March 14th, 2007

lessons in anatomy

Having self-diagnosed parotitis (learning a lot more about the parotid and its ducts than I ever wanted to know), and since that problem is now largely gone (the duct which drains it is still a little tender, and palpating the cheek still hurts, but I can yawn without much pain), I've been attempting to figure out why there's swelling and pain on the same side of my face (left parotid never swelled up, and the original weird lump under the jaw was also on the right) next to my nose. Right next to where the flare of the nostrils is. I know, you're going, what kind of moron is she, that's a sinus infection. Okay, sinus infections are under the bone; this is on top. And it isn't a pimple that hasn't surfaced yet, either. I felt around; it does not have that kind of shape. In any event, that's nowhere in the parotid or the path of the duct which drains it.

Sleuthing in wikipedia and elsewhere suggests that this is where the salivary gland that was originally infected (the one under the jaw that was mysteriously swollen during the prodrome of what turned out to mumps) drains. It drains _uphill_. Wow. Who knew? So all that's left is some painful inflammation at the end of the submandibular duct. One hopes that it will shortly do what the parotid did, drain and shrink back down to its normal, healthy, un-inflamed state.

There's still a chance that this was a stone. But the descriptions of the kind of pain, and sensitivity to when you eat and so forth just did not sound right to me. Also, the time frame is a good match for mumps, and Teddy was acting like he had cheek pain and was looking unusually chipmunky while sick. And I'd had my immunity checked and did not have it. And there was that dayish of stiff neck/fierce headache. So I'm still thinking mumps.

Dr. Google is pretty cool.

try not to say, it's all greek to me

TYKE (Take Your Kids to Europe) makes the (startling to me) claim that Greek is so phonetic, and so many of the food words are decipherable (cognates) that if you learn the Greek alphabet, you can navigate Greek menus fairly successfully.

Now, there are problems with TYKE, but this particular kind of factual inaccuracy isn't one of them. After mulling it over for a while, I check out Transparent's Greek info (was disappointed -- they transliterate everything. Lame.), then googled around for a free tutorial on the Greek alphabet.

http://langintro.com/greek/index.htm

A little geeky, but pretty good all around. I had to pull out a pad of paper and write everything down as I went through it to remember it well enough to get through the first couple of practice pages (I have not completed the tutorial), and to do that I found a page that showed the entire alphabet (altho it was missing the sigma at the end of a word form), copied it down and practiced drawing the letters a little first. Now, the tutorial isn't menu/food words BUT does not appear to have cherry picked for cognates (instead, the goal seems to be to get you using the letters as quickly as possible, and also teaching useful phrases like how are you, fine, please, where is the Acropolis, etc.). That said, she's right! It is possible to (laboriously at first) really and truly get the pronunciation right (sound files are included in the tutorial) from just the letters AND there are cognates just _littering_ the ground.

Back to Dutch. At least here, unlike German, little risk of confusion by switching back and forth. But this discovery does really open up the possibilities for language-after-Dutch to learn next.