Xmas, 2013 & Space-Time

Feliz Navidad, Feliz Año Nuevo

Bon Nadal, Bon Any Nou

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year

圣诞快乐 , 新年快乐

Veselé Vánoce, Šťastný Nový Rok

Glædelig Jul,Godt Nytår

Vrolijk Kerstfeest, Gelukkig Nieuwjaar

Joyeux Noël, Bonne Année

Frohe Weihnachten, Glückliches Neues Jahr

Buon Natale, Felice Anno Nuovo

Wesołych Świąt, Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku

All in all, time is not linear so I wish you HAPPY EVERYWHERE AND EXPONENTIALLY!!!

P.S. Byron Katie said today: There is no beginning of time, only beginning of thought.
www.thework.com. Love it!

 

 

 

Speaking More than One Language May Slow the Aging Process in the Mind

An amazing article from “Science Daily”. This is grist to my mill.

Children who speak a second or third language may have an unexpected advantage later in life, a Tel Aviv University study has found. Knowing and speaking many languages may protect the brain against the effects of aging.

Dr. Gitit Kavé, a clinical neuro-psychologist from the Herczeg Institute on Aging at Tel Aviv University, together with her colleagues Nitza Eyal, Aviva Shorek, and Jiska Cohen-Manfield, discovered recently that senior citizens who speak more languages test for better cognitive functioning. The results of her study were published in the journal Psychology and Aging.

However, Kavé says that one should approach these findings with caution. “There is no sure-fire recipe for avoiding the pitfalls of mental aging. But using a second or third language may help prolong the good years,” she advises.

A person who speaks more languages is likely to be more clear-minded at an older age, she says, in effect “exercising” his or her brain more than those who are monolingual. Languages may create new links in the brain, contributing to this strengthening effect.

The research was based on a survey taken in 1989 on people between the ages of 75 and 95. Each person was asked how many languages he or she knew, what his or her mother tongue was, and which language he or she spoke best. The researchers compared bilingual speakers to tri- and multilingual speakers.

Analyzing the results, the researchers found that the more languages a person spoke, the better his or her cognitive state was. A person’s level of education was also strongly associated with cognitive state, but the number of languages contributed to the prediction of cognitive fitness beyond the effect of education alone.

Although the easiest way to explain the findings was to point out the relationship between higher education and number of languages, this was not the whole story. In fact, Dr. Kavé says, “We found that more languages were most significantly correlated with cognitive state in those people who had no education at all.” Dr. Kavé, however, adds a note when interpreting the statistics. “The study looked at the final result and not the cause,” she says.

A future question for research, according to Kavé, is whether languages reflect an initial potential for prolonged mental fitness, or that learning and speaking more languages actually do something to the brain over time.

While the controversy continues as to whether or not parents should introduce their young children to a second language, Kavé thinks that learning a new language is only a good thing, even if it isn’t intended to stave off mental decline in old age.

“In my professional opinion, learning a new language can only do good things,” she believes. “Other languages are good for you at any age. They allow for a flexibility of thought and a channel for understanding another culture better, as well as your own,” says Kavé.

More at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080507152419.htm

 

 

You Joker!

Imagining myself telling jokes in public is even more fun.

One day, God and Adam were walking in the Garden of Eden. God told Adam that it was time to populate the Earth.
“Adam, you can start by kissing Eve.”
“Lord, what is a kiss?” asked Adam.
God explained, and then Adam took Eve behind the bush and kissed her. A little while later, Adam returned with a big smile and said, “Lord! That was great! What’s next?”
“Adam, I now want you to caress Eve.”
“Lord, what is caress?” asked Adam.
God explained, then Adam took Eve behind the bush and caressed her. A little while later, Adam returned with a big smile and said, “Lord that was even better than a kiss! What’s next?”
“Here is what gets the deed done. I now want you to make love to Eve.”
“Lord, what is make love?” asked Adam.
God explained, then Adam took Eve behind the bush. A few seconds later, Adam returned and asked, “Lord, what is a headache?”

Ein Mann kommt zum Rabbiner. “Rabbi”, mich drückt etwas. Jemand hat mir gestohlen meinen schönen Regenschirm. Den mit dem wertvollen Goldknauf. Was mich aber viel mehr aufregt als der Verlust ist: Ich kann den Gedanken nicht loswerden, daß es einer von der Mischpoche war. Der Schwager, die Schwiegermutter, das Dienstmädchen, was weiß ich, womöglich gar der Vater Gottbehüte oderr mein eigener Bruder. Stell dir vor: ein Dieb mitten in der Familie!”
“Laß mich klären”, sagt der Rabbiner. Und nach einer Weile: “Hör gut zu Mendel. Lad ein die ganze Mischpoche zu Kaffe und Kuchen. Den Schwager, die Schwiegermutter, das Dienstmädchen, was weiß ich, den Vater Gottbehüte und den Bruder. Und wenn getrunken ist der Kaffee und gegessen der Kuchen, holst du mit schöner Bedächtigkeit das Gute Buch von nebenan und zündest an die Kerzen. Dann, wieder mit schöner Bedächtigkeit, legst du es vor dich auf den Tisch, und mit schöner Stimme liest du ihnen vor die Zehn Gebote. Und wenn du kommst zu dem Siebten Gebot: Du sollst nicht stehlen, blickst du zum ersten Mal auf von dem Buch und siehst dir an in der Runde die ganze Mischpoche. So aus dem Augenwinkel, du verstehst. Den Schwager, die Schwiegermutter, das Dienstmädchen, was weiß ich, den Vater Gottbehüte und den Bruder. Und was wirst du bemerken, Mendel? Der Schuldige wird sich verraten. Geht mit Gott, Mendel, und kommt wieder, berichten.” Schon zwei Tage später ist Mendel wieder da. “Nu, was war?”, fragt ihn der Rabbi. “Was soll ich dir sagen rebbe”, antwortet Mendel mit strahlendem Gesicht. “Es war – es war einfach großartig! Genau wie du mir hast vorausgesagt, Rebbe! Nach dem Kaffee und Kuchen hab ich angezündet die Kerzen, und mit schöner Stimme, so wahr mir Gott helfe, hab ich vorgelesen die Zehn Gebote. Dem Schwager, der Schwiegermutter, der Schickse, was weiß ich, dem Vater Gottbehüte und meinem Bruder. Und was soll ich dir sagen: Wie ich komme zu dem Gebot “Du sollst nicht ehebrechen” – da ist mir eingefallen, wo ich hab stehengelassen den Schirm!”

Dos evangélicos llegan a una casa, para el Censo 2011, y preguntan:
- Su nombre? – Adán. – Su Esposa? – Eva.- Increíble!
Por casualidad la serpiente también vive aquí?- Sí, un momento…. Sueeegraaaa…….. La buscan!

En un burdel. – Madame. Cuánto cuesta aquí acostarse con una mujer.?
- Depende del tiempo. – Supongamos que llueve…

- Anoche me acosté con una mujer buenísima…qué piernas.!!!…qué tetas.!!!!…qué culo.!!!
- Y de cara.??? – Eso sí…carísima.!!!

Un hombre de unos 65 años le pregunta al entrenador en el gimnasio:  -¿Que máquina debo usar para impresionar a una chica de 30? El entrenador lo mira y dice… -Le recomiendo el cajero automático….

What are you favorite jokes?

Speaking in Public

In his book How I Have Learned Eight Languages Zygmunt Broniarek shares his Ten Commandments of a polyglot. One of them says: look forward to every opportunity to speak a foreign language in public. Get set for this as good as you can. Discover how much fun and joy there is in it.

How can I get set for speaking in public? One of the possibilities is to imagine myself telling my favorite stories to a group of foreigners. E.g.:

En una aldea había un anciano muy pobre, pero hasta los reyes lo envidiaban porque poseía un hermoso caballo blanco. Los reyes le ofrecieron cantidades fabulosas por ese caballo, pero el hombre decía: “Para mí, él no es un caballo, es un amigo. ¿Y cómo se puede vender a un amigo?”. Era un hombre pobre, pero nunca vendió su caballo.
Una mañana descubrió que el caballo ya no estaba en el establo. Todo el pueblo se reunió diciendo:
- Viejo estúpido. Sabíamos que algún día te robarían el caballo. Hubiera sido mejor que lo vendieras ¡Qué desgracia!
- No vayáis tan lejos –dijo el viejo-. Simplemente decid que el caballo no está en el establo. Este es el hecho, todo lo demás es vuestro juicio. Si es una desgracia o una suerte, yo no lo sé, porque esto es apenas un fragmento. ¿Quién sabe lo que va a suceder mañana?
La gente se rió del viejo. Ellos siempre habían sabido que estaba un poco loco. Pero después de quince días, una noche el caballo regresó. No había sido robado, se había escapado. Y no solo esto, sino que trajo consigo una docena de caballos salvajes.
De nuevo se reunió la gente diciendo:
- Tenías razón, viejo. No fue una desgracia, sino una verdadera suerte.
- De nuevo estáis yendo demasiado lejos –dijo el viejo-. Decid sólo que el caballo ha vuelto.¿Quién sabe si es una suerte o no? Es sólo un fragmento. Estáis leyendo apenas una palabra en una oración ¿Cómo podéis juzgar el libro entero?
- Esta vez la gente no pudo decir mucho más, pero por dentro sabían que estaba equivocado. Habían llegado doce caballos hermosos.
El viejo tenía un único hijo que comenzó a entrenar los caballos. Una semana más tarde se cayó de uno de ellos y se rompió las dos piernas. La gente volvió a reunirse y a juzgar.
- De nuevo tuviste razón –dijeron-. Era una desgracia. Tu único hijo ha perdido el uso de sus piernas y a tu edad él era tu único sostén. Ahora estás más pobre que nunca.
- Estáis obsesionados con juzgar –dijo el viejo-. No vayáis tan lejos. Sólo decid que mi hijo se ha roto las piernas. Nadie sabe si es una desgracia o una fortuna. La vida viene en fragmentos, y nunca se nos da más que esto.
Sucedió que pocas semanas después el país entró en guerra y todos los jóvenes del pueblo fueron llevados por la fuerza al ejército. Sólo se salvó el hijo del viejo porque estaba lisiado. El pueblo entero lloraba y se quejaba porque esa una guerra perdida de antemano y sabían que la mayoría de los jóvenes no volverían. Fueron a ver al viejo y le dijeron:
- Tenías razón viejo, era una fortuna. Aunque tullido, tu hijo está contigo. Los nuestros se han ido para siempre.
- Seguís juzgando –dijo el viejo-. Nadie sabe. Sólo decid que vuestros hijos han sido obligados a unirse al ejército y que mi hijo no ha sido obligado. Sólo Dios, el Todo, sabe si es una desgracia o una suerte que así suceda.
No juzgues, o jamás serás uno con el Todo. Te quedarás obsesionado con fragmentos, sacarás conclusiones de pequeñas cosas. Una vez que juzgas, has dejado de crecer. El juicio implica una mente decaída. Y la mente siempre quiere juzgar, porque estar en un proceso es siempre incómodo y peligroso. El viaje jamás termina. Un camino concluye y otro comienza: se cierra una puerta y se abre otra. Alcanzas una cumbre, pero siempre hay otra aún más alta. Dios es un viaje; un viaje sin fin. Sólo los que son tan valientes como para no preocuparse de la meta y contentarse con el viaje, con vivir el momento y crecer en él, sólo ésos son capaces de caminar con el Todo.

There was an old man in a village, very poor, but even kings were jealous of him because he had a beautiful white horse. Kings offered fabulous prizes for the horse, but the man would say, “This horse is not a horse to me, he is a friend. And how can you sell a friend?” The man was poor, but he never sold the horse.
One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. The whole village gathered and said, “You foolish old man! We knew that someday the horse would be stolen. It would have been better to sell it. What a misfortune!” The old man said, “Don’t go so far as to say that. Simply say that the horse is not in the stable. This is the fact; everything else is judgment. Whether it is a misfortune or a blessing I don’t know, because this is just a fragment. Who knows what is going to follow it?” People laughed at the old man. They had always known he was a little crazy. But after fifteen days, suddenly one night the horse returned. He had not been stolen; he had escaped into the wild. And not only that, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Again the people gathered and they said, “Old man, you were right. This was not a misfortune; it has indeed proved to be a blessing.” The old man said, “Again you are going too far. Just say that the horse is back. Who knows whether it is a blessing or not? It is only a fragment. You read a single word in a sentence – how can you judge the whole book?” This time the people could not say much, but inside they knew that he was wrong. Twelve beautiful horses had come. The old man had an only son who started to train the horses. Just a week later he fell from a horse and his legs were broken. The people gathered again and again they judged. They said, “Again you proved right! It was a misfortune. Your only son has lost the use of his legs, and in your old age he was your only support. Now you are poorer than ever.” The old man said, “You are obsessed with judgment. Don’t go that far. Say only that my son had broken his legs. Life comes in fragments and more is never given to you.” It happened that after a few weeks the country went to war, and all the young men of the town were forcibly taken for the military. Only the old man’s son was left because he was crippled. The whole town was crying and weeping, because it was a losing fight and they knew that most of the young people would never come back. They came to the old man and they said, “You were right, old man – this has proved a blessing. Maybe your son is crippled, but he is still with you. Our sons are gone forever.” The old man said again, “You go on and on judging. Nobody knows! Only say this, that your sons have been forced to enter the army and my son has not been forced. But only God, the total, knows whether it is a blessing or a misfortune.” Judge not, otherwise you will never become one with the total. With fragments you will be obsessed, with small things you will jump to conclusions. Once you judge you have stopped growing. Judgment means a stale state of mind. And mind always wants judgment, because to be in a process is always hazardous and uncomfortable. So go ahead, enjoy the journey. In fact the journey never ends. One path ends, another begins: one door closes, another opens. You reach a peak; a higher peak is always there. God is an endless journey. Only those who are so courageous that they don’t bother about the goal (for it shall always be there), but are content with the journey, content to just live in the moment and grow into it, only those are able to walk in the total.

I will be pleased to read this story in your mother tongue(s).

Nothing at All aka Figa z makiem, z pasternakiem

It is an enormous joy for me to read German texts aloud. Kranzbinden, Ausstreuung der Asche. I love these sounds! German language makes me feel physical pleasure. This pleasure has been more intense since I have been saturated with castellano, català and menorquí.

Here are some reflections from my total immersion.

Perdona  (I’m sorry). When I say I’m sorry I bear the consequences of what I have done. I – I – I am sorry. In castellano you say Perdona which means Forgive me. In other words, I have done something and I want you to be in charge of a part of  consequences because I am asking YOU to forgive me.

Secondly, Thank you – You are welcome. I have not come across a proper equivalent of this expression. You are supposed to say De nada / De res (Not at all) which I find absurd: indeed there is a reason to express gratitude. On a website I have found colloquial expressions: para eso estamos and un placer. Hardly anybody says that.

Thirdly,  if you make a mistake, hit somebody etc. and say Perdona, a natural reaction here is to say: no te preocupes (don’t worry about it). It does not fit the way I speak at all. In my opinion, when I say: don’t worry, I start to worry. Somebody says: don’t look back now and the first impulse is to turn around and have a look. Tell your 2-year-old child: don’t spill water on the carpet if you want to have a wet carpet. Anyway, I am used to saying “It’s ok.” Unless it is not.

Fourthly, if your companion cuts himself with a letter opener or stumbles and you say Lo siento (I’m sorry) it suggests it is your fault. You are not supposed to say anything. He cut himself, she stumbled, it is their problem. Me sabe mal, me da pena are possible options if you find yourself addicted to saying something when you see people suffer.

Fifthly, como quieras (as you wish). I sometimes have the impression it does not mean as you wish, suit yourself but 1. you’d better figure out what I wish and do it; 2. I’m not going to say “no”, but I don’t like what you wish.

Last but not least. When I was getting ready to go to Spain, it made sense to learn fruit, vegetables and spices’ names. I enjoyed preparing meals and checking whether I was able to say all ingredients in castellano. Then I completed català. That is why only in Spain have I learned the word pasternak – parsnip – chirivía – xirivia. By the way, diccionari.cat says:

fer figa fig 1 Fallar o fallir. Les cames em fan figa.
2 p ext
Fallir, deixar de funcionar, destrossar-se, un vehicle, una màquina, un edifici, etc.
3 Fer fallida, no reeixir; fracassar. El negoci ha fet figa.
fer la figa (a algú) fig Fer-li un gest d’escarn consistent a mostrar el puny clos amb el dit gros sortint entre l’índex i el del mig.

After shopping, receipts are my language teachers. Does carrot have the same taste as zanahoria / pastanaga and eggplant as berenjena / albergínia? That is a question. I experience first-hand what learning languages is really about. It is about self-confidence, motivation, joyful studying; knowledge is merely in the background.

Under My Nose

Long time ago I realized that destructive thoughts about learning in general (e.g.: my memory is bad), learning languages (e.g.: you need to have special talents to be able to learn English) and above all about myself (e.g.: it’s impossible for me to learn English: nobody in my family has ever learned English) hindered the process of mastering a language and I decided to work on it with our Students.

Only recently have I seen another destructive thought that has always been there, right in front of me.

While reading Hermann Hesse “Der Steppenwolf” / “El lobo estepario”, I came across this:

‘Die meisten Menschen wollen nicht eher schwimmen, als bis sie es können.’ (Novalis). Ist das nicht witzig? Natürlich wollen sie nicht schwimmen! Sie sind ja für den Boden geboren, nicht fürs Wasser.

‘Most men will not swim before they are able to.’ Is not that witty? Naturally, they won’t swim! They are born for the solid earth, not for the water.

 ’La mayor parte de los hombres no quiere nadar antes de saber’ ¿No es esto espiritual? ¡No quieren nadar, naturalmente! Han nacido para la tierra, no para el agua.

Consequently, I can say: I won’t speak a foreign language before I’m able to.

And that’s not the epiphany yet.

The epiphany is the word FOREIGN / FREMD / OBCY. Foreign! Yuck! What associations come at once! E.g.: like any FOREIGN tissue, these cells can trigger rejection. Awful! Fremd bin ich eingezogen,fremd ziehe ich wieder aus. Naturally, I won’t learn a FOREIGN language. I was born to speak my mother tongue.

Now it’s time to transform those thoughts into alternative opinions. I will learn a NEW language. I will learn CONFUCIUS language. How is that for you?

 

 

Foreign Languages Will Never Be the Same

I have been writing a book. The provisional title of the book is (Your Own/Self-Directed) Language Coaching or An Assertive Approach to Self-Directed Language Education.

Let me describe the book.

My friends and me traveled a lot or studied and worked abroad and we came to the following conclusion: one of the reasons why we despise or fight other nations is the fact that we do not speak the languages of other people; consequently, we do not understand one another and base our opinions on what the press, government, tradition, prejudice etc. say. If I think in a foreign language I become part of the society speaking this language. Eventually, I will realize that being a human is a global experience.

On the other hand, thanks to the Internets, being a polyglot is becoming a norm rather than the exception. Nevertheless, many people do not speak even English as foreign language, they do not have access to objective media, the most recent scientific research, trainings or courses.

In my opinion, we can change that if we spread the ideas presented in this book.

The book is about my approach to learning foreign languages. It tells the story of thirteen people who live in the same nameless city. The people do not know one another, however they have something in common: they all attend Language Coaching Classes. The book shows how they learn languages: what obstacles and barriers they encounter, how they tackle challenges, realize that factors which are not directly connected with their work influence its quality. Moreover, it shows what methods they use and how everyday life affects the learning process.

I teach the students how to use their linguistic potential to its full. I tell them how to get personally involved in the process of learning since I am convinced that even the best schools are not able to substitute self-directed education. They are encouraged to create a total immersion environment, as we did inadvertently when we were children and learned our mother tongue without having enrolled to a course.

The book touches on the following subjects:
-       ”How did they do it?”, i.e. methods of learning foreign languages
-       Visual learners, auditory learners and others, i.e. how I can learn most efficiently
-       You learn on your own the most important things in your life, i.e. what the teacher cannot do on your behalf
-       I am helpless at languages vs Anybody who speaks their mother tongue is able to master a foreign language, i.e. destructive thoughts and alternative opinions related to foreign languages
-       I want to, but I do not feel like it, i.e. motivation
-       Important/not important and urgent/not urgent, i.e. priorities
-       You cannot „have” time, but you can use the time you are given, i.e. time management
-       Truth and myths about regular study
-       How will my life be different when I have learned a foreign language, i.e. when I visualize – I materialize
-       Learning languages as a lifestyle

After having read the book the readers:
-       are able to learn languages on their own
-       do not depend on courses and teachers
-       have new general skills available to them
-       learn faster than before
-       adapt the process of learning to their needs
-       feel a more considerable influence on their own life
-       they overcome their own limits
-       they have a higher self-esteem
-       they shift the limits of their world

The book is intended for general reader and targets the two large groups: those who want to read a groundbreaking text written in an innovative way and those persons who seek inspiration for growth with emphasis on those
-       who want/need to learn foreign languages
-       who have been learning and are disappointed with traditional methods
-       who cannot or do not want to apply traditional methods
-       who once used to study, did not become fluent, never figured out the reason why and gave up
-       who teach languages
-       who adore foreign languages and look for an excuse to know more.

I chose English as lingua franca for the first version of the book and I find it very easy to adapt the book for other languages learners and/or for English learners in other countries.

On December the 3rd we’re starting Chapter X.