Friday, April 14, 2023

Keeping the brain alive

Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter came back to Edinburgh with us for the Easter week. It was lovely having them. We did things such as playing on the Landform at the art gallery near us. 

Littlest contemplated the penguin-lady sculpture. 

And then Son and family came to stay too. The little ones played pretty well with one another on the whole. We went to the Cammo estate, as above, and they went to the museum without us, and then we all went to Dalkeith Country Park with the Bigs, and there were various other things such as playing in the garden, getting wet/making "healing drinks" out of water and petals/doing obstacle courses. I have lots of unbloggable photos. 

The last of the family, Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter, went this morning, and as usual I'm very down in the dumps. However, they're off to Brighton for a mini-break with Son-in-Law 2, so I'm consoled at the thought of them having a nice time. 

56 days ago, Big Grandson (being considerably more technically competent than I) started me on Duolingo for both French and German, and I've been keeping it up. My French is reasonably good - I did it for 7 years at school and one at university - but on the other hand, this was some years ago. I learnt German for less than 3 years, so my German is much less good, though things like word order have stuck fairly well in my head. I was never a very conscientious pupil, so didn't put much effort into learning genders, which didn't, and still doesn't, help my fluency. But I'm a better and wiser person now. However, Duolingo goes very slowly, so that after 56 days I haven't really learnt much. I should have started further on in the course with both. Also - one shouldn't complain, because it's free, but it uses American English, and I hadn't fully taken in some of the differences between it and British English. Duolingo sometimes doesn't accept my English translations of things, such as when I say "at the weekends" (which we do say) instead of "on the weekend" (which we don't). 

It views me as a younger person than (alas) I am, and so is carefully and at length teaching me to tell people about my roommates. (Am I right that a roommate in America isn't actually a roommate but a housemate? Here, a roommate would share your bedroom.) I have had to compose many sentences about my surfing and hiking and jogging habits (surfen, wandern (I did know this) and joggen) so that I can chat to people about my energetic weekends. I can also converse about my job interview, which somewhat unbelievably seems to be "das Jobinterview". So far it has spent no time telling me about gardening, tidying the house or quilting. Or indeed blogging. I wonder if that's "bloggen". 

Still, I'm quite enjoying it and it's probably reinforcing what I already knew, so that can't be bad. Once our fairly imminent American visitors have been and gone, I might add Spanish to the list. My Spanish is extremely rudimentary, so it would be interesting to see if Duolingo can make it less so. 

I have a friend who does a different language each day of the week! I think they're Spanish, Portugese, French, German, Italian, Welsh and Scottish Gaelic. Not sure that my brain could cope with that. 



  1. It's always good to exercise the brain. I once knew an interpreter who told me that it's easier to learn languages once you've got a couple 'under your belt.' I'm sure that's true.
    A blogging friend, German by birth, was told when at school in Germany that she'd never be a linguist. She married an Italian, lives in Belgium and speaks and writes German, English, Italian, French and Dutch. There's hope for us all!

  2. I love learning languages--French is my best, German next and Spanish and Italian are rusty but OK. I enjoy duolingo although I found some of the sentences they wanted translated VERY strange. That's wonderful that you had so much family time; it's never enough, is it?

  3. Ihr Neffe und ich sind beide über 1000 Tage auf Duolingo, er auf Französisch, damit er sich mit seiner zukünftigen Schwiegermutter unterhalten kann. Ich studiere sowohl Französisch als auch Deutsch, da wir im September nach Frankreich fahren und ich hoffe, Deutschland eines Tages wieder zu besuchen.

  4. Mais je m'attends à ce que votre français soit meilleur que le mien, car le mien se limitait à négocier des contrats et à leur dire que leur travail n'était pas à la hauteur des normes requises.

  5. Ooh look, I can suddenly comment on my own blog. Ah, brother dear, I think you have probably overtaken me in French; certainly in German. I'm still at the stage of discussing whether my bear hikes in the winter.

  6. aren't you clever!!!! I've heard good things about duoloingo ... my french stopped at je m'appelle Lynley et j'ai treize ans which I don't think would help me much

  7. I also know how to say mille neuf cents soixante six so that pinpoints my French learning years. I was pleased to find that I understood most of your brother’s French comment but have never attempted German. I have a friend who learns an incredible number of languages on Duolingo. The rarer the better but as you say, all focussed on a different life stage than ours.