Symphonic Saturday – Language

music1I haven’t been doing anywhere near as much as I’d like with music lately because my home is rather upside down while I paint.

I’m really frustrated right now though. I’ve been trying to learn to speak French for about 30 years now. Every course I take is the same thing. It always ignores how humans actually learn to speak their first language and they instead sit you at a desk and get you to write out and conjugate verbs.

This is a big problem for a few reasons.

I need at least a part time job and most in Ottawa require at least the ability to speak French. Or they’d really prefer it, which means if it’s you or someone who can who are competing for the same job, you’re S. O. L.

The thing is, people learn their first language mainly by hearing others speak it. There’s about 4 years plus the 9 months in the womb where they just listen, mimic, and finally start putting words together.

So what am I doing about this?

Well, I’m exploring a new way. I might sign up for FluentU once I’m passed the level where I can learn a bunch for free on YouTube by watching children’s programs. They have good articles about this and I’m glad I discovered them. It’s my dad’s 74th birthday and he’s French, so it’s a cool day to have found it.

Tonight, I’ve been watching sing-along shows to get some music in while language learning. Sure, it’s not Vivaldi or playing one of my instruments, but they’re pretty catchy and helping reduce my frustration while throwing some words at me in a combination I’m not used to.

I don’t know if it’s the federal or provincial government I should be annoyed with for going through several decades of French instruction without learning how to speak it. There is far too much focus on writing and grammar instead of speaking and I think the system needs to be overhauled. Once you can speak a language, learning to write it is far easier.

Yet another reason to home school someday…

And that’s how life’s river flows today.
R~

Fortifying Friday – Language

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Language is on my brain a lot lately with the immense amount of hours I’ve been clocking while learning French.

It shows ignorance when people assume refugees should speak English. Yes, they need to learn to communicate in Canada, but it appears that there are a large number of people who don’t realize that refugees get to choose to learn either English or French. It’s almost as if English Canada thinks they’re the only true Canadians.

Canada is considering adding ASL as a third official language. I think this is pretty cool though I’m not sure how many people speak it. I’m surprised a First Nations language such as Algonquin hasn’t been considered given how many FN people live in Canada. But then, what often seems like a no-brainer to me isn’t obvious to other people. For more on the Algonquin language, you should follow my friend Jay Odjick on Twitter as his Algonquin Word of the Day initiative is really cool. But then so is he as you might be able to tell from this recent interview he did.

I’m a reformed grammar pest. Learning French has given me an appreciation for communication that extends far beyond having things academically correct. That said, some things I’ll always stress the importance of due to the meaning being completely changed. I don’t hassle people, but request clarification to ensure we’re on the same page. It generally works better than making them feel dumb for using the wrong word.

Smartphones have also helped me with this. My phone regularly pisses me off by putting the wrong ‘to’ in my sentences. In my head I’m screaming at it for thinking I’m wanting to go too a place. The two of us go to, not too! Unless of course I’m saying I want to go too as in also. But I’ve learned that people may not actually be dumb and unable to comprehend simple grammar concepts and it’s just their phone fucking them over and perhaps they don’t have the time to fix the mistake. But authors should be better, especially in their published works that have been read by many sets of eyeballs.

While learning French, I’ve often been annoyed by how many tenses and ways there are to say the same thing. Of course, there are just as many in English. And it’s actually one of the things I love about language and writing; it’s just annoying to learn. “Can’t I do the thesaurus thing later?” I whine to myself rather than annoy the teacher and my classmates.

But another thing that makes learning a language challenging is that there are many forms of each language. We, in Canada, often argue that the French we should be taught is Quebec French while our schools teach us Parisian French. Given the rather large amount of French speaking countries, those aren’t the only two versions of the language out there in a world of approximately 7.5 billion people.

Did you know there are an astounding number of English dialects? Check out this list from Wikipedia to learn more about that.

Announcement Time!

I’m making a change to my blog again. I’m tired of Fortifying Friday and given that I enjoy writing playful and often erotic things it will be replaced by Frisky Friday instead. There may be more changes in the future as well. More on this in my upcoming newsletter.

Yes, I will have a newsletter very soon! You can sign up for it here.

This weekend is Geek Market and I’ll be checking it out sometime on Saturday. Have a stupendous weekend!

Salut,
R~

Thoughtful Thursday – My World for Now

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I don’t have one particular thing on my mind for Thoughtful Thursday, so I’ll ramble about life, martial arts, French, and writing today.

WordPress is acting strangely for me today, so I’ll apologize in advance for any possibly strange formatting and such. It has been deleting things after I type them…

Life

My bank accounts have all been sorted out. Unfortunately, I am not currently eligible for overdraft protection due to my currently unemployed state. It doesn’t matter that EI will be paying me nearly as much as what I netted when I was working. It also doesn’t matter that one pays income tax on EI. Ah well, I’ll be able to eat and pay for my mortgage and my other expenses. Self employment would count if I was actually making money off of my writing or any other venture.

I think I’m getting somewhere on cleaning my condo. Some days it’s hard to tell. I find something that needs to be gone through and that makes an area messier before it gets clean. This is rather like a number of things in life.

The outside of my oven is clean. I need to run the self-cleaning setting for the inside, but I have an appointment this afternoon, so it will have to wait until later. I don’t think the people that owned it before ever cleaned it, so it’s pretty gross looking inside.

One of the things I almost have organized is my movie collection. Any non Blue Rays are in CD wallets. They take up so much less room. The problem is that I had bought a movie I already owned. It was $5, but I don’t want to get into the habit of accidentally doing that. I have a list now that has all the movies I own in it. I should probably get a real copy of Rent eventually rather than the PSP version. It’s the only PSP movie I own. Hey, I should charge that thing up and play with it sometime soon. Actually, I can probably trade or sell some games, though I think most probably aren’t worth much.

I’m registered with three recruitment agencies now. Hopefully, I will get a job lead soon, though it could be nice if it happens after the snow is gone. I like to hermit in the winter except for fun things like ice skating.

That reminds me. It’s only about $20 to get a skating pass for the year. I should do that and get my butt out of my house as there are about 8 arenas near me, which is awesome. The canal is fun too, but not near my home at all and parking at Dow’s lake gets expensive.

French

French has begun. We have a new teacher that we know only by first name. He’s very different. He makes us work a lot and often leaves the room while we are completing an exercise.

I was already doing one of the things the teacher wants us to do this semester, which is reading French books to increase vocabulary. He wants us to present on the books we are reading. They can be children’s books. They should be at a level for us where a 10-word sentence would have 2-3 words we don’t know. Any easier, we don’t learn. Any harder, we don’t understand enough.

It sounds like exam is going to be very difficult, so I’m a little scared. At least the courses are inexpensive, so if I had to retake, it wouldn’t kill my wallet, but I rather prefer passing classes.

He often likes to mention things that will damn us if we are taking the government exams. I write those down in case I go that far with French. My main aim has been to talk to my extended family. It would be nice to be eligible for bilingual job positions, though.

Martial Arts

I figured something out about my grip last night while I was practicing my cutting in my condo. Generally, they tell us to have our right index finger at a certain spot on the handle. But my tiny hands kept slipping as I cut. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong for the longest time. Last night, I noticed something on my handle. As many might know, katana often have inserts of things like fairies and such. One on each side of the sword’s handle. Near the bottom of the handle is a knot. This knot is where the left pinky rests above, on top of an opening where the manta ray skin shows, which is grippy. Well, I noticed that on the right side of the handle, near the bottom of where my doves sit, is a similar feeling knot. Instead of making sure my index finger is one finger away from the tsuba (sword guard), I’m going to try to make sure my right pinky is gripping by this knot. Hopefully, my slipping grip will go away and my cutting will improve. I’m sure it will take a bit to correct this for good, but I already feel an improvement in my grip.

Writing

I’m struggling to write this short story. I did some plotting last night. Hopefully that helps me get it written and the anthology accepts it.

Once I finish it, I’ll be back to working on The Blood Waitress Club. I might still need to fix the parts I last read to my writing group. I’ll have to take a good look at it.

So much to do and there never seems to be enough time!

Ciao,
R~

Merry Monday – Crunch Week

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I’m heading into crunch week, which started with my first time teaching martial arts and continues with my library writing group, my French oral exam, the last iaido practice before grading, anime club*, a bunch of laundry/ironing/packing, travel, grading, and then my French written exam. And all I feel like doing is relaxing.

*I might not make anime club given the rest of the week.

Iaido

I taught my first martial arts class yesterday. It went OK. It was a good thing I had the book to refer to. I found it helpful when they had questions or specific things to fix. It’s really hard to practice at the same time as teaching. I can’t focus on both at once, otherwise I do both crappy. Since the other classes were cancelled, I got extra practice time in with the other student that is grading next weekend. We have one more class before the big day. Hopefully, the weather isn’t too bad for driving from the GOGA to the GTA.

I can’t wait to see all my iaido buddies!

French

My oral French exam is tonight. Ten minutes to carry on a conversation. In English, this would be easy. In French, there’s still a hell of a lot of words that I don’t know. Also, my dictation skills have gotten worse as I’ve learned more words because I know several that sound similar or the same. At least the classes are less than $50 if I should happen to need to repeat a level.

Writing

I’ve added 6,000 words to my current WIP, The Blood Waitress Club. I feel like I might want to hash out a sticky note plot to be sure I have a clue of what my book is about. With packing and such, I doubt I’ll get a ton done on it this week. My NaNoWriMo attempt will be bleeding into December. At least I’m making progress with the story.

I need to finish the edits on The Page and The Magician and then I think I might search for an agent that represents erotica.

Renos

My drawers are stalled. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get them fixed soon.

I got a space saver thing for my bathroom to get my junk off of the counter. My toilet is extra tall (not my choice, obviously), so I need to raise the cabinet off of the floor to make it work. Stalled again.

Allergies

There are more GF options almost everyday and I get so excited when I discover them! Somehow, I missed when VH sauces went GF. This is HUGE! I loved the cherry sauce with chicken balls 🙂

Well, time to work and get to the rest of it.

Ciao,
R~

Merry Monday – Busy Times

I had a pretty full weekend. On Friday, I got some errands done. On Saturday, I cut a pumpkin with a sword and threw some axes and spears at a target. On, Sunday, I woke up thinking it was Monday and became very happy when it dawned on me that I had another day off!

Kitchen Reno

Well, I’m still trying to just fix my drawers. I thought it would be easy. I’m just changing out the bottoms and the backs for real wood that will be sturdier and not shed bits of itself into the drawers below. My plan was initially just the bottoms, but then I noticed the backs were particle board and had some water damage. So, I was going to use fiberglass for the bottoms. They’d last forever and have no water issues. Well, fiberglass sheets are hugely expensive, so I scrapped that part of the plan. I tried a thinner acrylic and it was too flimsy and broke easy. Now I’m doing wood, but it’s slightly too thick, so I have to scrape the edges a little with my hand planer. 

Wood, as I learned, dries slightly smaller than the size it’s listed as. So a 1″ x 3″ board is closer to 3/4″ x 2 3/4″ or so. Unfortunately for me, it’s not close enough to 3/4″ to fit the slots in my drawers for my drawer backs. Luckily, I have a friend who has offered to help me power plane those pieces of wood. 

I can’t wait until I decide to change out my floor… What fun that will likely be.

French

I’m doing OK in French except for the part where I’m struggling to complete the online learning hours. The exercises don’t take long enough, so I end up not accumulating enough hours. I’m not ready to move up to the next level work yet as I am having trouble with passé composé vs l’imparfait. I did succeed at reading a French children’s book this week. Onto one that is slightly harder.

After doing the practice exam, I’m not sure why we need 3 hours to do it… 

Iaido
I’ve been working hard at iaido. I am trying to fix some bad habits. I was given compliments on my technique while slicing up a pumpkin with a katana. Totally unrelated to recent events, of course.

Still, I know my troublesome areas.

My posture is always an issue and I have a bad habit of cutting small, so I’m trying to improve those as well as ensure my hips are square.

I also have lots of leg and core work ahead in the years to come as I think working those areas will help tremendously. I want to be able to explode forward and backward from tatehiza. Tatehiza is my nemesis currently. 

NaNoWriMo

I’m doing NaNoWriMo, but I’m not very far along. Still, I like what’s happening in my story. My brain has all sorts of ideas. If only I could write as fast as I can think…

B-Movie Club

My B-movie club met last night to watch Megaforce. I chose the movie because the theme I drew was futuristic. I thought something soldier related was a good idea given how close it was too Remembrance Day. My food was themed as rations. I considered getting actual rations, but those are quite expensive. Thus ramen, chips, juice boxes, a little chocolate, and Popeye’s cigarettes (err candy sticks)… Yeah, I’m old enough to remember when they had red on the end of them. Actually, I’m old enough to remember chocolate cigarettes that were actually packaged in real cigarette papers with filters. Anyway, it was a good night.

I got to spend time with my toddler buddy and the cheeky little monkey decided that I was to read him the longest story book they had. Before that, we had a ball playing balloon soccer. I need to bottle some of that joy he has!

Writing Business

I’m enjoying meeting with folks at the library to get some writing in and to learn techniques for plotting that I hadn’t used before. I’m also excited to work with some other writers who happen to be friends.
Well, I’m going to take a walk then get back to work.

Ciao,

R~

Thoughtful Thursday – November Madness

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Well, like every November, there seems to be too much going on.

After spending my days writing copy, I spend my evenings either studying French or writing a novel. One might think this would burn me out, but while writing copy can be draining, writing a novel feeds my soul.

I am a little worried though. It has been a long time since I have had to write an exam, especially a French one. There seems to be a lot of hours left to complete in the online portion. I’m worried I won’t make it. At least the course is cheap if I have to repeat, but I’d rather not.

I need to fix my kitchen drawers, which are in pieces in my living/dining room, so I can make room to practice iaido. Any extra time I can spend will be helpful to prepare for grading. I’ve started some ankle strengthening exercises to reduce my wobbliness. I aim to get the drawers done over the weekend, so I can get on the rest. That, of course, dips into my French time and my writing time.

C’est la vie.

Ciao,
R~