Work With World Languages

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Work with World Languages

To get this page started quickly, here’s an excerpt on my world languages and TV work in Quincy from an email I wrote in March 2013:

“PS: – … In the attached email, I mention in passing that, in 2007, I created, for local cable access tv station qatv Quincy, Mass, 30 1-hour tv shows in a series called, “How to Get Started in 20 World Languages.”  Cool?  A highlight was my singing the opening lines to Jim Morrison’s “Hello I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name” in 20 spoken languages while showing the hand-written lyrics on an easel in the 20 alphabets and scripts.  Fun stuff, right?

– Here’s the background on that …

– During 2001 through 2007, I studied 20 world languages.  Arabic first  since it came to my attention with the Cat Stevens conversion to Islam story and I love love love Cat Stevens.  If you have his email, well, you know the drill … 😉 … Anyway, he wrote an Arabic alphabet CD I thought was a clever learning tool.  I  decided that Arabic must be do-able by me if 300 millions Arabs and a  billion muslims somehow handle it.

– I mastered most of the tough  pronunciation issues on a limited number of useful expressions and got  fluent with the phonetic Arabic script, writing Hannah Montanna, Gwen  Stefani, and anybody’s name for fun with the phonetic system.

– I  mastered the tricky Arabic verb system with all the hollow, first weak,  third weak, doubled, etc forms and their style of participles.

– What developed about a year into it was an interest in how information gets encoded in sound and writing in various languages.

– So I knew a little French already, added Mandarin.  Then between 2001  and 2007, added Cantonese, Russian, Japanese, Korean/Hangul, Vietnamese, Thai, Greek, Latin, Spanish, Brazilian Portugese, Hindi, Urdu, Farsi,  Irish, and already had English.  I think that’s 20.  Oh, Italian.  Need  two more if I’m counting them right.  One more.  There’s the bad eyes  issue.  Wonder which one I’m forgetting?  Anyway …

– Got very good  with the little 3-part Hangul syllable pieces, understood and used the  Mandarin radicals directory for the common Chinese writing system, wrote expressions and teaching charts for Japanese phonetic hiragana katakana and non-phonetic kanji/chinese characters, had charts with arabic/farsi and arabic/urdu script differences, and so forth for all the writing  systems.   Great stuff.

– What had evolved by then was the goal of  persuading America that just knowing English isn’t really necessary and  that even the most complicated most impossible-looking languages were  do-able if approached right and dealt with one piece at a time.

–  While living in Quincy, Mass, in 2007, I made, for cable access channel  QATV, 30 one-hour shows called, How to Get Started in Twenty World  Languages with Tom McMullen.  Well-received.  Hair was pretty long  then.  My ponytail era.  Most of rest of life was military or biz cuts.  Weight was a little high in early 2007; was down nicely by show 30 in June.  One show had kids in it writing Hannah Montana and stuff in  Arabic script; another doing same with phonetic curly-cue Thai  characters.  Another highlight was the show in which I sang, Hello, I  Love You Won’t You Tell me Your Name in 20 world languages, showed and  explained how the two expressions were written in each script, in less  than an hour.  I don’t know if they kept those tapes or if I still have that one.

– I had a little dry erase board, and then a poster, of spelling Gwen in all the 18 phonetic alphabets and scripts (Mandarin and Chinese writing isn’t phonetic).  I don’t know if they have the tapes there still.  That was a while ago.  But I used the “how to write Gwen” visual in 18 phonetic scripts to explain clearly in each of the first 20 shows what the phonetic vs. non-phonetic writing system issue was.  Was cool.

– I was also building a website that  had movie stills from paused DVD movies with language subtitles on to  teach language elements using cool scenes from Tin Cup, Willis and Kim’s Blind Date, and Madonna’s Body of Evidence and such.  On my Thai show, I used a photo of Bruce Willis drunk doing the mambo at a party he was  crashing and pointed out the phonetic Thai words for “mambo” and “john”, the character’s name.

– Eyes problems pretty much shut me down on  most of that in the middle and end of 2007, but it was fun and promising while it lasted.

– Fun stuff.

– Cheers.

– Thanks for reading.

Tom

*********** end of excerpt from email about world languages *********

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