Habit #2: Language learning

Habits seem to work better if you can divide them in smaller chunks that can give you an instant sense of accomplishment without taking up too much time. One very ‘chunkable’ habit is language learning. We have a plethora of resources at our fingertips, so I won’t go into that here. Google yields all the best language learning blogs, podcasts, video’s and websites, most of which offer excellent free material. I’m not going to mention the name of my favorite one because that is not the point here. There are much better blog posts that do exactly that.

I have tried for some time to keep up practicing language with a website that reminded me every day with e-mails. This went well in the beginning but became cumbersome after a while because the stuff I was learning (example sentences illustrating grammar patterns step by step) didn’t have anything to do with what I needed in real life. So I figured the better way to make a language habit stick is to connect it some something you are already interested in. For example, if I see a tweet about Macron’s 26.000 make-up which of course instills into me an insatiable interest, I force myself to read about it in French. Takes ten minutes, a nice little daily practice. The same thing goes for news about Kim Jong-Un’s ICBMs or Barcelona’s youngest tragedy.

I also use apps to read sentences and short stories, never vocabulary lists. A simple rule of thumb is to keep the learning as natural as possible, just the way a child is exposed to her native language. It is vital to make the time you spend on your daily language habit short enough to keep it up for at least 6 months. Bonne chance.

Habit #2: Language learning was originally published on Meandering home

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May 25. Weak thoughts about Power.


Open shutter =[ Floating around in the fresh water of the Laguna Apoyo, a volcanic laguna created some 20.000 years ago when a volcano completely and violently exploded, watching over the surrounding hills that seperate the laguna from Lago Nicaragua, indulging in the peaceful quiteness of the place ]= close shutter. We have captured a very nice feeling.

As usual, I have some thoughts, too. And as usual, they circle like sad grey vultures around the subject of power, that insurmountable summit of the philosophical theory I’ll never write. This time I ask the following question: How is power related to language? Is there a power conceivable without language, like the power of a lion with its rhetorically inept roars? The power of a shark that fin-flashes through the water in pursuit of a happy meal, unaware of its entirely absent rhetorical capacities? The power of a cheetah with its fabulous tempo of chase, yet lacking any verbal brilliance to convince its prey of his ferocious intentions? Why should they? The prey takes care of that itself. It will run anyway because mother nature makes it run away. At about the same speed as the cheetah runs himself – it’s a description in terms of equilibrium, not one in terms of power, that suits the situation best. The cheetah is not exercising his power, he is only doing what he is supposed to do.
So we want to distuingish between equilibrium-driven and power-driven events. From a hermeneutical point of view, we have to ask which description suits a given situation best. The best we can get is a post-metaphysical philosophy of power, but for my pragmatical purposes it might do the job. The hypothesis is that interhuman relations based on linguistic interaction are significantly better described in terms of power than in terms of an equilibrium. Of course, a certain equilibrium is kept between the master and his slave, between the King and the People, between the Pope and the Abbots, but describing their relation merely in these terms fails to recognize the fact that we’re talking about individuals with their own agenda, their own intentions. The concept of power is much better suited here, because of its directionality. We consider the perspective of the agents involved, and not the misleading stability of the result. We lend the first-person-perspective for our objective description, as it were, to make it more precise and less exact at the same time.
So we analyse human linguistic encounters in terms of power. We hear “hi how are you?” and look at the alternatives for this greeting, at the way it is spoken, at the posture of the speaker, at the relation between speaker and receiver. We ask them about their deepest subconscious “intentions” and eventually we assign a power-number to it. The number indicates the power transported in the utterance. It says something about the amount of influence the speaker has over the receiver, but it is a better indicator than the resulting actions of the agents. Something like that. I think we can assess utterances in this way and in theory reconstruct the hierarchy of power among all human beings. The striking point here is that we are not concerned about the resulting actions. The reason for that is explained above: the resulting actions are better described in terms of equilibrium, and they don’t affect the assignment of power quanta.

My idea is to develop a language without power. Of course, that’s impossible. But HERE is the place to attempt the impossible. HERE is the place to deceive ourselves in a better way than life deceives us anyway. HERE is the place to erect the greatest illusion we are capable of. A language without power, sentences that don’t hit our opponent, that de-identify him as our opponent, sentences that are well thought trough and corrected before they are spoken in order to sooth the consequences of the original sentence. Words that are well chosen to dismantle the power that is inevitably transported by them. Syllables that sound less aggressive. That is the whole idea. Anybody can contribute to it; anybody can suggest idiom, grammar structures, sounds, perhaps a whole language that has been in this business for ages, like Hindi?

I hiked up to a viewpoint and looked over the Laguna from above. Had some excellent fruit on the way back.

May 25. Weak thoughts about Power.


Open shutter =[ Floating around in the fresh water of the Laguna Apoyo, a volcanic laguna created some 20.000 years ago when a volcano completely and violently exploded, watching over the surrounding hills that seperate the laguna from Lago Nicaragua, indulging in the peaceful quiteness of the place ]= close shutter. We have captured a very nice feeling.

As usual, I have some thoughts, too. And as usual, they circle like sad grey vultures around the subject of power, that insurmountable summit of the philosophical theory I’ll never write. This time I ask the following question: How is power related to language? Is there a power conceivable without language, like the power of a lion with its rhetorically inept roars? The power of a shark that fin-flashes through the water in pursuit of a happy meal, unaware of its entirely absent rhetorical capacities? The power of a cheetah with its fabulous tempo of chase, yet lacking any verbal brilliance to convince its prey of his ferocious intentions? Why should they? The prey takes care of that itself. It will run anyway because mother nature makes it run away. At about the same speed as the cheetah runs himself – it’s a description in terms of equilibrium, not one in terms of power, that suits the situation best. The cheetah is not exercising his power, he is only doing what he is supposed to do.
So we want to distuingish between equilibrium-driven and power-driven events. From a hermeneutical point of view, we have to ask which description suits a given situation best. The best we can get is a post-metaphysical philosophy of power, but for my pragmatical purposes it might do the job. The hypothesis is that interhuman relations based on linguistic interaction are significantly better described in terms of power than in terms of an equilibrium. Of course, a certain equilibrium is kept between the master and his slave, between the King and the People, between the Pope and the Abbots, but describing their relation merely in these terms fails to recognize the fact that we’re talking about individuals with their own agenda, their own intentions. The concept of power is much better suited here, because of its directionality. We consider the perspective of the agents involved, and not the misleading stability of the result. We lend the first-person-perspective for our objective description, as it were, to make it more precise and less exact at the same time.
So we analyse human linguistic encounters in terms of power. We hear “hi how are you?” and look at the alternatives for this greeting, at the way it is spoken, at the posture of the speaker, at the relation between speaker and receiver. We ask them about their deepest subconscious “intentions” and eventually we assign a power-number to it. The number indicates the power transported in the utterance. It says something about the amount of influence the speaker has over the receiver, but it is a better indicator than the resulting actions of the agents. Something like that. I think we can assess utterances in this way and in theory reconstruct the hierarchy of power among all human beings. The striking point here is that we are not concerned about the resulting actions. The reason for that is explained above: the resulting actions are better described in terms of equilibrium, and they don’t affect the assignment of power quanta.

My idea is to develop a language without power. Of course, that’s impossible. But HERE is the place to attempt the impossible. HERE is the place to deceive ourselves in a better way than life deceives us anyway. HERE is the place to erect the greatest illusion we are capable of. A language without power, sentences that don’t hit our opponent, that de-identify him as our opponent, sentences that are well thought trough and corrected before they are spoken in order to sooth the consequences of the original sentence. Words that are well chosen to dismantle the power that is inevitably transported by them. Syllables that sound less aggressive. That is the whole idea. Anybody can contribute to it; anybody can suggest idiom, grammar structures, sounds, perhaps a whole language that has been in this business for ages, like Hindi?

I hiked up to a viewpoint and looked over the Laguna from above. Had some excellent fruit on the way back.

May 25. Weak thoughts about Power.


Open shutter =[ Floating around in the fresh water of the Laguna Apoyo, a volcanic laguna created some 20.000 years ago when a volcano completely and violently exploded, watching over the surrounding hills that seperate the laguna from Lago Nicaragua, indulging in the peaceful quiteness of the place ]= close shutter. We have captured a very nice feeling.

As usual, I have some thoughts, too. And as usual, they circle like sad grey vultures around the subject of power, that insurmountable summit of the philosophical theory I’ll never write. This time I ask the following question: How is power related to language? Is there a power conceivable without language, like the power of a lion with its rhetorically inept roars? The power of a shark that fin-flashes through the water in pursuit of a happy meal, unaware of its entirely absent rhetorical capacities? The power of a cheetah with its fabulous tempo of chase, yet lacking any verbal brilliance to convince its prey of his ferocious intentions? Why should they? The prey takes care of that itself. It will run anyway because mother nature makes it run away. At about the same speed as the cheetah runs himself – it’s a description in terms of equilibrium, not one in terms of power, that suits the situation best. The cheetah is not exercising his power, he is only doing what he is supposed to do.
So we want to distuingish between equilibrium-driven and power-driven events. From a hermeneutical point of view, we have to ask which description suits a given situation best. The best we can get is a post-metaphysical philosophy of power, but for my pragmatical purposes it might do the job. The hypothesis is that interhuman relations based on linguistic interaction are significantly better described in terms of power than in terms of an equilibrium. Of course, a certain equilibrium is kept between the master and his slave, between the King and the People, between the Pope and the Abbots, but describing their relation merely in these terms fails to recognize the fact that we’re talking about individuals with their own agenda, their own intentions. The concept of power is much better suited here, because of its directionality. We consider the perspective of the agents involved, and not the misleading stability of the result. We lend the first-person-perspective for our objective description, as it were, to make it more precise and less exact at the same time.
So we analyse human linguistic encounters in terms of power. We hear “hi how are you?” and look at the alternatives for this greeting, at the way it is spoken, at the posture of the speaker, at the relation between speaker and receiver. We ask them about their deepest subconscious “intentions” and eventually we assign a power-number to it. The number indicates the power transported in the utterance. It says something about the amount of influence the speaker has over the receiver, but it is a better indicator than the resulting actions of the agents. Something like that. I think we can assess utterances in this way and in theory reconstruct the hierarchy of power among all human beings. The striking point here is that we are not concerned about the resulting actions. The reason for that is explained above: the resulting actions are better described in terms of equilibrium, and they don’t affect the assignment of power quanta.

My idea is to develop a language without power. Of course, that’s impossible. But HERE is the place to attempt the impossible. HERE is the place to deceive ourselves in a better way than life deceives us anyway. HERE is the place to erect the greatest illusion we are capable of. A language without power, sentences that don’t hit our opponent, that de-identify him as our opponent, sentences that are well thought trough and corrected before they are spoken in order to sooth the consequences of the original sentence. Words that are well chosen to dismantle the power that is inevitably transported by them. Syllables that sound less aggressive. That is the whole idea. Anybody can contribute to it; anybody can suggest idiom, grammar structures, sounds, perhaps a whole language that has been in this business for ages, like Hindi?

I hiked up to a viewpoint and looked over the Laguna from above. Had some excellent fruit on the way back.

Welcome!

Since it is common for travelers to keep an online diary at least of some of their experiences on the road, I decided to have one as well.

I probably won’t keep track of everything I experience, but I’ll make sure the more noteworthy anecdotes will appear here eventually.

For those English language puritans among my readers, I apologize for mixing up things, blending together British, Australian and American English (due to my according travel acquaintances). For reasons of convenience, more precise the fact that everybody I know have just this language in common, I write this blog in English –

Of course you are welcome to read my Dutch blog (kamielverwer.wordpress.com) or the Green Website green-challenge.org.

It is a good way to keep in touch with fellow travelers, too, so feel free to leave a comment

Welcome!

Since it is common for travelers to keep an online diary at least of some of their experiences on the road, I decided to have one as well.

I probably won’t keep track of everything I experience, but I’ll make sure the more noteworthy anecdotes will appear here eventually.

For those English language puritans among my readers, I apologize for mixing up things, blending together British, Australian and American English (due to my according travel acquaintances). For reasons of convenience, more precise the fact that everybody I know have just this language in common, I write this blog in English –

Of course you are welcome to read my Dutch blog (kamielverwer.wordpress.com) or the Green Website green-challenge.org.

It is a good way to keep in touch with fellow travelers, too, so feel free to leave a comment

Welcome!

Since it is common for travelers to keep an online diary at least of some of their experiences on the road, I decided to have one as well.

I probably won’t keep track of everything I experience, but I’ll make sure the more noteworthy anecdotes will appear here eventually.

For those English language puritans among my readers, I apologize for mixing up things, blending together British, Australian and American English (due to my according travel acquaintances). For reasons of convenience, more precise the fact that everybody I know have just this language in common, I write this blog in English –

Of course you are welcome to read my Dutch blog (kamielverwer.wordpress.com) or the Green Website green-challenge.org.

It is a good way to keep in touch with fellow travelers, too, so feel free to leave a comment