Books and Words

Cedric has this to say about my desire to strip all books from my life:

I don't know about you, but typically, the first time I am at somebody's house, one of the first things I do is check out the CD collection or the books on display. Initially, it's just out of simple curiosity but as years went by, I realized that I got a lot more information from this casual inspection than I thought. First of all, it tells me a lot about the person: what types of books they are into, what titles, what topics, what authors, if they are eclectic or focused on one particular genre.

My inspection usually leaves me with quite a few questions to ask to my host. How they liked such book, what such other book is about, what is their all-time favorite, etc... It's a great conversation starter but most of all, it gives you a quick and yet very accurate insight into somebody's mind, even if you just met them.


Everyone does this! HOW many people do you know who have books on their walls that they've never read? People normally have two sections of books. The NICE books on display - the hardcovers and black-bound series classics - and then their paperback romance novels and sci-fi stuff they keep hidden away upstairs or in the back. It's not representative of you at all (unless, of course, doing this says something about you...)

Actually, I have a mania about too many things. My brother, who's six years older than me, is the worlds biggest packrat. He started with comic books when he was 12 and still owns every one. I've helped him move his 60 or so comic book boxes at least a half a dozen times in my life (there's always more). Then about 10 years ago, he started getting into collecting comic-related toys and Robin Hood memorabilia. How he lives in a house with a two car garage filled to exploding with "stuff" AND he rents the biggest storage space he can for all his other "stuff". AAAAAGGHH! I'm the exact opposite of this. I live with as little stuff as I can. The rest goes... There's nothing that gives me more joy than a clean shelf. ;-)

Cedric, by the way, is quite the cool guy. I mean, first he reads my weblog so that gives him points right there. But he's actually an expat like myself, but from France and lives in San Francisco. Since I'm from San Francisco and live in Spain, the similarities are many. I hadn't noticed until I just read his post about learning new words:

Playing with words

Do you remember when was the last time you pronounced a word for the first time?

I am not talking about a brand new word that didn't exist in the language until recently, such as "weblog". I mean a common word such as "car".

If you can't remember, chances are pretty good you are a native in whatever country you are living in right now. But I'm pretty sure that all expats out there know what I am referring to. We keep pronouncing common words for the first time, and it's a very interesting experience.

Case in point, myself :-)

Last night, for the first time, I pronounced the word "fissile" in a conversation (don't ask). I have pronounced this word quite a few times in French and I have read it in English as well, so I know it's a valid English word. But when I came about to pronouncing it, I had a little hesitation: was I going to pronounce it right? Or was I using it in the right context? (usually not a problem when the English and French contexts match, and I was confident that such was the case)


I remember not only the first time I said words in Spanish, but also the people who first taught me words too. Sometimes it can be as simple as the word for "full" (lleno) that I learned from my sister-in-law during one of the food-filled visits to my in-laws. Other times it can just be the proper way to pronounce a word with accents like "p�gina" which I was saying wrong while teaching a class on HTML... Finally one of the students couldn't take it any more and interupts me: "PAAAH-gina! PAAAAH-gina! Por DIOS!!".

Learning another language is tough. Amazingly tough. Cedric is going to post about accents some other day, which should be interesting. My accent in Spanish is horrible... I feel for the people who have to try to have conversations with me every day. I need another 3 years here at least.

Anyways, after seeing Cedric's post on speaking another language, I decided to check out his resume to see where's he's from and where he is now which is how I learned he's a Frenchman in San Francisco. Also, he's got a PhD (Doc Cedric?) and it seems he's working for BEA right now as a Senior Software Developer. Holy crap! That's awesome. I'm amazed at the people in the space.


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