I had felt my interest for Northern Sami crash ever since I moved into New York about a week ago. That isn’t to say that I intend on forgetting everything, but that I am allocating my energy towards other projects at the moment.
There are a number of reasons for this. For one, I am quite irritated by Ođđasat’s excessive use of subtitles in languages other than Sami, although maybe there are shows in which it would be toned down. On the other hand, the relatively low number of speakers could also be a thing. Maybe I’ll get lucky in New York City and meet someone who speaks the language (not entirely unthinkable). Maybe one day I’ll get to Samiland (also possible).
For now, it seems that my goal with Northern Sami was to realize its connections to its culture and the other Nordic Languages.
I feel that I have accomplished that, although it will definitely slip away without practice and I may find myself enchanted by the prospect of learning it very intensely yet again, as I had over the course over the past few months.
In contrast to Nothern Sami is Estonian, the rising star among my weakest languages.
I’m struggling with getting the past tense down, but certainly the idea that there is no true future tense in Estonian (or in any of the Finno-Ugric Languages) is a relief.
I expected the cases to be really easy after my Finnish venture had required me to master those ones, but “easy” barely exists in regards to learning any language at all. The plural declensions really trip me up, even now. On the plus side, I know that with enough flash cards and enough immersion these problems can go away.
Only during my last few days in Connecticut did I really master the “õ” sound, and if it weren’t for the songs in “Lumekuninganna ja Igavene Talv” (The Snow Queen and the Eternal Winter”…oh, what on earth could THAT be?), then I think I’d still have an issue with it.
Luckily it occurred to me that the sound wasn’t quite as nasal as I thought it was…
Listen for the words “Kas kõik on korras?” (is everything okay?) at around 1:17 to sample this mystifying phoneme:
Speaking of nasal vowels, it occurs to me that, thanks largely to Facebook and the time I spent in the country, my ability to forget elementary Polish leaves a lot to be desired (Saturday I went to the Columbia bookstore to browse and, of course, there was Polish spoken by a family there…)
What also leaves a lot to be desired is my ability to improve. The reason? Because I’ve obviously been focusing on everything else. The only reason I haven’t forgotten absolutely everything (and I really wasn’t that good to begin with) is because of music, social media, and memories.
I literally have the exact same situation with Russian as well, which I considered forgotten until a friend of mine required some help in reading the Russian alphabet and some basics. Then it occurred to me that I hadn’t forgotten nearly as much as I had thought. But I don’t think I speak either of these remotely well, but maybe one day the passion will come back.
French and Italian are going by well in Duolingo land, and I feel that I am on the cusp of getting basic conversational skills in Italian, but I’m nowhere near where I am with Brazilian Portuguese (whose tree I intend to finish first).
On the other hand, I have been committing lots of time to learning Faroese vocabulary, but the accent still remains a bit of a problem, although the pronunciation less so. It feels like all of the Scandinavian Languages’ accents were thrown in a blender and out came a Faroese accent…no, really!
There’s literally one thing that is holding me back from becoming conversational: the grammar. Right now I’m focusing on vocabulary, but once I get down the silliness with nouns and verbs, I may make extraordinary progress with Faroese and may quickly have it in the category of my linguistic “best buddies”. Once I reach that point, Icelandic won’t be too far behind. You can take my word for it!
Last but not least, Romansh. I’ve been pumping words into my brain with spaced repetition, and because of its similarity to the Romance Languages, this is easy for me. Putting together sentences? Getting the pronunciation perfect? I may need to buy a book for that…or, if I’m feeling particularly lazy, I could always visit www.rtr.ch…
True story: Romansh came up in a discussion I had this past Friday evening. And not at my own doing.
Anyhow, there may be languages learned, languages forgotten, and stasis in learning.
There will be mirth. There will be disappointments. There will be times when I feel very proud, and other times when I am tempted to throw phrasebooks or notebooks out the window (and not just notebooks with pages…).
But despite the pain, the self-consciousness, and the struggles, I’m glad I take these journeys. There are so many worlds opened to me as a result of them.
The report card is done!
So what am I waiting for?
Let new adventures begin!