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DesktopWeb FormText   to ser, or not to estarSat, 11 Dec 2004 18:26:25 GMT # 

the title is a span-glish word-play off of 'to be, or not to be', since both words can mean 'to be'. that's been giving me some problems. other difficulties are verb conjugation (especially irregular verbs), use of double negatives, and adjusting words to gender. the good news is that i've gotten through alot of beginner material and am starting to build up some vocabulary. i was actually in McDonalds last week and they were advertizing their new chicken sandwiches. they had a flier that was english on one side and spanish on the other. was able to read and understand at least 80% of the flier. granted, i then attempted to translate my bottled water label to spanish, and could only convert about 5%.

and out of pure luck i stumbled upon a language expert, who happens to know a smackload of .NET. he's been able to answer many of the questions that i've had about languages in general. one shocking piece of info he pointed out was that English is one of the most difficult languages. that's cool, because i've already learned it. er, um ... at least you've been able to read this far. also, i can reason that the other languages should be easier in comparison. on the other hand, maybe that is why we have so many illiterate people in our country and all the offshore projects i've seen have been crap. e.g. there is no way (at this point in time) i could attempt to develop an application for a spanish employer. reverse that ... i am now better prepared to develop an app for primarily english users that needed to support spanish users as well.

back to learning spanish. the approach to learning a little a day is working great. i've been doing about an hour of day of audio, and another hour of interactive training programs. eventually, i need to work in reading exercises too. dare i say, there has been some sort of 'synergy' using this method. if i miss something the 1st time with audio, i've been able to pick it up through software ... and vice versa. and related to AI, my brains has been working stuff out for me during sleep. i'm having numerous instances of feeling really uncomfortable with a topic before bed, and then the next lesson on the following day i'm able to magically recall words i could not the day before. so my neural net is in serious overdrive. my headaches have mostly gone away too. its as if the barriers to learning a new language have been significantly torn down.

finally, i've been trying to relate this to learning programming languages. human languages definitely have similar classifications such as romansque and intonal vs OO and declarative programming languages. once learning OO, its simple to learn any other OO language. that is why i think spanish has been going so well, since both english and spanish are so related (e.g. moving from Java to C#). if i were trying to learn chinese (intonal) instead of spanish ... that would be like moving from C# to XSLT. the main difference between natural and machine languages is the amount of keywords. in programming, i only have to learn so many. e.g. how do i loop, do comparisons, etc... there is just not that much. but with natural language, i have to learn a large vocabulary to do anything meaningful. the good news is that the subset of vocabulary for common speech is quite small, and increases when writing, and then reading.

aside, my favorite spanish word is 'maybe' ... it sounds just like 'kiss ass'