Morning horrors and language teachings – all in a lazy Sunday’s work

I ran out of tea this morning. The scream I gave off should have echoed through these forests like a banshee’s wail. Crows took to the sky and darkened the heavens. The inhabitants in the next town over should throng into the bomb-shelters from the sixties, and Mark fell out of bed.

I may have exaggerated a bit now, but Mark did fall out of bed. Not from my shouting, though, but because in his half-sleeping state he didn’t notice that his feet were wrapped in the bed sheets. He stood, he fell, and then he shouted curses.

He’s so sexy when he’s angry.

***

The curse of the book-worm is this. You go somewhere, it doesn’t matter where, and whatever book you bring spawns like rabbits so that if you decide to travel light with one or two books for the pockets and the idle moments, you always end up with a suit-case of them when it’s time to go home.

The two books I brought for the airplane and the airports, and to idle away the waiting times with, has now spawned to eleven books. Some of them, mum has given me, and some of them I’ve bought myself. And of course, leaving any of them behind would be sacrilege, as well as against the rules of the Bookworm Association. My license could be revoked, and I’d become a celebrity magazine reader.

The reason for this lament is the idea that we’d start stashing away the least needed stuff so that we didn’t have to binge-pack next weekend. So, on this free Sunday we were supposed to stash away the piles of clothes, get it all washed, and then to try to not empty those suitcases on the bed when looking for clean socks and underwear again.

Now I find myself with probably having to grab another sports bag from mum’s or dad’s garage, just for the books. If we didn’t get hit with a penalty fee for weight on the way here, undoubtedly we’ll get one now when we go home.

***

Apart from packing, this Sunday has been remarkably lazy. We didn’t go anywhere yesterday, so this weekend seems to be all about being lazy. But it’s really warm and hot and getting up to do something takes too much effort. It’s enough to rise to fetch cold drinks from the fridge.

I downloaded a package from steam for Skyrim so I’m once again the Dovahkin, running about in Skyrim killing dragons and such. As soon as I step outside my digital house in the game, it seems there’s a big old dragon waiting to kill me. Bastards.

I was running along a road, looking for adventure in the form of a quest, when I was viciously set upon by the black wolves that are everywhere. Then as I strove to rid the world of these beasts, I backed into a group of three bandits. And before going about delivering justice and truth to the troubled lands with my trusty sword, the familiar flapping sound of wings and the demented shriek of a dragon could be heard overhead…

My horse decided at this time to make a run for it, and fell to its death over a cliff, which meant that I had to continue on foot. These are the little annoyances that the anointed one have to suffer in this game.

***

Mark drove off earlier – so he did do something! – to go to the grocery store as he’s been ambitious to cook today. My man gets such urges sometimes. He can go to the fridge, stand there with the door open for ages and have this frown on his face, and then snort and decide to cook something.

While yours truly is a mere functional chef, that cook in order to have something to eat, Mark actually enjoys the whole process, from peeling vegetables to chopping onions. He is a happy fellow when he can sprinkle spices on something that is puttering in a pot, and then he’ll demand that I taste something to see if it’s good.

It’s going to make me fat that. I’m at 148 pounds now, and I’m not sure I can attribute that to increased muscle mass from running. I have been diligent with my running during this month we’ve been here. When you spend the daytime alone you can either write or run. But I’ve not run enough to bulk up like that, so I might have to start to watch what I eat more thoroughly.

***

Mark is also trying to have conversations with me in Swedish. I try not to tease him for his pronunciation, but he seems to be grasping the basics of Swedish fast. I think that if he had to spend more time, like six months, he’d be functionally competent in the language.

It seems like good practice if I’m going to end up teaching ESL to not make my only student feel inadequate by mocking his attempts, which are actually quite earnest and thorough. If I can give a good feel for the tone of the language, then he’ll do fine, I think.

I think tone and pronunciation are the key things he has got to grasp, because structurally both Swedish and English are Western Germanic languages that have a lot of similarities; the same word order, many of the same words. If he understands a construct in English, it will be mirrored in Swedish.

There are things that are different, of course, like word genders. Together with tone and pronunciation errors, word genders are what he makes the most mistakes with.

I think it’s also about exposure. If he really wants to learn Swedish, he has to be exposed to it. If he continues this when we go home to England, I think it would be a good idea to buy him Swedish books and magazines to read, and to have him watch Swedish TV online.

10 thoughts on “Morning horrors and language teachings – all in a lazy Sunday’s work

  1. It’s a good idea, the more languages a person accumulates, the easier the others become. By the time you’ve got three or four down you can at least make some sense of many others. For example if you speak French and Spanish, Italian is a very short jump, most of what isn’t mirrored in one is mirrored in the other.

    • I’ve actually considered learning French, and then Italian. I love going to France (and eating there!) so I would like to know the language. Unfortunately, my school doesn’t really focus on other languages than English.

      It’s the typical stupid attitude that English is enough because everyone speaks it.

      When I get to University, I may – if I have the time – sign up for some language classes. First for French since so much of medieval English literature and communication is written in French. Then Italian because Italian makes my knees go weak. :D

      • Could be worth looking at Latin too, for similar reasons to French. All the older writers knew Latin, Milton wrote verse in it (as well as in Italian). So did Housman (know him?).

  2. My solution to caring books around is the Kindle. You can have hundreds of books in one tablet – in fact you can get the entire writings of some classical authors for next to nothing.
    I know you once expressed some distaste for e-books but it is the wave of the future and a good way for new writers to get their foot in the door of the competitive publishing market.

    • Oh no, I don’t dislike ebooks at all. I’m a tech-nerd, after all, and I want to buy an e-reader. I’m considering the iPad. In fact, I’m horribly tempted by an iPad. The only reason I haven’t bought one yet is that my school may loan them out for free soon.

      What I dislike is the zealotry surrounding ebooks as if they’re some magical “saviour of books”. They’re just another form of container for the data, that’s all. I also dislike the idea that since the container is electronic, the data in the container should be next to free.

      I’d like to make a living as a writer, and if ebooks supplant normal books, then I think that it is going to be next to impossible for me to make a living writing fiction.

      Everyone expects the container to be next to free. The outlier examples of people that have made a fortune on ebooks do not change the reality for the vast majority of novelists; we’re really not suited for pushing books.

      • I happily pay more for quality work. I’ve noticed that newer writers may write shorter books and charge less to get noticed but established authors here charge at least $10 US. I would hope that authors pay remains stable as the savings are on paper and printing costs. I guess it depends on the author’s contract with the publishing houses.

        • I think that there are different things going on. One, paper doesn’t really cost that much. I think of a €20 hardback, only about €1 is to cover the paper.

          But in any market you have to consider how much you’re likely to sell. The average sale, including electronic sales, is 5-10 thousand copies for a new writer’s books. Most likely it’s at the lower end. For that, you have to make enough to pay for about four months to a year for the writer to write the thing, and then maybe another two to four months for a team of editors to go through it. Then there’s the typography, and artwork. It adds up.

  3. I’ve already reached the point where I prefer the electronic version over the paper version.

    I use an iPad. I don’t like the idea of locking my book to Apple’s ecosystem but, by Apple’s design, it offers the least friction. I buy thru Amazon, and use the web based reader, but it has problems, like occasionally wanting me to log in again so I can read MY BOOKS.

    My local library gives me access to a ebook lending library BUT they have a very limited number of copies of a small collection. So every book is checked out. You have to get on waiting lists for everything.

    A magazine that I subscribe to is so concerned you might get a free issue they make you constantly jump thru authentication hoops in their app. It’s as if they are afraid you might loan your iPad to somebody and they might read the magazine for free.

    So I think the whole ebooks thing is yet to fully emerge. I think things will be in flux for a while.

    As to the author’s compensation part, I see the same problem in application development. People see Apple’s mainstream apps sell cheap and think your more specialized (i.e. smaller audience) app should be equally cheap.

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