December 30th, 2007


Opinions, anyone?

I'm planning a big trip through Eastern Europe next year, and looking at having a serious go at learning the languages I'm likely to encounter. I already have native English and largely bilingual German, both of which should work as fall-back options, but my plan is to be able to at least stammer out some simple words and phrases in the local lingo.
To that end, I'm wondering what anyone thinks of the Teach Yourself courses for the following languages:

- Bulgarian
- Serbian
- Croatian
- Czech
- Hungarian

I already have the Bulgarian one lying around somewhere for some reason, but I'm wondering if I need to expect to be frustrated by it. The other ones I'm pretty sure I can pick up at my local bookshops.
In relation to the Serbian and Croatian ones, I've been told before that Croatian is probably the better language to learn first for grammatical reasons, but since the two languages are largely the same thing, I imagine I could use either course depending on which one is easier to use/better.

EDIT: I'm asking about the Teach Yourself courses specifically because I know I can get them easily. If there are better ones out there ("Colloquial [Language]" for example), let me know and I'll look into it further.

bags of various kinds!

this was inspired by a post over at customers_suck, the comments section of which basically turned into a dialect free-for-all. English speakers, of the following three words, which would you use to describe a bag a woman uses daily: purse, handbag or pocketbook? Is there any difference in these words for you? Do you use another word that I haven't thought of?

For me (native speaker from the NYC metro area), the three are mostly interchangeable. However, I wouldn't expect to hear "handbag" coming out of the mouth of anyone under sixty. I also wouldn't call my giant corduroy sack a handbag - I would only use that to describe a smaller, nicer bag, if I used it at all - but I wouldn't be surprised if my over-70 aunt called my giant corduroy sack a handbag. I generally use the word "purse" to describe my daily bag, but pocketbook is equally familiar to me.

please respond with whether or not you're a native speaker and where you're from!
al oe

personal question re: japanese pronunciation

so, i'm in a band, and our name involves japanese. we're called nakatomi plaza, which is not a name we chose because of its being japanese, but rather because when we named the band 9 years ago there was an 80's movie reference as band name zeitgeist going on. (for those that don't know, nakatomi plaza is the building that gets blown up in the first die hard)

so anyway, we generally pronounce it as they did in the film, putting emphasis on the first syllable (i think). knock atomi, sort of. but i think japanese is often or generally emphasised on the second syllable? i could be totally wrong about that.

but anyway, i don' think nakatomi is a word, but a name (as in the nakatomi clan) but i thought there might be a 'correct' pronunciation.

i'm not going to start pronouncing it differently, since it's a movie reference, but i just got curious about it, because i read a comic with 'amigara' in it and while my original thought was to say it in a sort of iambic way, i figure it's probably actually aMIgara. but hey, i could be wrong about that too!