Bill Poole's interest in Languages

My hobbies include Linguistics and foreign language study.

Although admittedly I'm not real good at it and I have not had a real strong interest in (or any time for) studying languages in years.

My native language is English. (fairly typical for an American who's family has been here for generations)

When I was in High School, I lived in Motala, Sweden for one year, the 1976-77 school year, as an exchange student.

I knew no Swedish when I went there, but learned enough to converse. I have not forgottenit all yet, but I'm getting there.

When I was in college, I became interested in the Middle East. I read everythingI could find about Sir Richard Francis Burton.

I made a feable attempt to learn Arabic, my favorite language. I can say a bunch of phrases, write the alphabet all day long, but cannot hold much of a conversation.

Arabic is a semitic language that creates all its words out of a 3 consonant (sometimes 2 or 4) root: "ktb": "to write" becomes:

It uses really, really weird rules to create plurals:

boy I love this stuff...

While in college, I befriended a whole bunch of Iranian students. (It is well knownthat 70% of the earth's surface is covered with water and the other 30% covered withIranian students.)

From them I started to learn Persian. yes Persian. That language is NOT called "Farsi" in English. The English language word for the language spoken in Iran is "Persian". We don't refer to Deutsch, Ellinas, Español, Zhong Guo Hua, Srpskohrvatski (or at least that's what those whospoke it to each other called it before the ones who now claim to speak "srpski" and those who now claim tospeak "hrvatski" started shooting, killing and raping each other) or Sumoalainen (not spoken in Samoa!) when speaking in English. And Iranians when speaking in Persian refer to our language as "Englisi". (Be zabaan-e faarsi kalameye zabaani ke tuye iraan harf mizanand "faarsi" ast.)

Persian is an Indo-European languange that has enough similarity to English that even an amateur linguist like me can see the connection.

The English word Cummerbund comes from India, it came there from the Persian language. Kamar-band, is simply abelt. The "band" part of it is obvious, it is the same Indo-European root as "to bind", or bondage, slavery is"bandagi" in Persian. It is an example of an ancient word that stayed intact for thousands of yearsof travel through completely different branches of the language family, then was re-united as a loan-wordfrom one branch to the other.

Here are some examples:

There are numerous examples of old basic words that are similar. Far more than one would expect ifit were coincidence.

I learned enough Persian to hold a simple conversation, or read a children's book.

Then, one day, I met the most beautiful woman to ever set foot upon the face of the earth. And she speaks Chinese. (she speaks English too. And a little sign-language). So I started learning Mandarin Chinese.

I didn't get very far before I lost interest. I learned a couple hundred written symbols and enough ofthe spoken language to hold a simple conversation.

R is my name in Chinese, but you need a "Big5" converter to read it, unlessyou want to view the (.gif), although itskinda tough to get nice calligraphy with a mouse in "paint". It is pronounced: Pu - Bi - Er, wherein Pu, is the surname, "Poole" and the other two characters try to sound out "Bill". Chinese words cannot end in a consonant such as "L".

I later got interested in Chinese again and tried to learn a few words in the Cantonese dialect. Not much success.

At various times, I have attempted to learn at least a few words of, heck you name it, Hindi, Spanish, Hebrew, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Navajo, Turkish, Urdu, French, German, etc....
I can count to ten in Malayalam and about 20 other languages, does that count for anything? I know the morse code too! and some .html too.

The most difficult language for an English-speaking person to learn is Vietnamese . Pronouncing that language properly requires movements of the tongue and mouth that are illegal in 17 states.

The most (to my ears) uninviting sounding language in the world is Taiwanese (wa m gong dai wan wei). With Hebrew (ani lo midaber ivrit) a close second.

Occasionally I get interested in learning Spanish and have learned a word here and there.

One encounters Spanish Speaking Ham Radio operators fairly often on the air, so I know a handful of the ham radio buzzwords in Spanish (Llamada general viente metros, cambio). Growing up in Florida, I had a few Cuban friends and started to learn a little from them.

Last coupla years, I've been working with individuals of hispanic descent, that's gotten me thinking about what other words I know...Amiga, isn't that a type of computer??

Most recently, I have taken a liking to Spanish Language Music, Selena and Gloria Estafan especially.

Writing this, I kinda get the feeling like I spent a lot of time memorizing stuff slightly less useful than football statistics, and that this web-page publishing effort of mine is getting outa hand....but hey, I'mhaving fun, and that's all that matters.

last modified by Bill Poole on 3-May-98, ©.

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