Memo from the Language Fairy


It’s winter.

It’s winter and I’m cold.

It’s winter and I’m cold, and I won’t warm up until May.

It’s winter and I’m cold, and I won’t warm up until May so I’ll be making hot soup till then.

Learning a new language is tough and it seems there are nearly as many suggestions for learning one as there are languages themselves.  I’m so fortunate to have grown up speaking more than one language because that ensured that I could think in another language.  If I want to say something in German, I don’t have to first say it in English, then translate it into German.  If I want to say something in German, I just say it.  Same thing with Italian.  Or French.  Or Italian.  Or Farsi. 

Not that I speak all, or any, of them perfectly. Far from it! But I think in phrases in those languages and get stuck only when it comes to a particular word, or an idiomatic expression.  And when I learn a little of a new language, I learn it in phrases.

Aap ka kiya hale hey?

Kif halek?

Kak vi pozhivayetye?

That’s “How are you?” in Urdu, Arabic, and Russian respectively.

Kids learn in building blocks of phrases, always adding to their foundation.

Want milk.

I want milk, please.

I want chocolate milk, please.

I want chocolate milk and cookies, please.

I’m having some milk and cookies, and yes watching TV helps me concentrate while I do my homework.

The one big “advantage” little kids have over adults learning a new language is that they are by default immersed in their “new” language.  That eliminates the one big impediment for most people who are learning a new language – conjugation.  Immersion means you’re going to be speaking, hearing, and most likely reading and writing, your new language.  Little kids learn conjugation via mother’s milk.  But most of us aren’t learning a new language via immersion.  So, guess what?  We’re going to have to buckle down and conjugate some verbs, the regular and irregular ones.  You simply cannot learn a language well without doing that.  Is it fun?  Oh sure!!  Pull another tooth while you’re at it!


To:        New Language Learner

FROM:  The Language Fairy

It does not come by osmosis!!!

You can get by without conjugating verbs.  People will understand you when you speak.  You’ll understand people when they speak, and you’ll be able to read and understand the language.  But you won’t be able to say you speak the language.  Maybe that you’re learning the language, but not that you speak it.  So do yourself the small favor of conjugating the main verbs (to be, have, do, go, give, take, see, feel, and so forth) and a few not so common ones….amazing how your grasp of the language


Whew! Got that off my chest.  Feel tons better :)

I do two things when it’s cold: 

1) I drink hot tea.  I drink lots and lots of hot tea.  I drink lots and lots of hot tea all day long. 

And 2) I cook and eat lots of hot soup.  Spicy tomato soup.  Potato leek soup.  Lentil soup.  Quer durch den Kuehlschrank soup (literally translated as diagonally through the fridge soup).  Miso soup.  Just about any kind of fresh homemade soup or veggie stew you can imagine.

Tonight it was Sweet Potato Soup with Thai flavors, va in soup-ra intori dorost kardam (Farsi for this is how I made the soup)

1 cup coconut cream

2 tablespoons red curry paste

1 cup coconut milk

1 vegan soup bouillon cube

1/2 cup chopped onion

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in small cubes

2 kaffir lime leaves, julienned



handful of green peas

cilantro, chopped

lime juice

In a large pot, heat the coconut cream over medium high heat; stir in the curry paste and cook for a few minutes.  Add the coconut milk, soup cube, onions, sweet potatoes, and lime leaves.

Lower heat and cook, covered and occasionally stirring, until the potatoes are soft.  You may need to add some water if it gets too thick.  Puree and return to the stove; season with salt.

Add the green peas and cook for a few more minutes.  Garnish with cilantro and sprinkle with fresh lime juice.

Nushe jaan va be salaamati.  In other words, bon apetit (I know, I know; it should have an accent mark, but I can’t figure out how to insert one with this program) and be well :)



  1. can you translate that for me?? LOL :)

  2. Hi there, thank you for visiting my blog...I love Thai flavors, so I will definitely try this one...

  3. Thanks for the recipe. I love how you jump between languages. I can so relate. I speak Farsi with my husband, German with my kids and English at work. Have you lived in Iran? I visited the Deutsche Schule there and am always looking for connections.... Gruesse, Susanne


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