Monthly Archives: June 2008

How to… learn a language

Guy Browning
Saturday December 3, 2005

Learning a language is a wonderful thing. Once you’ve spent years mastering it completely, you can then talk the same rubbish as you do in your own language. You also realise that to get by in life you need only five key phrases: “Hello”, “Please”, “Excuse me”, “Thank you” and “I’ve lost my passport”.The first stage of learning is realising that you already know words such as sushi and sayonara. It then dawns on you that there are other words, often verbs, connecting the two words that you already know. That’s when you sign up to evening classes. On average it takes about 3,000 evenings before you’ll be able to order a Coke. You can then progress to the intermediate class.

Some languages are more difficult to learn than others. The hardest ones are tonal languages. In English, we have two tones: normal and sarcastic. In Chinese, they have 19 tones, three of which are sarcastic, so it’s a great language to learn if you want to be sarcastic with a billion other people

Once you start learning a language, you really appreciate English, especially the fact that you don’t have to remember whether the word for plank is masculine or feminine. Similarly, our verbs stay the same: I am pissed, I was pissed, I will be pissed. In a foreign language, you would need to include Pisa, Pizzeria, and Pizzicato. No wonder the British find it easier to get drunk.

Finding a native speaker who will talk to you is a big help. A native speaker means somebody who speaks the language very, very fast and who hasn’t yet learned to speak the language as clearly as you have. Make sure this person likes you, otherwise they will speed up rather than slow down.

When you try to speak a new language, you feel as though your brain is in a mild coma, your tongue has swollen to twice its normal size and your memory has been wiped clean. But remember, the natives will always appreciate you making an effort to speak their language – and giving them hours of amusement.

Of course, there is no better way to learn a language than total immersion in the country and culture. You therefore need to travel to the country, find the local expat community and attend evening classes with them.

Moving stuff.

On Wednesday, me and dad went down to Dartmouth to pick up our new toy. It happens to be an Airstream caravan which belongs or used to belong to a friend of ours who lives in Dartmouth and was keeping this thing in the field where his office is. We’ve just bought it off him and have a field to put it in in Saltash in Cornwall. However, this thing is 8ft wide and 27 ft long. It also (being American) has a difference size towball so cannot easily be towed by a large car.

We managed to find a flatbed truck that had trucks more than 8ft wide so booked one of those. Getting it on the truck proved to be quite simple in the end. The truck had loads of high tech parts that came out and we put it on the back and drove it to Cornwall. The hard bit was getting it to the field was it was down a long narrow lane with not many turning spaces. We decided to abandon that idea and take it off the recovery truck at the top of the road on a large junction. From there, we attached it to the back of Dad’s car (Nissan Navara big truck thing) which was ok to go about a mile down the road. We managed to get it a bit stuck on some large stone gateposts not far before the field, which meant we had to unattach it, and swing it round manually and then connect it to the car again. Eventually with the help of Nick the previous owner and his pick up truck, we got it down the lane and into a space next to the field where it’s going to go eventually which is currently headheight with grass and nettles.

After that, we had to drive to a nearby boatyard to pick up a trailer for dad’s workmate.  We were making the most of this trailer to pick up a boatmast from further down in Cornwall. and take it back to Bristol. It was a bit bad in that we didn’t arrive at this place until gone 8.00 in the evening. I think we did a pretty good job adding randon parts of wood and rope to this trailer so the 11ft mast could go along it and not stick up miles above the car. It was a bit difficult so we compromised a bit by having it sticking out quite far at the back. At least it was low down there. As it was quite late, the roads through Cornwall and going up the M5, it was nearly empty and we got back to Bristol without any problems about 1am. Well – everything sorted.

Went out last night with friends. Bit of a school reunion cus Dawn was back in Bristol just for that day so loads of us were meeting up for drinks. Me and Vikkie had to be elsewhere at 8.00 but we had a good catch up and a drink with the old lot and then went to the Assembly. The usual quiz was on. We weren’t up to our usual standards of winning by miles but I don’t think it was our fault. The questions are definitely getting hard lately and the quiz has become quite popular especially with slightly older people. There were 9 teams there last night. We managed to come 3rd which wasn’t too bad but there were a few questions we should have got right. It was fun anyway but I am very competitive so humbug to the lot of them. Maybe we’ll have another go next week.

Bla de bla

So… what have I been up to since the last blog?

Looking for jobs, lazing about moaning about the fact that I don’t have a life. Well, I suppose I have a bit of one, but I’m trying to get used to living with my parents and not my friends and I don’t want to do things with them all the time. Some of the usual lot did the Assembly pub quiz on thursday. We won it – no surprise as the three of us that were there have got most of the general knowledge type questions covered. It would have been nicer with all of us tho.

A bunch of people – well most of whom are my parents age, went out to breakfast the other morning as we’re all back from uni, some people are about to go off again for the summer so we met and had a fry up. Good food.

I forgot it was Father’s day yesterday until the afternoon but then reminded the sister and she had the idea of cooking dad – and mum if she wanted, dinner. We did smoked haddock, with halved boiled eggs, boiled potatoes and cheese and spinach sauce. trawberries and Toblerone for pudding. It was rather yummy if I say so myself and both the parentals loved it. I quite enjoy cooking. I don’t do it very often, not proper cooking anyway. Most dinner/evening meals tend to be something heated up, stuck in the oven or the microwave and then it’s done. Sometimes when I make something that does require cooking and someone likes it, it’s definitely an achievement.

I’ve just signed up for Jobseekers allowance. I hate the sound of it. It sounds too much like the dole and that I’m some drunk that isn’t allowed to work or something but that’s just my stereotype I supppose. It was recommended to me from a friend who is also looking for a job but left Uni a year ago and went travelling so if it works for him. There are so many different reasons for getting it like if you’re on strike over pay, or just had a baby, blind, deaf, etc. I’m just ungraduated but perfectly able to work. Well – I’m off to look for a job now then. Got a few places that may do wildlifey photography stuff. I’m tempted to look for a part time course thing in it if that will guarantee my a job. My lack of experience lets me down especially as I’m trying to avoid things that would probably fit my degree.

Boyzone – Back again.

So I saw Boyzone last night. Grew up a huge fan with posters adorning my walls and their cd’s constantly in my stereo.
Bought tickets for this tour having no-one to go with and ended up getting rid of the other ticket for no money but sod it. It was worth it.
So – SPOILERS ALERT here for anyone who hasn’t been yet and is going to.
Continue reading