What do Luganda and Stats have in common?

While sitting in my statistics class this week, trying really hard to focus in on the minutiae of data files, it occurred to me: Luganda is not the only language I am learning right now.

I'm as surprised as you are, because this is not at all what I thought I was signing up for as a first year PhD student. I'd envisioned sifting through stacks and stacks of readings and having intense debates with my fellow students about the readings. (I'm sure that's coming in year two, not to worry!) But instead, this year, I spend most of my time thinking about language learning.

So, what's the other language? Stata, a statistics programming language. (PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE? My heart stops a little typing that out. File in: skills I never thought I'd have.) I knew when I signed up for stats that I would be using software to help me crunch numbers, but I didn't realize that I would in fact be learning to program in order to crunch numbers.

What do learning Luganda and learning Stata have in common?

  • the need to understand the central logic/grammar that dictates language use
  • memorizing an ever-expanding list of vocabulary words
  • the final goal is to use the language with real world people/data
  • the ability to use the language will decode something previously unknowable to me
As soon as I made the realization that Stata is a language too, I started to think about how framing Stata as a language might change my approach to it. And, I started to think about how learning Stata as a language might change my approach to Luganda learning. Though of course, there are many differences to both the languages themselves and the manner in which I'm learning them, maybe there is something to be gained from their comparison with one another.

Apart from this realization, I had a very good week of Luganda study. I had an annoying cold and my husband was traveling, which was both good and bad for my studying. It was good because I just wanted to be home, on the couch (which lent itself easily to work), but it was bad because I was tired and my brain felt extra-fuzzy. I felt extra-motivated to put in time after last week, however, and so I made lots of time for Luganda every day this week. 

On Thursday, I had planned (and scheduled) to do about an hour of work, but I got so into the project of researching vocabulary from my children's book (the one that I still can't read), that I spent three hours researching and practicing it. It was fun to get swept up in the work, and satisfying to look at all of the new vocabulary on my list, knowing that it will be instrumental in reading this book.

All of the time I put in this week certainly seems to be helping my accuracy, and my session with my mentor seemed to go particularly smoothly. I even reached my Omuzanyo goal! 

Since it's been such a good week, I'm looking forward to the week ahead, in hopes of replicating it. Now that I'm no longer sick and my husband's back, I'll probably be less of a couch potato, which potentially means less time on Luganda. But, with this week's momentum and the schedule I've set for myself, I have a good feeling about it.

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