I’m fed up. Sono di cattivo umore. Tengo la mala uva.

Sometimes I read all these frankly tediously upbeat blog posts about language learning, personal growth, how to overcome any obstacle in ten easy steps and so on and so forth.


My mood today is not suitable for all this relentless optimism.

Don’t these people ever wake up, smell the coffee and think ‘better stay in bed. It is probably safer and more productive’?  Don’t they every lose their way in life? Don’t they ever just want to scream?

They must feel like this. Life must at times get to them. Sometimes they must spiral into a negative ego state or some sort of good mood death spiral. Surely no-one is optimistic all the time.

I’ve not even had a bad day. I’ve just in a bad mood. I have no excuse for it. I’m just being self-indulgent, petulant and spoilt.

And to make matters worse, the icing on the cake as it were,  I’m going to have to make mashed potatoes.

Even worse it is a Monday which means alcohol free for another few days. Two days consecutively to give the liver a fighting chance according to the quacks. And so three to be safe?  If it was a Friday (for example) I would go out and have a few sherbets.

Thanks for reading. I would like to say I feel better now. But I don’t. I probably will tomorrow.

If anyone has got this far, I’ve been working on Polyglot People over the past few weeks. It is almost done apart from content. Click on it at your own peril as there are definite bugs. Of course content is the major obstacle for a site of this type, but the coding is almost complete.

I’ve also got a translation for some Icelandic phrases which I hope to add over the coming days/week depending on events which are as normal outside my control.



Panna, crema, cream and custard

Well  there I was thinking that crema  meant ‘cream’ in Italian when suddenly it is brought to my attention that it means custard.

You could’ve knocked me down with a feather.

If you want to ask for a hot chocolate with cream in Italian (and it happens) just say :-

Un cioccolato caldo con la panna. How confusing is this? Panna means ‘cream’. Say it once. Say it twice …

And other important news:

It is the time of year when our hound needs his annual checkup and injections. I’m not looking forward to the trip to the vet because :-

1. He hasn’t been taking his diet seriously and they have a graph of his weight. This is shown to us on a computer. I feel guilty and he doesn’t.

2. The booster he needs requires a nasal spray. Have you every tried giving a nasal spray to a large dog? A dog who recognises a nasal spray when he sees one, and doesn’t like what he sees. It is not an experience you forget in a hurry.

And there is more.

I’m working on a site called Polyglot People (as and when), being as I have things to do like trips to the vet, fixing a broken fence (sigh) and so on.

Anyway, it is coming on well, and will be awesome.



Polish is more difficult than Spanish. The proof.

There is an internet meme regarding language learning, and is states ‘all languages are equally easy to learn’ with the inference that they all take a similar amount of time.

My experience of learning Polish for the last 18 months shows sme this isn’t true. Polish is not impossible, but it is more difficult to learn than Spanish for this english speaker. It is useful to know this and not be discouraged by slow progress.

What I am writing here is based on my experiences so far of learning Polish.  I’ve been learning Polish for the last year and a bit, and spend  exactly 30 minutes a day on the language. I freely admit that is not enough for fast progress, but I am talking relatively here.

I’m not fluent in many languages. I’m not a polyglot. I have no special gift or technique. (I’m not even selling anything). I can’t move to a country and magically speak the language by osmosis or having a few conversations at a bus top and so on.

So, I’m Mr language learning average.  I am   ‘the man on the clapham omnibus‘ as a wise man once remarked. In other words. ‘a reasonably educated and intelligent but nondescript person, against whom the defendant’s conduct can be measured.’ As can be inferred from the word defendant, this description came from a legal judgement, but it seems appropriate (although I’m not too keen on nondescript).

I’m going to show why Polish is more difficult than Spanish (for an English speaker) with an example.

I am at the pool with friends. (I’m not but this is my example. Clever huh!).

Firstly, we have the Spanish version, which is  Estoy en la piscina con amigos followed by the same version in Polish Jestem na basenie z przyjaciółmi.

The Polish version is more complicated because of the grammar needed to construct the sentence.

To construct this sentence in Polish you must deal with:

Jestem ‘I am’. In fact this is from of the easiest verbs in Polish. Irregular of course, and different depending on whether you are a man or woman in the past tense. But I digress.

The preposition na followed by the locative case means ‘at’.  You also need to know whether to use w (e.g. Jestem w domu) or na as this depends where you are ‘at’ – as it were. You also must remember to use the locative case, as na has a different meaning when followed by the accusative.

The Locative case. In brief the Polish word for swimming pool is Basen but when talking about ‘where’ something is located the locative case is used. You also need to know the appropriate ending for the noun in the locative which appears to be almost random. Actually there are rules but it seems easier to gradually learn the various locatives in situ.

The preposition z which has the meaning of ‘with’ or ‘from’ depending on whether the noun that follows is in the genitive or instrumental. This sentence requires ‘with’ and so the Instrumental case is needed.

The instrumental case. The word for friend is przyjaciel (I think – I wrote this from memory so errors are probable). The genitive plural of przyjaciel is przyjaciółmi (I’m fairly sure but not positive).

Now the Spanish version.

EstoyActually one of the more tricky areas of Spanish. You have to choose between one of  two verbs to use when saying ‘to be’ ser and ester. Anyway ‘Estoy‘ means ‘I am’.

En means in. You don’t need to worry about cases and the like as Spanish doesn’t have them. Nor does English.

La piscina means ‘the pool’.  Spanish nouns have a gender but almost all nouns ending with a are feminine so they are not particularly difficult to learn, and crucially there is not normally a big impact on the construction of the sentence.

So if I wanted to talk about ‘the pools’ I would just add an s on the end las piscinas. See. Easy. That pretty much sums up plurals in Spanish. Just add an s. The plural of Polish nouns are more complicated with a lot of irregular nouns to remember. So Polish wins here in terms of difficulty – certainly if you have a memory like mine.

Con is a preposition meaning with. Again nouns do not change just because they happen to follow it.

Amigo means friend and we add an s on the end to make friends. As an aside the Polish plural of friends przyjaciele and if your friend happens to be female it is something else again. In Spanish if your friend is female, just change the o to a resulting in amiga.

And so we have two sentences.

I leave it to you to judge which is easier.

Of course, I’m making a point here, and that is don’t expect to find Polish easy. I don’t think Spanish is easy either, but there is a lower barrier to entry certainly at the beginning. It is MUCH easier to construct simple sentences in Spanish than in Polish and have a chance of being correct.

I don’t know if Polish suddenly becomes more straight-forward later in the game, as I’m not there yet. I kind of hope so.

Besos etc,