Blog

Adventures in urban language-learning

February 2, 2016 | Pashto
Learning Pashto

Grammar Books for Protection?

In which an Arabic verb book may possibly have protected me from a crazy person.

Today in New York I got into a verbal altercation with a woman at a cafe who refused to move her belongings off an adjacent seat so that I could sit down. (There were no other seats.) Here’s what…

January 16, 2016 | Pashto

The Art of Pimsleur Pashto

The mellifluous voice of the woman on the audio recordings makes for excellent Pashto promotion.

Until a couple of weeks ago I was zipping along with my Pimsleur audio lessons for Pashto. When I don’t like a voice on an audio recording, it is a huge bummer. It doesn’t happen much — I am…

January 11, 2016 | Pashto

Cheating on Pashto

I keep studying Arabic instead.

I love the Pashto I’ve encountered so far, but I have a confession: I have been temporarily tempted aside by Arabic. Just as I was about to finish the first 30 audio lessons that Pimsleur offers for Pashto, I…

November 29, 2015 | Pashto

Went North, Found World Literature

In which changing my coffee shop routine led me to global writers.

I am trying to shake up my routine a bit, so I have been testing out a new coffee shop. I realize this is not the most radical alteration one could make to one’s lifestyle, but much of life…

November 28, 2015 | Pashto

Polyglot Conference NYC 2015: A Linguagala!

More than 400 language nerds took over Manhattan in October.

I loved the Polyglot Conference, held October 10-11 at the SVA Theatre on 23rd Street. About 425 people from around the world landed on the isle of Manhattan for two days of language talks and linguatastic extracurriculars. It made me happy. …

September 1, 2015 |

On a Language-Review Bender

Old languages are bubbling, slithering, slinking around in there, and I want them to come out!

For the past months, my language life has continued unabated, on a daily basis, though undocumented here on this blog. I kind of fizzled out on Swedish, not really quite getting where I wanted to go, but it is not…

March 8, 2015 | Swedish

Big Apple Greeter Preparation

I have to brush up on Italian, so I'm reading Assimil's Lo Svedese!

After a winter hiatus, I am back to doing weekly Big Apple Greeter visits. What that means is I take tourists around New York through the Big Apple Greeter volunteer program. The goal is to show visitors a slice of…

February 17, 2015 | Swedish

A Definite Article Shocker

Swedish articles often show up in unexpected locations.

In my neighborhood last week, I auspiciously came across a new Swedish cafe, Fika, pictured here. At least I think it’s Swedish; I guess it could be pretend Swedish. Att fika in Swedish means “to have…

January 15, 2015 | Swedish

Swedish Pronunciation Tools

My pronunciation challenges with Dutch would have been addressed by all the web-based tools available to me today.

When I studied Dutch in 2012, I had a hard time figuring out how to pronounce things. And I am not a person who can read a text about or in a foreign language without knowing how to pronounce the foreign…

December 9, 2014 | Swedish

Duolingo Swedish Day

I finally return to a site people rave about.

For quite a while now, people I know have been going on about how great Duolingo is. I have been told multiple times how addictive it is and how much fun and bla bla bla. Well, that wasn’t my…