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Hack! Cough! Ugh! Why Is It So Dusty In Here?

August 13th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink

I am maneuvering, tip toeing, sidestepping these days around the cobwebs that this blog has gathered recently.  It seems my last post was (gasp!) over three weeks ago.  Obviously, this summer has not been a good time for my blog.  I’ve been completely taken over with responsibilities from my job, to the point that I (gasp gasp!) haven’t had time for personal blogging.

So, for those out there who still read this blog (that is, my mom and that one other friend who has me in their Google Reader), here’s a little update on what I’ve been doing lately:

Miss Irby

I think I’ve written briefly about her before, but you can get a sneak peek at what I’m working on at  Miss Adeline Irby was a missionary who can to Bosnia over 100 years ago and became a national figure of hope and progress during a time of civil unrest and upheaval.  I’m in charge of developing a website to go with the release of a book about her life.  Don’t worry — I didn’t write the book!

This is a site that you can’t yet get a sneak peek at, but I’m working on it too.  It should be up some time in September, and it will be the central web home for the organization I work with here in Bosnia.

Office Space

I’ve been working on finding office space for our organization here in Sarajevo, and (yay!  I’m just into parenthesis for this post) I was able to find us a space and negotiate a contract for us this past week.  So, the next several weeks will be filled with moving in and decorating our new physical home here in the city.

Going Out Of Town

I’m going out of town today with my wife to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary.  Besides this quick trip, we were just out of town last week for several days, and we’ll be going out of town on business next week for 3 days.  So, I’ve been doing all this, while also being absent half the time.

Thanks for taking time to catch up.  That’s about all I have time for today.  Take care, faithful reader.

I Just Write This Stuff For The Fame And Fortune

July 31st, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink


Over the years, people have come to me occasionally with questions about blogging.  “How do you start a blog?”  “What do I need to do with my blog?”  “How would a blog help me?”  I’ve helped where I could.  For about a year I kept my own blog about technology, search engines, and general internet news, and I learned a lot during that time about blogging.  The main thing that you will read around the internet is that, if you want to have a good blog, you must write something every day.   » Read the rest of this entry «

Where Is Language Year?

July 29th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink

A Sarajevo Film Festival banner outside the National Theatre in Sarajevo

Once again, life has taken its toll, and this blog has had to take a back seat.  My boss reminded me this morning that I have to oversee the development of 2 new websites, negotiate our organization’s acquisition of new office space, and take 3 trips out of town, all in the next month.  So, for my readers, I am very sorry about my recent absence, but, as you can see, it appears life has had other plans over the past several weeks.

» Read the rest of this entry «

The Film Festival Is Not Going To Be The Best Way To Continue Learning Bosnian, But It Sure Looks Like Fun

July 15th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink

Some of you may be aware, each year Sarajevo hosts an international film festival, welcoming actors and directors from far and wide, and treating locals to screenings of several independent films.  Here’s the website:

I’m sorry; I know many of you can’t read that, but I don’t think there is an English version.  And that connects to the title of the post — the festival, unlike most cultural events, is not a good way to continue learning Bosnian, because…  all the movies are subtitled in English.  And, mind you, these are not all Bosnian films, either.  Many are from various countries across the wider region.  So, when you are sitting and watching a Spanish movie, for example, with English subtitles, it really doesn’t contribute to your language learning, even though you are attending an event that is central to Sarajevo pop culture.

But it sure is fun, which means it could contribute to your desire to learn the language, for one good reason: it makes you want to stay in Sarajevo longer.  People tend to stay in places that they enjoy.  So, maybe my title is not quite right.  I’ll think about it some more and get back to you.

What Do You Need to Bring With You When You Are Going To See A New Language Professor For the First Time?

July 13th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink

Notebooks. Your calendar. Pencils. Pens. Typing paper? A pocket recorder? Highlighters? Markers? Old textbooks?

Today is the beginning of a new relationship.  It’s kind of like a first date… except in a much more professional sense. At long last, I’ve finally called and made an appointment with my wife’s language instructor, who apparently is the best thing since sliced bread.

Those American readers would recognize that “best thing since since sliced bread” is a common English figure of speech use to mean “best thing in a very long time”.  But to a Bosnian, it probably just sounds weird.  I hope my new instructor doesn’t read this.   » Read the rest of this entry «

Still Looking for a New Instructor

July 10th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink

My wife says I should call her language instructor. “She’s really good,” she says. “I will,” I said. “But don’t tell anyone.”

She smirked at me.  “Why?  Because everyone goes to her?”

It was nice, for a period of time, to be using a language instructor that none of my coworkers or close friends were using.  While I was advancing in my knowledge of the target language, people would say things like, “who is his teacher?”  and, “Where is he learning Bosnian?”

Probably, they were saying those things because of all the mistakes I was making, or because of how funny my accent was beginning to sound, and not because I was any good.  But I can flatter myself if I want to, I guess.

So, soon, the veil will lift and I will sit down with this new language instructor whom everyone uses.  And I will be better for it, I am sure, since everyone else already is. My wife seems to be doing very well since she started with this instructor.

The Journey To Language Acquisition Takes a Detour

July 6th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink

No, I haven’t stopped learning the language here; I actually feel like I have reached a level where I can learn faster than I have ever before.  However, here I am sitting, wondering how I am going to continue in my journey toward language acquisition.

My professor quit me.  She didn’t quit instructing students; in fact, I believe she is taking on a couple more students soon.  However, she quit with me, because I finished that big ol’ textbook I have blogged about several times now.  I am somewhat puzzled.  Did she want to quit because I was a really good student and sort of graduated from her, or was she bored with me because I wasn’t progressing fast enough?  I try to just tell myself it was the former and move on.

My language tutor is getting a new job.  It’s great that he is vacating his place in the unemployment line.  It just makes things harder for me.  It means that both my professor and my language tutor are moving on, and I am now reaching a place where I must learn in a much more self-directed manner than ever before.

So, I am looking at starting with a new professor, at least for the remainder of the summer.  Will she become bored with me, or insist that I don’t need her, the way that my old one did?  We’ll see.

Sitting in the Wannabe McDonalds in Sarajevo…

July 4th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink

I am sitting in the food court of Alta, the mall just down the hill from my house in Sarajevo, thinking of how I’ve failed to post anything for the past week or so. Yep, for the past several days I’ve been a failure as a blogger. It wasn’t without reason — my family and I just returned from a week of vacation in Makarska, Croatia, a town often referred to here as the “little Sarajevo” on the coast, because of the great number of Bosnians who go there for a week of vacation in the summer. I suppose we contributed to the phenomenon.

It was good to get away from the big city, even if we went to a place with no fast food and virtually no connection to the Western world. We did find the McDonalds, though, at the end of our stay, by driving to nearby Split, Croatia, about an hour away.

We are due to get our own McDonalds in Sarajevo, scheduled to open later this month, just in time for the big international film festival here in Sarajevo. McDonalds is one of those weird phenomenons in America. It is an unmistakable icon of capitalism, but it’s also one of those things that most middle-class Americans seem to have outgrown — that is, until they travel outside of America.

Most people who come here from America are refreshed by the lack of fast food chains and rampant materialism that capitalism has promoted in America. Then six months goes by. And after half a year of daily trips to the “grocery store”, which may be smaller than a Circle K and is sometimes out of things such as salt or Coca-Cola, but keeps your business because it is located at the bottom of your building, you start to look for things that remind you of the conveniences you left behind to go follow a dream that would take you to the great beyond.

And so, after extended stays in foreign countries, Americans who would never darken the door of a McDonalds in their native country come with great excitement to the confines of a foreign McDonalds, looking for the fatty hamburgers and fake salad shakers (are those still on the men there?) that they once claimed were too unhealthy to be consumed by a self-respecting, educated, health-conscious American.

McDonalds. I can’t think of a more appropriate subject for a 4-of-July post. Enjoy!

Mysteries of the World (Of the Croatian World, Anyway)

June 25th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink

One of the most difficult things in my journey of language acquisition has been finding good reading material.  I can go into a bookstore and pick up just about anything I want, but usually I’ll find myself unsatisfied with my selection.  Past attempts at finding good reading material have been mostly unsuccessful.  This time, I think I found a winner, and it exposes many of the mysteries of the world around us.  Well… not really.  But, it is interesting.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Turn off, Turn on, Get out, and Get on

June 20th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink

This post on the Linguist’s blog made me think of a conversation I had with a friend today about words in English, and how they translate into Bosnian.  “There are so many different words,” he said.  “It’s so much simpler in English.”  Now, of course he said that, he’s an American.  But then again, he’s also recognizing a very interesting fact about the differences between English and most of the other languages out there in the world. » Read the rest of this entry «