19 March 2009

Opaque (to me) languages are oddly fascinating

I'd like to learn Welsh. Trouble is, I'd also like to learn Polish and am having a hard time with the basics of that. I guess I thought that being of Polish ancestry would mean I have a latent Polish-language talent that would be activated with just a bit of study. Nope. I learned German in the proper way: four solid, step-by-step years of daily classes, with very gradual language-lab experience and a three-week trip to Germany for immersion, and then four years of university German literature and discussion. Polish with a book and a CD is proving tedious, and there's nothing Germanic nor Latinate to hang my hat on. It's really very different. And so is Welsh.

Spanish would, of course, be very useful; I don't know why I haven't had an interest so far in learning it. I've picked up some reading facility from watching Spanish-language TV. I've also watched a lot of Polish-language TV without any results...it's so fast and still gibberish to me. I can't pick out phrases or even many words. Oh, I can hear "tak" for yes and "nie" for no, and maybe a "Czesc" or however it's spelled for "hi." Anyway, I was proud of myself this evening for recognizing that a Mexican restaurant's sign advertising "Especial por Cuaresma" meant "special for Lent."

Icelandic looks kewl to me, with those thorn and eth characters that earlier versions of English used to have. But Spanish and French seem more accessible and useful, although it would really be lovely to know some Polish, not only the language of my ancestors but also the third language of Chicago. I'll need to take classes, though.

A letter to the publisher of BDP

Dear Liturgical Press:

I very much appreciate your publication of Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary, and as a Benedictine oblate, I find it very useful in keeping my promise to pray the Divine Office. My question: Are there plans to publish an updated or possibly expanded edition of Benedictine Daily Prayer and/or make available an ordo or guide to using BDP?

I know that the Short Breviaries published by you in earlier decades were at least at one point available in an expanded edition that included all 150 psalms; I think there would be many people interested in a complete-psalter edition. I believe this could be done by adding more weeks of Vigils psalms.

There's a real opportunity to make the BDP an ideal resource for Benedictine oblates and others who wish to pray according to the Rule of Benedict, and indeed I just read about a professed Benedictine monk who uses the BDP as his travel breviary; I'm sure there are quite a few Benedictine monks and nuns who do this.

So I'm writing to request a second edition of the BDP featuring:

1. A complete psalter achieved by adding weeks of Vigils psalms, perhaps making a total of four weeks that could be used as a four-week cycle at Vigils or could be doubled up as a two-week cycle of two-nocturn Vigils, with the second nocturn of psalms being prayed between the two readings.

2. More guidance for what to pray from the BDP each day, in the form of an ordo (could be a Web page or available for download).

3. Correction of typographical errors and omissions.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy this very useful prayer resource, and I thank you for publishing it.