Saturday, 18 July 2020

Keeping Busy

Recently I signed up for a course in Hungarian language, conducted online.  Since then each weekday morning I've jumped out of bed, gulped down a cup of strong coffee and fronted up to Zoom. For some hours, with fellow participants from various countries, I've then wrestled with the complexities of the curious, absurdly rich Hungarian language.

Afterwards I've usually snatched half an hour to dash down to the market for supplies and then I've returned home to do my homework.

It's a bit all consuming, I've thought, Still, at least I'm improving - that's what makes it all worthwhile.

But today I got my homework back from the teacher and even the illusion of improvement has gone. I felt exactly as I did aged 12 when I received my results for the only physics exam I ever attempted - I had managed almost nothing but errors. Which would be fine, if I'd expected it, but the really worrying thing, in both instances, is that I had no idea how little I'd understood - how severely in error I was.

On the way back from my quick trip to the market yesterday, I saw a young man wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "Eternity is Not Enough". Typical of the younger generation, I harumphed to myself, so greedy, never satisfied, ect, ect, as Nigel Molesworth would say.

I owe that young man an apology. I realise now that he is probably just a fellow student of Hungarian.

Eternity is indeed not enough where Hungarian is concerned - or possibly the deficit is in the power of my so-called brain.

(If you haven't seen it, this little clip in which the American actress Kate McKinnon recounts her adventures in Hungarian language learning is amusing.)

6 comments:

  1. I think your teacher is at fault if the bad news is sudden. More and shorter homework assignments seem in order.

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    1. The writing of a language is always the hardest part. In Hungarian word order is the mystery I haven't cracked. I did manage to make the teacher laugh though when she was telling us about the Hortobagy National Park. There is a dish called Hortobagy palacsinta (Hortobagy pancakes) & I suggested in Hungarian that the park might be the place people could go if they wanted to see herds of Hortobagy palacsinta roaming in the wild. The absurdity seemed to cross the language barrier, so I thought I had achieved something.

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  2. The Kate McKinnon clip is great. I expect she'll be accused of cultural appropriation by the lunatic fringe, but if I was Hungarian I'd be delighted.

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    1. She is so infectiously full of enjoyment.

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  3. I miss your posts. Come back soon!

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