Fair warning: This post comes mostly from the abstract and somewhat nerdy part of my mind. I mainly chose to write about this because my other blog-option had more to do with how the ENTIRE WORLD, from the Buddhist monks in China to Saddam Hussein to your own next-door neighbor, is out to keep me from getting to work on time. Of course, when I'm on the freeway going seventy-five with time to spare and clear road ahead, there'll be a thick-jowled monster disguised as an SUV breathing down my bumper because some minivan too prudish to go ten over and too impatient to slow down is stuck in my blind spot, going seventy-six.
Ah well. Some days come to us for fun, others to build character. Some days come to ram character down our throats with a turkey fork.
There, I think I've cleared off my sarcasm. I can write now.
The things that come in handy in life typically take me by surprise; which, I suppose, is why the inside of my bedroom closet looks the way it does. But I'm not writing about my bedroom closet either... that's a dark secret if ever there was one.
One of my quirks is a total fascination with language; English, of course, but foreign language as well. Someday I hope to be fluent in another tongue, and the main hindrance to that is my inability to pick just one. I have become quite the jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none with foreign language. For anyone bored enough to want the details:
Don't hate me, but I fell in love with French at the tender age of six, and have never totally recovered. I can actually come up with sentences in this language, when I can remember the necessary words. The grammar doesn't come with any guarantees, though.
Everybody takes Spanish, so out of a desire to be unique I chose not to; at least, until our church offered a 12-week course, and I took it, like climbing a mountain, "because it was there." One can't really study language without also understanding the culture behind the words, and the fiery soul of the Latino people called out to mine. If I'm reading, I can figure out a lot given a certain amount of context, but only scattered words get through when it comes to me in auditory form.
Olympic figure-skating might not seem like a good reason to study a language, but I picked up a Russian book or two simply because Sergei Grinkov and Yekaterina Gordeyeva shot nearer artistic perfection in their chosen medium than most of us ever dream of in ours. Dad also likes it, so he brings me home words his Russian coworkers teach him.
Mandarin Chinese just sounded interesting, and Arabic seemed like a good idea--although I learned exactly two words of Arabic and never figured out how to decifer the tight script. Don't ask me to translate Chinese, either. When Chris Rock, at the end of Rush Hour, said "Shye-shye ni; ni hau-de," I knew what he said, but that short phrase uses almost every word I remember.
Large amounts of singing in Italian and German gave me recognition for the words and flow of those languages, though I can't generally translate (or put enough force into my German consonants), and I've sung in Latin. I once wrote an alphabet song for Hebrew, though I forget which character belongs to which letter, and I can read the ancient Greek alphabet.
Oddly enough, this random scrap-bag of knowledge gets used in my life, and not just to read the French signs across the Canadian border. For instance, I once had a boss who went to the Ukraine, brought back receipts, and wanted me to keep track of the finances. I could read the Cyrillic script on those receipts, as Ukrainian is a close cousin to Russian, and generally figure out what went where.
Nowadays, writing markup for large amounts of text which may have any sort of linguistic fragments contained therein, it actually helps to know that "C'est mon blog, et je l'aime; vous savez que vous desirez le lire" is French, "Enrique Iglesias" is Spanish for Henry Churches, "Alcune persone si comportano come i piccoli bambini malvagi quando guidano un'automobile" is Italian (although I don't know if it's syntactically correct, as I used free online translation to get that), and "Foo! Kakaya nyevkoosnaya yeda!" is (transliterated) Russian (but if you're a guest at some Russians' house for dinner, please don't say that; say "Kakaya khoroshaya yeda, bolshoya spasiba!" Otherwise, you'll just get me--and yourself--in trouble with the cook.)
Now, you can all amuse yourselves by either figuring out what the above phrases mean or leaving me comments to correct my grammar. Or you can just go to the comments, where I'll post the translations before going to bed.
EDIT, 7/18/06 5:22PM: Again, I stand corrected. Chris Tucker, not Chris Rock, played opposite Jackie Chan in Rush Hour. I always get those two mixed up. They look too much alike.