Learning languages


May 14, 2010 by jessperriam

Eg eiti Jess – pron. ear eye tur (as in turd) Jess.

My name is Jess.

That’s about the only phrase I know how to say in Faroese.

I’m a firm believer that having English as my first language is an enormous privilege.

But I’m all too aware that it’s a privilege that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

I am an Anglophone and a Francophone. But for the most part, neither of these languages will get me very far on my travels.

I shudder to think that I’ll ever be that traveller who raises their voice, speaks slowly and with their hands to a bewildered local, saying, ‘Do.. YOU speak English?!’

No. I don’t want to be that person. Ever.

I want to at least try to communicate in the native language, at the very least as a sign of respect. Or at the very hilarious to be able to have common ground with the locals, laughing at how I tried and failed to speak their language.

But my brain wants to cry at the thought of squeezing in key phrases (and a few non-key phrases) in the following languages: Faroese, Egyptian Arabic, Turkish, Albanian and Italian.

I’m leaving in two and a half weeks so there is certainly no time like the present to get cracking and start rote learning.

So here we go: five phrases per day, a different language each day.


3 thoughts on “Learning languages

  1. sartenada says:

    You said: “I’m a firm believer that having English as my first language is an enormous privilege” Well, all depends how we are looking our world, where and from which point of view. I could say that: You said: “I’m a firm believer that having Finnish as my first language is an enormous privilege”. Yes, because we must to learn many languages in our school and I am proud about it. So, everyone must speak many language and it is so natural.

    I am not saying that I am speaking perfect English or other languages, no, not at all, but English was a good start to learn French, Spanish, German and Swedish. In addition all these have helped me to learn quite easily basics of Italian and Portuguese.

    I am personally learning now when being “an old man” these languages by reading books in original languages. The very first book is the most difficult, but after then all goes easily. For example I have in my library 1500 French books which I have been reading thrice during 32 years. You can easily understand that it helped me to understand how the French people are thinking and why.

    Well, no more talk from my side, because I want to leave possibility to others also.

    Happy weekend.

    • jessperriam says:

      @sartenada – Thanks for being the first person to comment (I’m so glad it wasn’t my mother!)
      Your library has inspired me to grab my stack of French magazines that I’ve stashed away somewhere, and sit down with my French dictionary beside me and have a go at reading some compelling articles. I like the idea that it will allow me to discover and learn things that I might otherwise have not if I only had my English at hand.

      • sartenada says:


        I am so glad, if I gave some inspiration to You. When I started to learn more languages, I also read first newspapers and comics. With them the start is easy. My French dictionary is so used and old looking that You could laugh If You saw it. If I remember correct after reading two three years, I used it very seldom.

        Now I have great passive list of words in my mind and they are useful when visiting in France. I am not so keen about Grammar, but to express me. If You checked my post, You have noticed that I have my blogs in three language.


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