Happy 4th birthday, World With Little Worlds!
To honor all of my readers and those who have provided me praise and constructive feedback throughout the years, these are your questions, answered with love and consideration by yours truly.
What do you look for in a mentor?
- Someone who opens doors rather than closes them.
- Someone who doesn’t pull emotional hot-buttons or regularly cause me to feel distressed, downtrodden, or discouraged.
- Someone who, when I am done meeting with him or her, makes me feel elevated and ready to enter my life with renewed motivation.
- Someone who acknowledges the progress I have made in addition to that I have yet to make.
- Someone who isn’t over jealous or guarded of me.
How learn any language from scratch in my own?
The first thing to ask yourself is how much you can PRONOUNCE, how much you can READ (and understand what you’re reading), and how much you can UNDERSTAND. Depending on which combination of the three you have, your approach will have to be different. However, the more prior knowledge you have in a related language, the easier it is to get “lazy”.
Generally, I would start with “hello, how are you? What is your name? My name is… Where are you from? I am from…” and then go onto “I have, you have…” “Do you have…?” and then the same with “to want”, “to go”.
I’ve spoken about this in the interview I did with Luke Truman of Full Time Fluency a few months back:
This should help.
What was the catalyst for your interest in languages of the Pacific in general and Palauan in particular?
Climate change in the case of Oceania in general, a childhood fascination with that area of the world, and, in the case of Palau, the sound of the language as well as how it looked on paper. Oh, and the flag. Who could forget the flag? As a kid I could look at it for hours. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating.
How much Japanese do you understand with your Palauan knowledge?
Same as how much Latin you would understand from English.
Apart from Yiddish and Hebrew what other Jewish languages have you studied?
A tiny bit of Ladino in college and a handful of words from Jewish Languages of Azerbaijan in the early 2010’s, but aside from that, pretty much nothing seriously.
Have you ever looked into Krymchak or the Udmurt-influenced dialect of Yiddish?
Now I may have to!
When studying Breton, do you prefer the artificial French-influenced “standard” or one of the dialects?
The KLT (Kerne-Leon-Treger ) variety used in the Colloquial Breton book and in the Kauderwelsch book is my go-to. It seems fairly consistent with what is used on Wikipedia although there are some songs that have “curveball” elements for those overly accustomed to KLT.
Apart from Northern Sami, Finnish, and Hungarian, do you plan on learning any other Uralic languages?
I never say I won’t plan on it. Right now I do feel “overloaded”, however.
When you were in Israel, did you encounter any Circassians or Hungarian Jews? If yes, did they speak their ethnic languages?
Possibly and yes respectively. My Hungarian was limited to a few words in 2009 but my efforts were appreciated. What’s more, do keep in mind that I had heavy limiting beliefs about language learning back in those times. Odd, because my experience in the Ulpan should have actively proved those beliefs wrong.
How often do you encounter peoples of the Pacific in real life apart from the times you actually go there?
Hawaiians about once every three months or so, same with people who have been expatriates in places like Fiji and Samoa. Aside from Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, I haven’t met anyone in person from Oceania yet. That will change this year, I hope.
Will your RPG “Kaverini: Nuuk Adventures” be playable in Greenlandic?\
I’m going on record: YES.
Have you ever written poetry in the languages you learn?
I believe I did once or twice in Yiddish at the National Yiddish Book Center. I also have done improvisational singing in Tok Pisin. I may have also written a piece or two in Hebrew while at Wesleyan University but I have no recollection of it. I did write an absurdist play about talking jellyfish in that same Hebrew class that makes most internet memes look tame by comparison.
How do you deal with the blurry boundary between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation?
Cultural appropriation is, in my view, taking one element of a culture (let’s say, clothing) and claiming it as your own without having a basic understanding of where, why and how that culture or cultural element exists.
If I were to wear a national costume in public with holy significance, that would possibly be breaching a boundary in that culture that I may be unaware of. But obviously me wearing a shirt with a Greenlandic flag on it despite not being Greenlandic or Inuit (or any Native American at all) does not make me a cultural appropriator. It is a mark of solidarity and appreciation.
On this note, I would like to say for the first time that I am fully aware of the fact that there are people who are prepared to call “Kaverini: Nuuk Adventures” cultural appropriation despite the deep involvement of actual Greenlanders at every stage of its production. I look at the Greenlandic story as a whole in a way that contemporary American pop culture and its sad legacy of cartoonish national caricatures will probably never do otherwise.
If you would prefer Greenlandic culture would remain a virtually unknown mystery in much of the rest of the world instead of appreciated for the wonderful slice of the human story that it is, then I have nothing to say to you.
What was, to you, the most easily graspable non-Latin orthographic system in any non-L1 language you’ve studied? What was the least?
From Easiest to Hardest:
- Canadian Aboriginal Syllabary
Have you ever SAVED SOMEONES LIFE with language?
The answer is: yes. And surprisingly, my own. Several times.
For one, my decision to become a tutor of several languages actually ended up saving my life. Shortly after graduating from JTS, I fell ill for a while. My own parents, who hold medical degrees, misdiagnosed me several times.
What ended up saving my life was one of my students of Swedish, who casually recommended based on my symptoms that I had Lyme Disease. Thanks to his suggestion, the disease was caught in time and my life was saved.
There is also the story about how Greenlandic saved my life, but I will relate that in future interviews when “Kaverini: Nuuk Adventures” is released. There is a specific reason I chose Greenland as the setting for my first video game (well, one of several specific reasons) and one of them in particular may come as a shocker to many of you.
Speaking of which, I’m going to continue doing character sketches for Nuuk Adventures right now!
Happy Birthday, O Beloved Blog of Mine!