Learning Russian

Русские книги (Russian books… in Russian)

In spring 1988 I travelled to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) for a week with my school. We flew from London to Moscow, stayed in the capital for a few days then took an overnight train to Leningrad (now St Petersburg), not far from the Finnish and Estonian borders.

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The importance of failure (and of praising effort not intelligence)

Neon sign reads: People fail forward to success by Ian Kim on Unsplash
Photo by Ian Kim on Unsplash

I’m finally learning Russian (again)

I am currently learning Russian and reminding myself of the integral importance that failure has in the learning process.

Continue reading The importance of failure (and of praising effort not intelligence)

Is this the last alphabet that English will ever have?

I wasn’t great at English at high school. I just didn’t connect with it, and none of my teachers really set my heart on fire with passion for this odd, largely-stolen language of ours.

That was until I went to university in 1989 and had to learn another language: biblical Hebrew. In order to learn that I needed to brush up on my understanding of language, grammar and syntax.

Thanks to Dr Jim Martin, Dr Robin Salters and Mr Peter Coxon for the first time in my life I began to feel excited about language. I studied Hebrew (3 years) and Greek (1 year) and after I’d graduated I had a rather failed attempt at trying to learn Scottish Gaelic and I began to read more about English, its grammar and history.

I rather enjoyed this three minute video by Tom Scott about the English alphabet. I have often wished that we still had a few of these characters in our alphabet, not least because then my name might have been spelled Garð.

The Hell Centre

When I was a young child I thought that the building where you visited the doctor was called “The Hell Centre”.

It wasn’t that I had a particularly negative view of the medical profession: my mum was a nursing sister who worked in the hospital next door. Neither did I associate “The Hell Centre” with any fire-and-brimstone images that I might have had of hell.

It was just that I had mis-heard the pronunciation of “health centre”—the ‘th’ sound had run into the ‘s’ of ‘centre’: hell thcentre—and so I just accepted that that was what it was called, in the same way that I had accepted that an apple was an apple and a cat was a cat.

I sometimes wish I could still accept things that easily without questioning them.  I wonder why that is…

Conversation: language

It can be embarrassing when you’re so tired you can’t quite find the right words. From the other night:

Gareth: My feet look so dry, I’ll have to … erm … liquidize them.

Jane: Do you mean moisturise?

Gareth: MOISTURISE! That’s the word.

I don’t recommend that you liquidize your feet. Unless you want to appear on an episode of CSI or Crimewatch UK.

Jane’s just told me that CSI isn’t real.  I have no idea what she’s talking about.