"The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult." ~Marie de Vichy-Chamrond, Marquise du Deffand, letter to Jean Le Rond d'Alembert, 7 July 1763
In the past few days I have taken three tiny steps towards my humble goal of conquering the European languages.
Translating a couple of poems written by Endre Ady into Swedish has been fun but tiring. Hungarian isn’t exactly an easy language but it has the same sort of playfulness as Finnish, and to a lesser extent, the Slavic languages. It’s like creating a puzzle from all the grammatical pieces that are lying spread out on the floor. Why Swedish then? That’s a good question since I have also done some translation work from French into Finnish. If I’m translating for fun, which sometimes is the case, I usually pick my source language randomly. Hungarian and Swedish somehow belong together since I’m studying Hungarian at a Swedish university where most of the teaching is (evidently) in Swedish. It’s funny that: once you are used to combining two languages, it feels strange to use them with any other languages. The same thing happens in Russian; I could never imagine translating Russian into any other language than English, since that’s what I spent 4 years of my life doing.
I have also tried to brainwash myself into thinking in Polish, but it’s not going too well, I’m appalled with my own level at the moment. The verbs are messing it up, together with the instrumental case. The basic rule is that the instrumental case is used with the verb to be = by´c, but I keep using the nominative instead.
And there is actually a fourth step, but it’s even smaller than the others, it can hardly be called a step at all: tonight my bedtime story will consist of beginner’s Czech.