Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Not an optimal way to learn a language

Warning: This post may be in questionable taste!!

I'm one of those people for whom a visit to the throne room is incomplete without a good book. Seriously, if there's nothing worth reading, I'd rather not even go in there. I have even been known to have two or three books piled up alongside the porcelain receptacle, just in case I get bored of one of them, as the time - for want of a better word - passes.

Not that I am unaware of the inadvisability (lots of 'I's in that word) of this particular habit. One of my mother's favorite admonitions to me as a child, in this particular context, was: "it'll give you hemorrhoids!" That, it must be said, usually as she herself made her way to the zone of contemplation, a large tome tucked under one arm.

This afternoon, as I was about to enter into a parlay with nature, I noticed that the chamber was bookless! I had finished a masterpiece yesterday and had not yet had the chance to replace it with anything suitable. So, I went to my bookshelf to see what the literary world might have to offer.

Having already read all of the novels and other assorted fiction on my bookshelf, several times, including several of them at the same time (see above), I really didn't feel like "going there" again. I mean, how many times can a person read the six-part Hitchhikers' trilogy? (Ok, lots. I admit. But after lots ...?) And although he still makes me giggle every time I reread his books, I am in desperate need of a new Terry Pratchett novel - after all, it's Spring. He must have written something new by now, right?

But if he has, it was not to be found on my shelves.

So, scrounging around the nether reaches of my own little corner of L-Space, and putting nature on hold for a short while as I did so (but being certain to hum to her, so she wouldn't think I'd hung up), I stumbled across "Mastering Arabic" - a teach-yourself-Arabic book that I bought years ago when I had thought, erroneously I suppose, that Arabic should be an easy language to learn. Noting that the book contained exercises, I armed myself with a retractable mechanical pencil (truly the only kind worth using), and skipped happily off to do what, by then, really had to be done.

Now, "Mastering Arabic" is not a novel - strange as that may sound to some. It is in fact quite a complex book of exercises which starts off with learning some of the letters, making words with those, and so on, and ends, I presume, when one is ready to read A Thousand And One Nights in the original, and then go and debate it on Al-Jazeera. I'm a fair way from that, but I've managed to work out that Jihan is the wife of Ahmad, which is probably a good thing, seeing that Ahmad is the husband (according to the book, that is) of Jihan. I had thought that Jihan was the wife of Anwar, but perhaps that is another book.

However, as fast as I seemed to be plowing through the exercises, practising the twirls and squiggles and dots that are the maze of the Arabic language, and mildly pleased with the fact that I could actually read the names Ahmad and Jihan (and several others), albeit slowly, I was horrified to realize that I had reached page 38, but was still, well, you know - there!

As I extricated myself from the plastic furnishing that was fast threatening to become a part of me, I realized, with some dismay, that "Mastering Arabic" is clearly meant for other kinds of rooms, with seats that perform a different function.

Reluctantly, therefore, I have abandoned my plan of learning Arabic during my "quality time". I shall have to try and find some actual free time for that particular pursuit. And perhaps, a teacher.

I shall also have to find a slightly lighter kind of read for those special moments.

Otherwise, my quest to learn Arabic might indeed give me hemorrhoids.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh NomChal, i'm so glad i've (cyber)met you:D
K. of the I.F.

09 May, 2007 19:14  
Blogger Nizo said...

Don't give up!

The throne is a wonderful place to learn a language, that's where I picked up most of my Turkish.

09 May, 2007 22:04  
Blogger Liza said...

When my brother was little, he used to take his electronic synthesizer in there. Nothing quite like walking past the bathroom and hearing the notes of "Twist and Shout" coming out from under the bathroom door...

These days, I keep magazines and a sudoku book in there. Travel books too, as they're fun to read and don't require you to remember where you left off.

10 May, 2007 01:44  
Blogger Tsedek said...

You strange creatures :P
I'm always in and out asap.
I know people that actually take their cell-phones in 'there' and talk to others while... you know.

10 May, 2007 23:58  
Blogger Lirun said...

tsedek me too!!! i know a guy at work who schedules the activities to coincide - can never figure out how.. but if i see him walking that way i know its because he has a conference..

nomcha.. the gardenia has popped one.. :D

11 May, 2007 00:46  
Blogger nominally challenged said...

Hey people!

K of the I.F., - So am I :)

Nizo - Turkish, huh? In the bathroom, you say? I'm not sure I want to know the circumstances ... :D

Liza - Whoa - a bathroom you can swing an electronic synthesizer in? I'm jealous! My bathroom, being designed, as it was, by an Israeli architect with functionality and space (or lack of both) in mind, is so deftly constructed that if you enter the room facing the wrong way, you either (1) cannot close the door; or (2) cannot turn around. But I like the idea. If I could, I'd have a string quartet in there with me playing something moving ...

Tse - Aw, you don't know what you're missing. Though I agree, the telephone thing has always seemed tacky to me.

Ditto Lirun - doesn't the guy have an office? But glad to hear that the gardenia's popped one. Gardenias are heaven in a flower. Don't they smell divine?

11 May, 2007 02:37  
Blogger bullfighter6.2 said...

I was given a book of 50 short stories by a friend. Each story was a neat two pages long. I was sad when I had read every one of them.

At the moment, a friend`s Lonely Planet Myanmar is sitting on my bathroom floor. He doesn`t know.

14 May, 2007 19:57  
Blogger Savtadotty said...

Have you heard about the potty chair that plays a Souza march whenever something falls into it? I was there, and saw (and heard) it in operation (Mermaid Girl's best friend had one). Is there a market for a grownup version? With downloadable "ringtones?"

14 May, 2007 23:51  
Blogger Lirun said...

sure do

16 May, 2007 09:04  
Blogger nominally challenged said...

Bullfighter - I agree. The best option is a book of short stories. Travel books are ok, but they get sort of monotonous when you get to the hotel listings.

Savta - An ingenious method of encouraging what is clearly to be encouraged in children, and yet, I think, needs no encouragement in adults. However, de Souza? I cannot imagine what's going to go through that child's mind as she/he grows up and goes to watch marching bands ... sounds like a recipe for disaster really.

lirun - good to hear :)

17 May, 2007 02:06  
Blogger Nizo said...

shoo, how's your arabic coming along?

17 May, 2007 16:20  

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