Languages new and old

I’m starting to think my brain is lying to me.  I certainly don’t trust my own assessment of my abilities based on this week’s performance in a couple of tasks I was set.  Let me back up a bit first and explain.

A key thing for the research I want to do is to be able to access 12th century texts in both Latin and Arabic.  To that end I’ve been studying both languages through the Languages at Leicester programme.  It might sound like a shameless plug but I would highly recommend them to anyone.  The courses are excellent; great value, enormous fun  and available to staff, students and non-University affiliated individuals.  Its a great way to add a little something to your skills portfolio too.  Moreover the tutors are superb:

Salve Dalida!

مرحبا هديل

You never know; they might be reading!   I feel like I’ve been struggling with Arabic to be honest.  I’ve a reasonable grasp of the alphabet and reading but my vocabulary is terrible.  Latin on the other hand I felt I’ve been making a lot of progress; ironically my facility with English  has made the vocabulary more accessible (one in the eye for my old Physics teacher who told me English was for wastrels and philanderers!).  It is easy to forget that there are Latin roots for many words in modern English.  It appears however, that what I think I know is completely at odds with what I do know.

In Arabic we were set the task of describing as much about ourselves as we could in writing.  I baulked at the task intially thinking I’d be stuck at “Hi, my name is Dan”.  As it turns out there’s a lot more Arabic in my subconcious than I thought.  I probably managed around 100 words in the end including a description of where I live, where I work and the details of my family.

In Latin we had a translation test without supporting materials.  I missed last week’s class due to work commitments but on the basis of previous translations I thought I would be OK.  As it turns out there is far less Latin in my aging brain-pan than I had thought.  I barely translated a third of the text in the 45 minutes allotted and what I did translate was somewhat Monty Pythonesque in its quality.  All in all a bit of a poor show really.  What’s worse I can hear my teachers past whispering in my ear;

“you’ve let the school down, you’ve let me down but worst of all you’ve let yourself down …”

I’ve got a break over Christmas for my language classes but I’ve already worked out a daily schedule for Arabic and Latin; on the one hand I need to build on what I know and on the other I need to get to the level I thought I was at!


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About Dan

Dan has now retired from our student blog site. I’m Dan, a first year, part time MRes student in the School of History. I work full time at the University as well which makes for quite a juggling act keeping it all going at once. Hopefully I can give you some insight into coping with this dual life.

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