The Dilemma: Learn a Language or Stick to My Free Time

If there is something that can explain almost everything I do, it is that I like to experience new things. It is why I love to travel, why I enjoy a good hike in new and unexplored scenery, and why I took this research job as a PhD student.

But like I said in one of my previous posts, the job is keeping me in the same place and situation for what feels like a century. So I need to try to find other new things to explore. I was thinking of taking a course of some sorts. I’d love to do something travel related, since I really wouldn’t mind working in a travel agency after I finish with academics. But I think I’d better do that when my contract here is getting to its end, so my newly gained knowledge can be put straight into work.

So then my next idea was to learn a new language. Being Belgian, I really should study French, but I don’t really like French. Well, it’s not that I don’t like the language, it’s more that I’ve studied it for so long in secondary school and even though I am still no good, I’m so sick of it. I’d also love to learn German, I think it sounds so funny and it rolls about so nicely in your mouth, but I guess the applicability of that would be relatively limited. So then there’s Spanish. Which I don’t really like the same way I enjoy German, but which would benefit my travel dreams extremely. So I think I’d go for Spanish.

But then the big question is: do I really want to put my time into it? So far, I’m doing sports Monday evening, and Wednesday evening I teach a workshop in academic English. Learning Spanish would mean I add Thursday evenings to that as well. Which means not having dinner with the boyfriend in the evening three evenings a week, and even less time for sports, again taking away another dinner, than I have now.

Ever since spending a year down under, I’m really not a busy bee, I don’t deal very well with stress when it comes to planning weeks full of social obligations and hobbies and family visits etc. But I would love a new challenge. What do you guys think? Time for me to get back into the busy rhythm of the western world and learn Spanish, or wait a while until I’m more comfortable time-wise?

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To Verb: I Verb, You Verb, He Verbs, We Verb!

Ladies and Gentlemen. As you might know by now, I am a PhD student working on theoretical linguistics. I have blogged about travels, food, work, etc. But now, I am proud to present to you: my first blog about language.

Don’t worry, this will not be an academic paper or even contain any interesting facts about language. It is just my ramblings about my favourite wordplay, which I like to call “to verb”. Basically, I like turning nouns into verbs.

The other day I was talking to a linguist colleague of mine from England on our way out of the office, and I asked if he still had to “train back home”. His response: “Did you really just use train as a verb?” My response: “Oh yeah, I do that really often. I’m waiting for it to become a thing”.

Let me quickly give you some examples. “To train”: the act of taking the train. It is a lot more concise and since you can already say “to sail”, “to cycle”, “to fly”, “to drive”, I think it is high time for “to train”.

Also: “to ikea”. When you go to the pub on a Saturday evening and your mates ask you why you look so tired, you can easily say “Oh, we ikead all day” and everyone will know what you’re on about. “We went to ikea” might give an idea, but simply does not paint the whole picture.

Another one: “to couch”. “So what’s your plans for tonight?” – “Hmm. Dunno yet. I’m fairly tired to be honest. Maybe just some couching.”

Am I right? Do you see the value of these wonderful verbs?

But by far my favourite one, and I think this one is used by many more people: “to adventure”.

Nope, I am not “going” on an adventure. “Going” implies that you have planned something and that there will be a designated beginning and also ending. That is not how “adventuring” works. “Adventuring” is a way of life, a state of being.

And that is where I end my plea.

Thank you.