MetaCognitions | Language Hangups

Last evening’s Tamil language podcast listening was productive, and vastly more satisfying progress-wise once I got myself into the right headspace to immerse myself and process the dialogue and interviews.

Setup for that takes me about 15-20 minutes of quiet thought, and at the very least a full hour of immersion, whether to speak, read, write, or listen in any language I’m studying. I should work up to an entire day of immersion when family is away for extended periods.

There’s a bit of performance anxiety in that, stemming from previous study of both Japanese and Pilipino, the former in the early 90s and the latter just before the early 2000s.

Both taught me a lot, but in both cases I was not…well…at either time, and was to my eternal regret a bit of an idiot as a student even in my late 20s.

Without getting into personal details or drama, my experiences of both left me with a difficulty in switching between English and other languages quickly or in a public context, especially for interviews or social media posting, and dreading again making an idiot of myself as a learner, this time on the Internet for all to see.

There’s also a lack of patience on my part, as I must remind myself that even in formal study it takes several whole semesters for anybody to make progress at my age in any non-native language, even with an instructor and fellow students to interact with for feedback.

Hindi, Tamil, and Bangla are not easy languages to begin with, especially for non-native speakers like me!

All of my study to-date on the current languages, ALL of it, has been informal, but still marked by progress over time, even with my biases and impatience getting in the way of seeing that.

It helps to take, even in a passing moment of introspection, and actually immersing myself in the damn languages instead of whining, a long view, to see the forests of India’s Big Three languages over time for the trees of any given study period.

Maybe I’ll always be somewhat anxious about being the village idiot of students, but maybe too I can avoid that outcome, to keep up the long game toward what level of mastery I can achieve.

At my age, I’ll probably never reach native fluency in any of them, but that’s cool. I’m not trying to pass as a native speaker anyway, not perfect fluency, only to broaden my horizons and reduce my ignorance of the rest of humanity elsewhere in some small way, however imperfectly.

And d’you know what? I think that’s good enough.

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Lost in Translation | Bengali Progress To Date

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namaskar/a-salam-alaikum. amar nam Troy. ami aekjon markin chattro. ami ingreji jani, ar ami bangla shikhchi. ami besh bhalo achi. apnara keimon achen?…

…Okay, enough showing off for now. That’s what I think of it, at least. My Bengali study is coming along better than I’d thought, and at the same time not as quickly as I’d like. But then, it’s not wise to try to rush things in informal study, which is the path I’ve taken to learn the language outside of an academic institutional setting. I’ve given myself the equivalent of two 18 week semesters of study time before switching to the same period for both Tamil and Hindi each.

At this point, I can read fairly complex text in Bangla script that uses the basic letters and numerals, some diacritic signs, some basic symbols like the rupee sign and punctuation, and a few consonant conjuncts. There are many more of those last to learn before mastering all of the script. The dialogues in the two texts I’m using are quite good for that, though being smaller paperbacks the vocabulary is more limited than I’d like. So I’ve picked up this heavyweight to help:


It’s a pleasingly huge tome, and I’m using it a lot lately. My penmanship in the script is still horrible, about what you would expect from a man with poor fine motor skills like mine, and my study not as disciplined as I’d like, but those can be fixed with practice.