Saturday, 11 May 2013

Language Freak Summer Challenge

I came across this challenge run by Ekaterina at In My Book a few weeks ago and thought that participating might motivate me to pick up books in foreign languages again - yes, I do need the shove!

You can participate at various levels:

  • Beginner - read one book in a foreign language
  • Intermediate - read two books in a foreign language
  • Advanced - read three or more books in  foreign language

I am going to start small at the beginner level, but as the event runs until August I might try to increase my commitment of reading in foreign languages depending on how long my first book takes me.

Ekaterina suggested answering the following questions in our introductory post, so here goes:

What languages do you know? Note: even if you are a beginner, it totally counts! And don't forget to mention what your mother-tongue is!
English is my native language. In the past I have studied: Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Classical Arabic. I can get by with written French if I have a dictionary at my side.

What is your history with these languages?
I studied Spanish, Portuguese and Russian at university. Spanish was my main subject, but I am ashamed to say that I haven't used it for about a decade. I have studied Arabic, on and off, at part-time classes for several years but it is not at the level of the Romance languages I know, in fact it is not very good at all.

Do you use them or are you out of practice?
As mentioned above, I am very out of practice (I am so rusty regarding Russian that it is like I never learnt it at all). I use Arabic most (reading and speaking), and I watch films and YouTube clips in Spanish and French (I need subtitles for French films, but can understand short YouTube clips on subjects with which I am familiar).

Have you read some books in these languages? Did you like it?
I have read quite a large number of books in Spanish and a few in Portuguese. My favourite Spanish author is Pio Baroja and I can't say that I have a favourite Portuguese language author as I have only read books by the Brazilian, Paulo Coelho (not much of a fan of his books in English, but they are excellent in Portuguese).

What are your plans for the challenge?
As mentioned in my recent post about book buying in Glasgow, I have already bought a book of short stories by Almudena Grandes. If I end up reading more for the challenge I will probably go for further Spanish titles or maybe an easy to read French book (although I haven't studied French formally I LOVE it and hope to improve my understanding of the language.)


  1. Wow, so many languages! Welcome to the challenge, Devon, and good luck with your reading! I hope you'll choose to write something in Spanish and it'll be much better than the HP review I'm struggling with now :)

  2. Not sure about writing a review in Spanish, that might be too much of a stretch :)

    But, if I do write something at least I'll be able to do it with the requisite accents now. After struggling for ages I have just worked out how to find the accents on my keyboard. In the past I used the alt key plus the numerical code on a desktop, but my laptop doesn't have a separate number pad so this method didn't work. It would have been handy to know this before writing my Zoladdiction reviews as all the characters who required them were missing accents from their names.

    1. When I need some accents, I usually just open some online dictionary (it is usually opened anyway :) ) and copypaste the characters from there :) But it works only if you need few of them. When I write in Czech, I usually set up a keyboard layout, because it is FULL of diacritics. They occupy all the number keys and I still can't remember where are the normal punctuation symbols, but I just put them afterwards in English layout :) And after I finish writing in Czech I always delete the layout, because switching between THREE languages is very irritating!

  3. I'm a fellow participant in the challenge, and just wanted to say good luck! :) I will be reading in Spanish as well, so I look forward to seeing your posts and perhaps getting some suggestions from them. Thanks for mentioning Pio Baroja and Almudena Grandes - will have to check them out!

  4. Thanks for your comment. It has come as a timely reminder that I need to get reading and start posting for this challenge!