Category Archives: language

When you study eight languages, what do you learn? You learn how to study a language at all.

The first thing is grammar. Understanding what rules govern meaning. Meaning is all about relationships. Put the same words in a different order, or twist their endings, and you change meaning–or create garble. The same ingredients, different impacts. Therefore observe. Scrutinize. Plumb … Continue reading

Posted in language, writing | Tagged , | 4 Comments

War and Peace, a tale of class warfare

I had a Russian teacher once who didn’t much like me.  In her defense, I did not attend class with particular regularity.  In my defense, this was because she had committed two terrible indiscretions, the second being worse than the … Continue reading

Posted in accuracy, books, communication, foreign languages, language, languages, life | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

my word for the day (if I can limit myself)

LACONIC Read its etymology recently?  Originally it refered to people from Lakonia, an area around Sparta, whose inhabitants were famously terse.  Better than terse. The story goes that when Philip of Macedon threatened them, “If I enter Lakonia, I will … Continue reading

Posted in etymology, history, language, random info, whatnot, words | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

I’m just sayin’….

I remember when my good buddy and former Peace Corps sitemate asked me if I knew the Russian for “it goes without saying.” I looked at him for one long moment.  “Are you sure this is a phrase you need?” … Continue reading

Posted in books, foreign languages, language, languages, learning from others, whatnot | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

In the Beginning, there was the Word. And the Word was…

My goal was simple: to not cause an international incident. Continue reading

Posted in Caucasus, communication, English, foreign languages, language, languages, translating | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

They told me I’d be asked. Told me to have an answer ready

But I was otherwise engaged, and besides, I didn’t know how to answer.  And they were right; people do ask. “So, what was Peace Corps like?” Some expect a two-line answer.  Others want to really get into it, to imagine … Continue reading

Posted in challenges, communication, culture shock, drop in the ocean, escape, Georgian, international service, language, learning from others, Marneuli, Peace Corps, photos, Republic of Georgia, volunteering, volunteerism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Like Lovers Do… Sorta.

I was in Budapest, desperate to find an ATM before leaving to go to Montenegro, which at the time, I was told, did not have ATMs.  I rushed down the windy streets, beleaguered by my imagination, which kept throwing up … Continue reading

Posted in Budapest, communication, foreign languages, Hungary, language, travel | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Speak to Me…

I’m thinking about voice now, about how it frames and directs a character, as well as our sense of who they are. How a person speaks reflects so much: their background, their education, their “themes” in life, their passions, their … Continue reading

Posted in analyzing one's writing, antagonists, bad boys, character development, characters, fiction, first drafts, language, photos, villains, voice, willful characters, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Falling Upon the Thorns of Language. Every Language.

It’s one thing to mess up in a foreign language.  And it’s quite another to do it in your own. The Georgian language is its own language group.  Trust me, I’ve dabbled in enough to know: it’s unique.  Well, and … Continue reading

Posted in Elvish, Georgian, language, languages, mistakes, Republic of Georgia | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Abandon, the First Word

My heart breaks somehow. How late it was that the first English dictionary was published.  1604.  Can you fathom how late that is?  We’re talking well after Chaucer, and even after Shakespeare began.  The microscope already had been invented.  The … Continue reading

Posted in books, English, etymology, history, language, random info, words | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments