Headlines for Tuesday:

  1. Learning languages (419 words)
  2. Announcing: Book Snake blog! (55 words)



1. Learning languages: 14:02

I enjoy learning languages. There's something about straining to pick out one or two recognizable words from a stream of syllables, forming sounds and words and thoughts and sentences that you know you didn't know just yesterday, testing new combinations of ideas and finding out what you can express. Every day is an adventure: what will I be able to say today? What will I be able to understand? It's like learning how to speak all over again, except this time you have the wealth of your experiences to build on and plenty of ideas for which you can make new sounds.

Last night, we visited W's mom at her apartment. Wayne's aunt was there as well. We had a lot of fun testing the limits of my conversational Cantonese. They complimented me on my use of tones. Even Chinese kids born in Canada often speak with flat tones because they can't hear the difference. When they spoke to each other, I couldn't understand what they were saying—but I could pick out a few words, and I had so much fun listening and celebrating each time I heard something I knew!

Someday, I'll speak more than eight languages conversationally. I've always thought that was a really cool trick, and now I've realized that it probably won't be as hard as I thought it was—and learning will be tons of fun, too. Toronto is a terrific city to do this in, what with all the multicultural communities. Europe would also be a great place because of the natural mixing of languages. If you're not in a place with lots of opportunities to speak different languages, you can find conversation partners on the Internet, and you might even find podcasts in your target languages. Try it out!

How do I find the time to learn languages, anyway? Half an hour on the subway, or the short walk to the library, or while I'm working on something else (preferably with low verbal interference)—there are all these spaces that I can use to learn. I'm too impatient to listen to non-fiction audiobooks, but interactive audio programs are just perfect. The Toronto Public Library carries the Pimsleur language programs, which are the best I've heard so far. You should try those out and make the most of your commute or your exercise time. Who knows, maybe a foreign-language conversation can help you seal a business deal!

Random Emacs symbol: c-require-final-newline - Variable: *Controls whether a final newline is ensured when the file is saved.

2. Announcing: Book Snake blog!: 23:17

New blog! I'll be sharing my book notes over at Booksnake.sachachua.com. If you've ever wondered what I'm learning from the tons of books you've been hearing about, check it out. Tell friends, too!

Random Emacs symbol: font-lock-keyword-face - Variable: Face name to use for keywords. - Face: Font Lock mode face used to highlight keywords.


  1. E-mail to booksnake
  2. Reply to Mark Chignell - sent today
  3. E-mail to Greg Wilson, consens, Mark Chignell, Stephen Perelgut
  4. Reply to Robert Terpstra - sent today
  5. Reply to Simon Ditner - sent yesterday

Inbox items: 47 as of 23:37