My Life In 3 Languages

Where I come from, almost everyone speaks only the one language. Learning another language is like learning what happened at the Battle of Vinegar Hill or how mountains are formed. Something you try in school and maybe make some progress in the exam, but never really use in your life. People who know more than one language do exist, but so do talented people who can play musical instruments or get chosen for a sports team. They’re admired for such a gift, but most people don’t have that ability or even try to learn it.

I used to fall into this group, I could only speak English and didn’t see the need for any other language. Yet now I find myself using three different languages every day. Although I spend my leisure time reading and watching videos in English, I live in France and work for an Esperanto association. So, my free time is in English, my work is in Esperanto and everything else is in French. Continue reading “My Life In 3 Languages”

6 Differences Between Blogging In A Minority Language Versus English

The vast majority of blogs (and vlogs) are in English, even when that isn’t the authors native language. Most people seem to believe that if you want to be read, you must write in English (or at least another major language) and that writing in a minority language is a waste of time. After all, it makes sense to go to where the largest audience is right? You would think that this is especially the case for a minority language like Esperanto, a language that many people have never heard of. How could that possibly compete with English, one of the dominant languages of the world, with hundreds of millions of native speakers and over a billion people who can speak it to some degree? I think it’s very interesting to compare my experience of two similar blogs, with very different audiences. Continue reading “6 Differences Between Blogging In A Minority Language Versus English”

Scots and Ulster-Scots Are Not Languages

Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t one of those articles complaining about people who don’t use the standard or official form of English (I don’t do that myself). My aim isn’t to mock and insult everyone who speaks differently than me. Nor I am someone who thinks English should conquer the world and crush all other languages underfoot (I even speak Esperanto!). I support language diversity and think it’s good when people maintain local words and accents, as a world where we all spoke the same bland accent would be very boring.

However, sometimes the support for local languages goes too far. For centuries local dialects and languages were suppressed and discouraged in favour of English and other major languages. As if to compensate, the pendulum has swung the other way and all forms of local speech are studied, celebrated and supported. However, I feel the pendulum has swung too far and now some local differences are being exaggerated and put on a pedestal where they don’t belong. Continue reading “Scots and Ulster-Scots Are Not Languages”

5 Ways Esperanto Is Easier Than English

When people ask me why I speak Esperanto, my answer is simple; it’s really easy. I’ve always had difficulties learning languages and Esperanto is the only language I’ve ever succeeded in learning. The arbitrary pronunciation, random grammar rules, infuriating irregularities, endless exceptions that had to be memorised, silent letters, obscure tenses and half a dozen other rules in every language, drove me mad. I spent countless frustrating hours trying to decipher these Byzantine codes, usually without success. I would complain to my teacher (and anyone who would listen) about how these rules were unnecessary and added nothing to the language, couldn’t someone just remove the irregularities? Continue reading “5 Ways Esperanto Is Easier Than English”

What Does It Mean To Be Irish?

Since I’ve moved abroad, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be Irish. In Ireland this isn’t too relevant of a question because almost everyone is Irish, but I’m currently living in a town where I am the only Irish person. I’ve always been proud to call myself Irish, but lately I’ve been wondering what does this mean? What makes Irish people different from others, such as the English and Americans? What is special about being Irish? Continue reading “What Does It Mean To Be Irish?”

Could The English Language Be Reformed?

English is a strange language. As a native speaker, I used to think it was completely normal and the natural state for a language, but lately I’ve been seeing the strange parts. There is a huge gap between how words are written and pronounced, with a multitude of silent letters, sounds that can be spelt with more than one letter and letters that can be pronounced more than one way. There’s also irregular verbs that defy any logic and almost look randomly thrown together. While the present and the future is straight forward, the past tense is a complete mess. Eat becomes ate, sit becomes sat, go becomes went and think becomes thought. Where is the sense in that? Why do words completely change like that? Continue reading “Could The English Language Be Reformed?”

So I’ve Moved To Slovakia

A few months ago I was working in an office and I got fed up. At first I was happy to get the job, as I had been looking for work for a while and these days it’s hard to find a job in Ireland (when talking with friends I don’t ask what job they have but if they have one). Plus the money was really good so I started off enthusiastic. But after a few weeks I was worn down and fed up. Part of it was specific to the job, I was in a backroom completely cut off from the rest of the company with only one other person to talk to. But the job itself was incredibly dull and monotonous. It was a brainless repetitive job that you could train a monkey to do. Worst of all, it was pointless. It didn’t serve any real purpose or do anything useful, it was essentially shuffling paper all day.

So I decided I needed to get out. I have the rest of my life for boring office jobs, so I can take a year or two out to travel before I get tied down with commitments. I wanted to do work that I actually cared about and that I felt was worthwhile. I was younger than the people I was working with, so I could take two years out and come back to the same place. So I thought, what the hell, why not travel, see other cultures, learn other languages, live in other countries? Continue reading “So I’ve Moved To Slovakia”