Coming soon … ! Probably …?

A new language course is almost ready to be added to Surface Languages!

The first part  French language course is almost complete. I’ve not linked it into the main French page as it isn’t finished, but you can see the contents.

As yet, there is no audio!. This will arrive soon, and so I hope by the end of next week another course will be finished.

Spread the word. Tell the cool kids!

I don’t know any cool kids, as I’m kind of a geek. But if I did I’d tell them, so that they could get into some language learning goodness.

Of course, the exact time-scale depends a bit what else is going on in my life.

As a part-time language learner, and webmaster real life often intrudes. I recently  mentioned that I had had to replace a tap – which is a simple example of the kind of things that take up  my free time.

But I now find myself wondering what I will add next to SurfaceLanguages?




Language learning course on Surface languages

Well. I now have translations (and explanations) for the first of two new free language learning courses which I am adding to Surface langs. They are for Italian and Polish.

You can see the beginning of the free Italian language course. I’ve only added the first few lessons and there is no audio (yet). The Italian and Polish audio   will be coming soon.

These will be the best yet that I have added to Surface Languages, and I would love feedback.

So e-mail me with ideas/kind words etc.

Assimil Polish. Update. Lesson 13

Luckily for me,  lesson 13 mainly contained words that I already knew as I have been struggling to remember lesson 12.

I’m writing a list of words that I can’t remember  and glancing at them periodically.

There seem to be one or two in each lesson which flash into and then immediately out of my mind – such as posprzatać  ‘to clean’.  By the way, the a in posprzatać should have a diacritic, but I can’t add it in the normal apple way by holding a key down and selecting among one of several. Strangely, the particular a required in omitted.



What next?

I’ve added a Romanian crossword and word search to the word games  page of Surface Languages.

I’ll add crosswords in other languages over the following weeks/months.

So what next for Surface Languages? 

In the near future would like to add Icelandic and also the audio for Albanian. Both of these should be easy enough to do. I should probably give myself some sort of time-scale for this to prevent dithering. But a leopard can’t change its spots …

And following on from this I could add more languages …

But I think that first (or maybe in conjunction) with this, I’m going to start implementing my *secret* project, which to give you a clue is to add substantially more to some of the existing languages.

Cat News

To totally change the subject, we have a cat, who goes by the name of Pinky. (He is male, but unfortunately the vet thought he was a she and hence the name).

He is old in cat years and heading towards 19. Unfortunately, he is becoming increasingly cantankerous or possibly dementing, and his nature has never been exactly what I would call sunny.

He woke us all last night with angry meows.  I’m going to record them next time and add them to this blog. Maybe someone who understand cat language can tell me what he is so cross about.



Spanish Colloquial Phrases

I am learning Spanish, and in an effort to improve my level, have started to learn more colloquial expressions.

I’m adding them here so I don’t forget them, don’t lose them, and also so at some point in the dim and distant I can add them to a new section in Surface languages.

Also, to include them here, I have to have used them at least once, preferably in speech, but written will do. 🙂

Spanish colloquial phrases that I’ve used:

Estar en Babia   to be daydreaming

Estar a dos velas  to be skint

Ser un loro  to be a chatterbox

Hacer la negra to have bad luck

Tener memoria de elefante    to have the memory of an elephant

Tener memoria de mosquito  to have the memory of a goldfish

Volverse loco   to go nuts

Irse la olla    to go nuts (se me fue la olla)

Estar de mala leche      to be in a bad mood

Importar un pimiento      to not matter, be important (me importa un pimiento quien gana las elleciones)

tienes que ir con mil ojos  you have to have eyes in the back of your head

Me lo pierdo    I miss out (from doing something I want to).

Me he pasado la noche en blano  I slept badly.

Mi vida está patas arriba  My life is a complete mess.  (patas arriba literally means paws upwards).

La casa está patas arriba  The house is a mess (un lugar muy desorganizado)

Levantarse con el pie izquierdo  to get up on the wrong side of the bed.

Frase hecho    set phrase

Estás de broma!    You’re kidding.

He oido hablar de el     I’ve heard of him.

Matar el gusanillo         To have a snack.

Estar como sardinas en lata    To be cramped (like sardines).

a gatas                          On all fours.

fuimos al quinto pino      We went a long way.

pedirle peras al olmo      This has two meanings : to ask for something impossible, and  a similar meaning to the english ‘to get blood out of a stone’.

The first meaning is clear as an olmo ‘elm’ can’t produce peras ‘pears’. I don’t know why it also has the translation of ‘to get blood out of a stone’.

Watch this space.



A Polish Crossword. Part 2.

I’m sitting here listening to Melech Mechaya, and I feel pretty chuffed becuase …

… I’ve fixed all known bugs in the randomly generated Polish crosswords.  Happy days!

The key phrase here is ‘all known‘ as it is very rare for any piece of computer code not to have any hidden ‘gremlins’ within. Sad but true.

Now, these crosswords are currently generated from a list of two hundred or so words that I have written down over the past year.

As my Polish is still at a beginner level (sigh), the majority of the words in the list are the sort of words you learn when starting out with a language: cat, dog, black, white and so on. These are perfect for beginners.

I will add the remainder of my ‘known’ words soon. As luck would have it, I’ve kept a list of words that I know, should know, or maybe have learnt during the last year.

I’m interested in seeing how many Polish words I’ve managed to retain during this time period.

I’m thinking it could be as many as ….

…. five or six hundred????

This equates to around two a day!! Hmmm. While I’m not the fastest language learner in the world, this seems rather slow. Ho hum.


Moon Face.


Italian word search

The clue is in the title really. I’ve just added an Italian word search to SL. That is what happens when the ‘heat wave’ ends. I do some l33t coding …. 🙂

I read a science fiction book some time back in which before anyone died, their brain was scanned and all original their thoughts saved for posterity.

In the book, a surprising number of people had had no original thoughts, and nothing was saved.

I think this blog is heading in that direction.

My footprint on the internet, soon to be washed away by the tides of time, probably not even saved by the way back machine.

I feel maudlin.



Italian & Polish

It has been some time since I’ve mentioned either Polish or Italian in my ramblings, what with the dictionary issues and all. On that note, I’ve added the first one, and even finished the first of four dictionary based games.

So, all is going well on the programming side of things:)

But what about language learning?

At the beginning of this year, I set myself the (arbitrary) goal of reaching the B1 language level in both Polish and Italian. I already spoke some Italian (A1 ish) but not very much and no Polish at all, but SL is about languages, and I should learn them …

So where am I at?  (Don’t write like that kids if you want to pass your exams.)

My Italian is going well. I have a conversation partner and speak once a week. I’m starting to feel more confident in speaking (although with plenty of mistakes), and am starting to get a feel for how the language works. Success breeds success, and I’ve been spending more time on Italian than Polish over the last six weeks or so. Earlier in the year I spent more time on Polish, so I imagine the overall time spent will even out over the coming months.

I’m confident I will reach the B1 standard in Italian before the end of this year, and this will give me a good base going forward.

As an aside, I’m finding Italian grammar more complex than Spanish, but I don’t know if this is because it is more complex or just that I’m more accustomed to Spanish.

And now onto Polish.

Well, I was told by a Polish speaker the other day that Polish was very difficult for English speakers to learn.

I’m not going to disagree with that assessment.

If I had to guess my level, I’d say it is a low A1 – in other words I’m still very much at the beginner level. There is no way (this year) that I will reach B1 or even A2.

Surprisingly perhaps, I feel fine with this. Polish is a difficult language for english speakers to learn for many reasons. It is not impossible, but it is difficult. I am making progress, but slowly. The grammar is hard, most of the commonly used words are completely unrelated to english or romance languages, and there are a lot of consonants. (Actually, that isn’t a good reason for my tribulations with Polish, but there are a lot of consonants. How does this work playing scrabble. Is it easier or harder?)

I only have so many hours in the day, and so many hours to spend on Italian/Polish and while I will reach a good level in both (given time) I’m in no hurry – no tengo prisa, non devo sbrigarmi,  nie jestem w pospiechu (??). It is about the journey, and I don’t feel frustrated with my slow pace of learning. As long as I carry on improving, I will reach my goal.

But as well as this, I think that it is easy to forget how much there is involved to  reach a good A1 standard. I was ‘roughly’ assessed to be A1 in Italian at the start of the year, and I was surprised by how much I then needed to improve to reach A2.

So, I’m pleased with what I’ve achieved so far.

Anyway, it is a nice day, and I’m off to water some geraniums:)




Italian Dictionary. Update

It is raining throughout Europe. We (the UK) are having to import wheat for the first time in a decade – (actually I’m gluten intolerant but it is not a good thing).

Wheat crops are being grubbed out and replaced with Barley – because of the rain.  And yet our politicians are still resistant to the concept of renewable energy. You know the sun, waves and the like. When will politicians learn that climate change is happening, and happening now?

We have a bunch of muppets running the UK.

And I’m being charitable.

Really, really charitable.

Additionally, there are paw marks all over the kitchen floor and a slug (quite a big one – probably driven inside by the inclement conditions outside).

Is there any good news?

Yes. I now have an Italian dictionary of around 500,000 words imported into a sqlite database.

This means among other things I can create Italian dictionary aps. But first things first, I’m going to create a dictinoary page on SL and write some neat code to access it and some cool dictionary related games.

Eat your heart out, branded dictionary people.