). If they find they don’t like a particular patch, (fund etc), they transplant it to somewhere else that seems to be more suitable. Then at maturation the plants are harvested and the produce handed over ( profits). Of course the plants could have died (loss of money) in the meantime but mainly they survive and become healthy (well performing portfolio).

I find if I use unusual metaphors that helps complex terms to stick in my memory much better. I am a visual person so need such pictures to illustrate financial and mathematical concepts. I hope you find my painting with words useful for your comprehension too.

The mechanics and science behind language learning

Now I’m sorry but this is going to be a slightly technical article based on neuroscience and psychology but I believe if we understand the underpinnings of how we learnt and the children of the world learn their first language then this will be able to empower us to learn any language that we wish to in our adult lives.

For those including myself who wonder why everyone in the world talks to a baby in a very babyish manner. It is because that babies become very disinterested in normal speech very quickly. To anyone who has children or been in contact with them this may seem obvious but the why is the interesting bit here. Neuroscientists conducted experiments using the latest brain scanning techniques on young children assisted by paediatricians and they found that the pitch, the rhythm and the sound was what the babies were responding to. If it was slow, repetitive and lyrical then it kept there attention hence lullabies work. However, normal speech is rather flat and unemotional as we tend not to accent our words. Especially not in English, in our normal accent.

This is also why babies like music as it’s soothing to them and then like to dance. If we harness this native ability through song or movies then we are broadening our exposure to sounds that would not normally be part of our soundscape. Babies can distinguish the difference between all the sounds in the world and this is how they can learn any language of the world. This magical opportunity starts to be pruned back by 12 months as they are now learning what sounds make up their native language and to exclude all others. They still continue to about 8 years old to be easily pick up a language. Do not despair though due to recent advances in brain imaging and other experiments that have been exploring the human brain; they have found brand new neurons growing in adult brains. This previously undiscovered neurogenesis is astonishing as it demonstrates along with neuroplasticity the capability of the adult brain to change, regrow and develop in ways that were thought not possible until very recently. Therefore your brain is more malleable than you think it is. It is not set in stone when you become an adult. You can improve any of your previously learnt skills and learn new ones well into your later years.

How to win at language learning

When learning a language it is possible to try too hard. It’s a very good thing to be passionate and motivated but not such a good thing to be obsessional. This is difficult for me as that’s what I am by my very nature. I’ve had to learn not to be a perfectionist as language is about communication first and foremost. Not about having the best grammar, pronunciation or vocabulary. You need a lot less than you think but a basic standard is still necessary. Don’t get hung up on what you can’t do and concentrate on what you can do as that will give you confidence and inspire you to learn more and to practice with people without fear as this is a thing that I struggle with greatly.

As a friend once said to me, relax and it will just happen. I’d spent enough time learning and now I had to let my brain give the words to my mouth so that I could practice using them. I needed to form connections which can only really be done in actual conversations.

I tried to learn without people by recording myself so that I could get real time feedback and later sending it to people for their assistance but this is still removed from how you will use the language.

What Morpheus says to Neo in the Matrix “You have to let it all go, fear, doubt and disbelief.” Is what is required to speak freely but I had to overcome an innate fear of offending others as I’m some what controversial in my thought patterns and conservational style. Lucky for me Greeks are very straightforward people who tend not to beat about the bush with their words.

A lot of the common Greek phrases  seem rude to English ears so we are reluctant to use them as we think that they will think is impolite but it’s really because we have been indoctrinated with political correctness and they have kept their common sense.

There are 2 main ways to learn a language. One is if your main focus is going to be on talking to people and you have no desire to read, write or do anything else in the language; then you will be able to pick up the language relatively quickly but you may not acquire that deeper understanding until much later if at all.

The second way is much more intensive because if you wish to be able to read and write it as well as to be able to speak it then you have to be committed for a much longer period of study. You have to dive down to discover the bones of the language because only then will you uncover how the language is built using which particular grammatical structures etc. Languages are like houses you see as some you have just for limited use like a summer house and others you intend to live in so you have to spend the appropriate resources on their construction. It will benefit you in later life or it will stifle your productivity depending on how you went about building your knowledge.

Of course the first foreign language is the most difficult as we have to establish what works for us and possibly cast off bad habits that we have gained from education or life. It is most certainly worth the effort though so stick with it and you will be rewarded. The most difficult time is usually just before your about to make a breakthrough so remember this if you want to quit as you don’t seem to be making any progress.

Literature

I am a keen reader of books of all kinds as I love words. This makes it fitting that I also have a love of the Greek language as so many words in the English language originate from there. In a bid to help me learn all about the Greek culture I read every book and watch every movie that I can get my hands on to further my knowledge of this fascinating culture.

To acquire this bounty it includes such classics as Zorba the Greek (book and movie), as well as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres (so far only the movie); and some of the vast media catalogue on the Durell’s for instance, the TV show about their lives as a family on Corfu and books like The Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence or the well known My Family and Animals by Gerald. However, no list could be complete without also adding in more recent books like all of Victoria Hislop‘s books and to have another Greek point of view, I’m going to start on Panos Kanezis books, The Maze etc shortly.

I can usually be found with my head stuck in a book and since I read at an astonishingly quick pace if the book is well written, I’m soon to be found in want of a person to tell them all about the book I just devoured with great relish. These are my latest interests but I do have a book on how Virginia Woolf et al fought to learn the Greek language as it was the language of the learned people and an anthology of Greek poetry from the last 2000 years as Lefkás has Sappho and the poet Aristotle Valaoritis island nearby and his shrine.

I wish to have a balanced viewpoint of people and their cultures through time hence there are books by the English living in Corfu and various other Greek Islands from the 30’s-50s (Durell’s), some of whom could speak Greek (Lawrence in particular) but there is also Victoria Hislop who has written on many aspects of Greek life as she can also speak Greek. It helps to lend an authentic air to her stories when you know she has mixed with the locals to gain inspiration for her stories. There is nothing quite like reading a Nikos Kazantzakis novel though with the gravitas that he lends to his writing. It is truly a spectacular talent that he had as he lifted all that read his masterpieces to a higher plane of thought. There should be greater appreciation of his work outside of his native lands but if I praise him too much that means the books will go up in price and I will not be able to buy them so cheaply anymore 😉

Best wishes

Angela