Saturday, June 07, 2008
(4:18 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Language OverloadI fear I am reaching a breaking point in my language acqusition. This sensation is slightly over-dramatized because I am on a crash-course to get through an Italian grammar book, a task requiring over two hours a day at the pace I've set myself. I am taking this on when I have just barely started in on actually reading a Greek text and when my German has felt like it is in an even worse state of disrepair than usual.
Why am I doing this to myself? The main reason is that I want to get some working knowledge of all the primary languages I'll have to deal with in scholarship before leaving graduate school. I may be able to maintain them, at least to the point where I'll be able to get them back up to a usable level whenever the occasion comes up, but taking on a new language after getting a job seems unlikely, at least for the first few years.
My worry is that I've overextended and set myself up for failure. At least the Latin and Greek will more or less take care of themselves in the course of my dissertation research -- and I'm enjoying the convenience of learning vocab for both through the Supermemo software.
Getting a decent German vocab list for Supermemo seems like the holy grail for me at this point, because my real problem is vocab rather than grammar. I may ultimately have to make my own, perhaps based on a book of theological German vocab that I got out of the library (it includes many philosophical terms as well). But then there's the danger of overextending my Supermemo time -- though it seems to get down to like 5 minutes a day of repetitions after you get over the initial hump. Having gone through the very basic Greek vocab list before sitting down to read was a huge help, in large part because the memorization process naturally led me to break down words into their constituent parts, which is also crucial for German.
Then of course, at some point I need to figure out a way to learn how to actually speak one of these languages.