Glossophilia

Yes, I had to look that up.

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I didn’t get my first laptop until after my high school graduation. Before then, all throughout middle and high school, I had a desktop computer. Ah, the days of virus after virus thanks to questionable Kazaa downloads, having hours-long conversations with my friends on AIM, staying up even later to perfect my MySpace layout… I digress.

At the risk of sounding cheesy… Have you ever not noticed how much you needed something until you had it? Nearly all of my friends in high school had laptops (so the AIM messages went: “sup” “nm chillin in bed u” “nm wish i could be in bed” “lol im on my laptop” “k”) but I was perfectly fine with my desktop computer. It got stuff done. I never fell asleep in bed while typing up a paper, like I’ve done many times in college, nor did I ever have to worry about dropping it or not having it fully charged.

However, as I sit here and type this on my laptop, laying on my bed, I think back to the days when I was a preteen, sitting in my oversized office chair, playing Neopets, and I think… Wow, that was not comfortable at all.

Thinking back even further, in middle school, I stayed up past my bedtime countless times, but never on my computer.

Back then, I stayed up all night in bed, writing and writing. I had dozens of notebooks, from spiral ones to marble ones to gaudy Engrish-infested Asian ones, that I filled to the brim with a secret language whose writing system, vocabulary, and grammar I had made up myself. I wrote charts to remind myself of the alphabet and made up many words on the spot, like bastardizations of English words or random vocabulary I knew in Spanish, Filipino, or Japanese. From what I can remember, the grammar was very similar to that of English. When I learned about the modular nature of the Korean alphabet, I even made up an entirely different alphabet based on it! I poured my heart and soul into these works, and even years later, I can still write out a sentence or two in my secret made-up language. Nights and nights were spent drafting fake magazine articles, song lyrics, even advertisements for made-up products! If I were still home, I would have included a few scans of these pages. Alas, I am several hours and many miles away. What a shame, thinking about them now makes me want to flip through those pages…

My love for languages has never left me. In high school, I excelled in Spanish, though I can still feel my heartbeat race at the thought of giving presentations and practicing conversations with my classmates. One of my few regrets about college is that I have never been able to pursue Spanish further, or even learn another one in a formal class setting. Conversely, one of the first classes I took in college was ENG EK127: Introduction to Engineering Computation. In a nutshell, we were taught MATLAB, a computing language, which introduced many of us who had never written code before, myself included, to basic programming concepts.

I ate it up. I loved every minute of that class! (The fact that I had some good looking TAs didn’t hurt either… wink wink) Since then, I’ve been itching to get to higher-level classes and electives, where I could learn even more programming languages and do even cooler and more in-depth things.

Now, here I am, at the summer before my senior year of college. With little else to do, I’ve been frequenting two websites a lot more often: codecademy.com and duolingo.com.

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My Codecademy picture would be of a ‘lunch_order’ object…

On Codecademy, I’ve been learning Ruby. Last year, I was able to refresh my HTML and CSS skills (see my above MySpace comment) as well as learn JavaScript and a little bit of Python. Save the last one, which I will be able to practice more next semester!, these are almost all things that I would probably never have been able to learn in class. But, if I have the time, why not learn a little more?

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How appropriate, ‘what is that’ is the thought constantly running through my head whenever I use Duolingo…

Because I haven’t been able to study languages other than Spanish in school, a part of me has always yearned to learn even the slightest bit of other languages. When I went through a Japanese music phase in middle school, for example, I spent some time writing out my favorite songs in hiragana and katakana, even practicing some simple kana characters. (It certainly didn’t feel useful at the time, but being able to recognize some characters has actually been kind of helpful in everyday life!) I even asked one of my friends, who was taking Chinese, to study in front of me, hoping I would absorb some of her knowledge through exposure, which obviously didn’t work as well as I would have hoped.

Duolingo has helped fill that gap! By providing a way to practice not only vocabulary and grammar but also listening skills, I’ve felt more confident in my mastery, or lack thereof, of foreign languages. Not only have I been able to brush up on my Spanish, but I’ve also been able to pick up some French as well!

Well, I want to throw my computer across the room whenever something is plural but it sounds singular but EVERYTHING SOUNDS THE SAME IN FRENCH! but I digress… again…

(Bonus fact: Duolingo offers German as a language, but I’ve just never been interested in learning it. I don’t know why.)

Anyway, it seems like it’s time to once again lay in bed and learn some French!

… Then maybe flip back to Ruby when I get frustrated (see my plurals/singulars comment above).

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