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

The enjoyment of reading

I’ve just been reading the BFG to myself in Greek and this makes me quite happy that I can follow what is happening in the story. I don’t quite get all of it yet but if I continue I should be a lot better than when I started.

The first time I tried to read this book I was concentrating far too much on what I didn’t know so I didn’t understand the story at all. I know the story and I’ve seen various film adaptations but to actually read the original is quite different. I also referred to the English version far too much so I lost the flow as they don’t always correlate. What I do hate in writing though is the justification of words to fit in columns that results in lots of hyphens. It’s difficult enough to read the words and to have them split across 2 lines is just plain irritating. How am I supposed to read it out loud and put the emphasis on the correct part if I don’t even know what the word is?

This is The negative side of trying to learn to read in a foreign language.

Wishing you all the happiness in the world.

Angela

Connection

www.youtube.com/watch

While I don’t have this condition, I have experienced the forgetting people’s faces and names many a time. They are never happy about this fact and then you have an embarrassing conversation about how this is a common occurrence for you and you don’t know how to fix it. In truth I don’t think there is a universal fix for this and you just have to muddle along.

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.)

Reading

Reading is very important for comprehension but also so is understanding. Reading is difficult for dyslexics of which they are many in both my own and married families. I’m starting to think that in my adopted language of Greek that I possibly have this too but not in the way that any of them have. You can also read in a hyperlexic way. While a dyslexic has an inability to read hence the term coming from 2 Greek words dys and lexic; a hyperlexic can very easily read and in fact will do quite quickly. It is this apparent ability that causes issues. The problem with a hyperlexic is that they don’t understand what they are reading. This is similar to how an autistic reads. They can do sight reading because that is just pattern recognition after all. This is another thing that is common across all 3 conditions. The ability for words to transform into hieroglyphs so you recognise the symbols (letters) but when they are combined in new ways, you don’t always get what they are trying to tell you in terms of content or pronunciation.

Autism is another word originating from the Greek language meaning self. As it’s a gendered language you have he, she it being auto, aute and autos. The strange thing here is with it being said afto, afte and Aftos. Then of course you have to factor in that it is a different alphabet with only 24 letters so not everything maps directly. This causes lots of issues with spelling etc as the above words are represented as αυτό, αυτή και αυτός. This is quite bewildering at first and will still get me on quite a frequent basis. It probably always will which is a pain but that’s life.

This is another article I did on the challenges of learning to read in another language The positive side.

Αντζελα (yet another way of writing my name in Greek that’s closest to the English pronunciation.)

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.

The public and private persona

I’m not sure how much this is true of neurotypical people but this is most certainly true of autistic guys. If you confront an autistic guy in a public arena with what he has said to you privately he will deny that it’s actually true. If however you confront an autistic guy when he is in his private mode, usually when drinking if he is not alone with you, he will admit to be being completely different as this is what the world expects of him. So the Jekyll and Hyde aspect of autism continues but in a way that I didn’t expect until I discovered it in 2 of my friends today. I do this to a certain extent myself. I know this is a very short post but sometimes they are the best as they tell you exactly what you want to know in the smallest amount of words.

Perception

I recently wrote a fairy tale romance short story :-

A life of Halcyon Days

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07MWBZTCR/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_ujfsCb8KAF56Y

and to me it’s obvious who the characters are based on. I gave it to my husband to read as he knows the people who the story is based on. Yet, apart from the 2 characters who have the same name as I believe it’s fitting symbolically; he couldn’t figure out who they were. I didn’t think simply changing there name would obscure who they actually were. My mother in law also read it too and it got me thinking whether this was something to do with the dyslexic mindset as she knows the people too. It may also have something to do with theory of mind which is a very autistic thing. I do frequently think that because I know something and you have better skills regarding perception that you automatically also know what I’m thinking because I need to work on my poker face. It’s a pity Snape can’t give occumlanmency lessons to us all. For those that don’t know Harry Potter it’s the art of shielding your thoughts from others so they can’t read and manipulate you. Hence the reference to poker and body language. This is what I have struggled with because so much happens in daily life that if you really thought about it in the way I do; it would floor you. Hence I do have a certain amount of inertia at times. It’s about learning when to analyse the situation and how much depth you should go into. The trouble is you never initially know which level is required so if you spend insufficient time you may regret it later just like spending too much time. It’s a fine balancing act that you will never truly master but on the occasions you do, you will feel good. However on the opposite side, if you screw up, you will feel bad and be reluctant to try again until you have learnt the lessons inside of that particular episode.

Imprecise English is another thing that can start you off on a bad thought process as calling banking man’s work is immature and inappropriate nowadays. You should leave men to there financial discussion or deliberation instead as otherwise you open yourself up to such comments as go play with kittens. This is continual work for myself and for others around me as nobody is perfect. We’re all trying to do the best that we can do each and every day. Striving to improve but never able to reach the goal as the goal posts keep moving. Such is the march of progress.

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.