Thursday, April 24, 2014

Learning 3 Languages in a Month- Day 1 Spanish

For the first day of the project, I've decided to start with the language I'm most familiar with: Spanish.

To start, I picked up an article from the spanish BBC website, and planned my steps:

The article in question
To begin, I wanted to have this project be steeped in practicality, so I would judge my success by whether or not I could comprehend what was being said in the article. Additionally, I intended to focus more on the "structure of the words" first, rather than worrying about vocabulary with the verbs and nouns.

So my first step was to eliminate the words in the article that looked like nouns and verbs. This is something I probably wouldn't be able to do if I didn't have SOME understanding of Spanish. I'll probably have to develop a new method when approaching Italian and Japanese.  I went though and crossed out the words that I recognized as nouns and verbs (some were easy with "el presidente", and others were a bit more questionable).

I made a lot of mistakes (obvious ones) but its meant to be rough anyways
From there, I began to look up the meaning of each of the conjunctions. My hope was that I would get a very rough structure of the sentences. I was hoping there wasn't too many strange grammatical changes.

I compiled a list of grammar just from the first paragraph

"Y": and
que: that, than
que (accent): what
desde: from
desde que: Since
en: in
de: of
han: have
sido: was
han sido: have been
del: of
pais: parents
del pais: the country
mas (accent): more
durante: during
cualquier: any
otra: other

Roughly the first paragraph would say:

"and its since obama.....en...of.. of two...have been...the country,  more than during any other"

Not especially helpful. At this point, I'm considering doing a translation of the English grammatical terms, just so I can recognize them when they come up. But first, I decide to take the first paragraph without the crossed out words and see if I could make sense of them:

"And its since obama illego a la white house in enero of 2009, alrededor of two million of indocumentados  have been expulsados the country, more than during any other presidency in the history of the north american nacion."
After putting in the verbs and nouns in, the grammar started to help make more sense. I could even begin to guess what what going on:

Since obama "illego" (probably entered) the white house in "enero" (probably a month, most likely january) of 2009. Alredador (this term denotes an amount, like "many" or "all") of two million indocumentados (likely immigrants without papers/documents) have been expulsados (looks like the word "expelled") from the country. More than any other presidency in the history of the north american nation. 
I looked up the terms:

illego: came
enero: january
Alredador: around
indocumentados: undocumented (duh)
expulsados: expelled

Not too bad, if I say so myself


After the little attempt of today, I've decided to compile a list of "grammar" terms that denoted things like the relation of nouns to one another, and the placement of things. Its going to be split into two sections:

  1. The first section is purely meant to be a list of terms that help string words together- showing their relation to one another. These include things like articles "a, the", conjunctions such as "and, but, because, however", as well as others.
  2. The second section of the list will be terms that help determine things like "time" and "place" in terms of relation. So for instance "before, since, after" are words that determine "WHEN" things happened in respect to another event. Complimentary, terms like "underneath, inside, above, around, and between" determine the position of things in respect to another.
The reason is because I feel that these are central and core to a language, and really help determine the way in which we communicate. There was a famous philosopher (probably Kant, its always Kant) who noted that we must put things in terms of a "space" and a "time" in order to fully comprehend it. If this is true, then all languages must be able to communicate space and time. Thus, why not pick up on the ways it conveys it now?

In the meantime, I will look for a potentially exhaustive list of the spanish articles, conjunctions, and pronouns, as well as descriptors of time and place. If I can't find it, i'll make one myself.

Edit: found a nice site for grammar here


  1. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post
    ld hardas