Thursday, December 27, 2012

Explanation Of Labels Used On Blog Posts

I have just added tags, or "labels" to each blog post that I have done so far, so you can search for posts that relate to different themes that one might want to search for.  Also I will probably edit and update this post every time I add a new label.  If you would find any labels useful, let me know and I'll consider whether to add a suggested label.


free_site refers to either web sites, software or any other useful language learning resource that is completely free (I'm mostly focusing on Polish but there may be other languages at the site as well).  I haven't yet added sites that have a free component or demo but charge for most resources, but may do so if people find that useful.

genealogy refers to a post that talks about Polish genealogy.

language_theory will refer to theoretical language learning concepts in general, and not just necessarily in Polish, but possibly applicable to any language learning.

language_trivia will include meaningless blatherings about language that are interesting (or not), or my personal experiences which directly or tangentially involve language, but might not be particularly instructive.

polish_adjectives talks about Polish adjectives.

polish_adverbs has to do with Polish adverbs.

polish_diaspora refers to historical information about Polish emigrants to other parts of the world.

polish_grammar refers to a post that talks about grammatical construction in the Polish language.  These will also have the polish_lesson tag.

polish_lesson refers to a post that has some instruction in the Polish language.

polish_nouns will refer to posts that talk about nouns in Polish, including declension, gender, number, and any related issues.

polish_prepositions will refer to posts that talk about prepositions and their usage in the Polish language.

polish_verbs will encompass any posts that talk about verbs in Polish, including conjugation, tenses, aspects, etc.

polish_vocabulary refers to a post that talks about vocabulary in the Polish language.  These will also have the polish_lesson tag.

site_review refers to a post where I review a web site, language software or other language resource.  If the site is (completely) free, it will also have the free_site tag.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Internet Polyglot: More Free Language Learning

Another pretty good site for completely free language learning is Internet Polyglot.  They have lists of words from different categories that you can learn (e.g., animals, colors, numbers, and more esoteric categories).  They have sound on the words, but you have to click on them to hear them.  They have a series of games you can play.  But as a caveat, all you get here is vocabulary.  There are no narratives, there is no grammar, there is no interplay with a human, just words applied in different games.

First off, there is the "slide show" which is just a series of slides where they play a word in one language and then wait for a while before they play the translation.  This is the closest to traditional flash cards as you can guess the answer.  You can check or uncheck a box that will "autoplay" each slide, or play the next one automatically after a short interval without you having to click anything.

The easiest, once you have some knowledge of the words, are the "matching game" and the "guessing game."  In the matching game, you have eight words on one side in  the target language, and eight in the source language, and you have to move them around until they match up with each other.  In the guessing game, it's basically a multiple choice test.

There's also the "typing game"--but you have to be able to type the diacritical marks for the language to get these to match.  They give you a word in one language and you have to type it in the other language.

Here you get points for playing each game, and you get to compete against others.  But don't bother trying to get the high scores.  Those are all taken by freaks who must use some computer program to score rather than doing it manually (if you play for several hours and do the math, you will see that even going your fastest for 24 hours, it is impossible to match the high score for a day.  But really, what is the point of not doing it yourself?).  They have scores by the day, the week, the month, etc.  You don't have to log in to use the site, but you do if you want to score.  As I've said, I've given up on scoring due to the pointless cheating.

The coolest thing that I find about this site is that you can easily study one language in another language.  You can study Turkish in Spanish, or Polish in French (I've done this, as well as studying Polish in Spanish, and Polish in Dutch), or, as I've been doing lately, Romanian in Polish.  And it is really easy to keep switching around both target and source languages.

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Polish Genealogy Quest

My babcia (grandmother) and her family came here from Poland near the beginning of the 20th century.  I still don't know why they came here, but there were a lot of Polish emigrants coming around the time.  Probably, like many of the others, they lived in very poor and rural conditions, with large families and high child mortality, with whatever government that happened to be running or occupying the area at the time seriously messing with them.   They might have heard that there were opportunities for work as the United States became more entrenched as an industrial society.

I talked with my babcia a little bit about her roots when I was a small child.  Of course, I wish we had talked more about it, because now she and all her brothers and sisters are long gone.  I never tried to learn Polish except for knowing a few words that she would use around me (mostly Polish cuss words).  I remember her telling me that her grandmother's last name was Czop (and she made a "chopping" motion with her hand to reinforce the pronunciation). I went to visit her once when I was a teenager and she introduced me to all of her brothers and sisters (and she had a lot!) except for one sister, and I met her on a later visit.

So a few years ago, I tried to find out more about my Polish roots.  Of course, I started with family, and asked them everything they knew.  Anyone who had actually come from Poland was long gone.  There were some first-generation Polish-Americans born in the US, some of whom spoke Polish as they were raised in Polish communities.  That seemed to be the norm at the time; nowadays it seems like most Polish immigrants I meet integrate themselves into more "Americanized" communities.

I found a scrap of paper that had my grandmother's birth town listed on it.  So now I had a location.  Of course I started on for as much info as I could find on there.  But they don't have a lot of information from Poland.  I have posted an extensive family tree on Ancestry so if you are family or have some interest, I can invite people to my tree by email.

I found my grandmother's family on The Ellis Island Foundation website and found that my grandmother arrived with her siblings and her parents at Ellis Island in 1913 (so this coming year will be the hundredth anniversary of my family's arrival).  They departed from Liverpool, England on the ship "Carmania" but I have no idea how they got to England.  I had seen in a newspaper clipping from a Polish language newspaper from the 1940s that my grandmother and her siblings had a cousin in England; maybe somehow this is related, but maybe not.  I think that since I had found this on the Ellis Island site, Ancestry also acquired some records that included this information because now I have seen it there too.

I found the book Polish Roots and read through it to find resources for finding family information.  At the time, I did not speak any Polish at all.  So I typed out some boilerplate letters in Polish included in the back of the book to various Polish civil and church authorities and was able to get some information that way.  This book is an excellent guide to how to research your Polish roots.

Next, I started researching through the Family History Library Catalog to see if I could find any information on the microfilms that have been collected by the LDS Church.  The way this works is that you can look up microfilms to be ordered through your local Family History Center.  You can search for microfilms by area but you have to have some information about the area that your ancestor came from.  You will mostly find records on births (akta urodzin), marriages (akta małżeństwa), and deaths (akta zgonów).  They will be delivered there within a week or two and then will be there for a fixed amount of time.  Sometimes the microfilm viewers to be used are limited so you might have to wait your turn but if it is busy the people there are pretty cooperative about taking turns.  You might find that this process is hit-and-miss, but I was able to find a lot of good information on some of the microfilms.  It is a slow and tedious process and not as immediately satisfying as when you can look information up online.  Also, the records I looked at were in Latin, often with very poor handwriting, and some of the images are poor also, which can lead to some headache-inducing close scrutiny of the documents to try to figure out what they say.  Some of the documents might be in Polish rather than Latin, but I have not encountered any yet for my family.

Most of the documents that LDS has are not yet online.  However, there is a push to put them online, and they call for volunteers to look at documents and type transcriptions of them into databases that can be searched online.  You can assist with this endeavor as a volunteer if you wish, through FamilySearch Indexing.  I helped transcribe a lot of documents when the 1940 Census was released as part of this effort.  You simply download a program to your desktop and pick images that you want to assist with transcribing; there are documents from all over the world.  Once you become an experienced indexer, you can also become an arbitrator as well (I have also done this).  What this entails is arbitrating contradictory results from indexers.  Usually two separate indexers will transcribe an image, so there will be an "A" index and a "B" index.  The arbitrator will look at any results that differ, compare them to the image, and either pick the one that looks most correct or enter a new value if neither looks right.

The last place I got a substantial amount of stuff was on my trip to Poland in 2010.  I visited several church dioceses there, which were the custodians of records for most of Polish history, and was able to photograph some vital records there.  At the time, my language skills were very poor, so I was not able to communicate very well (I was still at the "stroke victim" level that I discussed in this post).  Therefore, I was mostly limited to the sources that I found in the Polish Roots book and anything that I otherwise discovered serendipitously.  I took several pictures of my visit to Poland and posted them on my Facebook page.  I have been able to trace some branches of my family back to the 1700s and hope that someday I will be able to find records that go back even farther.

Most of the records I have found for my family indicate that they lived in several small towns clustered between Nowy Sącz and Tarnów in Małopolska.  This area is about 80 km southeast of Kraków.  When they moved to the US, they settled around Chicopee, Massachusetts.  There is a really good historical book about the Polish families that immigrated to this area called The Polish Community of Chicopee.  They also lived in Holyoke, MA and Enfield, CT, as well as other towns around that area.

When my babcia lived in Massachusetts, she hooked up with a French-Canadian guy, my grand-père (grandfather). This inter-ethnic relationship was absolutely scandalous at the time and roiled both of their families.  On top of that, there seems to be some question as to whether they were even actually married, and the only marriage record I have found for them was several years after their last child (my mother) was born.

A free resource is RootsWeb, which has a lot of family trees that people have posted online.  I have posted a descendancy tree there from one of my ancestors at this link: Descendants of Wojciech Sobczyk.  There is also a PolishGenWeb site on RootsWeb that has a number of resources, including some Polish Vital Records online, though this list of vital records is hit-or-miss and not very comprehensive.

One more book that has been helpful to me is A Translation Guide to 19th Century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents, available through the PGSA, which I bring up further on in this article.  This book has a number of terms that were commonly used in civil and church vital documents, and explanations of how they were used, as well as examples of sample documents.

PolishGenWeb also has a list of Polish Terms commonly used in genealogical research. Other sites with Polish genealogy terms and phrases include: Family Tree MagazineThe Polish Genealogy ProjectLDSLDS again, and yet more from LDS,

There are a number of Polish genealogy societies in the US.  One of the biggest is the Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA), which has a good resource center with useful links for genealogical information.  Mostly this centers on Polish immigrants to the Midwest, particularly to Chicago, but a lot of their info is applicable to Polish immigrants to all areas of the United States.  They also have a lot of good books on Polish Genealogy in their store.  There are lists of other Polish genealogical societies at PolishGenWeb, most of which serve specific regions.

And here are a few more miscellaneous links.  There is more info on translating documents at  There are more links to genealogical resources at Genealogy Links, and another resource is Polish Roots.

I hope to talk some more about my Polish genealogy quest in further posts, but I have covered a good deal of what you would need to know and where you would have to go if you wanted to explore your own Polish roots in this blog post.  I would be happy to answer any questions if I can help lead you in the right direction in finding your Polish ancestors.

University Of Pittsburgh Polish Course Is Awesome

In my last post, I indicated that I wanted to talk about some free Polish resources on the Web.  One of the most super-awesome courses for free that I could imagine is the University of Pittsburgh Polish Course.  There is a plethora of resources there for learning the Polish language.

First of all, they have a Polish Dictionary.  Now this is a great resource, but, personally, I don't use it.  It's not that it isn't useful, and you might find that it can be your go-to resource.  But I'm so tied in to the Anki flash card program that I simply use the deck browser on my Polish flash card deck as my dictionary (I've talked about Anki here and here a little bit but eventually I'll have to have a more detailed description of it in a separate post because it is definitely my favorite flash card resource for multiple languages).

The Polish Dictionary at University of Pittsburgh is only searchable, as far as I can can't actually browse it.  I may be wrong about that as I've only taken a cursory look at it.  If you know otherwise, feel free to comment.  But there are many more useful features on this site.

First of all, there are a couple of very good reference grammar ebooks on there for free.  The most accessible one is Polish Grammar In A Nutshell.  This is a short summary of some of the most frequently used points of grammar, and is the one that I run to most often to answer quick questions without a huge amount of depth.  But there is also a very comprehensive grammar that is nearly five hundred pages long at this link: A Grammar Of Contemporary Polish.

OK, those are the reference materials that are available on the site.  There are also a series of lessons.  Lessons 1-6 also appear to be contained in Volume One.  There are a couple of other volumes referenced in Volume One but I haven't found them yet.  There appears to be a .pdf dictionary mentioned so it may be on the site somewhere.

There are also a lot of audio files on this site.  I used to come here for some audio files that were in print and audio, but I can't seem to find them any more, and the links to them on the site map don't seem to be currently active.  I'm sure that what they have on there currently is really great.

Also, there are some computer drills that indicate that you have to utilize some program to use.  I'm not sure if you have to install it or if it is on the web.  I haven't really used them or explored through them, but they look very useful.

Keep in mind that this whole site appears to be a work in progress, and changes around.  Things have moved around a lot since I first started going here, so some of the links may change.  You might want to poke around the site some to see how it is organized, but I'm sure you will find some fantastic resources here for learning Polish.

But what I like about this site the most is that it appears to just totally be a labor of giving.  There is no commercial component to it at all.  No ads, no entreaties to buy anything, just rock-solid, useful information.  This is classic 1995 Internet, when we thought the Web would be a big open-source sharing resource, before the bulk of the whole thing became a series of exploitative advertisements/data mining device/malware delivery system/porn site.  See, you can still find the love out there somewhere.

Feel free to comment if you want to add more info about the University of Pittsburgh's site, talk about anything I've left out here, or if things move around and you want to update info.  Or just to ruminate, blather, or say hi.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Too Busy, And Checking Out Innovative Language's Thing

I've been meaning to write another post for a few days, but I've been awfully busy.  If you've noticed the widgets I placed on the right side of my blog a few days ago--the ones that give a "word of the day" for Polish, Dutch and Romanian--they click through to some language learning sites run by Innovative Learning.

Anyway, I not only took advantage of the 7-day free trial for the Polish site, but also paid five bucks on a flash deal that was available for 24 hours to sign up for any language site for a month.  So I picked Dutch, plunked down my five bucks, and now I have access to the site for a month.

I have to say that having experienced a lot of modes of learning languages, I like their methods, for the most part.  With Polish, I have been going through the beginning lessons kind of randomly but find that I know almost all the vocabulary words and can translate the Polish in the lessons relatively easily, for the most part.  The advanced lessons, though, have been really helpful, and fairly interesting.  Each of the advanced audio lessons is a very brief essay on a topic of Polish life.  There is a series on different Polish cities, and one on different regions in Poland, than on Polish movies and Polish musicians.  In each series there is an essay of about five hundred words for each lesson in Polish, and then the translation in English.  On the premium level, you also get the essay broken down in audio segments sentence by sentence.  It's hard for me to see yet what you get for free because you automatically get the 7-day free trial of the premium level.  So I've been furiously trying to pack as much in to the 7-day trial as I can get.  I probably won't pay for more unless I get addicted like it was crack, which I could easily see happening.  But I'm a cheap bastard, so probably not.  Maybe if it pops up with some super-cheap deal for a month or three, I'll bite.

The prices are just a little too high for me. It's twenty-five bucks a month, but the prices drop drastically if you buy in for a year or two.  The rub there is that you don't want to pay for a year not knowing if you would maintain use of it, or get tired of their system and need to change it around.  But the five-bucks-for-a-month Dutch deal was a good offer, so I took that.  I'll see how much I can get out of that.  I'm not as proficient at Dutch, so the beginner lessons are more helpful to me and I have to go through them slower.

Now I would maybe be more likely to bite if they offered me the chance to check out all the languages they offer for the prices, so I could jump around from language to language.  I'd maybe even lock in for a year.  But each language is separate and has its own site, and you have to pay for each one separately.  They don't seem to group them together in any way for a better deal, and even if they did, you can only study so much in one day, so paying twice as much for two languages or eight times as much for eight languages doesn't do you a lot of good.

For Polish the link is, for Dutch it is, etc.  Some languages have "class" instead of "pod" in their names (I guess the domain was taken?).

The flash cards are cool because you can customize them in different ways to study from the lessons you are looking at, or from words you have added to a "wordbank", and they automatically come with audio, which I don't have in any of my current flash cards on Anki (though Anki does have the capability to add audio, and I think there is also a plug-in for it that will send the text on your flash card to Google text-to-speech or another TTS app; I just haven't had the time to check it out and figure out how to configure it).

Anyway, like I said, I've been working my ass off trying to get the most out of my 7-day free trial in Polish and 30-day five-buck deal in Dutch in the allotted time, so more later.  I do like the system they have.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ohboyka, It's A Trójka (and Other News)

Polish, in addition to ordinal numbers, cardinal numbers, and collective numbers, has noun names for numbers as well.  The easiest thing to picture for English speakers is the troika. (trojka, trójka).  These numerical designations are pretty common throughout many Slavic languages and are fairly similar; Some of the spellings are different in the different slavic languages, so I have included some of the most common spellings you will encounter.

Let's talk about the trójka (now I'm spelling it in the Polish fashion, with the accent on the o that gives it a "u" sound, and the "j" instead of the "i".  Congratulations.  You are now in Polish world.

A polish noun word describes some identity or group that occurs in the number stated, and usually performs some type of action.  Maybe there's a trójka of bullies over there waiting to argue the finer points of Brownian motion with you.  Or maybe they just want to contain you in the basement for an indefinite period.

But maybe our trójka wants to stop fiddling with your civil liberties and wands to just fiddle in cadence and harmonies and let people listen.  But after playing the oboe for a while, you realize that you might be late to take the trójka (bus) across town to buy costumes for your szóstka which the same (or at least close to the same) is performing across town.

So let's review the different ways that you can come up for a group, or a spy cell, a committee, or something else you can express with a finite group of people all working to do something dangerous or innocuous.

If you have only one, it would be a jedynka.  You have separated yourself into a unit of one, away from everybody else on the earth, for whatever devious scheme you have on hand.  Personally, I hope it involves a banjo.  Those things are insidiously revolutionary.

But then old Piotr shows up with a washboard to play with the banjo.  Now you're a dwójka.  Add another member, you've got a trójka.  See how fun this can be?

Hopefully your trójka is forming for music rather than vigilante justice (although there are definitely times when the two concepts are indistinguishable).

So the rest of the numbers that you are going to use, as more folks show up, are:


We can even go farther.  If we want to make some really wild music, we'll throw some bizarre instruments into the mix and have


...and so forth.

In other news for the day, I've added widgets that will give you a Polish word of the day and a Dutch word of the day.  Maybe I'll eventually add more languages.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Confusing Languages?

I've been asked if I ever confuse languages, with all the study I'm doing in different languages.  The short answer is, for the most part, no, not at all (with a few caveats).  I can keep different languages all compartmentalized in the right places, for the most part.  And I think most people who have knowledge of different languages don't have that trouble in general.  Let me ask you you try to play guitar chords on the piano but then get confused because there are no strings readily available (although I have tried to find techniques of piano playing that involve plucking the harp, but that's a totally different thing)?  Do you ever accidentally cook using a sponge instead of a spatula? Can you tell your parents apart?

OK, those are extreme examples.  But I think you get the point.  You get used to using a tool in a certain context, and you associate it with that context.  Vocabulary, grammar and speech are tools of communication, and they happen in boxes that are confined to a certain linguistic context.

But there are caveats to that general rule.  Sometimes I find that I can't think of the word in the right language, and the only word that will pop into the forefront of my mind is the word in a different language.  And I want to use that word, or sometimes even will in frustration, but I'm pretty aware that my target audience may not understand it.

Or sometimes there are similar words in languages from the same linguistic families.  Like "ancora" in Italian and "encore" in French (again, yet, still).  Or "donde" in Spanish and "dove" in Italian (where).  "Hablar" in Spanish and "falar" in Portuguese; "parler" in French and "parlar" in Catalan (to speak).  I could possibly wrongly throw in a Spanish cognate when I'm speaking (or, really, butchering) Italian.  But I'm not going to confuse French with Mandarin.

When I was first learning Polish, for some reason, I kept wanting to say, "wo ist" instead of "gdzie jest" (where is...).  But I knew that tossing German into the mix was not the right thing to do.  My brain just kept wanting to pick that as the first choice, even though I knew it was not right.

Unusual Word Constructions

There are a number of word constructions in Polish that are fairly unusual to me, as a native English speaker.  Obviously every different culture sees things from a different perspective, but so far, of all the languages that I have looked at (and, granted, most of those languages have been either Germanic or Romantic), Polish seems to come up with some thought processes that seem especially foreign to me, or that would seem askew in English.

A street name that is common in Polish cities is "Ulica Piękna" which means "Beautiful Street."  I passed through a town in Poland called "Niedźwiedź," or "Bear."

The word for "shallow" is "płytki," which appears to mean "plate-y." "Greedy" is "chciwy," or, literally, "want-y."  "Torrential" (as in torrential rain), is "gwałtowny" or "rape-y." "Oznaka" means "indication" or "symptom." but "oznakowany" means "labeled" or "tagged."

And then there's the way meanings are grouped together within a word.  "Zawodowy" means either "professional" or "disappointment."  "Doświadczenie" means either "experience" or "experiment." "Kostka" has the meanings of "cube, bar, block, lump," which are all relatively easily conceptualized together, but can also mean "die" (as in the singular of "dice"), or "ankle", "wrist" or "knuckle."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rosetta Stone Is Overpriced Garbage

There, I said it.  Rosetta Stone is overpriced garbage.

Obviously, I'm not a shill for Rosetta Stone.  Obviously I'm not paid to tell you how friggin' wonderful it is, and how it's the best thing since the invention of the wheel.

I mean, what the hell?  This crap costs, like, four hundred dollars.  And the price is always three hundred dollars off from some imaginary "actual retail" that nobody ever truly pays (god, at least I really hope not).  A reasonable price for what you get would be about fifty dollars.  I'd maybe pay that, despite its shortcomings, which I'll most certainly let you know about.  It doesn't give you ANY translations, just pictures of stuff and people yapping in a foreign language you don't know yet. Often the pictures are confusing and ambiguous, and they are never in any way associated with the culture that goes with the language you are learning.

And for this exorbitant price, they give you TWO installs.  Here's the story of my first and probably only experience with it.  I got suckered in for nearly five hundred bucks for Polish 1,2 and 3 (so is it telling that it's already gone down about a hundred bucks since I bought it?).  I installed it on my desktop at the time, and the hard disk promptly fried.  So I spent a half an hour on the phone with a tech support person whose native language did not seem to be English (but wouldn't let on what it was), and seemed to have an IQ of about eighty.  I begged for another install, but instead, they insisted that I should install my second and final install.  Once I got another machine, I installed the second install.  Of course, the motherboard fried on this computer.  Now I'm completely shit out of luck.  I haven't bothered to call tech support because, frankly, I'm just disgusted with myself for getting fleeced on this product in the first place.  Also I've read online that they just blow you off if you are beyond the initial six-month guarantee period (which I am).

A while back, they ran these commercials with Michael Phelps, talking about what a wonderful experience he had learning Chinese with Rosetta Stone.  I was dumbstruck by the fact that in the commercials, he utters NOT A SINGLE WORD of the language.  C'mon, people, at least fake a few lines for that too much to ask?  So it's making me think that it's just another case of an overpaid lying celebrity selling garbage as gold.  If you're going to pay some shiny face a gazillion dollars to invade everybody's livingroom to baffle them with bullshit so you can switch on the cash vacuum, at least toss in a couple of fucking token dance steps.  Also, for the cost they probably paid Michael Phelps to dance this jig, they conceivably could have cut the price in half (and undoubtedly would have sold more units as a result) But, of course, long before this time, I've already purchased this trash.

OK, I will admit it has some actual educational value.  There is a smidgen of lipstick on this pig somewhere (but nowhere near the lips).  And that's why I'd consider paying fifty bucks for some Rosetta Stone in some other language at some point.  Maybe.  But not until I've gotten my dead Polish software that I paid through the nose for to work again.

Learning Walks, And Extreme Thicketing

Often I go on "learning walks." That is, I'll take a long walk with either my Polish flash cards, or my little Android tablet on which I have installed Anki (actually, the program on the tablet is AnkiDroid, the Android version...I'm using the latest beta apk version from here).  Tonight I walked around for about two hours and knocked out about 400 flash cards in that time on Anki.  I pretty much just use the tablet for language study and that's the only reason I got it.

The other night I tried something different.  I took a list of the hardest words that have been plaguing me lately, and went for an arduous slog through waist-high brush and thick grass for about half an hour.  I was fighting my way through a thicket of both words and flora.  I figured that this would be a somewhat homeopathic approach.  Maybe it was effective.  But it was highly unpleasant.  I ended up back at home with all kinds of sticks and burrs embedded in my shoes, socks and pants.   Then I spent the next half hour picking them all out. Maybe I'd really learn a lot if I dragged myself through a huge patch of nettle and poison ivy.  Guess I'm just all in for education...who knows--maybe I'll go thicketing again at some point.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Here are the three fects of my current linguistic odyssey:

Fect #1:

I've started studying Romanian in Polish.  Not only is it a good sideswipe from the unhappy accident that is studying-Polish-burnout, but it also helps with "running interference,", or, as I put it in a previous post, "practicing for diversion."  Why Romanian? It seems vaguely exotic, maybe even ethereal and otherwordly.  It's a Romance language, but it's been fellated by Slavic influence for centuries.  And it belongs to the Eastern Romance language family that ends its plurals in -i instead of -s.  Now that's just hot. If only I could find a good beginning Romanian text in Polish at a used bookstore (dream on...not in THIS country).

Fect #2:

Also, I'm enveloping myself in reading "Romeo I Julia, Tragedya w 5 aktach--Wiliam Szekspir."  First I had to get the right version off of the Gutenberg Project site.  It took me a couple of tries, but finally I found one that my e-reader would open.  When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way...

Fect #3:

Chinese, anyone?  Nin friggin' hao!  These videos are AWESOME for learning Mandarin.  Sometimes I get the feeling I'm spreading myself too thin.  But what the hell.  You only live once, and you gotta be ready for that moment when these one billion Chinese walk into a bar...  But seriously, it would be cool to speak the language spoken by more people in the world than any other--the language that over 14% of humanity utters natively.

And really, every trifecta should have a...

Bonus Fect:

This one doesn't count because it's only stupid English.  I've started a vocabulary list at called "Haphazard Devilous Munch" that consists of some of the most radically gnarly words that I could find that are "quiz-ready" on the site.  Granted, there are some much more severely sebacious words out there in the English language. For example, check out some of the words in this "Greek Words" list that someone else made.  But a lot of the serious munch in the Greek Words list can't be quizzed on the site because the powers-that-be haven't set up quizzes for them yet, whereas my munch is deliciously munchable.