Learning Tifinagh | The World’s Writing Systems

In my post on Writing Systems of the World, I mentioned that I want to learn all the world’s writing systems. I mean, secretly, I’d love to learn all the world’s languages, but that is a pretty unrealistic goal, with over 3000 languages spoken across the globe. While it’s difficult to find an accurate estimate of how many writing systems there are, there appear to be a couple hundred, which is much more manageable. With the UK still being in lockdown, I thought learning a few new writing systems would be an exciting hobby to get me through.

I decided to start with an abjad or an alphabet, as these are the most familiar writing systems to me. Having lived in Morocco for a year, I picked up a few Amazigh words (the Berber language spoken in Morocco) and was fascinated by the abjad. Amazigh is one of the three languages used on signage in Morocco (along with French and Arabic), so I saw this crazy, wingding-esque abjad everywhere I went.

Some facts about Tifinagh

  • There are 33 letters
  • It is used for the Berber languages of Northern Africa
  • It is the modern alphabetical derivative of the traditional script
  • ‘Tifinagh’ could mean ‘the Phoenician letters’
  • It is believed to have descended from Ancient Libyan
  • There are two known variants: eastern and western
  • It is written left to right
  • Gadafi banned it in Libya

The Learning Journey

I picked up this book when I was in Morocco with good intentions but never actually looked through it. However, I thought it would be the perfect place to start my Tifinagh learning journey! Yet, the guide for the pronunciation of the letters was written based on the French alphabet with diacritics (accent marks) and it was quite tricky to work out how the letters were pronounced.

So I turned to the internet for help! I found this great video that pronounces the letters out loud and uses French and Arabic letters to aid comprehension. I quickly realised that there were many similarities between the sounds of Arabic and Tifinagh and I think if I hadn’t already learned Arabic, I would have really struggled!

However, once I had worked out the pronunciation, then came the challenge of actually getting the letters stuck in my brain. I obviously can’t remember how I learned the English alphabet, as I was a child, and I learned the Arabic abjad by practising writing it and then launching straight into reading and using it daily at university. With the Cyrillic alphabet, I practised it in a similar manner to Arabic. I didn’t have the luxury of carving out several hours per day to dedicate to Tifinagh, so I came up with a solution: the flashcard game! I’ve talked several times about this on this blog, but if you want to watch a video explaining the technique, you can do so here. I dedicated five minutes a day to practising and now, about six weeks later, the letters are pretty much solidified in my brain! I also added five basic phrases for fun.

So that’s how it’s going! Which writing system should I try next? I’m tempted to go for one of the Japanese writing systems, but I feel like that would be quite a challenge! If you want to keep up with my language learning journey, I recommend following me on Instagram, where I chat all things languages! And, as always, if I can help you with any Arabic or French to English translation, please contact me on verity.roat@cantab.net.

Next time, I will be changing the pace a little and chatting about my favourite productivity YouTubers who have provided me with so many tips on how to get the most out of my workday (and life)!

Top 5 Best Translation Podcasts

I love listening to podcasts. I love them so much that I have a hierarchy of podcasts. At the bottom are the ones that I’m interested in, but don’t mind if I don’t fully follow, so I stick them on to babble while I’m working. The top tier is those that I save to listen to on my walks, while I’m doing the washing up or during other less taxing tasks so that I can give them the full attention they deserve. The final category is translation podcasts! I use these as CPD to further my understanding of the translation industry. I know I find it so helpful when people recommend new podcasts to me, so here are my five favourite translation podcasts.

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Other Work Routines

Back in January, I introduced you to my morning routine. One thing I should say about it is that it’s constantly evolving and changing as I try to work out what’s right for me. A few of you expressed an interest on my Twitter for hearing about my other routines, so I’m back this week to do exactly that!

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Writing Systems of the World

This week, I’ve got a slightly different post for you. As I’ve mentioned on my Instagram, I’m fascinated by how we write languages down. This fascination is what led me to take a GCSE in Russian and learn Arabic at university because I loved the idea of ‘decoding’ a different alphabet. I found that the ‘alphabets’ (we’ll explore why that term does not apply to all languages later) were actually fairly easy to learn and wondered if I could learn more. Fast forward to last week. I just randomly posited to my husband that I would like to learn all the writing systems of the world. He laughed and said that he thought that would be very difficult and I thought ‘challenge accepted’. So I have set myself the task of learning as many writing systems as I can across my life. I already know the Latin alphabet, the Cyrillic alphabet and the Arabic abjad and last weekend, I started learning the Tifinagh abjad, which is used for the Berber languages of Northern Africa. I decided I wanted to share my journey with you all (I secretly wish someone would pick up on this and commission me to write an accessible book on writing systems haha). So you can expect more posts like this in the future!

Continue reading “Writing Systems of the World”

My Work Morning Routine

In my post on my 2021 work goals, I talked about wanting to keep up with the work routines that I implemented at the end of 2020. A few of you requested to hear about them, so I thought I would share them with you. However, I have a number of routines I follow, so I thought I’d start by introducing you to my morning routine.

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Review of 2020 Work Goals

As we are fast approaching the end of the year, I thought it was high time to address how I’ve done with my work goals this year. I love setting myself goals each year, but I don’t stick rigidly to them, as my priorities can change over the year. However, they act as a guide for how I want my year to go. Without further ado, here is my review of how my work goals went this year!

  1. Earn 15k – I earned 10k in 2019 and would like to improve on this!

I’m on track to earn about £13,500 by the end of the year, with a profit of about £12k. I think this is pretty decent considering we have experienced a global pandemic this year that meant that I didn’t have any work come in for about a month. Also, mental and physical health issues have meant that my words translated per day rate has gone down, so that has affected my earning potential too.

2. Work with 5 direct clients (including an NGO) – I worked with a couple of direct clients last year but would love to expand this area of my business in 2020. I would especially love to work with an NGO because I am passionate about helping others.

I have only worked with one direct client this year, but I have worked with a number of new agency clients, which has been great. I would still love to be directly involved in International Development and may be involved in a project with an NGO next year. But I have continued to volunteer with Moroccan Children’s Trust, which has been so rewarding.

3. Write 50 blogposts & complete #ThatTranslatorCanCook – I’m on week 11 of this blogging series and would love to see it through to 52 weeks!

I ended up having to give up on #ThatTranslatorCanCook due to COVID and the effect it had on the food market in the early days. I would love to bring out some more blogs on this in the new year. I also didn’t manage 50 blogposts, because I realised that fortnightly blogposts were much more achievable.

4. Connect with 60 new people on LinkedIn – You can find me here.

I haven’t actually kept a record of this, but I now have over 700 hundred connections, so I think I probably achieved this!

5. Attend a conference – If you have any recommendations let me know.

This was impossible this year due to COVID. However, I did attend two online webinars and got a chance to chat to likeminded translators.

6. Complete Deutsche Welle German course

I think I severely underestimated how long this would actually take me. I’ve made good progress with it and have got into a routine of dedicating an hour a week to it, but I’ve set a much more attainable goal for next year (which you can read about here).

7. German learning trip? – If I have money and time and am ready, I’d love to go to Germany for two weeks and take a C1 qualifications.

This was impossible this year for two reasons. Firstly, COVID. Secondly, I am nowhere near being ready to take a C1 qualification. This is something I would like to do in the next five years.

8. Have fortnightly Arabic sessions with my Moroccan friend – I am committed to doing more CPD this year.

Again, COVID kind of put paid to this as both of our motivation for this waned. I’ve realised that speaking isn’t necessarily a priority for me right now and I am focusing on improving my ‘passive’ skills in Arabic.

9. Expand Translators in Norfolk with regular monthly sessions – If you work in the translation sector and live in Norfolk, you can join our group here.

Yet another goal that COVID made difficult…we haven’t done monthly sessions, but we have had a couple of online meetups this year.

10. Work for 5 new agencies.– I earned 10k in 2019 and would like to improve on this!

I think I worked for 3 new agencies this year, which I consider a win under the circumstances!

How did your goals for 2020 go? It’s certainly been a tough year and a lot of goals needed to be reevaluated! If you’d like to work with me in the new year, you can reach me on verity.roat@cantab.net.

2021 Work Goals

As the year is drawing to a close, I thought it was high time to set my goals for next year. I do this every year to give myself an idea of what I want to achieve in the next year, but these goals are not rigid and can be changed. So without any further ado, here are my business goals for 2021!

1. Earn 15k
Money can be such a difficult topic to talk about, although I have seen lots of translators opening up this year about fees and how much they earn. While it might not seem like a lot, I will finish this year with having earned around £13k, which is a little under what I was hoping for this year, but given we experienced a pandemic this year, I’m amazed that I managed to get it up this much. I’d like to beat this next year, but also want to be realistic!

2. Make 6 YouTube videos
I have loved watching YouTube since I was a teenager and, as someone who has been performing since the age of 7, I would love to give YouTube a go, especially as I know it can be so lucrative. However, I’ve been waiting for inspiration to hit as to what I would put in my YouTube videos. At the beginning of this year, I’d like to spend sometime planning some videos and really think about what I’d like to put online, probably relating to languages and literature.

3. Write 6 Veritea blogs
You might not know that I have a lifestyle instagram focusing on books (Veritea.blog) that I have been trying to build this year. I love reading and I would love this hobby to turn into part of my job, as a book reviewer. I’m also trying to expand my accompanying blog and would like to write more regular content next year.

4. Do one hour of voluntary work per week
I am on a committee for a charity called Moroccan Children’s Trust, who I volunteered in-country with in 2016. I love the work I do for them, but often find that I don’t make enough time to work on their projects during the week. I’d love to regularly schedule some pro bono work into my working week.

5. Stick to work routines
In the last few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with a morning work routine, lunchtime work routine and end of day work routine. They’ve really helped keep my grounded and plugging away at work and CPD and I would like to continue them into next year. If you’d like to know more about them, let me know in the comments and I’ll write a blogpost on them!

6. Make plans for doing a PhD
I’ve been harbouring a secret…*whispers* I would love to do a PhD in French literature…I think I’ve found the perfect programme and would like to get started on it part-time in the next few years, so I’d like to spend some time planning it next year.

7. Write 24 blogposts
When I started this blog, I wanted to write weekly, but work commitments haven’t allowed this. Instead, I would like to write fortnightly blogposts for 2021.

8. Finish the Deutsche Welle A1 and A2 courses
I would love to eventually add German into the rosta of languages I translate from, having studied it to ‘A’ level, but I have to admit my German is now very rusty. As such, one of my CPD goals for next year is to complete Nicos Weg on Deutsche Welle.

9. Finish Spanish textbook
I recently bought myself a Spanish textbook after becoming interested having watched Money Heist. This one is really just for fun, as I don’t see myself using Spanish in my career.

10. Finish reviewing al-Kitaab 1
It might seem very basic, but at the moment I’m working through the first textbook I used to study Arabic at university. A lot of it I have retained, but I want to make sure I have a perfect grasp of the basics before moving on.

11. Finish the book translation in the first quarter
I am currently working on a mammoth project – a 140k word novel – and it is taking longer than expected. I am hoping to finish it within the first quarter of the year to allow me time to take on other projects throughout the year.

What are your goals for 2021, either personal or work-related? I’d love to hear them in the comments! If you want to get in touch with me about translation projects, my email is verity.roat@cantab.net

Homestretch Business Goals

As we are hurtling towards the final month of 2020 (where did all the time go? Does anyone else feel like 2020 has gone by in the blink of an eye?), I thought now would be a good time to look at some homestretch goals for the last four weeks of the year. By ‘homestretch goals’, I mean goals that I can do in the homestretch of this year. I find that planning for the last little bit of the year enables me to keep on track and as I have been unwell this year and my motivation has dipped in the last couple of months, this feels even more important. So, without further ado, here are my homestretch goals for 2020!

Continue reading “Homestretch Business Goals”