Monday, December 17, 2012

Yesterday's mistakes and mystery words

guerre is a war. I should have inferred this from the capitalization of the phrase « Seconde Guerre mondiale ».

lors de la guerre then becomes "lors de la war", or "during the war" - a compound "transitive" preposition. (TIL about the idea of transitive and intransitive prepositions.)

fut is some past tense thing; seems to be the simple past of être (to be).

se déroula is like de-rolling - unrolling, in this use more abstractly as in "to unfold, to proceed", or, as Google translates it, "took place". I can't quite figure out the se part.

d'août is just the month of August!

était is the imperfect past tense, again of être.

près de is what you get when you press things together: they end up close to each other. Specifically, près de 40 000 militaires are nearly 40,000 soldiers.

il s'agit frustrates my attempt to find its idiomatic role. It's clearly the "it is about" meaning of the verb agir - to act, but I can't coax Google to translate "it is" back to s'agit without adding an explicit "about" which clearly doesn't belong in the context of "it is the largest deployment".

depuis is just "since".

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Learning a new language

I feel like I want to learn a new language, but I can't quite decide which one. Since sometime in my teenage years, when I happened upon my sister's copy of Basic Italian (ISBN-10 4833700301), I've wanted to learn Italian, and for a short time in 2004 I could get by with a few Italian words and a lot of handwaving.

But Italian is relevant to pretty much only one country: Italy itself. So I've been on a search for another language to learn. Ideally one with some chance of economic benefit. I'd considered Spanish (which would open not just Spain, but several South American countries), Chinese (likely to become the dominant economy in the world, but just so damn foreign, and that writing system!), French (some use in parts of Africa, France itself has a decent economy) and Lithuanian (a linguistic interest sparked by a former Venusian interest). For now I'm leaning towards French, so I've bookmarked a few pages and now I think I should read a French Wikipedia article (or at least its introduction) every day.

Today's article is Operation Athena:

L'opération Athéna est la contribution des Forces canadiennes à la Force internationale d'assistance et de sécurité (FIAS) lors de la guerre d'Afghanistan. L'opération fut divisée en deux phases : la première se déroula de juillet 2003 à juillet 2005 dans la région de Kaboul et la seconde d'août 2005 à décembre 2011 dans la région de Kandahar. L'objectif global de l'opération était d'améliorer la sécurité et la gouvernance de l'Afghanistan. L'opération Athéna à Kandahar a constitué la plus longue mission de combat de l'histoire des Forces canadiennes. Avec près de 40 000 militaires canadiens engagés, il s'agit du plus grand déploiement des Forces canadiennes depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale.
I'll document my progress learning the language by translating what (I think) I understand. Obviously this technique relies quite heavily on the French language's influence on English, and Latin's too. Here goes:

Operation Athena is the Canadian Forces' contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) deployment to Afghanistan. The operation was divided into two phases: the first, from July 2003 to July 2005, to Kabul and surroundings, and the second, from the end of 2005 to December 2011, to Kandahar and its surroundings. The objective for the global operation was to assist with security and government of Afghanistan. Operation Athena at Kandahar was the longest combat mission in the history of the Canadian Forces. With about 40,000 Canadian troops engages, it was also the largest global deployment of the Canadian Forces' Second Army.

Mystery words:
lors (de la) guerre
il s'agit