I haven't managed to give up heroin, but I have seemingly learnt quite a lot of German. For some reason, a simple news report can leave me baffled, with barely a clue what happened. And yet documentaries on dinosaurs and outer space I can follow with ease. Partly because dinosaur names are the same. And astronomy vocabulary is mostly very simple: schwarzes Loch (black hole) roter Zwerg (red dwarf) die Erdumlaufbahn (orbit). The last of these is four simple words together: Erd means earth, um is around or about, laufen to run and Bahn just means a path or way, as in Autobahn. So it's simpler than you'd think. I have hardback notebook that, when I'm in the mood, I use to write down every word I hear yet cannot recall the meaning of. A lot of these words are very familiar. I've heard them scores of times but keep forgetting what they mean. So I write them all down, whenever I'm in the mood to do so, complete with translations. I've been in the mood quite a lot lately.
Contrary to the oft-stated "fact" that the English language has more words than any other, German actually seems to have more. Off the top of my head, I can think of only two ways of describing a man's wife in English ~ wife and partner (can you think of any others?) Whereas German has Frau, Ehefrau, Weib, Weibchen, Partnerin and Gattin.
verbessert, but this isn't true. I'm not even trying to "speak" German better, just to understand it. Partly this is because, if I ever do end up studying German literature again, there is no way in hell I'm reading the books in translation, the way most students actually do. Partly because the standard of language-teaching in this country is abysmal. At school we went from GCSE, where you are required to do nothing more complicated than write postcards and simple letters detailing your home, family and interests, to an A Level course where we were supposed to read Kafka in the original!
On Thursday my support worker made a sudden visit. He is supposed to be helping me through the Verwirrung of my council tax situation and other loads of crap. He has a BA in PPE (politics philosophy and economics) from a very prestigious British university and spent most of the time talking about the political situation in West Africa. He seems to think I have a lot of potential in me and offered to look into ways I could get into university (again!) and fund it. But British universities are unreasonably expensive these days. You have to pay thousands of pounds a year in tuition fees and it's all too much. Plus the fact that I've been a student before and dropped out midway through (yes ~ depression AGAIN) probably scuppers me even more. I looked into studying in Germany and it's a lot cheaper.
If I won the lottery, there's no question: I would want to do Japanese. If I it were practical to devote the best part of a decade to picking up and perfecting language skills and I wanted to do a course with more practical value then I'd pick Chinese, hopefully with Japanese as at least a subsidiary. (In Europe you don't do a liberal arts course with a "major" ~ you apply to do one or two subjects to honours level right from the start. Which saves a lot of time if you know you want to do something like languages, psychology or law.) I looked into how far oriental language courses take you from scratch and they seemed to be implying that after four years' study I wouldn't have much better command of Japanese, at least in terms of vocabulary, than I do now in German!
A few Americans have commented in the past seemingly unaware as to why my fascination with German. German has more mother-tongue speakers in the EU than any other ~ 92 million, as opposed to 72 million for French. English has only about 65 million native speakers in Europe. Of all EU countries, Germany probably the strongest economy. And German seems to be a less popular subject of study nowadays than French or Spanish, putting you at an advantage in the jobs market.
I seem to be the only person I know who is not happy stuck on benefits. If I'm going to be forced to live (and, to be honest, I would still rather die) then I want to DO SOMETHING.
OK; this is all I can say on the subject now. I have to go. Hope y'all have a charming weekend. I've got to run before my Iceland cottage pies melt and the Black Forest Trifles goo all over Sainsburys' own brand aspartame-free lemonade... XX
MR SAM FT KIRSTY HAWSHAWE: SPLIT
She looks and sounds a lot better in this vid (than she did in Opus III) ...
VIVALDI TECHNOED UP
I've no idea of the name of this tune, but it sounds OK...