Ajk kotisivu Asko Korpela
Learning languages

Asko Korpela I am a passionate student of languages, have been it my whole life. As soon as I learned to read, I read on the side of a piece of a sugar box: 'Maskinellt förpackad, orörd av människohand'. At that time, that is, 70 years ago, the radio always read the news and weather forecasts in Finnish as well as Swedish. I learned to say fluently 'Nyheter från Finska Notisbyrån' and 'Meteorological Centralanstaltens väderleksrapport'. Even 20 years later I liked the habit of fluency test asking people to say these two phrases in Swedish.

At school I had no choice: I had to go to mathematics line, although I would have liked language line. But I got a consolation prize of one extra point, when entering the School of Economics, by getting the lowest accepted note in mathematics at the matriculation exam. Anyway, it so happened that I studied mathematics in the future as intensely as languages, other languages. This becomes clear looking my list of books I have read since 1964, several mathematics textbooks are included. For me, mathematics has always been a language. At the School of Economics I was studying always six languages: Swedish, German, English, French, Russian, Italian. There are already seven and a language is also Finnish. All these I studied. For the masters degree I set the record of six pro exercitio, listed above, except for Italian, where it could not be done. During my life I have had about 50 teachers of languages. Here's the list

But I have always learned languages also without formal tutition. By reading. For my degree in economics I read two books in Danish, even if they also were available in Finnish. At that time I had also Danish friends and trird also speaking in Danish. Then I made acquaintance with some Dutch students and of course Dutch. Then later during some 15 years professional meetings in Poland and serious learning of Polish, without tuition, on the basis of Russian. Now forgotten, I think, Danish, Dutch and Polish. The two important without tuition: the relative languages of Estonian and Hungarian. Both very seriously. Able to speak both, even if Hungarian seems to be the most difficult of all. Still, as peculiarities, without no serious aim: Carelian, Catalan, Chech by reading some books. There is still one: after Estonian the easiest, I do not know why and how, but so it is. Although I cannot speak or would not understand spoken. Portuguese. I have read some 30 books, no difficulty at all. Good books, I guess, is the secret.

As to using languages, my history is the following: as schoolboy I spent two months in Sweden in 1956. Then first summer as student of economics in 1959 three months in Edekabank Hamburg, 1960 three months selling wines and spirits in Liverpool, in 1961 two months as a student at the Freie Universität in Berlin on an unsollicited grant given to the Helsinki School of Economics by German State at the occasion of its 50th anniversary of existence of the school. In 1962 two months on summer courses of the University of Grenoble. Already in 1961 two weeks in the University of Geneva on Cours des Institutions internationales in French.

In 1973-74 the whole Academic year as Asla Fullbright student at the University of Pennsylvania preparing an Econometric Model for Finland, 1982 published as my Dissertation for Doctor's degree. I have translated two philosopy books from Russian into English and Finnish. My writing in English has experienced a leap during a couple of the most recent years. Just this morning, my 51st Review of an Amazon book was published on my second reading of The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith, my most important authority in Economics, my main professional activity. The corner stone of the economic science is Adam Smith's book Wealth of Nations. But still three most important moments on my career as linguist are left! The first is my 20 year activity as the 'official interpreter' of the Helsinki Scool of Helsinki in its relationships with the corresponding Moscow Institute of Economics MINH. As much as there was some contact between these instituschoo. Since 1970, I was always there translating both ways in negotiations and discourses and lectures. Some 20 times travelling in Russia, but never longer than one week at a time. Gained very good peronal friends with family visits both ways. Unfortunately all those contacts are now lost because of deaths. Two eminent professors becoming friends of mine, because of me translating their books into Finnish and English.

Another important momentum in learning languages is my system of treating ebooks MyeBooks. It enables me to make extensive notes of all my reading in all languages, particularly building vocabularies of all word lookups. It also conserves my published book reviews. Reviews are published in English or in the language of the book. Until now I have reviews in German, Swedish and French in addition to English. A very important factor here is Word, greatly helping by correcting typos and grammatical errors as well ass making stilistic suggestions, more tolerant than any human teacher. I have the habit of presenting my reviews in English, the original language and in Finnish. An excellent way of language exercise. Building up self-confidence, strengthens the personality, ego.

And still by far the most important aspect in my language learning is left. My learning, actually only using, of the computer languages. I have for 50 years been spending half of my time communicating with computers. Just using languages, because there is very little learning. Nowadays the most important language all over the whole world is HTML, the most common language used in the internet communication. If only people would be aware how little is needed to become a master in it! Most of my thousands of web pages are done by using some 20 words and a grammar with no irregularity at all. What I can do in net pages now, I could do already 20 years ago. Nothing new learned. I can prove it by linking to my lectures 20 years ago. Here

These lectures are there as they were twenty years ago. Where is the language? Behind the scene. What you see with a browser is the interpretation. Looking the same file with a notebook, you see the text AND the HTML language. There is nothing secret or veiled. Everything can be hand made. But I have a secret weapon: behind the HTML another computer language, Delphi, comprising some 200 words and a fixed grammar without irregularities. I do npt know but guess that the usual school courses of foreign languages comprise at least 4000 words and extensive grammars with exceptions and exceptions of exceptions. No wonder that computer languages are being introduced to the program of primary schools. High time to do so.


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