January 11th, 2017

The languages I tried to learn and the languages I’ll never learn

The languages I tried to learn and the languages I’ll never learn

Part 2. Childhood

There were no textbooks for self-instruction, nor any dictionaries of foreign languages in our home. I was a reader of two libraries, the school one and the children’s local one. They did not have teach-yourself books, and I was not sure I could handle textbooks for adult learners. There were few things to learn a little about languages in fiction books, where foreign quotations were translated in notes. I wrote out phrases from the books together with the translations in a copy-book and tried to learn something about grammar and words of a foreign language from them. Notre Dame de Paris (in the Russian translation) by Hugo was a whole treasure of Latin and Spanish quotations. The name of the chapter Besos para golpes is retained in my mind ever since.

My life changed when I turned fifteen. I could become a reader of the Foreign Languages Library. First of all, I started to learn Latin with the help of a textbook for beginners and ducked into this language head first. About at the same time I began to study Spanish. Various events in life prevented me from taking up other tongues.

One of my many drawbacks is reluctance to go through a whole textbook to the end. After mastering the basics of the language, I try to read an original text with a dictionary. As a result, my knowledge of languages is scanty and abounds in gaps.
To be continued.

PS In  addition to the above I should mention the influence of the book A few words about words by Leo Uspensky. Earlier I had been under impression of Perelman’s popular scientific books Fun with Maths, Fun with Mechanics, Fun with Physics, etc. However, Uspensky beat Perelman with one hand.

Капля под носом

Капля под носом
В метро стояла красивая ухоженная девушка. Глаза подведены, ресницы полметра. Прелесть, а не девушка. Однако мне показалось, что у неё капля под носом. Передо мной стояла дилемма: или сказать ей об этой неприятности и тем самым смутить, или промолчать и лишить её тем самым шанса познакомиться с потенциальными ухажёрами. Подойдя поближе, увидел, что из ноздри свешивается серебристый металлический шарик. Если бы был приделан к какому-либо иному месту на её теле, он бы, возможно, придал ей дополнительной пикантности. Но шарик из носа портил весь шарм.