Just a Few Days Away… (via SYZYGY ON LANGUAGES)

Hello All, The release date for the Polyglot Project is less than 10 days away. Officially, it’s November 15, 2010, but it may be sooner! A link to the complete, free PDF of the book will be posted here and on my YouTube Channel (syzygycc). It contains over 500 pages of the best language learning techniques, as explained by successful YouTube Polyglots and language learners. If you want to learn how to successfully learn a language or two (or ten … Read More


Autumn Thoughts

An aerial view of the colorful autumn forest
Fall as it is known in America

Autumn, that season which my American readers will more readily refer to as “Fall”, is obviously one of four seasons in the year and therefore ought to have three months, since obviously twelve divided by four is three. It wouldn’t be fair if one season had more time and the others less.

But when exactly does Autumn begin? In some parts of the Northern hemisphere they say it’s September, October and November, and that’s the most common definition. In the southern hemisphere they say March, April and May, which mirrors that. In North America, however, they started to measure it from the September equinox. There is also a Celtic tradition which calls August to October the Autumn months – so why the discrepancies? Why isn’t there an objective Autumn?

I can’t find any links for this online, but as memory serves, one time a famous scientist was asked by a television interviewer to define the start and close of Autumn, and he said the following “Botanically speaking, autumn starts when the leaves start to fall off the trees, and finishes when they have all fallen off”.

I found this problematic, as there are trees which have some leaves left on all winter. However, this year as I look out of my window I see that all the leaves that are going to fall off trees – at least the ones around here, are already gone. There’s no sign of leaves on any of them, and it’s only the first week of November – the month whose name in Polish means “the falling of the leaves” – ‘listopad’.

The reason is fairly clear though. The last few days have had a warm but strong wind, which I have quite enjoyed walking around in. It was 16 degrees one day but people were in the main wrapped up. I was in just a jacket and shirt and tie and didn’t feel the need for anything more than that, as I generally don’t until it gets below ten degrees centigrade. About a month ago it was quite a bit colder and last year at this time there had already been snow in Warsaw – although not yet in Moscow.

So we have an interesting thing – trees looking like it’s already winter and temperatures better than some that we had in the summer. I wonder what that bodes for the coming winter. A few weeks back I blogged here about the arguments being raised for a really cold winter this year. Could this early leaf-loss be a harbinger of what’s to come?

The Psalms of Davey #7 – “I sought the praise of sinners”

This is the seventh of my cycle of ten Hymns, called “The Psalms of Davey”. They are being reproduced in a special category on this blog one after another. In only one case is the tune my own (that’ll be number ten). In other cases, please follow the links to get to the midi for the tunes, courtesy of http://www.cyberhymnal.org To find the category of “Psalms of Davey” please review the categories section in the side bar.


(Words Uncle Davey, Voronezh, Russia, 12th October 1985. Music Chretien d’Urhan (1790-1845) Tune name “Rutherford“. People interested in historical curiosities, don’t overlook to click on the link I gave to the wikipedia article on the composer, as his life was interesting and the end of it something of an enigma.)

The tune is named for Samuel Rutherford, and is normally sung to Anne Cousin’s hymn The sands of time are sinking, which when unabridged is one of the longest hymns in use, as well as some of the best religious poetry in the English language.

My text cannot compare in beauty with the usual use of the tune I have selected for it, but the state of mind in it is something which I, and I am sure not only I, have needed to face up to again and again. Pride is a very sneaky sin, you can even feel pride for believing you’ve dealt with your pride. I don’t think I’ve managed to perfectly rid myself of wrongful pride for more than a few seconds of my entire waking life, if that, which is why I cannot but hope on the mercy of God, and why I say that those Christians who believe we can only endure to the end and be saved if we become somehow free of sin, (which when I compare that to my own experience seems frankly laughable) and who reject the doctrine of eternal security of believers unless they can attain to some sinless perfection on earth – these people either don’t have the same problems as I do or they just gloss over them. Actually it is simply a lie from the devil, who will put anything in a person’s mind that will stop them from going to God repeatedly for forgiveness as often as he goes to the tap for water, which is the true experience of the penitent sinner. I hope someone out there is blessed by these words as they resonate with your own experience.

I sought the praise of sinners,
Their glance and their regard
I sought their admiration
And now my heart is hard
Lord, make me poor in spirit
That I might humble be
Cut back my vain delusions
Be all in all to me.

My soul is sick and suffering
From self-idolatry
Lord, now I pray Thee, cleanse me
From sinful pride me free
O set me free from bondage
From seeking praise of men
And may I seek Thy glory
Not vaunt myself again.

This hypocrite repentant
Lord, purge in sovereign grace
And may my spirit’s leaven
Dissolve before Thy face
Lord, grant me self-abasement
And singleness of mind
To worship Thee for only
In Thee my all I find.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5 v 3)

The concentrated vs the disconcentrated polyglot

Map showing the distribution of language famil...
Supertribal linguations in geographic space

I posted this on here today, when it seemed a fruitless discussion on what should be a fun activity, a play with words, was turning into the next Punic War, if you’ll pardon the Pun.

There’s more than one way to be a polyglot. Let’s allow the not-strictly-true-but-true-enough assumption that the average word in any linguist‘s portfolio takes the same time to learn, and let’s give a value of one minute to that.

Now, say one polyglot has learned 60,000 words taking 60,000 minutes of his life but these are divided over 60 languages. This Polylot speaks 60 languages with one thousand words in each language.

Another has learned 60,000 words taking 60,000 minutes of his life, but these words are concentrated into 4 languages. He speaks 4 languages with 15,000 words in each language.


1. Which of these two polyglots has learned more language?

2. Which is the greater linguist and polyglot?

3. Who has worked harder?

4. Who has the greater achievement?

5. Who has the more impressive achievement?

6. Who gets more utility from his work?

Anyone who can answer these questions, kindly go ahead.
Because I can’t.