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Boreal Elizabeth | 401 comments i met a lady on the bus
i saw a lady at the bus stop
she came several days a week
rode to town with her english grammar clutched to her chest
with a smile
a bright smile
warm eyes that crinkled
she looked italian, but i overheard she lived in germany
she smiled and nodded to me every morning
i smiled and nodded back
said good morning
she smiled and nodded
eventually i said guten tag
she smiled and nodded
then this morning she said good morning, how are you
i said good morning i am well how are you
she said thank you and smiled and nodded
and we tried to speak on the bus
yes she was going to school to learn english
she lived with her landlady on evergreen and worked in her gift shop
she needed an american to speak with
maybe starbucks, 1 hour to practice
she will call friday at 2:00 we'll walk to starbucks
i thought i could learn german while she learned english
but she only lived in germany
does not speak it well
is from Tehran, speaks farsi
i guess i will learn farsi
and drink coffee at starbucks


what languages would you really like to know?
i still would like to know german
gaelic because i'm irish, vietnamese so my step mother could converse with someone in the family in her native tongue, french because i studied it in high school and liked it, spanish because i live in southern california

has anyone tried to acquire a language in middle age? what's the key?

message 2: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15785 comments Mod
I studied Spanish in high school and college for the same reason as you did, MoLiz.

What qualifies as middle aged? At 38 I married a Norwegian, and took classes in that language. Oh, goody, thunk I, a chance to become really bilingual, what fun.

Ha! We seldom use it except for certain stock phrases.

When I was 42 I started studying Italian because my father was from Italy, but never spoke it at home.
Victim of the times, when all immigrants wanted nothing more than to blend in as fast as possible.

Result? As I think I've said here before, I don't think I'd starve to death if you dropped me in the middle of any of those countries, but my grasp of those languages is not great.

I'm more comfortable in Spanish, but that could be because I studied it for several years in an academic setting--or it could be because I was younger.

message 3: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
I took (where to, I cannot say) five years of French and two of Spanish. I messed up in Spanish by leavening the bread with French words, much to the Spanish professor's indignation (note the word "nation" in "indignation").

I wish I could travel to any country in Europe and speak the language, but I'm not a kid and only kids and savants pick up languages quickly.

Good luck with the Farsi lessons. You could work for the State Dept. or the CIA (or, if the Republicans win the White House again as I predict, the Homeland Security Department).

message 4: by Stamatia (new)

Stamatia | 268 comments I learned English and German as a kid and got along pretty well. But when I tried to learn Italian in my first year in the University I didn't do quite as well. Now I can understand most of what is being said in Italian but I can't for the life of me form a complete sentence
I guess as we get older the ability to absorb knowledge diminishes

message 5: by Simba (new)

Simba | 11 comments I'd like to learn some Sanscrit or Russian, and continue Latin. I'd like to improve my Irish and French as well- my grammar in both is terrible, and my vocabulary in Irish is lacking. I'm not sure how good the Irish lessons are, but the curse about the cat is a very useful phrase.
Farsi sounds really cool.

message 6: by David (new)

David | 4568 comments About 25 years ago I discovered in a DC bookshop that I could read Ignazio Silone in Italian (I knew Portuguese, Spanish, and some French). I went to Italy and could converse.

More recently, I learned German from Pimsleur CD's. Enough to read Grimm's "Fairy" Tales (mârchen in the original, not enough to understand TV or converse beyond the baby level. But that's because I haven't kept it up.

Charley, my dog (aka "Karl Heinrich von Hund") and I converse in German all the time.

message 7: by David (new)

David | 4568 comments Märchen.

Consarned HTML.

message 8: by Ruth (last edited Aug 14, 2008 12:18PM) (new)

Ruth | 15785 comments Mod
Ever opened your mouth and had the wrong language come out?

Quite a few years ago I was in a 3-person show in San Francisco, called Young Emerging Italian-American Artists. At the opening reception Italian flowed liberally. I took a deep breath and answered a handsome gentleman in flawed Norwegian.

Boreal Elizabeth | 401 comments thanks for the link simba

i also found a link for the farsi-which is on my home computer-i'll post it later

one correction-the language should be called Persian rather than Farsi

there's an explanation on the site the essence of which is Farsi is a arabization of Dari or Darsi and the original language is and should be Persian

message 10: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
Are you new Simba? Welcome! Pop on over to Introductions and give us a potted precis on yourself!

message 11: by Amy (new)

Amy | 21 comments I'm so happy to see this as a message board. I study languages of the world and love hearing people's experiences. Gotta a question though. This next semester I have to write a grammar (probably at least 50 pages) of a language I don't know and it has to be somewhat exotic. Can't be a familiar romance or germanic language. Does anyone have suggestions? I'm thinking a creole or maybe Afrikaans. Farsi might be cool though.

By the way, of the languages I've learned I highly recommend American Sign Language. Love it!

message 12: by David (new)

David | 4568 comments My late mother-in-law was a bank VP. There was a family she would help regularly while they were on line, by talking to them in Spanish.

One day the mother said sheepishly, "Thank you for trying to help us, but we're Armenians."

message 13: by David (new)

David | 4568 comments If you live in Teherangeles, why not learn Farsi?

It's pretty easy, I hear. The inflections have been mostly lost, as in English. The sound system's not too bad for English-speakers, either.

message 14: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
Try Maori

message 15: by David (new)

David | 4568 comments I once learned a little Tahitian (te reo maohi), which is very closely related to Maori (maohi and Maori must be cognates).

message 16: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
Yes....NZ natives.
Kia ora! Tatau tatau katoa.

message 17: by Marian (new)

Marian (gramma) | 39 comments About 15 years ago, My daughters & I went to Germany where another daughter was stationed in Nuremberg. We got Eurail passes & rode all over the place. We had a ball. We learned to say "I'm sorry, pardon me. please. thank you I'm sorry, Excuse me, I'm sorry in 8 languages. We discovered that if you ask "Where is the bathroom?" in someone's native language, they will answer you in that language. Best just to say "Ladies?" we usually found our way before it was too late. Menus were fun also. So were people who could understand English & pretended not to. Everyone was really nice. We saw all the famous train stations of Europe.

message 18: by David (new)

David | 4568 comments Yes, but how do you say "Don't get your knickers in a twist" in Maori.

Inquiring minds . . .

message 19: by Ken (last edited Aug 14, 2008 06:17PM) (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Polyglots are worth their weight in gold (or Cheez-Its, which are about as good). Also highly valued in the job market.

The world is getting smaller, they say, though I'm doing my level best to keep it big.

message 20: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
"Ki tahau e whakaaio" is the closest I can find David.....means calm yourself.

message 21: by Amy (new)

Amy | 21 comments Maori might be cool. I know it uses the Roman alphabet with a few digraphs so that makes things easier. And I knowing how to say calm yourself is a bonus!

message 22: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
For which poetry? Virgil's? Or are you speaking metaphorically of the way the language sounds? (Bella, magnifico, etc.)

message 23: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Trés bien, Marco Polo!

Ariosto? Sounds like a cheese (a far sight better than smelling like one...)

message 24: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Etudiez Le Petit Prince premier!

message 25: by David (new)

David | 4568 comments Il pleure dans mon coeur
Comme il pluit dans la ville
Qui est cette langeur
Qui penêtre mon coeur

Non-literal translation:

I weep in my heart
As rain falls on the town;
What longing's the start
Of the woe in my heart?

--Charles Baudelaire

message 26: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
Marco.....don't try to find out NE's is highly sensitive information known only to a very privileged few.......

message 27: by Boreal Elizabeth (new)

Boreal Elizabeth | 401 comments ah baudelaire
thanks david

new england has a name?

perhaps everyman?

message 28: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Do I get a choice (between Everyman and Noman)? On the Day of Reckoning, we are all Everyman.

My, getting a bit gloomy all of a sudden. Somewhat like Maine weather this summer (though I am in Massachusetts at the moment due to a class on Monday).

message 29: by David (new)

David | 4568 comments I want to dance syrtaki

and χασαποσερβικο (hasaposerviko).

message 30: by Stamatia (new)

Stamatia | 268 comments Do you know David syrtaki is not a traditional dance? It's a version of χασαποσέρβικο that came about after the huge success of Zorba. Χασαποσέρβικο by the way means the Serbian Butchers Dance and is really easy to learn the steps. The hard part (at least at my age) is to keep on dancing it as the beat picks up. It's really good aerobic exercise though and we tend to dance it when the spirits of the company are highest.

message 31: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
That was in incredibly poor taste Marco....behave yourself.

message 32: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15785 comments Mod
Fifty years old! That's incredibly ancient. Almost as old as my daughter!

message 33: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
Same age as me Ruth! But 50 does seem incredibly ancient when you are a young and mewling 13 year old.

message 34: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Sure. In Franglais, it means this:

"My House"

Near the mailbox
Is my house
It is not a duck
It has no balcony
On the first floor, there is
My brother's room
My parents' room
And my father's chiffonier

In the mountains
There is a chalet (French=chalet)
With a bathroom
and two eau de toilettes
The garden is small
There is no garage
I have no cavities
And it has two floors

In the country,
There is a farm
It does not have a Romper Room
It is older than dirt
There is a farmer's kitchen,
A way in the manger
And a guy named Sal Sejour
Who rests on his bowling shoes.

message 35: by Boreal Elizabeth (new)

Boreal Elizabeth | 401 comments he is a good boy deb
i'm amazed however he's 13
with a wicked sense of huma deah

message 36: by David (new)

David | 4568 comments Didn't know that about syrtaki.

I can only learn the steps if the instructor is facing the same direction. If the teacher's facing me, I confuse my left and right.

message 37: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
I don't need NE to translate thankyou Marco....glad to see you removed your comment...we all make ill-advised comments in our teens! Don't be is all just a learning curve and we are all great teachers here! I know you are a good boy really.

message 38: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
I repeat....find it yourself! And NOONE, not even NE, knows my surname.

message 39: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Actually, I do.

And Marco Polo, it's canard for duck. I was just joshin' on some of that poem translation.

message 40: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
No you don't!! Do you? Prove it privately please!

message 41: by Boreal Elizabeth (new)

Boreal Elizabeth | 401 comments phew
i thought my high school french had failed me

message 42: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
Me too!! Amazing how it all comes flooding back!

message 43: by Boreal Elizabeth (new)

Boreal Elizabeth | 401 comments yes i can read it somewhat but i can't speak a word or not nearly a word

message 44: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
Neither can I....reading it, fine.....writing it shaky (will send you something)....speaking it not at all beyond the odd 'sil vous plait'!

message 45: by David (new)

David | 4568 comments Zut alors!

message 46: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
More profanity!!! That I CAN say David!

message 47: by Prabha (last edited Aug 18, 2008 07:41AM) (new)

Prabha | 70 comments I know too, Deb!

But I don't kiss and tell :)

Thought NE's name was...NE. What else could he possibly be?????

message 48: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6387 comments Mod
I know you do Prabha....I let you know! :-)

message 49: by Boreal Elizabeth (last edited Aug 19, 2008 03:14PM) (new)

Boreal Elizabeth | 401 comments just to give you the update on my persian friend
i was so glad no one asked me about it
but i was busy shopping on friday
when i was supposed to be meeting her for coffee
picture me picking out a couple of blouses
then cruising down the road for sushi
realizing it's 3:00 our appointed time and i'm at least 15 mins away from our meeting spot
on one of the hottest days of the year
i leave the poor woman waiting for me
strange woman in a strange land
her very first friend letting her swelter in the sun on the sidewalk
ok she's persian and says it's not hot to her
but i was racing across town feeling like so. cal's biggest heel
smart woman she didn't wait more than 15 mins
i finally saw her at the bus stop today and apologized profusely
and have just returned from a lovely evening of seafood and stroll along the pier and wonderful conversation
she had this neat electronic dictionary and we were able to swap words
she agrees that it's difficult for a middle aged person to learn a new language
she tried german while in germany
but is gaining fluency in english much more quickly
so...i redeemed myself and have a new interesting friend

message 50: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18343 comments Mod
Eliza, have you ever considered writing a novel in verse? You've got the knack. For inspiration, see Sold and Out of the Dust.

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