Acade(me)

The dissertation was only the beginning.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006
All Greek To Me
I've been at work on this stupid chapter all weekend long, it seems. It is seriously kicking my butt. I thought I could finish it on Friday, but then realized that I had about 50 pages of debates to read in a foreign language before I could write anymore, complex legal debates that took me forever to understand in English, let alone in another language. I worked for a few hours yesterday while T and ST played, and then have worked some more today. I've written ten pages over the weekend, which is good. It's not nearly what I hoped to write, however, since I was stymied by this whole foreign language thing. I'm hoping to add a few more pages tonight, to get through the thickest debates, and wrap this thing up no later than Tuesday.

Whenever we're at a function or a party and someone asks me about what I do, I tell them about my dissertation (the bare minimum - don't want to put them to sleep!) and then the inevitable question is: "Wow, so you must speak Foreign Language?" Without fail, T always chimes in with: "Yes, she's fluent!" And then, every time, I have to correct him to say that I'm not at all fluent, that I can read most anything and understand most anything I read or hear, but that I'm still clumsy when I speak and write. Not fluent. Proficient -- even highly proficient -- but certainly not fluent. It's a frustrating thing to be highly proficient, actually: even though I score really high on standardized language tests, and even though I've mastered several ability assessment interviews, I still feel so inadequate when I encounter the language I need to read/use in my field and for my dissertation. I read the scholarly articles and primary source material without a problem, and then suddenly realize that I've probably misinterpreted something, that some word I thought I knew actually means something entirely different. It's frustrating because, when it comes to complicated arguments in another language, I feel so handicapped.

But, I'm slogging through the material and I'm happy with my progress this weekend nonetheless. And I'm learning more and more about this language I've studied since 8th grade, learning to appreciate more of its nuances and regional variations.

Aside from working, I did make time to do my usual Sunday chores: clean the sink (scrubbed! disinfected! sparkling!) and make my Meal Plan for the week beginning January 30th. This week's plan only includes four days, since T and I are leaving for our mini-vacation to New Town on Friday and I didn't plan the meals out for my parents.

For a treat, I'm going to repeat the Chocolate Almond Biscotti I made from The Good Cookie (page 186) a few weeks ago, since I know my parents will really enjoy them, and I'll probably make Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from the same book (page 68) to use up some overripe bananas sitting on my counter.

Back to work for me.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 1/29/2006 07:51:00 PM  
1 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 11:00 AM, Blogger phd me said…

    You may not consider yourself fluent but I sure do! I wish I had a language up my sleeve. I took Latin in high school, which I don't regret, but it used a very different skill set. So, when I got to college and started up with German, I was flummoxed. Reading? Okay. Writing? Not too bad. Understanding it when someone spoke it? Not a chance. I did the minimum requirement and escaped with my life.

    So, good for you! We monolinguals salute you - and wish to include you on our European vacations. :)

     
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