Sunday, March 19, 2017

My Latin Language Cover of Adele's "Hello" is nearing 100,000 Views!

UPDATE: It's 6:45PM on Wednesday, 3/22. The view count has reached 99,844! It's going to happen this week!

Latin language enthusiasts rejoice! The view count on my Latin language cover version of Adele's "Hello" is, at the time of this writing (Sunday, 3/19, 9:00PM), 99,264.

Maybe it will pass the 100,000 mark during this week of March 19 to March 25? I will post an update if it does.

I thank everyone who supported this video. Even though it was slighted in the contest itself (despite receiving more views than all other entries combined), it showed the vitality of the Latin language community.

While this is certainly my most successful video, I have others that are continuing to enjoy relative popularity.

For instance, my music video for my Latin version of "Jingle Bells" currently has 72,542 views.

My video about my mathematical interpretation of the Tartaria Tablets currently has 52,650 views.

I will admit, however, that a significant number of those views may be related to a flame war that went on in the comments section between Romanians and Hungarians!

And I am happy to report that my Latin language Youtube Channel (which hosts my tutorial videos) has received, to date,  241,782 views.

Even so, I am eagerly watching for the Adele video to cross that 100K mark!

Watch and share to help hasten this milestone!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Great Day for Wisconsin!

I love the fact that the USA Today online headline on this story is currently "Villanova Paid the Price for Wisconsin Low Seeding."

It is an acknowledgement that Wisconsin was inappropriately placed at an 8th Seed.

But that's all over. Now Wisconsin will play seeds lower than Villanova for rounds to come.

And even if Wisconsin were to fall in the next game, this year now has a moment for those of us who graduated from that School to cherish. 

But, could this day get any better?

What if Barneveld also today won their Wisconsin State Division Championship today?


By a score of 58-28 the Barneveld Golden Eagles beat the Shullsburg Miners!

My mother and father graduated from Barneveld High School. Even though I was born and raised in Madison, it was always as if it was actually our home town and we were "big city" expats. And I even spent a few months with Barneveld as my official address when I lived at the Massey Homestead in 2002 before leaving Wisconsin to work at the NSA.

And so, congratulations, Badger Basketball (I have three degrees from that school!). Congratulations Barneveld Golden Eagles! 

This win happened in the wake of a tragic loss to a team player. She she rest in peace and may the family receive consolation.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

An Ides of March Update on my Russian Studies During Lent

In my last post I expressed some frustration about my sense that things were not progressing as I had hoped. 

I have acquired a conversant level of language on a number of occasions, and I always have focused more on learning to say things than gaining comprehension. The result has been that I have frequently found that I come off to native speakers as knowing more than I really do. 

When they ask me about myself, I have memorized how to describe myself and I rattle it off with a level of fluidity that implies a fluency I don't really have. And that invariably means they continue the conversation with a speed that I can't follow. And so they are confused when, after I describe myself, I'm immediately saying, "Sorry, I don't understand, can you please speak more slowly?"

And so, more from happenstance than intention, I have been approaching Russian differently. 

Life has been getting in the way of formally sitting down everyday and studying. But I am still committed to this project. As I have described in previous posts, I have important personal reasons for acquiring a functional use of Russian.

And so, I have been contenting myself with regular, but passive, learning.

Since my last post, I have been listening daily for hours during my commute to recorded dialogs, as well as nightly listening to episodes of a terrific BBC program "Russian Language and People." (It's like the Spanish Destinos, but for Russian.)

I have experienced times when, upon listening to a particular dialog many times over, I suddenly understand every word of an entire sentence, just from hearing every word of it in other contexts in other sentences.

My vocation as a Deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church means that I am hearing Russian constantly, and my level of comprehension has dramatically improved. I am still holding back on using the language with my parishioners. 

There is a Russian boy at the school where I teach, and he has a free period when I have hall duty (meaning, I walk the halls endlessly for an hour). And on a few occasions he has walked with me and I run through verb paradigms with him and practice simple conversations. 

In the final analysis, I am making progress. I am optimistic. Lent plods on. So do I...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

All People Die, But Not All People Live...

A Romanian friend living and teaching in Great Britain has asked me to translate this sentence into Latin.

Because Romanian is descended from Latin, it is interesting to compare that language to my proposed Latin translation.

All people die, but not all people live.
Toți oamenii mor, dar nu toți oamenii trăiesc.

This translates into Latin as follows:

Omnes homines moriuntur, sed non omnes homines vivunt. 

We see here that omnis (all, every) has been replaced by the adjective totus (whole). Sed is replaced by dar; the Latin verb vivere has been replaced by the Slavonic root *trajati.

Otherwise, the Latinate character of Romanian is preserved nicely.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Upate on my Progress Learning Russian

It's Monday of the Second Week of Lent. I have a forty-five minute commute each direction. And I've been listening to a set of dialogues in Russian I burned onto a CD. I have also been daily reviewing all the vocabulary in Phase One of my language learning program.

I feel that my ear is getting tuned to the cadences of Russian and I find myself understanding the dialogues more and more.

Yesterday the Patriarchal Parishes of Russia in America had a Mission Service and Deanery Meeting. Despite being ordained a Deacon for less than two months, I was somehow the "Senior" Deacon in attendance, meaning I was in charge of the Great Litany and stood by the presiding Priest throughout the service.

I heard a lot of Russian spoken around me. I would currently describe my level of comprehension as 20%, meaning, I understand one in ten words I hear, but I more or less follow the overall meaning of the sentences within their context. 

The passive listening I have been doing is good preparation for learning, but I need to take this to the next level. I resolve to have something serious to report back on in one week's time.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Learning Latin with Pope Francis - March 4, 2017

To visit my archive of Latin Papal Tweets, go to my main page. 

March 4, 2017

Here's a literal translation of the Latin: Lent forcibly compels us to conversion: we must with all (our) strength return to God (lit. it must be returned to God by us)

Grammatical Note: The agent of a gerundive phrase is expressed with the Dative.

And here's how the grammar of this Latin tweet works:

Grammar Points
Prep. + Acc.
acc. sing. fem. noun
conversio, conversionis
acc. pl. pronoun
nos, nostri
3rd pers. sing. pres. act. ind. verb
compellō, compellere, compulī, compulsus
nom. sing. fem. noun
Quadragesima, Quadragesimae
by us (to us)
dat. pl. pronoun
nos, nostri
Prep. + Acc.
acc. sing. masc. noun
Deus, Dei
with all
abl. sing. fem. adj.
omnis, omne
abl. sing. fem. noun
ops, opis
3rd pers. sing. pres. ind. verb
sum, esse, fui
it must be returned
neut. sing. gerundive
redeō, redīre, rediī, reditus

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Getting Started - Day One

Today, in the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is what is called "Cheesefare Sunday." This means that today was the last day to eat dairy products until Easter. Last Sunday was "Meatfare Sunday," so meat is already off our tables.

But today is also Day One of my campaign to learn Russian during Lent. I was busy at Church all day long. We had Divine Liturgy (Mass), followed by a brunch/fundraiser, and then "Forgiveness Vespers," a special service to formally begin Great Lent.

My job at this event has for many years been to serve shots of vodka to the attendees. As I served it, I heard Russians say to me:

Спасибо (Spaseeba)

I think I had previously learned that is how you say "Thank you" in Russian, but it was contextualized nicely today.

As my job continued, I heard someone say:

Большое спасибо (Balshoye spaseeba)

The linguist in me knows this must be the intensifier, "Thank you very much."

When, upon delivering vodka to another table I heard:
 Спасибо Большое (Spaseeba balshoye),

I deduced that the positioning of the adverb was not important.

And look, I don't even know enough right now to know if it even is an adverb. Maybe it's an adjective. I'll pick this up as I go.

My priest and I were going upstairs from the event to get ready for the "Forgiveness Vespers" and I asked him a question. 

I had heard him, the week prior, when giving a woman Communion, use the wrong name when saying, 'The Handmaiden of God [Name] Receives the Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 

When he said the wrong name, she corrected him. I then clearly heard him say:

Извини меня (Izveenee menya)

And I assumed that he had said "Forgive me." The "Forgiveness Vespers" involve asking people for forgiveness if we have offended or sinned against anyone.

So I asked him, "Is the way to say 'Forgive me' in Russian 'Izveenee menya'?"

He answered, "No, that is how you say 'Excuse me'. 'Forgive me' is 'Прости меня (Prastee menya)'."

When I got home from this long day of Church, I burned a CD that I will be listening to on my commute. It includes the first few chapters of three different Russian language programs I will be studying from. 

I also filled out Phase One of my vocabulary lists for Russian and read out loud those words. 

Week One begins. Lent begins. A week from now, I must be competent in Phase One and ready to move into Phase Two....

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Let's Learn a Language During Lent!

In my Eastern Orthodox Church, Lent formally starts on Monday (February 27). In the West, it starts on Ash Wednesday (March 1).

I've decided, in addition to the other traditional observances, to announce a Lenten Challenge.

I intend to learn a new language during Lent. I intend to learn Russian.

Now, I'm a linguist and so I'm not naive about what can (and cannot) be accomplished between now and Easter/Pascha on April 16.

But I also know that, with regular study every single day between now and then, one can achieve a certain degree of conversational competence.

I have a very personal reason for wanting to do this. On January 8, 2017, I was ordained a deacon for service in the Russian Orthodox Church. My parish is primarily first generation Russian immigrants. They speak various levels of English, but I consider it my spiritual duty to be able to meet them halfway.

I'm announcing this publicly because it will help me stay focused on the goal. In other words, since I have now said this out loud, I need to follow through!

I invite you to join me, if you are so inclined. I would sure love some company on this journey!

Whatever language you would like to have even a limited conversational ability in, decide that you will add such study to your Lenten discipline and it will happen!

I successfully learned Arabic, Spanish, and Romanian, and along the way I developed a list of the most important vocabulary items to learn in five phases of study. I will be using my lists to create a Russian version. I'll use other resources and blog about my progress.

If you want to learn Arabic, Spanish, or Romanian, I offer my lists of those languages for free, with accompanying MP3 files to listen to. If you have another language you want to learn, I have a blank template of my word lists.

My goal is to memorize the vocabulary of one phase of my plan each week, as well as study the language from other sources. 

If you join me, email me at keith [ at] or connect with me on Twitter @keithamassey and I will be happy to encourage you as you also (please!) encourage me.

Let us begin...

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Learning Latin with Pope Francis - February 21, 2017

To visit my archive of Latin Papal Tweets, go to my main page. 

February 21, 2017

Here's a literal translation of the Latin: God knows better than we (about) what we need; it is necessary (that) we have trust (in) Him, because his ways are altogether different from ours.

And here's how the grammar of this Latin tweet works:

Grammar Points
nom. sing. masc. noun
Deus, Dei
(than) we
abl. pl. pronoun
nos. nostri
3rd pers. sing. pres. act. ind. verb
sciō, scīre, scīvī, scītus
 (about) what
abl. sing. neut. rel. pronoun
qui, quae, quod; object of egemus
we need
1st pers. sing. pres. act. ind. verb
egeō, egēre, eguī
It is necessary
3rd pers. sing. pres. impers. verb
oportet, oportēre, oportuit
(in) Him(self)
dat. sing. masc. dem. adj.
ipse, ipsa, ipsum
(that) we have trust
1st pers. pl. pres. act. subj. verb
cōnfīdō, cōnfīdere, -, cōnfīsus
his (of him)
gen. sing. masc. dem. adj.
is, ea, id
nom. pl. fem. noun
via, viae
nom. pl. fem. adj.
diversus, diversa, diversum
Prep. + Abl.
abl. pl. fem. poss. adj.
noster, nostra, nostrum
3rd pers. pl. pres. ind. verb
sum, esse, fui