Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Tuesday 6/5/14


I am now aiming to post here more frequently because I shouldn’t neglect those who read my blog and because it is useful for me in many ways. I get a walk down then back up the hill in Papagianades, which adds paces to my pedometer and assists towards my weight loss program. The discipline keeps me returning to my laptop and writing, which is what I am supposed to do. Also, while they seem inclined to chat, neither of the genial hosts at ‘The Avli’ (The Yard) speaks much English, so this is a good place for me to practise my steadily growing Greek vocabulary.

Now, on that last subject, I’m now using mnemonic clues and other techniques to stick stuff firmly in my mind. I reminded in this of my father’s ‘joke’ that enables one to remember the first 5 numbers in French. If you know them then, ‘Three cats went out in a leaky boat...’ Anyway, I’m making up my own clues for this language because sometimes you can make so few connections to English. Othigo, for example, means I drive, though it’s not pronounced precisely as you see it here.

One word that evaded me yesterday was the future tense of ‘I sit’. The present and past are, respectively, kathomay and kathisa, while the future tense always starts with a tha, which is the Greek version of ‘will’ or ‘shall’. When I was groping in my memory for this future tense verb and not finding it I made the assumption, based on other words I’d learned, that the future was tha kathiso. Wrong! It’s tha katso. Annoyed that I’d managed to forget this (if briefly) I made up something to imbed it in my mind. We once had a cat we named Fatso, so I now have in my mind ‘Fatso the cat will sit – tha katso’. Sounds daft I know, but it works.

Another I’m trying to memorise is paratiro which means ‘I observe’. Since I know the Greek word for window and it’s similar – parathiro – I now have ‘I observe the window’ paratiro to parathiro. But of course you’re getting no real sense of the emphasis on certain letters here, or of the confusion concerning those letters. Greek, for example, has far too many versions of ‘i’. It has yota, ita and ipsilon, plus epsilon-yota and omicron-yota. It also has two versions of o, some strange dipthongs and other combinations of letters, along with letters that don’t exist in English at all like psi, ksi and khi. Here’s one for you to be going along with next time you take a trip to Greece: mi, pi, alpha & rho in sequence µπap (MPAR) is ‘Bar’ because M&P at the start of a word make B, and the way to remember this is ‘MPs make busy bees’.

Still, this is all good fun and, apparently, learning a new language is one of the best mental exercises going. So, all those reading this and thinking, ‘When the hell is he going to get back to writing and talking about science fiction?’ can rest assured that I’m giving my mind a good workout and I’ll hopefully be approaching my work with some new muscles.    

8 comments:

daniel ware said...

Holy crap that's complicated, still stick with it - the only way I've found to get a language to stick is to live where it is spoken so you're in the right place!

Ian M Campbell said...

Brave man, looks quite a challenge! Some have the knack to soak it up, I know someone that is fluent in 8 languages... seemingly effortlessly.

I hope this doesn't mean your next book is going to come out in Greek only !!!

Hypermagical Ultraomnipotence said...

Learning other languages and sentence structures, and incorporating them back into english, can be fascinating. Several of my favorite authors are people like Sergei Lutyanenko and Karin Tidbeck, both of whom originally wrote their works in other languages.

Karin Tidbeck's Jagannath is still one of of my favorite short story collections :D

Neal Asher said...

It is complicated, Daniel - even more so than you would suppose in that blog post. For example a slight mispronounciation of lamb chops would have you ordering a plate of small children.

Ian, it's those mental muscles. I would guess that once you have learned one language the next one comes easier.

HU, what's fasinating with Greek is relating back to English, it being one of the source languages of our tongue. ... Heh, glossa is 'tongue'. It is also what they call sole, probably because of its form...

daniel ware said...

lol - i'm sure that would go down well...

KRex said...

On a slightly different note: Do you ever find yourself transposing Greek words into English sentences? And how do you think your new Greek mindset (Newspeak=Newthink) will affect your writing? One other question; have you ever watched "Person of interest"? The plot is getting to an interesting phase, with 2 AI's approaching sentience, and one party (Decima) expressing their desire for a quiet-war (Asherism) outcome.

KRex said...

Serendipitously, P.O.I has just started screening in Greece (Apr' 29), on the 'Star Channel'. 9pm Tue-Fri (thank you WikiP). I find watching TV in a foreign language useful for picking up coloquialisms. Akta Manniskor for example..

Jezcentral said...

I find that when someone speaks to me in a language I recognise (French, Czech, Japanese, although very little of them), I always have to transpose it to its written form in my head. I can't do it with just the sounds of them.