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14.6.02

So I've been working my way through Teach Yourself Finnish the past few weeks. It's been slow, because I can only devote so much time to it before I either get sick of repetition or overwhelmed with too many new words. And it's tough to remember words when my only sense of their pronunciation is a makeshift approximation I've devised that may or may not resemble the real thing. This house needs to trade in some of its Canadians or Germans for a few Finns.

But I only really figured out today what the real problem is. The book is designed for people who are traveling to Finland and need to be able to speak a bit to the locals, so it's very much dialogue based. It builds up the language from polite chitchat -- Chapter One was greetings, Chapter Two was "where are you from?," Chapter Three will be telling the time. I'm filling my head with idioms, but what I'm really thirsting for is the basic structure of the language. I turn each page hoping to see a table of pronouns and the conjugations for a regular verb. I'm not so interested in "Hi, how are you? I'm fine, and you? Pleased to meet you." when I haven't learned "I speak. He eats. You walk." Maybe the problem is the reason I want to learn a new language. I don't plan on going to Finland anytime soon, and I have no illusions about ever being able to speak the language (especially given how poor my Spanish still is). What I want to see is the structure of the language, how people working in a totally different language family put things together.

But until then: Olen amerikkalainen. Puhun englantia, espanjaa, ja vähän suomea. Olen Palmertonista, mutta nyt asun Washingtonissa. Olen työssa National Geographic.

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