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Posts Tagged ‘ignorance

By Any Other Words, No Knows

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I’ve launched yet another personal project that I’ll never finish. And is like so many of my other projects, insofar as it will serve no practical purpose, other than to indulge in some fun that rather likely will be unique to me.

I am going to learn to say “I don’t know” in as many different languages as I can.


So far, I know how to say the phrase in three beyond my native tongue: Spanish, French and Albanian. I used to know how to say it in Russian — so that will be the first I’ll add to my list, resuscitating it from a brief college flirtation with maybe learning enough to get me into some good chess manuals, alas to no avail.

This personal project actually began back in high school, as I gradually lost just about all the Spanish they forcefed us hoping to encourage Latin American relations in the 60s back before immigration issues cast its shadows. By the time I gave up trying to stop the erosion in my brain, I had retained only a few useless words like albondigas and the final two phrases that got me by: “Tengo que ir al baño” and “No lo sé.” And it’s long been a matter of inconsequential personal pride to me that confessing my ignorance remains the only scrap from any language I’ve given any time.

Only now, 50 years after not knowing in Spanish, has it occurred to me that it might be fun to not know in a bunch of other languages. That, and giving myself some variation, like learning how to say “I know nothing.”

I’ll build this via pages like I’ve done with other posts. So call this first page Not Knowing English

  • “I don’t know.” — If I had an automatic counter installed, I’d begin keeping track of how many times I admit this out loud, and what I do about it. With the goal of making the incidence high, and accelerating. But with a proactive strategy of working to know.

And then —

  1. Not Knowing Spanish
  2. Not Knowing French
  3. Not Knowing Albanian
  4. Not Knowing Russian
  5. Not Knowing Finnish
  6. Not Knowing German
  7. Not Knowing Italian

Next? Give me a few years at this little diversion, and I’ll seriously be able to speak my piece, then ask that old rhetorical question, “Which word did you not understand?”

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Written by macheide

23 November 2017 at 12:15 pm

Posted in Adrien, undone

Tagged with , ,