July 3, 2014 | Persian
I began this project just over five years ago. It was supposed to last less than a year.
Yesterday my husband, Brandt, and I got on our building’s elevator with a neighbor who was carrying a small rectangular bag over her shoulder.
Much Love to Brandt, Who Has Never Once Complained About My Taking Pimsleur Lessons to Bed
Being friendly elevator folk, we actually talked to her. It turned out she had just gone to see a movie.
“How was it?” I asked.
“Good,” she said. Then she opened her small rectangular shoulder bag to reveal a small nonrectangular sleeping dog. “He came along.”
“Did he like it, too?” I asked.
She replied, “Well, it was in French, so…” She shrugged.
This is a special week for me. Five years and three nights ago, while out for a run in Central Park, I had an idea for a 10-month language-learning project focused on New York City. I began it the very next day and it was, and still is, love.
Ten months became a year, then two, then three, then five, with no end in sight.
I marvel often at how the whim of a moment could have yielded so many rewarding moments, and the promise of more, and connected me with people around this city and the world whom I would never have encountered otherwise.
The Reservoir in Central Park, Where Last Month a Bird Pooped on My Head While I Was Doing a Michel Thomas Language Lesson
During a Thunderstorm Almost Five Years Ago, I Hid Under This Bridge Doing Pimsleur Arabic Lessons While Waiting for the Rain to Stop
For my language anniversary, Brandt and I took a walk in Central Park, where it all began. It was a beautful night, with fireflies and flowers, and birds vigorously making their feelings known.
I rounded out our expedition with a celebratory cherry drop. I learned how to do this when I was six years old—before the age of litigiousness swept the most exciting equipment right off American playgrounds—and I have never forgotten.
I just wish it worked the same way for languages!
Right now I am overextended with work and other obligations, but I’ve still carved out time in the past few days for some Persian study, even though it has not been nearly enough to satisfy me.
My Persian Grammar, by Ann Lambton, is kind of kicking my butt, but today I finally managed to finish a translation exercise that I began several days ago and kept aborting.
One challenge with this book is that the Persian font is small, smaller than it looks in the excerpt from Exercise 5 shown below, and sentences in exercises aren’t necessarily numbered. The little horizontal lines they often use between sentences just don’t do it for me.
I started crossing off sentences I’d already translated so that I wouldn’t accidentally go backwards and keep doing the same ones over and over.
Perilous Exercise 5 in Ann Lambton’s Persian Grammar
Towards the end, I was asked to translate the sentence دختر شما از همه کوچکتر است. Transliterated, that read Doxtar shomâ âz hame kucektar âst.
I wrote down, “Your doctor is the smallest of all.” I looked at it.
I went back to the original sentence. I reread it carefully. Yep. “Your doctor is the smallest of all.”
Despite the eccentricity of many grammar book examples, that simply did not make sense.
I remained perplexed until I looked in the answer key and was reminded that the first word in that sentence, دختر (doxtar), means “daughter,” not “doctor.” Oops.
“Doctor” is written دکتر (doktor).
Diminutive-daughter discussions are surely more plentiful and relevant in life than diminutive-doctor discussions. My faith in Ann Lambton remains intact!