July 1, 2009 | Russian
The project gets underway at the New York Public Library.
I thought of this language project only yesterday while running in Central Park, so there hasn’t been much time to plan. It doesn’t really matter, though, as I don’t want to plan; I just want to get to work.
Here are some basic principles I expect to follow:
- All the languages I pursue have to be significant languages in New York City.
- They should also be significant languages in the world.
- In the spirit of this recessionary age, I have to spend as little money as possible.
Today I headed to the Mid-Manhattan Library, the main language-learning repository of the New York Public Library, to figure out which language to start with. I quickly settled on Russian, a decision that was primarily practical: the materials I wanted were on the shelf right at that moment, which was not the case with a couple of other languages I considered.
Also, I knew I wanted a language with a different alphabet—just to make sure from the beginning that I could manage that on my own. (I’ve studied Spanish, French, and German, but never anything with an unfamiliar alphabet.)
Today’s most important lesson, in my opinion, was that one can get a lot of great stuff at the New York Public Library without having to pay a cent. (If you are looking for charitable causes, donate lots of money to them, at www.support.nypl.org. They definitely need it right now, and the library is an amazing resource for New Yorkers.)
I walked out of there with various grammar books, a dictionary, two movies, a set of vocabulary CDs called VocabuLearn, and the optimistically, hyperbolically titled Speak Russian in Eight Easy Lessons, from Pimsleur.
I started studying the minute I got home.