I’ve decided to go for it and give podcasting a try! To start I’ll be sharing my blog posts in podcast form, but in time I hope to expand to talk about all things books, writing, and vampires (I may even share some of my fiction). Go ahead and give the first episode a listen and let me know what you think…
(You can also follow this link directly to my channel and listen there.)
I had an unusual linguistic upbringing. Growing up, I heard mostly Greek at home (I spoke a mix of Greek and English). I also lived in a French province for the first nine years of my life. When I started school, it was at an English school, with French lessons starting in grade 1 (we eventually moved to an anglophone province, and I continued taking French until I graduated). My mom taught me the basics in Greek, and I had a very small amount of Greek school on weekends (I don’t think it amounted to a full year).
I never heard French at home, except when flipping past the French channels on TV. I never had anyone to speak French with outside of classes, and I only occasionally read anything in French. But I heard Greek constantly, spoke it often, and read and wrote it occasionally. I’d have conversations all the time with older relatives (granted, they did most of the talking, but I still felt I had a solid grasp of Greek). If anyone asked I would have said I was fluent in Greek and knew some French.
Then I decided to take lessons.
I had a language learning app taking up space on my phone, so I finally decided to give it a try to see if it was worth hanging on to. I chose French as the language to learn since I’d been wanting to improve my skills for a while. The app starts off by testing you to see how much you know. I breezed through the test and got to skip ahead to more advanced lessons. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I remembered and how easy much of it was (that said– keeping track of the gender of words and then adjusting all the words in a sentence accordingly is exhausting).
L’homme est canadien (the man is Canadian)
La femme est canadienne (the woman is Canadian)
Les hommes sont canadiens (the men are Canadian)
Les femmes sont canadiennes (the women are Canadian)*
(*These aren’t even the most complicated examples– wait until you need to start describing inanimate objects…)
It was great to find out that I wasn’t as bad at French as I thought. And since it was going so well, I decided I’d might as well improve my Greek while I was at it.
Considering Greek is technically my first language (I started picking up English as a toddler), that initial test was not as easy as I expected. Unlike with French, I did not get to skip ahead to more advanced lessons. I discovered I didn’t even know some basics– my vocabulary and spelling are much worse than I realized (but at least my conjugation is good).
After a few minutes on the app, I realized I knew only some Greek and quite a bit more French than I’d assumed. Not what I expected.
It turns out the formal French lessons that I had in school made an impression that’s stuck with me decades later. Meanwhile, learning Greek mostly by “osmosis” let me down. There’s something positive to be said about rote learning and formal education, after all.
My years of absorbing Greek haven’t totally gone to waste. The knowledge I’ve picked up has definitely made the app lessons easier (I’m seriously impressed by anyone who can learn this language from scratch). Since starting the lessons, however, I’ve already seen a major improvement, especially in spelling, vocabulary, and reading. I’m probably only up to an Elementary School level of proficiency so far, but I finally feel that I’m getting a real grasp on the language I’ve known all my life.
As someone who’s always been more inclined to learn on my own rather than take a class, this has been eye opening. It’s amazing the difference that actual lessons can make. I’m excited to keep using the app, not only to keep learning French and Greek, but also to expand on my two years of high-school Spanish, and– hopefully– to learn a new language or two. The next time I’m tempted to learn something new, I think I’m going to find a class to take instead of assuming I can figure it out myself.
How about you– have you taken any classes lately, or are there any you want to take? Share in the comments…
Find out what I can do with language (including a bit of French) by getting my books 🙂
If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥
I also wanted to comment on This Charming Man, now that I’ve re-read it.
In my post where I shared that I was about to re-read this book, I said I’d forgotten a lot of the details since I last read it. Well, it turns out I’d forgotten almost everything about it. I remembered This Charming Man as being mostly fun with a satisfying ending. I’ve since learned I can’t trust my memory. Like, at all. The book is well written and compelling, and there’s humour too, but it’s actually quite dark and difficult to read at times because of that. It goes into painful detail on violence against women, abusive relationships, and alcoholism (all important topics, but emotionally draining, to say the least*). I also noticed there was a fair bit of fat shaming (ugh), and some less-than-enlightened comments about “trannies.” It was published in 2008 and parts of it have clearly not aged well. It did have a satisfying ending, though, so at least I got that right.
What are you reading these days? Have you ever re-read a book and realized it was completely different from what you remembered? Share in the comments…
Aspasía S. Bissas
(P.S. If you want to see what else I’ve read, check out my Goodreads page.)
The moment has finally arrived to share the cover of my new (FREE) short story, Tooth & Claw…
What do you think?
The title comes from the Tennyson poem “In Memoriam A.H.H.”:
Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law
Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw,
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed
“Red in tooth and claw” indeed. I think both the cover image and title suit the story–I hope you’ll agree once you’ve read it. Tooth & Claw will be released on 7 September. Here’s a teaser:
Mara, Dominic, and their fellow vampires arrive in Marseille, France in 1909, only to find another predator already on the loose. As the city tries to cope with a killer stalking the streets, Mara struggles to separate memory from delusion. Can she find peace when the past is haunting, the present overwhelming, and the future hopeless? Inspired by real events.
Although I promised you’d be able to pre-order Tooth & Claw, it turns out free books can’t be set up for pre-order (boo). But not to worry, I will be posting again to let you know when Tooth & Claw is available. If you’d like an email reminder, please drop me a line.
In the meantime, don’t forget to download my other FREE short story Blood Magic, and while you’re at it, pick up Love Lies Bleeding too, available in paperback or e-book. Your support is much appreciated.
Tooth & Claw, a new FREE short story inspired by actual events, available 7 September.