Yes, I know it has become fashionable to look down on history --along with the rest of the humanities-- as a form of glorified navel-gazing. We live in the present, and the past is in the past: there’s nothing we can do to change it, so why bother (besides, we can always google whatever date we happen to need); we should be looking forward, not backwards; and so on, but I am here to tell you that, if used properly, history --or something close to it-- can be one of the most powerful tools in your mental toolkit... you just have to learn to think about it in a different way. (more…)
A huge jumble of bricks does not a house make. That, I believe, is a statement we can all agree on. It is also a good explanation of why is it that most attempts at mastering a foreign language tend to fall short. In a nutshell, we tend to think of words as the building blocks of language, and when trying to master a foreign one our first instinct is to try to gather as many of those blocks as we can. In some instances that is not a bad idea. In others it is a recipe for disaster. The reason is simple enough: different languages are different, but they are not all different in the same way. If the language you are trying to master is close enough to your native one, then that words first approach may work, even if it leaves you with a few unusual linguistic quirks, but the farther afield...
Okay so I figured I might just as well write a short post to introduce what I hope will become one of the main features of this site: a section dedicated to language learning, which is one of my hobbies... and yes, I do realize that, as far as hobbies go, that one really needs to get a hobby. (more…)
Okay, so what could possibly have driven me to try to learn Esperanto out of all things? The short answer is that I'm not actually trying to learn the blasted thing, it's just that in order to check out duolingo (more on that in a future post), I did two things: first I took their placement quiz to see how it would grade me in a language in which I am fully fluent already, and then I signed up for a language I had never studied before. Seeing how Esperanto was conceived to be easy to learn, and hasn't had millions humans mucking up its precious regularity by doing something as unnatural as actually speaking it on a daily basis, it felt like the safest bet. So how's that little experiment going? (more…)
As some of you may know, a couple of years ago I got into a fight with my cover artist, one that not only caused me to lose one of my dearest friends, but also left me in something of a bind, as at the time I had two books that were ready to go to print, but no covers to go with them. This year, in an attempt to avoid a repeat performance, I decided to try to learn to draw. (more…)
Okay, so you have a healthy dose of curiosity, and there are about a million things you are itching to learn. Unfortunately you are also on a budget, and let's face it, learning can get expensive. Welcome to the real world. (more…)