Friday, June 10, 2011

English as a fourth, or fifth, or sixth language

I’m over the missing Red Sox cap, kinda. Seems like someone slice open the bottom of my last package to Erdene and lad and removed his Red Sox hat. I’m still a bit peeved, but as Erdene noted, no one in Mongolia follows the Sox, they barely have a college baseball team in UB. Pumpkin is all about the wrestling anyway.

On a positive note, Erdene is in the second week of an English grammar and advanced vocabulary class. Three months long, seven days a week and six hours a day for the most part and all for $120 a month. The owner of the class is a professor from UB who speaks 25 languages, at least on a conversational level. I’ve heard his lectures on the tube while in Mongolia and he is very persuasive in his approach. Day to day, the teacher is one of his students, but his approach transcends the individual teacher. I was impressed enough to buy his book for sister Selenge and brother Amara. E’s classmates are middle school students and she is happy to be first in the class so far. While her vocabulary is excellent, she missed some things in her earlier college classes, that while familiar to a native speaker, don’t appear in Mongolian language. Items such as; possessives, tenses, and definite articles. Mongolians, historically, just don’t write or speak in the past, future, or possessive and the he, she, it, tends to devolve to a gender neutral article. The course will cover French and German after a couple of months of English and if the student is thought to be receptive to languages, they offer another segment dealing with Chinese. To say I am impressed with her abilities would be an understatement. Also, she has to arise early and take two crazy rat vans from apartment 3 across the valley to the school site. Plus, dealing with himself in the morning.

She is enjoying herself and the lad has been packed off to Grandpa’s where under Aunt Solta’s supervision he is running amok in the countryside as every young boy should do.

Immigration has all the paperwork required and fees and is digesting at it's own pace. While slow, at least they have everything and it seems to be in order. Hoping to have them here in sunny Sandy Eggo, before the chinese class starts, although I"m sure she will make the grade, I would just as soon she finishes up her lessons here, although I hope she has time to speak in french a bit. I love the accent and Mongolian sibilants lend themselves to the Francois. I'll update this with pics when her schedule provides.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Be careful what you wish for

I picked this piece of the interweb this week. As I have mentioned before, the Mongolian government has deployed to the middle east for quite some time. Instructor troops and peacekeepers. Well, they are taking a step up.

Mongolia to Step Up African Peacekeeping Contributions
March 21, 2011 - 2:57pm, by Joshua Kucera
The Bug PitMongolia
Mongolia is proposing to send 1,500 peacekeepers to Cote d'Ivoire, in what would be by far its largest troop contribution to an international mission (and, if we want to be cute about it, the largest troop deployment abroad since the days of the Mongol Empire).
Mongolia is a useful comparison to other post-Soviet states, in particular Central Asian ones, which have similar cultures and histories. But Mongolia has been much more active than any of those countries in contributing to UN missions. Over 2,300 Mongolian peacekeepers have served in Sierra Leone alone, with contributions in several other UN missions, as well as in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The only comparable country in the Caucasus and Central Asia would be Georgia, which has contributed several thousand troops to the U.S.-led efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But while Georgia is trying, with its contributions, to gain favor with the West and especially the U.S., Mongolia is taking the UN peacekeeping approach to gain international support, stuck as it is between two large powers, China and Russia.
Mongolia now has 228 (pdf) soldiers on UN missions, mainly Sudan and Sierra Leone. Compare that to 22 UN peacekeepers from Kyrgyzstan, 2 from Kazakhstan, and not a one from any other country in the Caucasus or Central Asia.
Sending an additional 1,500 troops to Ivory Coast would make Mongolians about 1/6 of the total force there, where 54 UN troops have already been killed.

So there you have it. The Mongol gov't is sitting on the request for the moment, but if I was a Mongolian soldier the warm climes of the Ivory Coast would be looking pretty appealing right now. Lets just hope they don't get into the whole world domination thing again. Then again, Rapine and slaughter aside, the Mongols did allright by strict conquering standards during their fifteen minutes of fame. Perhaps, they should join up with the Nepalase Ghurkas and enjoy Ghengis Round II.
For my part, I really love the term "largest troop deployment abroad since the days of the Mongol Empire" Ignore history at your peril.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hey, I have a blog. I don't need to comment on some elses lame assed outhouse

I'm a recently done merchant mariner from the US. I've witnessed the damage wrought on the US Maritime Industry through high union rate scales on the US merchant marine fleet. Weighed against the equally exorbitant profit margins exhibited the fleets, it is no wonder the majority of crewman held are not exactly cared for by the UN.
I still feel some compassion for my third world seaman brothers. Not much mind you, no one enjoys being undercut. The sea will kill you in many ways and sailing with a company unwilling to provide a reasonable number of watch standers to prevent boarding by skiff or to keep engineering standards high enough to avoid skiffs is fairly big among the list of items to avoid when selecting a job offshore. Brass Tacks are: that most of these third world seafarers are more than happy to take any job they can get and most mariners would agree that the purpose of a government that uses the sea for transport has an obligation to provide safe passage for all. Bible salesman on yachts included