Confessions of a fickle almost-polyglot

As a kid I did not care about languages. I only cared about science and wanted to know just English and know it well. I had taken the usual high school Spanish and had a great teacher, and went on a trip to Mexico. But my (admittedly unrealistic) dream of being a drifter in Mexico was cut short when we moved to Miami.

In Miami, Spanish was no longer a novelty and the Mexican Spanish I had an easy time understanding was replaced with (to me) difficult to understand Cuban Spanish. But that was fine, I was only interested in science anyway. At the University of Alaska in Fairbanks I took Russian, back during the cold war, but didn't do much with it outside of the classroom. I did find the Cyrillic beautiful and intriguing. A trip to Costa Rica put the (seemingly) final nail in my Spanish language coffin, as I couldn't understand a thing the taxi driver said.

Fast forward to my years in grad school, when I was supposed to be studying biology, I took an interest in Orkney, islands off the North coast to Scotland where my father's family was from. I was surprised to learn that before English Orkney people spoke, not Gaelic, but Norn, a language related to Norwegian and Swedish and its closest relative, Icelandic.

I became enamored with Icelandic, how it had remained unchanged for years, retained grammatical structures and letters English had long ago lost. For the first time I was really interested in a language and dove into learning Icelandic.

Back then there were few resources for Icelandic, and the Internet was young, so I made a web page of resources and it became somewhat popular. There were lots of resources for German, and German is a little intermediate in complexity to Icelandic, so I started learning German as well. I took German classes, I have German ancestors, and liked Rammstein and Kraftwerk, so soon I was preferentially learning German.

more to come...

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