Year 2, Week 8: A cat may also look at a king
Published on Thursday, February 23, 2017 By Max Sparber
I have studied Yiddish for 393 days
I have studied Yiddish flashcards for a total of 245 hours
I have reviewed 4,530 individual flashcards
I feel like the hardest part of my project right now is coming up with something to talk about in these weekly progress reports. Most of the time, when people document a project like this, they do it for a year or less.
And, by "people," I mean A. J. Jacobs, who wrote "The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to follow the Bible as Literally as Possible," and has made a career of doing contained, discrete oddball projects, like reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, which took him 153 days.
It's harder to know what to say about an open-ended project, especially when you snap into a groove. I'm still exclusively adding new words from the Schaechter dictionary, and still enjoying it. Yesterday I learned that the Yiddish word for rabies is vassershrek, which means waterfear, which is delightful.
I received a nice couple of emails from a Yiddish scholar in London who suggested I try the Lily Kahn book "Colloquial Yiddish" to study Yiddish grammar, and I think I will do so. The grammar book I am currently using, "Grammar of the Yiddish Language" by Dovid Katz, feels like it is arranged academically rather than educationally; it explains grammar without teaching it.
This has gotten a little frustrating, because the stuff I have been studying just isn't sticking. So I'll put in an order for "Colloquial Yiddish" in a week or two, whenever I feel like I need to get back to grammar, and we'll see how that goes.
In the meanwhile, I feel like I am ready to start plugging in new proverbs again. As I mentioned, I am no longer stalling on them every time I see one, and I'm actually starting to remember a few without having to be prompted.
One day, maybe five, ten years from now, I'll be able to pull them out and use them when a moment requires it. "He thinks he's a big deal," a person will say, and I will answer "A ketz meg oikh kukn ofn kaiser," and they will say "what?" and I will just nod sagely.
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