April 21, 2008

Yes…I admit.It is not my territory. But With time to go out on Sunday I bought myself a Teach Yourself Polish course. It promises “all round confidence”, a bit like a personal hygeine product. I’m quite excited.

A quick scan of the chapters gives me a taste of what to expect on my next trip to Poland, if I master the pronunciation…

It starts well: unit 2 “Pleased to meet you” and unit 5 “We buy some food”. But things take a bizarre turn in unit 6 “I prefer to swim”. By unit 9 “We make a date” things are looking better, but it gets more serious in unit 12 “Have you been to the doctor’s?” – probably due to swimming just after eating. Things are looking ominous by unit 16 “I’ve got a problem”, with no sign of a solution in unit 18 “How did it happen?”. Things turn out OK in the end, unit 20 “Did you like it in Poland?”

I like the narrative flow. It will spur me on to complete the course.

When I got home I compared the contents list with my Colloquial Icelandic course, in which I never got past the first couple of chapters “Welcome to Iceland!” and “Where are you from?” In fact I noticed that my book mark was still halfway through chapter 3 “Where are we going?”

Perhaps in keeping with the national character, the Icelandic course is a lot more down to earth than Polish. The chapters have pithy titles like “Clothing”, “The Family”, “Appointments” and “Accommodation”. But it loosens up towards the end with “Story, history and people” which flows unsteadily into chapter 15 “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes”, which I thought might be a Viking drinking song, but contains the unmissable section “Body parts: how to use them in Icelandic”.

Just as I put the book away one useful item of vocabulary caught my eye: “rjómabolla – a bun filled with whipped cream traditionally eaten on ‘bun day'”… In Iceland they have a ‘bun day’! I wonder if that is weekly, monthly or annually.


One Response to “Tongues”

  1. rofl! Actually this reminded me of a whole thing comedian Eddie Izzard did. From

    And I learnt French at school, up to the age of 16, and then I just kept talking it endlessly after that. And at school, the first page I ever learnt in French was full of things that are quite difficult to get into conversation, thinks like “the mouse is underneath the table” – la souris est en dessous la table. Just slip that when you’re buying a ticket to Paris: “Le train à Paris, oui? C’est ici? C’est maintenant? Cinq minutes… la souris est en dessous la table…”

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