June 7, 2013 | Irish

New Yorkers, Please Come to Brooklyn on Thursday!

I will be speaking at the Greenpoint Library about this project.

** UPDATE JUNE 13TH: Predictions of a torrential downpour have caused this event to be deferred, to June 20th. All other details below remain the same. My sincere apologies for any inconvenience!

Dear Readers:

Next Thursday I will be giving a talk on language-learning and New York City at the Brooklyn Public Library in Greenpoint. If you live in the New York area, I would love for you to come!

The talk will be a lot of fun, and if you haven’t previously been to Greenpoint—a neighborhood rich in Polish language and culture—that alone is worth the trip. (Though please stay for the talk anyway.) Below are the event details.

A Beautiful Day in Greenpoint

A Beautiful Day in Greenpoint

Event Title: Words & Worlds of New York: Language-Learning Adventures, Misadventures, and Methodologies 

Description: Over the past four years, writer Ellen Jovin has studied 16 languages on her own, relying on widely available teach-yourself resources. She has supplemented these studies by using New York City—the second most multilingual city in the world—as a language-learning lab. In this presentation she will talk about her linguistic adventures through the city while also offering tips and tricks for the do-it-yourself language learner.

When: Thursday, June 13, 6:30-7:30 p.m. [moved to June 20th!]

Where: Brooklyn Public Library (Greenpoint), 107 Norman Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222. If you are coming from Manhattan, you can transfer from the L train to the G train and get off at Nassau Street (please exit to Norman). The library is located one block from the station. Alternatively, you can get off the L train at Bedford Avenue and walk 10 minutes to Greenpoint Library.

Brooklyn Public Library at Greenpoint

Brooklyn Public Library at Greenpoint

Lots of Polish Books There!

Lots of Polish Books There!

A related plug: As some of you already know, my website has been nominated as one of the top 100 language-learning blogs for 2013. I need votes to propel me to the top of the list and would be grateful for any you can throw my way. Just click here, find my name alphabetized under E on the page that comes up, and vote! The voting deadline is just around the corner—June 9th at 11:59 p.m. German time.

Thank you! I hope to see some of you on Thursday!


Comments (5)

Farschied • Posted on Sat, June 08, 2013 - 1:22 am EST

Too bad I can’t be there! :(.

I was wondering if you could record the talk so that we could learn from your valuable talk.

Could you please do that?

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Sat, June 08, 2013 - 7:28 am EST

We are planning to record, yes! Thanks, Farschied.

Farschied • Posted on Sun, June 09, 2013 - 4:10 am EST

You know what would be a good topic to talk about!

“Gender” in different languages that you are trying to learn and how to learn them or their related articles and how not to confuse them with each other.

For instance Book is neutral in German whereas it is masculine in Spanish. Or another example would be the word “moon” which is masculine in German whereas it is feminine noun in Italian.

Now, let’s say that someone is trying to learn German, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian and other languages which are based on Gender, just like you, How does he/she handle this matter?

I believe for a native Farsi or Turkish speaker this could be a challenge. Because as you know there aren’t any “masculine” , “feminine” , “neutral” nouns in these languages. If you want to say “he” or “she” you just say “oo” without even thinking the one you are trying to address is a girl or a boy!

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Sun, June 09, 2013 - 8:44 am EST

First of all, Farschied, regarding your last paragraph: no, I did not know that. Good to hear! Coming from a genderless language, I am always relieved when I don’t have to worry about gender in a new one.

Maybe the absence of gender could be used to promote study of a particular language. Possible marketing copy: “Tired of learning gender for never-ending lists of nouns? Try Turkish!”

I think my answer to your question is pretty short, though. Here it is:

Memorize. ;)

Okay, so maybe it doesn’t have to be on a word-by-word basis. As you well know, you can often get gender for large swathes of a language’s noun collection by memorizing patterns. But usually you still have a lot of case-by-case memorizing to do. And there is no trick to that, as far as I can see. This point of view is not unique to me; it is one I have seen repeated in grammar books across multiple languages.

As for the confusion caused by gender disparities across languages, well, that too is largely about memorization. Some people suffer from more language confusion than others. The walls between languages are more permeable for them, it seems. One person might be more easily distracted than another by the gender of “moon” in German versus Spanish. I don’t think gender in Romance languages confuses my grasp of the quite different gender situation in German, but when very similar words across Romance languages have different genders (Portuguese versus Spanish presented a number of those cases), well, then I can run into trouble!

People who specialize in mnemonic devices might have a different answer to your question, but my brain mostly rebels against mnemonic devices.

By the way, for me the key challenge with gender is to avoid obsessing about it when I am trying to talk to someone. I confess, it distracts me sometimes in German! I like to get gender right! But when I am trying to communicate an idea, I consider it far more important to just keep going, as opposed to stopping and musing about the correct form of an article.

Farschied • Posted on Sun, June 09, 2013 - 8:52 am EST

gut gemacht!

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