Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Secret Meaning of Disco

It took me almost a year from this post to come up with an answer. I had been pondering the annoying question of why so many language learning books have exercises without answers. Actually, including the answers may be what sets the Teach Yourself series apart.

Then last night I was reading the entertaining Scribblers, Sculptors, and Scribes, a supplement to the famous Wheelock's Latin I used in college a million years ago, but one that focuses on things like ancient graffiti -- which is a pretty fun idea for learning a classical language. Anyway, in the back of the book, they mention the Teacher's Editions of Wheelock's and the attendant Workbooks -- which are only for sale to teachers. The penny suddenly dislodged. The reason language books don't contain the answers is to prevent cheating.

Okay, duh. But the reason it just never occurred to me is because, dude, I can't find any classes! I can't cheat at something that doesn't exist! Especially for a language like Hindi, I have no choice but to attempt the self-taught route. Apart from the Door Into Hindi online series, my most-helpful book so far is R. S. McGregor's Outline of Hindi Grammar (with the caveat that it's usually a fluke which book is most helpful to what person), which is subtitled "With Exercises." But I can't know if I'm screwing up the exercises or not. When the book was published, though, I don't think it would have occurred to anybody that people would ever use it outside of an academic environment.

Even for a more traditional college language like Latin, I haven't been able to find a physical class that I can actually take. So the thought of trying to cheat just seems absurd.

Anyway, the best part of my Scribblers-induced Latin refresher was the sudden realization that, years ago, I learned the conjugation "Disco, Discere, Didici." Which means, of course, "to learn."

So whenever one is yelling "Disco! Disco! Disco! Yeahhhhh!" (as one does), one is actually saying "I learn! I learn! I learn!"

Sometimes synergy is a wonderful thing.

Actually, when I win the lottery, I plan to open a library with a design scheme based on Disco Dancer stage settings. With a voodoo/hoodoo archive and chapel in the backroom. And a wine bar. Take that, Rem Koolhaas!


memsaab said...

1) I've been to that library and it is COOL

2) Will you sign on to help me with the Bombay Film Museum?

3) May your New Year be discolicious!

Anarchivist said...

YES YES YES to the Bombay Film Museum.

It's looking like a wee bit of a blizzard here, but that can't stop the disco.

Happy New Year's to you and yours!