Yes, I’m focusing on learning the Somali language. Somali takes the majority of my linguistic time and energy. But speaking lots of languages makes me a polyglot—and that brings me so much joy. This week I got to talk to old friends, discover great music, and meet new people. Though I haven’t had much time for more than the bare minimum of Somali, here’s how I worked on my languages this week.
- Russian. My cousin will be visiting Kiev soon, so I Skyped with an old friend there. It happened to be the 8th of March, International Women’s Day, a big holiday in the former Soviet republics. Coincidentally, we met at a March 8th party—more than 20 years ago! She remarked how things have gotten worse over the past few years; the war has brought out desperation in people, resulting in more robberies and burglaries. With a dark sense of Slavic humor, though, we remembered fondly how much worse things were back in the 90s. We had a good laugh!
- German. Weekly I like to listen to the interviews of HR1 “Talk”, which gives me some insight into German-language popular culture. It’s also nice because it follows a standard format: background and conversation, then an “Überraschungsgast” (“surprise guest”), then “Ping-pong” (short, personal questions told in a “lightning round” kind of way), and finally some more conversation. In between, the guest gets to pick a song or two for the audience to listen to. I listened to one today, and the song they played was really cool, so I’ve been listening to it all day. (“Astronaut,” by Sido, featuring Andreas Bourani)
- French. I had a nice conversation with a colleague in Paris whom I met for the first time this week. We were working on similar projects, so we needed to consult with each other. Ultimately, we carried out the technical discussion in English, not French, as I have a long way to go to talk technically in French. (I’m learning slowly how to do so in Russian, and it’s a little slow-going.)
- Spanish. The “final exam” is coming Thursday. The mother of our exchange student arrives in the afternoon. She speaks no more than a handful of sentences in English. I will have to find her at the airport, collect her and her things, and bring her home. She will stay with us for 11 days, so I will have to speak Spanish every day. I’ll let you know.
- Somali. I met a new person at work who is Somali. I got to run through my introductory speech, and he helped correct a couple phrases that I had mis-learned recently.
- Portuguese. I met a Brazilian at work briefly when a colleague introduced me to him. I couldn’t remember any Portuguese except Bom dia, so I can hardly call that practice.
What a wonderful week I had! I should brush up on my Portuguese some more, just so I don’t get stuck with my pants down again.