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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

de mica en mica

I have this thing where I want to have reading knowledge of every major Romance language & German, maybe modern Greek if I get to that. Anyway, I judge this by being able to read a novel in the given language. I can do this in Spanish, French, Italian, Catalan, and Portuguese, more or less. I have ordered a Romanian novel and it will arrive soon. I'm studying Romanian on duolinguo, which is not the best, but it is ok.  Novels are good because you can spend a long time with them and get absorbed in them. I actually like the experience of not understanding everything, so that my understanding of the plot depend on an imperfect understanding of the language. I am not fond of novels anyway, so this provides an extra cognitive interest, like trying to discern objects in the darkness. 

Anyway, I remembered recently that while in Spain the first time being 19 I went to Barcelona and on the way back read a novel in Catalan. I had blanked out on the title, but then I remembered it was a detective novel called De mica en mica or something like that. It is some proverb or something. Googling that I found what novel it was fairly quickly, though unfortunately it is expensive to buy on amazon.  I remember the revelation I had when I realized the helping verb anar (to go) is used not to mark the future, but the past. So vaig anar means I went, not "I am going to go." Reading along, your brain processes things. The two thousand most common words are repeated relentlessly; there are other cognates; and you assimilate grammatical concepts as well. Words you don't know you either guess from the context or ignore. It doesn't work if you know nothing of a language; you have to at least have enough to follow a plot.   

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