Tag Archives: nadina cardillo

Learning Swahili From Scratch

Why Swahili?

Note that is it not my first attempt at learning a fourth language. A few weeks ago I decided that my French was good enough and it was time to make an addition to the family. Given that I speak Spanish, English and French, I decided to give Portuguese a try (talk about Eurocentrism). After one week I got bored and quitted. It was too similar to Spanish.

I quitted and started playing my favourite game, Civilization IV. When I got to the start menu, I paid a closer than ever attention at the theme song, which I had previously identified as “random exotic pleasant sounds”. I wondered what language that was. It was Swahili. So I suddenly realized that people outside of Europe and Northern Asia… speak. And their languages are truly fascinating! I spent the rest of the day in Wikipedia being amazed at the vastly different syntaxes, pronunciation, alphabets and grammar of the many languages of the world. Now I can say it is one of my primary interests (but then again, what is not one of my primary interests? ;)).

In short: because Swahili is beautiful and exotic. In shorter: because I like it.

Where To Start?

Now I faced a problem. The two foreign languages I speak were introduced to me at school. I had never started learning a language from zero.

I browsed a little on Amazon and this little book, The Loom Of Language: An Approach To The Mastery Of Many Languages, popped up. A life saver. Even though it is centred mostly on European languages, it made me understand languages better, and is a valuable acquisition given that I plan to learn more of them in the future.

Now for the Swahili. To learn it I decided to rely mostly on the information available online. I only purchased one book, the Lonely Planet Swahili Phrasebook , which turned out to contain much more information on the language than I thought.

The phrasebook itself suggests a very helpful website, The Kamusi Project, which is only one of the many free online resources available. So far, getting started in Swahili is costing me almost nothing :).

I am also reading a lot about the origins of Swahili and the history of Kenya and Tanzania, as well as Swahili music and poetry.

Curiosities

  • Hakuna Matata is Swahili.
  • Swahili is the mother tongue of Lt. Uhura, female African character from the TV Show Star Trek (1966).
  • Swahili is the national language of Kenya and Tanzania, and is the third African language by number of speakers.
  • In 1928, a standard written Swahili was created.
  • The Swahili word for itself is “Kiswahili”.
  • Swahili has only 5 million native speakers, but 80 million have it as a second language.

The Most Important Thing

Determination. I am determined to speak decent Swahili in three months’ time, and then I will decide if the language is worth more time of study.

And I know that as long as I am determined to do it, I will do it 🙂

Wish me luck in this new experience, I will update next month with my progress! And don’t forget that Civilization V is going to be out soon 😉

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Clothes: Your Most Powerful Long Range Social Weapon

Picture a world where all the boys and girls are impeccably well dressed – Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother).

I used to be fashion-blind. I used to dress in jeans and a T-shirt. I didn’t know what a powerful tool clothes were.

We have many weapons we use to “win” people over: a good handshake, manners, a charming accent and so on.

But these are all short-distance “weapons”. You can’t shoot a handshake across the room. But you can transmit something of who you are over the air: your looks.

While some parts of your look, such as your face or height, do not speak of your personality because you are not able to control them (your expression does, however), the way you dress speaks volumes about you.

We are told not to judge a book by it’s cover, but covers contain some valuable information. When a book cover features a flying saucer on it, you assume it’s science-fiction, and when a woman is wearing a skirt that barely covers her bottom, you assume she’s a slut.

You can actually transmit any attribute of your personality through your clothes. Clothes can be just as “conservative”, “funny”, “different”, “innovative”, “sexy” and “outgoing” as you.

We don’t get to know most people we meet very well, so the first impression is extremely important. Clothes can do a lot in your favour before you ever open your mouth.

Personally, I don’t like clothes that are trendy (same way I usually don’t root for most trends of any kind). I prefer wearing classic items in solid colours with only one item -many times an accessory- that has a pattern. The classic clothes represent that I’m not a regular teenager -and more- and the patterned item that I’m even weirder: not a regular person in general.

But that’s only my general style. Each individual item has it’s own attributes and they combine together to send a message. If you don’t consciously form it, you may be sending the wrong message.

Steve Pavlina covers this extensively here and here.

Also, clothes can make you look great

One rule of thumb I use when buying clothes is that “if I look better naked, then I don’t take it”.

There are thousands of shirts, pants, skirts, ties, heels and jeans in the world. Why should you ever waste your time and money in something that doesn’t look absolutely stunning on you?

Also, you must wear clothes that fit. A girl tries on a shirt and her love handles are showing off awfully. Her friend points it out: “But I’m a size 4! The shirt I was wearing today was a 4!”. You may be one size for one designer and two sizes bigger for another. Or you may need to lose weight. Get over it. Buy what looks good on you, not what you think should look good.

Plus, wearing a suit makes any guy automatically twice as hot. Thousands of girls agree with me.

A suit brings instant memories of James Bond to a woman's head.

Also known as "The Bond Effect".

Not to mention, knowing you look great in your clean and nicely ironed clothes and that some of the best features or your personality are being shown is an absolute confidence boost. You feel ready to succeed.

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5 Reasons Why Procrastination Done Right is Good For You

What is procrastination done right? Procrastination done wrong is when you spend the time you should have spent working on that report feeling guilty for not working on that report. Procrastination done right is when you spend the time you should have spent working on that report relaxing and playing piano.  In other words, when you’ve got yourself some quality time.

1. It forces you to be creative

You’ve pushed the time you were going to start designing that brochure to the last possible minute. Now what? Now you’ve got to use all of your resources and even invent new ones out of the blue, pushing the borders of your creativity to new territory. You’ve got to really give your best, or you’re fucked.

Waiting until the last night to study for tests for all my high school years has forced me to come up with a whole new set of memory, reading and comprehension skills I could have never dreamt of. Some of them include the “10 minute intensive background research to get interested in the topic and learn the stuff fast” or the “30 second mind map in every class before the test hour”. I never go below a B and I remember what I learn for years (one thing that can’t be said of most students who memorize 2 hours a day), because the only way to learn something fast is to understand it.

Procrastination usually provides high-quality results.

2. It helps you build self-confidence

Do you know how good I feel when I get an A on a test? I feel like I’m the king of the world. All these people who obtained the same grade I did spent a lot time studying -probably just memorizing- and only improved in the five better-known study methods, which have little use outside school. Me? I’ve learnt to learn a little faster than yesterday. I feel great. I feel like I can do anything. When you do a month’s project in two hours and the result is brilliant, you feel like you’ve achieved the impossible.

3. It makes you happy and relaxed (95% of the time)

Imagine you have 5 hours to do a task. But you don’t feel like doing it. If you got to it and tried to finish it really fast, you couldn’t, because your only motivation to do so is that you are bored with it. You’ll probably spend 4-5 hours doing the task, with many, many ultra-short breaks to check your email, wash your hands for the 5th time and so on (in other words, procrastination done wrong).

Those four of five hours wouldn’t be much enjoyed. You probably would start stressing because you don’t feel like you’re advancing with the task.

But if you instead took four of those five hours and used them to do something you really want to do, such as playing your favourite musical instrument or reading a book, you would have got yourself some quality time to enjoy life and improve your skills. Now, back to the task. A 5 hour job in under 1? Now it’s a challenge! You’ll probably be stressed while you do it, but I think it’s worth to trade 5 hours of boredom for 1 hour of stress.

4. It teaches you to remain calmed and avoid stress

Many times, procrastinators stress about the tasks they have to do in such a short time, but realizing that they can accomplish things in a shorter time than others and do it well helps them remain calmed in most of other situations where people who don’t believe in the power of procrastination would break down screaming “two days! he wants us to do that in two days!”.

Also, there comes a moment in the life of every serial procrastinator when they realize that not stressing enough lead them to that situation, and stressing too much would only make them lose even more time, so they achieve the perfect stress balance: the state in which you get things done.

5. It saves you time

Indeed, the methods and techniques to finish stuff fast you learn while you procrastinate provide highly useful later in other tasks. For example, when I study something I’m interested about I am a much faster learner than I would be if I had not developed all those fast-learning tips and tricks.

Procrastination teaches you how to get things done fast, and well.

But remember! All these things only work if you are committed to deliver a high-quality product: if you don’t accept anything less than your best.

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