October 18, 2009 | Arabic

Birding with Dr. Pimsleur

I do Pimsleur lessons while birdwatching in Central Park.

This morning Brandt and I went to Café Margot together. While we were there, an older German couple, very stylish, sat down next to us. I started a conversation with them, and I couldn’t believe it: it went way, way better than any German conversation I have had in a long time. I pretty much understood them, and although I made lots of mistakes, they could pretty well understand me, and Brandt, who once spent a year near Frankfurt playing professional basketball, also understood a lot, too, which was great. I have not done a lick of work on my German, so if I am better, maybe it is because this project is shaking out my brain.

In My Native Tongue, Sometimes a Dishwasher

Brandt also commented yesterday that he thinks I am having less mix-up disease than usual, mix-up disease being how he affectionately describes my random conversational tendencies to refer to vacuum cleaners as dishwashers or to blenders as TVs. I think he’s right!

I did Pimsleur today while birding in Central Park. I haven’t been birding much lately, but I saw my first winter wren the other day and found it so cute that I wanted to see more. I came across a number of great birds today, but wasn’t able to identify a lot of them, mostly because my eyes are shot from nearly four months of squinting at unfamiliar letters in unfamiliar alphabets.

After birding, I went by the lobby of my sister Rebecca’s apartment building so I could ask Ben, one of the doormen there, about some Arabic issues that have been plaguing me. He appears to be quite knowledgeable about the various dialects, as well as Arabic grammar, and very generously answered a number of my questions. Then, unfortunately, he started talking about something called alpha mind control (I am not kidding), but I extricated myself with relative ease.

Most of These I Still Don't Know

After that, I did a bunch of Pimsleur lessons in the office, but my effectiveness was blunted by the fact that (a) I kept looking through my bird book to try to figure out what I had seen in the park and (b) I started falling asleep.

I finally got up off the sleep-inducing sofa and spent about an hour on the office floor, going through my box of Arabic flashcards and sorting them into two piles: words I knew and words I didn’t know. I haven’t looked at these flashcards since maybe a few days after I started this project. They’re really too advanced for me. But at least the pile of words I know is now visible to the naked eye, definitely a lot bigger than the 10 or so cards I recognized some weeks ago.

Comments (1)

Jill • Posted on Sun, March 14, 2010 - 2:03 pm EST

Oh!  You, too!  I thought it was me, and I thought it was the dreaded A disease (Alzheimer’s), that which you call the Mix Up Disease.  I also, often, call the vacuum the fridge!

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