Heinrich Schliemann



I managed to blog in Spanish last week – which was way earlier than I had ever dreamed possible.  And I owe it all to Henry Schliemann.

Schliemann was an archaeologist and a self-taught polyglot.  In his book, Troy and Its Remains, he describes his method of learning a new language.  Admittedly, he did not have the distractions of radio, TV, movies, the internet or a significant other, but it seems that his method was quite effective.

He wrote an essay in his target language each night, then had it corrected by a native speaker, and memorised it by heart.

So I decided to write last week’s post in Spanish with the help of my trusty dictionary.  It took me about two hours, but I did it.

I will try to keep posting in English and Spanish from now on.


 Español no es mi primer idioma. Si he cometido un error, ¿me podría corregir?

 La semana pasada yo escribí mi entrada en el blog en español, mucho antes de lo que pensé que sería posible, gracias a Henry Schliemann.

Schliemann era un arqueólogo y un polígloto. En su libro Troy and Its Remains (Troya y Sus Restos), el describe su técnica por aprender un idioma. El no tenía los distracciones de la radio, la tele, las películas, el internet o una otra significativa, pero su técnica parece efectivo.

Él escribió un trabajo en el idioma que quería aprender cada noche.  Después un hablante nativo lo corregido.  Schlieman entonces lo cometido a su memoria.

Decido escribir la entrada de semana pasada en español con la ayuda del mi diccionario fiable.  Dos horas más tarde, lo ha terminado.

Voy intentar escribir en inglés y español de aquí en adelante.

A most vexatious matter (i.e. a problem)

This week I finished the “Spanish Phrases” (about 300 of them) section of my phrasebook, and got to the Verbs section.  But instead of the verbs being presented as part of a phrase or sentence, as I’d expected, they’re simply listed in their various conjugations.

One of the good things about learning 10 phrases each day is that it makes the maths that much easier.  25 irregular verbs X 10 different cases, with at least 5 forms for each case = 1250 words to memorise, which will take me 125 days, or 4 months.  And we haven’t even got to the regular verbs yet.

Now, as I will have plenty of time in the seventh circle of hell to conjugate Spanish verbs, I’d rather spend as little time as possible doing it here on Earth.  One of the reasons I am memorising a phrasebook after all is that I only want to memorise stuff that I might actually use one day.

This is where Mr Collins comes in.

Mr Collins!

Mr Collins C

No, not Mr Collins from Pride and Prejudice.  This Mr Collins.

Collins easy learning

This dictionary (Collins Easy Learning Spanish Dictionary, ISBN 9780007253500)  is especially useful because it has lots of helpful phrases to illustrate how words are used in context.  I will look up the verbs that my phrasebook contains in this dictionary, and then memorise the phrases in the dictionary.  I will trust Mr Collins to show me which conjugations are more frequently used by the number of example phrases he has provided for me.  I assume that the more frequently used conjugations will have more examples.

Speaking of Pride and Prejudice, one of the phrases that the dictionary contains is Me dio mucha alegría verla.  Which means “I was very pleased to see her”.  But I think the literal translation is something like “It gave me much happiness to see her.”

Which sounds exactly like something Elizabeth Bennet would say.

Elizabeth BennetA

Progress Report

I successfully learned another 70 phrases this week, which brings my grand total to 350.

Today I will learn some conjugations of the verbs dar (to give) and decir (to say).