Posted tagged ‘language’

Learning Japanese!

July 2, 2010

I have started learning Japanese. For no particular reason. Probably because origami and amigurumi are SOOOO cool. And because I need to improve my visual memory.

Foreigners are supposed to start with katakana but I decided to learn hiragana first because I find it easier to remember. I’ve already gone through the first 4 rows of gojuon. Writing is somewhat tricky because Latin & Cyrillic writing uses a different set of elements (lines at different angles, lines differently curved etc). Starting with katakana supposedly gives you the advantage of recognising and understanding loan words, but hiragana is just simpler. And Japanese words are surprisingly easy to learn. I guess that kanji are the main problem in learning Japanese but I hope I’ll cope with them.

Lviv aka Lvov aka Lemberg

May 15, 2010

Today I came back from Lviv / Lvov / Lemberg (a city in Western Ukraine). The city is supposed to be beautiful & charming & cosy, but it felt kind of claustrophobic because everything is so cramped up and some streets are so narrow there isn’t even any place for trees. Probably that’s why their tram is so small that it looks like a toy tram, really, and normal-sized buses look like giant monsters. It took me a very long time to stop feeling claustrophobic & start appreciating the architecture.

I went to see an opera and the program was in Ukrainian, Polish and very bad English. NO RUSSIAN. They don’t really like Russian-speaking people and sometimes scowl at them rather impolitely. This is very unpleasant because they want their city to be a major tourist attraction so they ought to be tolerant to tourists who don’t speak Ukrainian. By the way, their local dialect is sometimes VERY hard to understand,

I also went to a Vienna-style cafe where they serve a tiny cup of coffee with a tiny glass of water and a tiny cup of cream (yes, in this city everything is very small). I was told that drinking the water before the coffee makes it taste better, but I didn’t really notice. I must admit that I’ve never been to Vienna and can’t say if that is the right Viennese way of drinking coffee.

It’s not that I didn’t like the city. It was nice but not really a city I’d like to live in.