Books, Novels, and Languages

The past month has been a bit crazy. I’ve just been trying to finish some things and then started working on others.

Here is some fiction that I’ve read recently:
Knife of Dreams (book 11 of The Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan
Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton. (I had read the graphic novel first, then The Laughing Corpse novel. But I wanted to contrast the novel with the graphic novel, so I decided to read Guilty Pleasures before moving on in the series of Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter novels.)
Buffy: The Vampire Slayer (Season Eight) in comics is finally completed. :) I am waiting for the last Angel TPB from IDW. Then Buffy’s story and Angel’s story will continue under Dark Horse Comics. The new Angel series will be called Angel and Faith. (No, you aren’t imagining it, Faith’s last name was revealed to be ‘Lehane’ in the last issue of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer (Season Eight) No, they never used a last name in the TV shows. Covers for the first issues of these two series are on Dark Horse Comics’ website already. See ‘Buffy Season Nine’ issue 1 Jo Chen cover and ‘Angel and Faith’ issue 1 Jo Chen cover’.

And now, my ‘to read’ list:
A Feast for Crows (book four of A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin
The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. LeGuin
Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh
Priestess of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Stormqueen! (part of The Ages of Chaos omnibus) by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton
Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
Moon of 3 Rings by Andre Norton
Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn

I am currently reading A Feast for Crows now that HBO’s Game of Thrones is finished. It’s a bit confusing to be reading book four of A Song of Ice and Fire while watching the events of book one on-screen. I rather liked the adaptation to screen of the book, A Game of Thrones. They are preparing for season two of Game of Thrones, which is based on the second book in the series, A Clash of Kings. I seriously think HBO should rename the series, but whatever. Hopefully, they do just as good a job with book two as they did with book one. But yay! Back to A Feast for Crows. Book five, A Dance with Dragons, will be released soon, so I’m trying to catch up. At some point, I will re-watch all of Game of Thrones.

I’ve been in a bit of a studying mood. I decided to get back to studying languages.

I started studying Cantonese a few years back more out of a sense that I should know it, but tonal languages are hard if you don’t have a good ear for pitch. I am a native Taishanese speaker.  (Taishan is on the southern coast of China. Once a small town, it is now a city. Taishan was once called ‘Toisan’, so you may hear some Chinese people say they speak ‘Toisan’.) Taishanese is very similar to Cantonese which is why I decided to study Cantonese first and then Mandarin.

However, I don’t have much use for Cantonese or Mandarin right now. I can use Cantonese with my mom, but it often turns into Cantonese mixed with Toisan mixed with English – a very strange version of ‘Chinglish’. My mom does not speak Mandarin. I like the Chinese writing system though, but you really have to use that nearly every day to be even remotely good at it. So, I decided to put the Cantonese aside for a while. The written language for Cantonese is the same as they use for Mandarin, one of the reasons I like the Chinese writing system. Even if two Chinese people don’t speak the same language/dialect, the writing system would still allow them to communicate. If I ever get some more time, I think I will be more likely to get back to the Chinese writing than the Cantonese.

I studied French for eleven years continuously throughout school. A few years ago, I did a fairly thorough review of French grammar because there were a few things I hadn’t quite gotten the hang of yet. I was intending to increase my French vocabulary, but I’ve since decided that I don’t like the way French sounds all that much. I also don’t have much use for it, unless I visit France or somewhere else where they are speaking French. If that’s the case, it’s a bit of a review and adding some vocabulary – not too difficult to do.

There are other languages that I actually like and want to learn rather than Chinese or French. They are Korean (which I have been studying off and on for about a year or so), Spanish, Irish, and Dutch (which I did study consistently for a little bit – I need to do a review before moving on with it).

I like Korean because the language seems lively and fun without it feeling like a constant pop song as in Cantonese. I also like the writing system, called han’gul in Korean. Korean used to use the Chinese writing system, but then a new system was created to use with the language. The han’gul makes a whole lot of sense for Korean. Korean is however still a hard language to learn if English is your dominant language. (See “Language Learning Difficulty for English Speakers”.)

For a while, I was switching between studying Korean and Cantonese – two very hard languages for an English speaker to pick up (although I probably have a slight edge since I grew up speaking Taishanese with my parents; note that Korean does have some words that are cognate to Cantonese, for example, “chung gwok” in Cantonese and “chunguk” in Korean for ‘China’). There are different reasons why Korean and Cantonese are difficult. Korean uses the subject-object-verb (SOV) construction which is different than the subject-verb-object (SVO) construction in English. For example, in Korean you’d say “I (subject) school-to (object) go (verb)” while in English, you’d say “I (subject) go (verb) to school (object).” Also, Korean has their own writing system. Cantonese is hard simply because it’s a tonal language. Some grammar points are different than English and some things are done in Cantonese that aren’t in English, but Cantonese is pretty much SVO. You can learn to speak and understand Cantonese without learning to write Chinese.

Since Korean is a pretty hard language to learn, I decided that I should just start studying an easier language on top of Korean. Since I’m not studying Cantonese as much, I’m really only focused on one hard language (Korean, and I’m starting to get used to the writing system and the SOV construction!), so why not just start an easier language? Sometimes, you can get your fill of one language for a bit. For me, it takes a day or two for new vocabulary to settle in before I can move on in that language. You also don’t ever ‘finish’ studying a language (I still learn new words in English sometimes), so there’s no point in waiting to learn another language. Since I’ve been wanting to learn Spanish, I decided to do a little bit of Spanish the other day. I don’t think this will be too hard to do on top of the Korean since I spent years studying French. (French and Spanish are both Romance languages.) Of course, there’s vocabulary to learn, but some words are cognate between languages.

I really want to learn Irish, but it seems much harder than Spanish or Dutch, so I will wait until I have a firmer grasp on Korean before I start Irish. As I mentioned earlier, I need to do a review of Dutch before I move on in it. Once I have a better grasp of Korean, maybe I’ll review Dutch and then start studying Irish or vice versa.

There are two languages I’d like to study from a purely academic perspective – Sanskrit and Latin. I started the Sanskrit a while back. Got past the pronunciation and learning the writing system, but I need to review those before moving on. Also since I’m only studying Sanskrit from an academic perspective regarding languages, I’m in no real rush with it.

For now, I’ll be busy enough with Korean and Spanish – and trying to catch up on my reading list above. :)

안녕히 가세요!
(‘Annyǒnghi kaseyo!’ is the English romanization. It’s “Goodbye” for when someone is leaving.)

¡Adiós, chao!


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