Amy 2010, Amy

Amy’s end-of-school party; Dilara’s languages

It was Amy’s (and her class’s) end-of-school party yesterday; their elementary school years will be over in two and a half weeks and then it’ll be off to secondary school for the children.

The class performed a few acrobatics and a couple of songs, including a surprise one for their teacher which they had secretly practised with a couple of the parents. The teacher showed a slideshow of the class’s highlights over the last four years, using photos she had received from parents. (Ms Schamne had only been their teacher for a year and a half, after their first teacher had to take a longer break for medical reasons.) There was also a “then and now” bit with photographs of the children in 1st and 4th grade, which got a fair number of laughs out of the children :) ("Look how you looked back then!")

Afterwards, there was food, and then general “free time”. At 10, the parents got kicked out (though I didn’t stay that long) and the children stayed behind to spend the night at school. This morning, they’ll come home at around 10.)

While I was playing “keep the balloon in the air” with Amy, Dilara from her class came up to me and asked me whether I was Amy’s father and whether I speak English with her.

I said yes, and added, “Ve sen, Türkçe konuşabilir misin?” (And you, can you speak Turkish?). She was surprised and asked me where I knew that from :) (I’m learning Turkish now; started about five weeks ago.) She said that she’s a Turkish Kurd and knows five languages: German, Turkish, Kurdish, English, and Arabic. Not bad.

Arabic she says she only knows a bit in, just some sentences, and I’m guessing that English also refers to 4th grade school English rather than a fluent command. But still; I was impressed.


Two things that don’t go together

Occasionally, someone mistypes their email address on some form, ending up with mine instead. Lack of confirmation (confirmed opt-in; what some call ‘double opt-in’) results in unwanted email in my inbox.

Recently, I’ve got some stuff from Telstra in Australia, with a slightly puzzling footer. It tells me that if I have received the email in error, to contact Telstra immediately. Which is fair enough; I’d love to let them know that they haven’t reached the intended recipient. Except that the mail also has the usual ‘please don’t reply to this email address as that box is not monitored for replies’ line in it.

So that makes the footer rather pointless. ‘Please contact us, but we’re not going to tell you how.’

Boo for Telstra.

  • Current Mood
    annoyed annoyed

I can speak Esperanto; the test says so!

So, about three years ago, I took an Esperanto exam at level B2, and figured that would be the highest level I would take; partly since certification in Esperanto is pretty pointless anyway and partly because I didn’t think I’d ever get to C1, as I thought that’s basically native-speaker level.

But this year, I decided (more or less on a whim) to apply for the C1-level test held during SES 2014 in Slovakia, which I attended. I figured that not enough people would apply and that the test would get cancelled like it did last year.

But no, when I got there, I found that the test was actually scheduled, so I got to sit it. The spoken part was via Google Hangout with two teachers in different parts of Europe; the written part was the next day in a big room with all the other participants. (I sat next to a nun who was sitting the B1 level, if I remember correctly.)

It did take me nearly all the time scheduled, which surprised me a little; especially the essay tasks. (Plus I had to come up with an opinion on Google Glass and its influence on society, a topic I hadn’t given all that much specific thought to before.) And I was glad that I had borrowed a [monolingual Esperanto] dictionary from my teacher, since I referred to it fairly often during the test and did not have to share one of the few shared ones.

I got the scores for my individual spoken portion during the SES week, but was told that complete scores would have to wait until September.

Fast forward till today: my scores are now available in a password-protected area on the ITK website.

And I did fairly well, if I do say so myself: 84/90 spoken, 76/80 written. I was a little surprised that my “written self-expression” scored better than my “reading understanding”, but whatever.

So, in a few more weeks I should have a little bound diploma telling me that I can officially speak Esperanto at a C1 level; who would have thought that a couple of years ago!

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English needs a preposition “atto”

I thought of a gap in English: it has no preposition corresponding to German “an”+accusative.

In some cases, what is one preposition in German with dative or accusative (for position vs. movement) is the same preposition in English (The cat is under the table vs. The cat runs under the table; The bird is over the table vs. The bird flies over the table) or is differentiated with -to for the movement version (The ball is in the box vs. The ball falls into the box; The pen is on the table vs. The pen falls onto the table).

But for “at”, there’s only the “position” meaning, and there’s no “movement” variant.

For example, in German, you could say, “Schieb den Karton an die Wand”; in English, you’d need a circumlocution such as “Push the cardboard box all the way to the wall” or “right up to the wall”. “Push it at the wall” wouldn’t have the same meaning, and there’s no *“Push it atto the wall” or *“Push it to at the wall”.

There is “to”, but it’s more similar to German “zu” or Esperanto “al” rather than to German “an” or Esperanto “ĝis” with their connotation of touching at the end.


The things you learn: Canaanite shift

Someone on Quora linked to the Wikipedia article on the ‘Canaanite shift’:

In historical linguistics, the Canaanite shift is a sound change that took place in the Canaanite dialects, which belong to the Northwest Semitic branch of the Semitic languages family. This sound change caused Proto-NW-Semitic *ā (long a) to turn into ō (long o) in Proto-Canaanite. It accounts, for example, for the difference between the second vowel of Hebrew שלום (šalom, Tiberian šālōm) and its Arabic cognate سلام (salām). The original word was probably *šalām-, with the ā preserved in Arabic, but transformed into ō in Hebrew.

The article cites several examples, some of which I had known independently as Arabic and Hebrew forms, but I had never inferred that regular sound shift from them! (Quite possibly because I don’t really know Hebrew and Arabic.)



You know you’re getting better at a language when…

…you see it written in ASCII and your mind automatically fills in the appropriate diacritics. (In some cases, even guessing them based on some kind of statistical process.)

I shall have to make some time to brush up on my Slovak before I head to SES again this summer, but probably not till after my Cornish exam in June as I don’t want to get mixed up.

Recently, Maltese has started to tickle the back of my brain again as well. We’ll see which language will be the next to take hold of me. Though currently I’m hoping to stick with Cornish till at least next year and take the level 3 exam then.