August 11, 2013 | Yiddish
Speed of Reading (Definitely Not Speed Reading)
In Yiddish I am slow.
I continue to enjoy reading Yiddish words and sentences in my Basic Yiddish grammar, which I have now nearly completed, but I also continue to marvel at how much like a grade-school kid I feel when I am doing it.
In other words: I am soooooooo sloooow. Except actually, I wasn’t really a slow reader in grade school. So I guess I am more like a pre-schooler.
This Takes Me Forever
I am still reading Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky, the saver/saviour of Yiddish books for posterity and the founder of the Yiddish Book Center. He has read a ton of Yiddish and studied it in graduate school at McGill in the late 1970s.
Something he wrote comforted me tremendously with respect to my sluggish pace. About his own Yiddish studies, he said, “…we were often assigned two full-length novels a week. I still read relatively slowly in Yiddish, with frequent recourse to a dictionary, and my first year of graduate school found me at my desk till two or three in the morning every night but Shabbos.”
Phew. If Aaron Lansky is still slow(ish), then I feel better. It ain’t easy to read unfamiliar letters backwards.
Oops, now that I have typed in and proofread the above quotation, I have just realized that his “read” was probably past tense, not present. I assumed it was present.
Rats. English is so annoying sometimes! The present tense, past tense, and past participle of “to read” are: “read,” “read,” and more “read.” Can we not be a little more innovative, people?
Central Park Turtles
Okay, so I can no longer take comfort in Aaron Lansky’s current reading speed. But at least I know for sure he was slow in graduate school!
By the way, did you see the exercise pictured above, from Basic Yiddish? Reading the questions, then writing my answers, then reading the answers in the back of the book (in print) and comparing them with my answers (in cursive)—all incredibly time-consuming.
But if I know that other people in this world are slow, too, then I mind much less.