NIGHT 262 – THE STORY OF ALA AL DIN ABUL SHAMAT

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“Oh!”

Study sketches for students

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NIGHT 261 – THE STORY OF ALA AL DIN ABUL SHAMAT

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Teaching oil painting too, privately – underpainting some lovely teapots

The very very first layer. Sometimes I underdraw, sometimes I don’t. Here I didn’t.

I actually see many similarities between oils and miniature painting. They’re not as different as they first appear. Neither do oils have to be ‘messy’ – there is a lot of preparation and planning, akin to the miniatures, and the idea of layers as well as the more ‘in the moment’ spontaneous decisions.

NIGHT 260 – THE STORY OF ALA AL DIN ABUL SHAMAT

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Polyglot parenting

They say that adults can’t learn languages like children. Can’t soak up languages like a sponge in an immersive environment full of wonder at the meaning of things. Our brains have ossified and certain bones in our ears have ‘set’ at around age 26 (as one speech therapist told me in my early 20s, which got an artificial clock ticking in me – I’m well over that now and still able to acquire completely new sounds, though) so we literally can’t hear certain nuances of sounds in certain languages anymore (famous test on Japanese kids then adults on differences between sounds ‘l’ and ‘r’). It’s basically too late for us.

That’s true.

Unless you’re a parent!

Being a parent is a golden opportunity to learn languages like a child, alongside your baby and child, TOGETHER with the back end support of your analytical brain. It’s actually a privilege we have to get the best of both worlds. We learn how a child learns as we are experiencing their language acquisition in real time. And in our own free, spare time in our dreams, we are studying the target language academically and analytically, which a child cannot yet do.

So during the day we melt ourselves down to the level of children, experiencing everything with wonder and appreciating the connections between things for the first time, absorbing all the immersive massive input like a sponge soaking up not just the words but the whole world, not giving two hoots about grammar and declensions and inflections and case and gender and number and mood and aspect and tense and agreement or even pronunciation…we just speak freely and cheerfully in order to communicate and to get our own meaning across. And it works. And we repeat. For the most part, we are understood and if not we quickly learn how to be understood, as it’s the most important thing in our lives. We don’t care about learning when we’re acquiring.

And during the black and white night we reflect on the brilliant day. Now is the time to worry about grammar and all the rest of it. We look at black and white adult resources, textbooks, grammars, podcasts, dictionaries. We just have to make sure we are one or two (preferably 10 but we do what’s possible) steps ahead of our child and that’s enough, we’re still in the game, constantly encouraging our child’s blossoming language and motivating them to acquire more and go further. At night we ourselves go deeper. This is when we do our own real learning.

And back during the day again, older and wiser and a little bit tireder but equally inspireder – this is for our children, remember – we are back immersed in the technicolour world of childhood. Animal names, animal sounds, toilet humour, seemingly useless, old old nursery rhyme vocabulary and things not normally used in adult conversations (tuffet?!)… all these have a place in the randomiser that is the child’s brain. All are useful (and sometimes quite fun). We don’t know how and why. We don’t care. We just follow the child. And eventually we are able to learn a new word or piece of grammar as a child, and simultaneously and lighting-fast in our adult brains we put the pieces of our analytical puzzle together. “Ah!… that’s because of that… it’s like that!” Lightbulb ding!

And on we go, pinging back and forth between the adult and child worlds (the child’s is definitely more fun; I love the hilarious saying: “Don’t grow up – it’s a trap!”), between learning and acquisition, between academia and realia, between grammar and wonder.

I don’t see why this isn’t possible for non-parents. All you need is a childlike wonder for the world and a half-decent adult brain. The adults I personally know who are ‘good at languages’ as non-bilingual adults are also the ones who have open minds, are curious like children, persistently fun-loving and able to laugh at themselves and don’t worry about making mistakes or always being perfect. In short, they are like children themselves (whether or not they have any).

I’m not a languages expert, just a language lover and now-parent who has loved languages all her life and is seeing them from a new, fresh light for the first time. This is my experience and also what I’ve noticed among my language friends – certain traits they seem to have in common. If you’re not open-minded with a sense of humour, like my friends, then maybe it really is too late, I don’t know. Languages are living, breathing, growing things too – I’ve studied so-called ‘dead’ ones like Avestan and Latin at university level too – and my approach to all is the same. Open-minded, sense of humour, seeing the connections between all things. If you have those, again like the friends of mine I am secretly studying!- you’ll be fine (in life, too, not just languages). They all have those things in abundance. It’s a journey not a destination. Nobody ever finishes learning any language, not even their mother tongue. So might as well enjoy the ride ~

#languages #multiplelanguages #multilingualism #polyglot#polyglotparent #polyglotchild #polyglottoddler #languageswithkids#startemyoung #grammar #wonder #mimosa #diptyque #lifelonglearning#foreverastudent #parenting

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NIGHT 259 – THE STORY OF ALA AL DIN ABUL SHAMAT

Watching paint dry 4

Rendering, shading, pardaxt

Deeper and darker, more beautiful and solid

NIGHT 258 – THE STORY OF ALA AL DIN ABUL SHAMAT

Toddler calligraphy

山 shān mountain

Split-second decisions: I almost intervene when he does the wrong stroke order (as this is crucial and I normally weave this in initially), then pull my hand back at the last minute, as it’s a balance between getting the correct form (which stems from the correct order) and the freedom, spontaneity and joy of play, plus the pleasure of wielding a brush. Sometimes, actively teach, yes (especially as they copy us, and it’s actually my calligraphy set). Sometimes, just let them play.

The old-fashioned, traditional art of memorisation and muscle memory training versus Montessori and child-led.

Art and parenting. The ancient and modern, played out in the education of children.

Does it always have to be a ‘versus’, though…?

I don’t actually know the answer, so I do what I always do: do both

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www.theperfectbrush.co.uk

#magicwaterpaper #funwithkids #toddlercalligraphy #theycopyyou#rotememorisation #montessori #childled #vaishaliprazmaribrushes#theperfectbrush #Waterbrush #Cloudsbrush #Rocksbrush #Firebrush#watercolour #chinesecalligraphy #miniaturepainting #persianminiature#mughalminiature #brushpackaging #beautifulpackaging #red #wax

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NIGHT 255 – THE STORY OF ALA AL DIN ABUL SHAMAT

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8/1001

THE FOOL

(Little Drummer Boy)

About to embark on life’s exciting adventure journey full of new beginnings, innocence, spontaneity, freedom and endless possibilities, with the world at his feet, the curious, wise fool pauses to adjust his hat.

Part of a new Tarot series which is part of my 1001 Nights PhD

If anyone knows the original Czech carol of the drum, on which the famous Little Drummer Boy song is based on, please let me know!
Pôvodná pieseň vychádzala z tradičnej českej koledy. Ak niekto vie o tejto koledy, dajte mi vedieť prosím!

#thefool #littledrummerboy #českakoleda #tradična #vaishaliprazmari#minorarcana #archetypes #majorarcana #tarot #stories #1001nightsphd#storywithinastory #series

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NIGHT 254 – THE STORY OF ALA AL DIN ABUL SHAMAT

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Black and white

Roundabout way to make racism extinct through multilingualism

My son’s spinning top reminds me of the Yin Yang ☯️ symbol. There’s a bit of white in the black, and a bit of black in the white. One cannot exist without the other. Both have to be equal or the balance is broken, literally the tipping point.

I am also a sucker for anything printed in multiple languages and when it’s a toy to remind children of the equal value of different languages, even better. In the words of Mandela: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” Quite right. Speak other languages; show respect to other people.

I know nobody says we are all one human race anymore but I maintain that we are all one human species and we ought to band together and unite to fight the aliens when they come (if any) (probably yes). I know reality is different to the ideal world in my head where everyone is equal in value (not everyone is treated equally and unfortunately racism still exists despite having an equal place value – I would like to see racism become extinct in my lifetime).

And the black and the white spin round and round in harmony and give birth to many many colours and in between colours and the world turns round and round…
If you look closely at the spinning you may see red, green and blue primaries

Time passing in lockdown

From Bajo toys, made in Poland

#oneworld #spinningtop #blackandwhite #harmony #idealworld#multilingualisn #bajotoys #onespecies #humanrace #languages #mandela#childrenstoys #yinyang #equality #diversity

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NIGHT 253 – THE STORY OF ALA AL DIN ABUL SHAMAT

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DELIGHTED to announce the birth of our son Kashi!

WELCOME TO THE WORLD

K A S H I

The Light
His name is Kashi – Sanskrit shining, or the luminous one. An old, old, old name, derived from the Sanskrit root kaś ‘to shine’, he was born with grey eyes under a pink moon. A blend of my husband’s nod to the full moon and my city – the city took its name from the Sanskrit meaning of shining. He came out, calmly, unusually, head up, looking up – facing the sky and stars. The light of the moon and the light of knowledge and enlightenment – the luminous city as an eminent seat of learning – he is our baby of light.

The Brothers
Both our children’s names are Silk Road names – I met my husband because of our shared love and heritage wrapped up in the Silk Road. One is a city, one is a sea. This also reminds me of my childhood in Hong Kong, which itself is a city by the sea.

The City and the City
[also the title of a beautiful, perfect novel by China Miéville]

The Silk Road
Uyghur قەشقەر‎ Chinese 喀什
Strategically important as a Silk Road city for over 2000 years, nestled between mountains, closer to Tehran than Beijing, this Kashi/Kashgar commanded trade caravans, was written about by both Ptolemy and Marco Polo, was renowned as a melting pot of cultures and religions and, centuries later, was a hotbed of intrigue and a nest of spies when both the British and Russians played out their Great Game here. Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Muslims, Nestorian Christians, Hindus, Jews, Armenians, Turks, Afghans, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Mongols and Chinese all made their mark here. The monk Xuanzang reported that the inhabitants had green eyes when he visited in 644 on his way back from India, bringing Buddhism to China…

The Shining City of Light
Sanskrit काशी
…Xuanzang also came to this Kashi, founded by Shiva, in around 635. Mark Twain visited it in 1897 when it was called Benares, many light years after it was written about in the Rigveda, and he wrote that “Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Today we know it as Varanasi, the confluence of two rivers, a city of art and culture, temples and silk, home to Jain, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Buddhist mystical and holy sites…

The Alpha and Omega
…in fact, Buddha preached his first sermon at Deer Park, Sarnath, Kashi, and founded Buddhism here around 528.

Where did Buddha give his last sermon before becoming enlightened?

… in the city of Vaishali

We are complete

~