Friday, February 20, 2009

I Owe Dr. Pimsleur a Beer

It's too bad that Dr. Paul Pimsleur has been absent from this world of many languages for almost 33 years. I'll have to just drink one for him, for each language represented by the beer, wine, or liquor of origin (and/or cheese if I want to give my liver a break). Since acquiring a library card and gaining access to online eBooks and eAudiobooks for "free" (tax dollars in reality), I've decided to try to become an illiterate polyglot, using the Pimsleur Language Program. I have so far concurrently started with several languages to gauge how much my brain can take and calibrate accordingly. I'm leaving out the obvious choices of Spanish and French, and several identifiable Romance languages, until later on in my quest. I'm comfortable with some college Latin, and can recall some high school Spanish, so several closely related modern Romance languages might make my early attempts a bit too easy.

What I have learned so far is that in Dutch, you can switch the noun and verb with vocal inflection to make a question or statement. In Albanian, your vocal inflection/tone of voice determines whether it is a question or answer. Also, asking "Do you speak English?" in another language or "mistakenly" asking if a person is someone you know are apparently global pickup lines. All three languages I've heard so far (Croatian being the third) involves a running dialogue between American man and a woman from the language's country of origin, with a the objective instructor narrating. Dr. Pimsleur had enough foresight to deal with rejection by giving the "American man" follow up responses to getting rejected by the woman.

"Do you want to have a beer at one?"
"How about two?"
"No, I do not want to have a beer."
"How about wine later, at seven?"
"Why not?"
"You do not understand [this language]."

It's good stuff, my friends. I just might learn several languages along the way.

So far the Dutch lesson plan and the Croatian lesson plan have the same situation, so maybe it's not a good idea to learn more than one new language at the same time. The Albanian lesson plan is a bit different. I should try an Asian language or an African language soon. I think there's a Native American language in the library's catalog, but I'm not sure. Maybe I can concurrently learn one Indo-European language with a language from another continent and maybe with a third language from elsewhere.

Or I could just shove a USB cable into the back of my head and hit play, and see what happens.

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  1. Glad to hear you like the Pimsleur courses. Ojibwe is the only Native American language in the catalog right now, but there are many languages to choose from! Have fun!

  2. Thanks, Paul! I'm placing Ojibwe fourth on my list of many, many languages to learn to speak. Here's to being a polyglot!



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