Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Snow Is Sticking

I don't mean real snow. We do live in Scotland, but it's not as cold as that. I am talking about (guess) the Polish vocabulary that I shovel in great clouds into my brain, mostly through my eyeballs. The initial excitement of learning new Polish words, akin to that of a child perceiving the first snowflakes of winter, gives way to disappointment upon discovering that the words, like snowflakes on an as-yet-too-warm pavement, aren't sticking.

The way to make words stick, according to contemporary research, is through spaced self-testing, so I have been giving that a go. Meanwhile, five years of accumulated work--not that I was very systematic for the first two or three years, God wot--seem to have prepared the ground. Yesterday life handed me a pop quiz, and I passed it with honours.

In short, I was prevented from checking a Polish tourist guide out of the library by the Machine, which told me to see a human. I found a human, and she scanned the book into her computer. The computer said that the book was "in transit", but while looking over the librarian's shoulder, I saw that it was describing an entirely different book. Whereas the book we were investigating is called Polska by Roman Marcinek, the computer thought it was called  Lwów by Roman Marcinek. I pointed this out, so off we went to the Chief Wizard Librarian to see what was going on.

The CWL scanned the book into his computer, and I translated the description of the book the computer showed, which was clearly not about Poland but the beautiful city of Lviv which is no longer inside the Polish map. The CWL, dealing with barcodes, determined that that fault was with the ISBN number, and had nothing to do with the Machine's belief that the book was in transit. He cleared up the latter problem though some librarian magic, and now I have Polska  to hand, whatever the ISBN number thinks.

In case I have lost you, the point is that I could read a random text about a Polish tour guide. Okay, it muddified the fuzzification (as the great Allan Fotheringham would say). However, it showed that the snow is sticking, and once I am done memorizing all the vocabulary to Baltic, pies który płynał na krze", I will begin learning all unfamiliar words from the "Warszawa" section of Polska by Roman Marcinek.

In sad news, a Pole has actually been murdered--indeed, beaten to death--in Harlow, Essex, England by a gang of teenagers--boys and girls--just for speaking Polish on the street. Unfortunately, this is all too believable, not only because of anti-Polish sentiment to be found in the UK, but because of the moral degeneracy to be found among some British youngsters, both in history (one thinks of the razor gangs of the 1930s) and today.

P.S. I reshelved a Polish-language book whose title had obviously been mistaken for the name of the author. As much as librarians hate people doing this, I think in this circumstance it was a Good Deed.  The book is called Czarny Krab, and its author is Jerker Virdborg, so I do see the shelver's dilemma.

No comments:

Post a Comment