TL;DR — Talk. Learn. Discover. Repeat. #09
I hope you’ve been well! I sure am. It’s rare to be able to say so, but life’s been treating me well these days. Knowing my luck, this is bound to backfire at some point but I’m enjoying the ride while I can.
The only thing I’d like to change right now is to spend a bit less time on YouTube and more time studying other languages than Korean. In particular, I haven’t touched German since I arrived so I’m starting to miss it.
I also want to spend a bit more time on Manmino. I’ve been creating some sentences here and there but I’d really like to remember the vocabulary rather than constantly refer to the wordlist I have. The creators of Manmino also fell upon my piece about it (this one) last week and apparently loved it. 🥰
That’s all the more motivating!
Anyway, let’s dive in!
Robin MacPherson, one of my favorite language-learning Youtubers, uploaded an update last week on his Patreon in which he talked about his current level of Chinese. He said he knew he had improved but was missing the feeling of improvement.
Robin then talked about the importance of actively working through a specific piece of content at an intermediate level and this made me think of my own level of Korean.
I’ve been using Korean daily for all sorts of things since I arrived in Korea. This past weekend, I had drinks with three Korean friends until 3:00 am and was able to follow a large part of the conversation which felt good but it also made me realize I wasn’t actually improving that much.
You see, there are some patterns of speech like 더라 or 군요 that exist in Korean. I know of them but I’ve never been able to use them in conversations and my mind just logs out whenever I hear them, therefore making me lose track of the conversation’s topic.
Robin’s video was a good reminder that, sometimes, we need quality, not quality.
That’s why I’m planning on creating some sentences in Korean in the next few weeks to get corrections and work on specific patterns.
Language learning has to be fun most of the time but if we never work through the more difficult things, we’ll always be stuck.
✍️ Learn from my experiences
Once in a while, I fall upon something that reminds me of Duolingo and I feel my blood start to boil.
If you’ve followed me for some time, you probably already know about my hatred for it. This time I chose to avoid only complaining about it and instead give an alternative that’s actually better even if it might not seem like it.
Indeed, I wrote about Why Duolingo Is Worse Than Wasting Time on Social Media for Unprepared Language Learners.
If you’ve got no time, here’s its own TL;DR.
Basically, Duolingo lacks context and is stressful, especially when your streak starts to grow. Social media, on the other hand, can be a place to relax and learn in context. I especially love using Tweetdeck to check on what matters most to me. Check the piece for more details and an example of how I use it!
If you want to support my work, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Not only will you get my biggest thanks🥰, but you’ll also get a biweekly private reflection!
🌎Discover new cultures
This week we’re going further west to talk about two countries working hard to care for the environment.
Above all others seem to stand Costa Rica.
I’m saying “seem” because I’ve found a lot of information on what Costa Rica planned to achieve by 2021 but couldn’t find confirmation they succeeded. The two most important of those are:
Being carbon neutral by 2021, decades ahead of most other countries
Banning single-use plastic bags by 2021.
Then again, Costa Rica still is an example for most other countries and was recognized as so in 2019 by receiving the prestigious title of Champion of the Earth by the United Nations Environmental Programme.
In 2021, it spearheaded the High Ambition Coalition with Great Britain and France. This coalition—which now includes 90 countries—aims to protect and conserve at least 30% of the world’s land and ocean by 2030.
But there are actual (proven) results within the country. Costa Rica is 98% free of deforestation and about 25-28% of its land is set as protected national park areas. Apparently, the recycling rate has also increased by 469% between 2015 and 2017 thanks to its “pay-to-throw” program.
Finally, renewable energy supplied 98.53% of the energy output of the nation in 2018! This is thanks, in part, to its geographic advantage with the many rivers, dams, and volcanoes in the country.
Further south, Uruguay set a carbon tax only in January 2022 at a high cost of 5,645.45 Uruguayan Pesos ($137.29 at the time). For comparison, that’s almost three times as much as the price in France.
On top of this, thanks to an early shift, in 2005, of its energy grid to renewable sources, the country now generates over 98% of its electricity from renewable sources. In fact, 99.9% of homes were connected to the electric grid in 2022, according to the International Trade Administration.
Considering the country didn’t have a Minister of the Environment until August 2020, this is quite an impressive result!
Other countries in the area have set goals to care for the Amazon, such as the 2016 Visión Amazonía in Colombia but results aren’t really clear so far.
More recently, the new Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva—replacing the previous climate-skeptic Jair Bolsonaro—announced a goal of zero deforestation by 2030. His success of reducing deforestation by 61% in January 2023 compared to the previous year is a good start but a lot more effort will be needed to reach this goal.
Did I miss any country that’s been rocking some great environmentally-friendly policies that work? Let me know!
🗺️Repeat with me
Bislama - An English-based Creole with an Oceanic pronominal system
To finish this month’s tour of Creole languages, we’re going back to the Pacific Ocean—not far from New Caledonia where we found the French-based Tayo Creole—in Vanuatu.
Bislama evolved from a Pidgin English spoken on the plantations in northern Queensland that laborers brought back when they returned to Vanuatu at the end of the 19th century.
Bislama is considered an English-based Creole language as it seems more than 95% of its words are of English origin, but some French words are also really common, therefore making the language especially easy to understand for someone (like me) who understands both.
It is one of the three official languages of Vanuatu, alongside French and English, and is also the language found in its anthem. While it is used daily by all not just within houses but on the radio, tv, and newspapers, it seems there’s no completely standardized form for it.
Bislama is a Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) language like most other Creole languages.
What is probably the most particular aspect for a Creole language is its pronominal system. Indeed, instead of using a “simplified” version of the English or French system, Bislama uses a typical Oceanic system where dual, trial, singular, and plural, as well as inclusivity, are distinguished. There’s no distinction between gender though.
For example, in this example:
mi = I
mitufala = we (me and someone but not you)
mitrifala = we (me and 2 other people but not you)
mifala = we (me and more than 2 other people but not you)
yumitu = we (me and you)
yumitri = we (me, you, and someone else)
yumi = we (me, you, and more than one other person)
I especially love the yumitu because it sounds like “you (and) me too.” I don’t know why but I find it a cute way to say the inclusive “we.”
When it comes to verbs, these usually consist of a stem word borrowed from another language onto which is added the suffix -em, -im, or -um:
klinim comes from the stem klin- which originated from the English “clean.”
harem comes from the stem har- which originated from the English “hear.”
kolem comes from the stem kol- which originated from the English “call.”
Some common verbs don’t follow this system though, such as kakae (to eat, bite), trink (to drink), save (to know, from the French “savoir” probably).
When it comes to conjugation, there’s none. Instead, prepositions are added around the verb to indicate the tense, aspect, or mood:
stap + V = progressive/ongoing action
hem i stap kukum kumala = He/she is cooking sweet potatoes.
bin + V = past tense (implying the state is no longer true)
Hem i bin wan atlet team hem i yangfala. = She was an athlete when she was young.
[He/She PAST one athlete when he/she young]
V + finis (from the French past participle “fini”) = completed action, “already”
Tufala kakae finis. = They (two people) have already eaten.
Bae + V = Future or hypothetical action
Yumitu bae pem wan ilan. = We (you and I) will buy an (one) island.
No + V = negation
Hem i no luk wan hos. = He/She doesn’t see a horse.
Bislama has a lot of interesting other words and patterns. Two I particularly liked are the use of bitim (from the English “to beat”) as a comparative particle and olsem (from the English “all the same”) to mean “like (something).”:
Be yu save ranran bitim mi? = But can you run faster than me?
[But you know run beat me?]
Mifala i no wantem wan samting olsem. = We don’t want anything like that.
[We (me and more than 2 other people that aren’t you) no want one something like.that]
If you want to dig deeper into Bislama, the APICS page for it is, as always, a great starting point as it’s filled with pretty much everything grammar-related. The Wikipedia page is also quite complete.
Finally, if you really want to learn it, the US Peace Corps has put out 3 freely available and well-organized courses about Bislama. This one even has audio files!
Discovering Bislama was yet again a beautiful experience that pushed my brain to go on overdrive to see the connections with the languages I knew and also appreciate its intricate pronoun and overall grammar systems.
Creole languages really deserve more recognition for their beauty. And I hope this month’s of lesser-known languages about Creole languages will have made you think the same!
Next week, we’ll turn to Western Europe with a new deep-dive piece about a language I never thought existed.
Lukim yu! (See you! in Bislama)
Thanks for reading this edition of TL;DR! Let me know your thoughts 🙃
Mathias, an average polyglot
this seems to be similar to the Korean system I recently discovered and mentioned in TL;DR #07!