21 February 2021

Sometimes it is funny because it is too close to the truth…

… like most Dilbert cartoons!!

Anyways, last night I was talking to a senior of mine from school who I have respected all my life not only for his superior level of intelligence but also his thoughtfulness and rational thinking and the ability to argue both sides of a debate..

(while discussing the opinion of the masses….)

“So, how do you explain the recent disbelief in science?”, I asked.
“That is not new. It has always been there.”
“Why do you say that?”
“If you can believe in God, you can believe in any conspiracy theory. And we have been believing in God for a very long time.”

I burst out laughing. And kept smiling the rest of the evening – not just because how he put it – but I realized that there was an element of truth to it!!

9 December 2020

Now up to 6 language alphabets

Acquired a passing acquaintance with Farsi letters. To be sure, I still cannot get the right pronunciation for “ghein” or “qaf” (identical pronunciations, I am told). And I know only isolated letters. But it was good enough to read a signboard inside the local Bezoria restaurant yesterday. (Needless to say, normally I would have no idea what the word meant but the context was helpful in understanding the word “shawarma”).

So, here are the six language alphabets that I have learnt arranged reverse chronologically of when I learnt them.

Thinking of learning Thai letters next. They almost look like notes on a music sheet (another thing I cannot read, of course).

6 December 2020

The isolated Farsi alphabets

Have now learnt all the Farsi alphabets and how to write them. To be sure, when I say “writing”, I mean as the letters would be written by themselves. When actually written in cursive handwriting, the shapes can differ depending on whether they are the first letter, somewhere in the middle or the last letter in a word. I have not learnt those. I need more practice still. (If I can rattle off and write backwards – meaning last letter to first letter, I feel I have memorized well enough).

The two letters in red have the same pronunciation but I cannot pronounce them. See a funny suggestion from Anand here.

5 December 2020

Farsi alphabet lessons

Took the motorbike to Ballground for a ride and coffee. While there, had a call with my good friend Anand’s wife Firouzeh (who is from Tehran, Iran) to fine tune the proper pronunciation of the Farsi alphabets. I think I am within striking range for most of them. Other than the two alphabets “ghain” and “qaf”. They are pronounced identically – and I can’t get it.

In Bengali and Hindi, we have a letter for “gh”. There is no single English letter for it but it is pronounced like “gh”ost. I asked Anand (who knows Bengali and Hindi pronunciations) if he could gauge how close the pronunciations were.

He said something to the effect of if Sharmila were to strangle me and I were to try pronouncing “kh” (the second letter in Bengali/Hindi), then I might come close. On second thoughts, I will give it a pass…

21 November 2020

Trying out an ambigram of my name

As I mentioned last night, I learnt about “ambigram”s while reading a book by Alex Bellos. For our purpose, we can say an ambigram is a calligraphic writing such that when you hold the paper upside down, you get the same writing!

That is quite an achievement! I looked up the internet and found some free ambigram generators. I am trying to learn how to write an ambigram of my own name.

It does get your mind to think in a different way when you are practicing every stroke. Basically, you have to think how that stroke will look when you hold it upside down and is it going to build up the other letter you need to build up. (The letter that is as far from the end as is the one you are writing from the beginning). So while writing my first “R”, I have to do it in a way that if I turn it upside down, it should look like the last letter “y” and I have to draw the exact opposite of how I wrote “R” in the end to write “y”.

You will see that after half an hour of trying, my output is still amateurish. You can even spot the mistake I made in the last letter. I also realized that I need to get a thicker nib from the calligraphic pen set than I did this morning.

20 November 2020

Scripts of five different languages

After storm Zeta and learning the Greek alphabet, I had this crazy idea – albeit not too crazy as far as my ideas go – what if I tried to learn the script of another language?

I remembered, while in Mongolia, I had great difficulty reading their language. So, figured maybe I should try some language with a Cyrillic script. Settled down on Russian. The language has 33 letters and 10 vowels. Eventually got the hang of the upper case and lower case. The pronunciation was a different thing though. There are lots of sounds that are not there in English language (some are there in my mother tongue Bengali). A lot of the letters look like English but have nothing to do with the corresponding English letter. I am still struggling with the difference in pronunciation of “Й” and “ы”. All in all, was interesting to pick this up. I am going to keep trying to identify the letters in words and pronounce them thru the end of this year.

So, with English, Bengali and Hindi (based on Devnagari script), that makes it 5 different scripts for me. (I am not counting German and Spanish since they are too close to English).

Thinking of picking up one more. Tamil has a very different script. At one time, I had taught myself the script (back in 1985). Maybe I will brush that one up…