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.

1 comment:

yhwhmlk said...

I had to learn Welsh at school, living in Wales and all that! An odd language, and unfortunately I've forgotten most of it.