Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Arabic and more

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Ogrim
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Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Tue Jul 28, 2015 2:18 pm

Seeing how things are developing, I have decided to start a new log here, and that probably means that I will no longer update my "Bit about anything"-log over on the real HTLAL. A fresh start may be a good thing, and then we will see where we are in a few months from now.

A quick introduction for those here who do not know me. I am a Norwegian man who studied Romance languages at university. I have been working internationally for the last 20 years and I have lived in Belgium, UK, Spain and now France for the last seven years. I have been a member of HTLAL for a bit more than three years.

I work in English and French, and I am married to a Spanish lady, so this means I use these three languages every day. I also speak acceptable German and can get by in Italian, and I read Catalan without problem, but have little practice speaking it. For the last three years I have been studying Russian at a leisurly pace, and I am currently at a B1 level - working slowely towards proficiency. My true language passion is Romansh, the fourth national language of Switzerland, with about 50.000 native speakers. In spite of being a really small minority language, it has a lot of interesting literature and music, its own TV and radio channel and a daily newspaper.

I will probably continue to log in the same way as I did in A bit about anything. That means that I will write about my language learning, but I will also write in my languages about different language- or culture-related stuff. I was not very regular in updating the log, and I am afraid a busy life will prefent me from being a regular updater of this log as well, but the ambition is there. And I will share some hopefully interesting stuff I come across in different languages, and in particular in Russian.
Last edited by Ogrim on Thu May 12, 2016 12:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh and others

Postby iguanamon » Tue Jul 28, 2015 3:14 pm

It's a sad situation we're in now, but one that has been brewing for a long time, Ogrim. I look forward to following your new log here, for now. Looking forward to reading more about your journey in your always enjoyable and informative style.
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh and others

Postby Ogrim » Wed Jul 29, 2015 10:26 am

Thanks for stopping by, iguanamon. I'll stop fretting about the state of affairs and focus on languages instead, that is what I am here for.

Some three weeks ago I posted the following on my log over at the real HTLAL:
I just added Romanian to the list of languages I study. To be honest, I don't know how much time and effort I will be able to put into it, but it has been on my mind for some time now that I really should pick it up again. When I studied Romance Philology at university, I spent a couple of years learning Romanian in parallel with my other languages (Spanish, Italian, French, Latin and Greek) and I really enjoyed it. I was even at the point of going to Bucharest for a summer course, but for various reasons it did not happen, and after I finished my studies I did not do anything to maintain it. That being said, if I look up a Romanian text I can still make some sense of it, even though I have forgotten a lot. So even if it is 25 years since I actively engaged with the language, I have not totally forgotten everything.

I do not have an elaborate study plan. For the time being I will blow the dust of my old Teach Yourself Romanian, and an even older Romanian grammar book written in Swedish back in the 1970s and spend some time browsing through them to refresh what I have forgotten about Romanian grammar. I need to purchase a new Romanian dictionary, and I'll also look around the web to see if I can find useful stuff there. And then later on I'll start working on "real" texts, whether it is news on the web or literature.

My aim is first and foremost to be able to read Romanian, any active skills would be a plus, but it is not my priority at this stage.


Since writing this I have been revising some grammar, in particular verb forms and use of the genitive/dative case of nouns. However, I have also purchased an electronic version of Colloquial Romanian. The reason for this is that I found the Teach Yourself rather boring and partly out of date, and I have good experiences with Colloquial as their method suits my learning style. Usually they pack a lot of new vocabulary and grammar into each lesson, so the progress can be quite steep, but for a language like Romanian, where a lot is familiar, I find that to be an advantage.

With regard to Russian, it has mostly been reading. I made some good progress with the book Как жить с францусом when I was on holiday last week. It does not mean a lot of pages, as I read quite intensively and need to look up several words per page, but I notice how my reading skills are improving and my vocabulary is growing. The book is not great literature, but it has some entertaining parts and it is written in a modern, sometimes colloquial style which makes it good reading practice.

In addition to that, I have also watched a few more sketches on Youtube by the comedy group Уральские пельмени. I must admit though that some sketches I don't understand very well - I miss some essential vocabulary for getting the point, and they also talk very fast sometimes. However, I do like their style of comedy and humour.
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh and others

Postby lorinth » Wed Jul 29, 2015 10:46 am

My true language passion is Romansh, the fourth national language of Switzerland, with about 50.000 native speakers. In spite of being a really small minority language, it has a lot of interesting literature and music, its own TV and radio channel and a daily newspaper.


Just out of curiosity, Ogrim, as Romansh is a "recently standardised" language, do you learn the standard Rumantsch Grischun or a particular dialect? As far as I know, the standard written form is quite recent, so does it mean that the "interesting literature and music" you refer to mainly uses the different dialects? On the other hand, I suppose it's easier to make textbooks using the standard form rather than the different dialects? How do you go about that? I have a long-standing interest in the dynamics of languages that are going through a standardisation process and the attitude of speakers and learners towards such a process, so I'm curious to know what you are doing in practice.
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh and others

Postby Ogrim » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:26 pm

lorinth, I could write several pages about Romansh and the language situation in "la Rumantschia", but I will try to be brief: Rumantsch Grischun (RG) as a standard written form of the language was created in 1982, but it is only since 2001 that it is the official standard in the kanton of Graubünden. I learnt the Romansh idiom Sursilvan from my Italian professor at university, who was a Romansh enthusiast. Out of the five idioms (Sursilvan, Sutsilvan, Surmiran, Puter and Vallader), Sursilvan is the biggest, used by about 50% of Romansh speakers in Switzerland, and it is the idiom with most literature. I can also read the other idioms, but with more difficulty than Sursilvan, and if you know Sursilvan it is not a problem to read and understand Rumantsch Grischun.

Rumantsch Grischun has not been welcomed by all Romansh speakers, and there has been much controversy around its introduction in the primary schools in Rumantschia, because many parents think that it would be better for the children to learn to read and write properly in their own idiom. Nevertheless, as RG is used as the official language also by the Romansh broadcaster http://www.rtr.ch/, its influence is increasing.

What do I do in practice? I hardly ever have the chance to speak Romansh, so my interaction is mostly passive. I watch TV programmes on RTR(they have a great app for ipad) and I listen to the radio in Romansh - this exposes me to all five idioms in addition to the standard RG. I also read from time to time the Romansh daily "La Quotidiana", where articles appear in all five idioms and in RG. With regard to literature, I've mostly stuck to reading in Sursilvan, as the reading pleasure is greater because I understand it much better than the other four idioms, but I just recently purchased a novel in vallader, and this summer I will try to read it, because it looks interesting, and because I want to be able to better read the second most important idiom.

When I write Romansh, which I occasionally do in my log, I try to stick to Sursilvan, but I do recognise that I sometimes get influenced by RG spelling.

Edit: I should add that, thanks to Swiss language policy, and the resources Switzerland is able to put into defending this minority language, the amount of resources available is really very impressive. However, there is one basic condition if you want to learn Romansh: you need to know German.
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh and others

Postby lorinth » Wed Jul 29, 2015 2:10 pm

Thanks for the detailed answer Ogrim. The interaction between emerging standards and dialects is a fascinating subject. It's interesting to see how an "outsider" learning the language, whose emotional connections with Romansh (supposedly) differ from those of the natives, adopts a rather ad hoc, pragmatic and open approach. Wish you well in your learning process, it's cool to see people learning lesser used languages.
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh and others

Postby Ogrim » Thu Jul 30, 2015 3:08 pm

Da bia temps haiel jeu buca scret sin romontsch, ed uss ei il moment vegnius da redactar entginas lingias sin sursilvan quei sil niev forum.
Tschuntschond da “Forum”, quei ei era il tetel d’ina emmssiun sil Radio Romontsch. Ei dat in program mintga jamna, e scadin program vegn presentaus per in presentadur different. La damaun hai jeu tedlau in program dal 19 fenadur, presentau per Iso Camartin, che tracta dalla opera “Les contes d’Hoffmann” da Jacques Offenbach. E la davosa jamna haiel tadlau ina autra emissun dal 28 zercladur cul tetel “Cu daventan ins in nazi?” Omisduas emissiuns ein sin sursilvan cu ina duraziun da 30 minutas. Jeu sai era tedlar emissiuns sin auters idioms, aber jeu capeschel els buca schi bein sco il sursilvan. Sche vus vulein tedlar entgin program pudeis vus anflar tuttas las emissiuns cheu: http://www.rtr.ch/emissiuns/il-forum

Per meglierar mia entelgientscha da vallader, hai jeu sedecidiu per leger in cudisch sin quel idiom. Igl ei in roman criminal che senumna “Hannes” digl autur Oscar Peer. Quei vegn ad esser l’emprema gada che jeu legel tut in cudisch sin vallader, aber jeu sperel che jeu sappi entelgir la raquintaziun senza bia difficultads.

(I haven’t been writing in Romansh for a long time, so now is the moment to write a few lines in Sursilvan on this new forum.
Speaking about “Forum”, this is the name of a series of programmes at Radio Romontsch. There is one programme each week, and each is presented by a different presenter. This morning I listened to a programme from 19 July, presented by Iso Camartin, who talks about the opera “Les contes d’Hoffmann” by Jacques Offenbach. And last week I listened to another programme from 28 June with the title “How does one become a Nazi?” Both programmes are in Sursilvan, with a duration of about 30 minutes. I can listen to programmes in other idioms as well, but I don’t understand them as well as Sursilvan. If you want to listen to a programme you find the link above.

In order to improve my understanding of Vallader I have decided to read a book in this idiom. It is a crime novel called “Hannes” by the author Oscar Peer. This will be the first time I read a whole book in Vallader, but I hope I will understand the story without too much difficulty.)

A small comment on the names of the months: Most of the names are similar to those in other Romance languages, but two stand out with rather peculiar names. Thus June = zercladur and July = fenadur. Actually, zercladur comes from the verb “zerclar”, which means “to weed”, and fenadur from “fenar”, which means “to make hay”. Clearly these were crucial activities for the farmers in the Alpine valleys, so much so that they named the months after them.
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh and others

Postby Ogrim » Wed Sep 02, 2015 2:43 pm

I have been on holiday for two weeks and therefore I’ve had to catch up both on HTLAL and this forum, as well as at work, but finally I have some time to write some words.

Français
Ici en France, début septembre signifie « la rentrée », qui est un vrai événement chaque année. Déjà mi-août, les journaux publient plein d’articles sur « comment préparer la rentrée à l’école et au travail », et dans les magasins les parents se battent pour acheter le matériel scolaire requis. Le 1 ou 2 septembre, tous les enfants retournent à l’école, et c’est bien accepté d’arriver tard au travail ce jour-là, parce que évidemment les parents vont accompagner leurs enfants ce premier jour et bavarder un peu avec les parents des amis des enfants. Moi aussi j’ai fait mon devoir, même si mes enfants sont assez grands pour y aller seuls – mais cette année est un peu spéciale parce que leur école a déménagé dans des nouveaux locaux, et j’étais aussi curieux pour voir les installations.

Català
A l'agost vaig estar de vacances a València, Espanya, i vaig aprofitar per llegir molt. He avançat molt amb el llibre que llegeixo en rus, però també estic llegint un llibre en català, “L'estiu que comença” de Sílvia Soler. Aquesta novel·la va guanyar el premi Ramon Llull el 2013. Fins ara m’agrada, està ben escrit.

A València no tinc moltes oportunitats de parlar català, o valencià si vols, perquè la família de la meva dona i els nostres amics allí parlen tots castellà. Ara, el valencià està cada vegada més present en la vida pública, perquè les autoritats valencianes promouen la llengua activament. I no entraré en la discussió de si el valencià i el català són llengües diferents o no, perquè això és una qüestió política.

About Russian
So, after my summer holiday, which I spent in Spain sunbathing and reading, above all Russian and Catalan, I have participated in the very French ritual of “la rentrée” - the return to work and school after the summer. The summer period always means that I get to study and read more than I normally do, and I have been able to advance considerably in my Russian book Как жить с французом by Дарья Мийе. The story as such is not terribly fascinating, but it has its amusing parts, and it turns out to be very good reading practice, and a great boost for my vocabulary.
Apart from some grammar revision, the second thing I have been doing this summer is to translate the lyrics of a number of Russian songs I enjoy into English or Norwegian. This has enforced my knowledge of a lot of useful words which seem to be recurring in Russian song lyrics, such as “melancholy”, “sadness”, “broken hearts”, “hurt souls” etc. I don’t know if it is something typically Russian, but sad love stories seem to be a much loved theme of songwriters. That and snow.
I have no problem admitting to liking simple, melodious pop music just as much as I like classical music or jazz, and I’ll soon post some links to video clips of Russian groups and singers I enjoy listening to, as well as music in some of my other languages.
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh and others

Postby Bakunin » Wed Sep 02, 2015 5:39 pm

I’m also very fond of Sursilvan, it’s a beautiful language. I started learning it a few years ago but didn’t get far before other things took over. But whenever I go hiking in the Sursilvan speaking area of Graubünden, I’m getting all excited about the language again. It has a strong presence in the few villages that still hold out - locals use it amongst each other, road and other signs are always in Sursilvan, and it’s of course all over the map.

About a month ago, a friend and I came down the Val Punteglias, close to Trun, Sursilvan heartland. It was a good opportunity to refresh my memory slash learn a few new words:

barcun - Felsscharte, Einschnitt
fuorcla - Sattel
crap grond - grosser Stein
piz ner - schwarze Spitze
muot - Kuppe
camona (on the map abbreviated as "cna") - Hütte

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 19.19.22.png
Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 19.19.22.png (311.78 KiB) Viewed 1259 times


Sursilvan sounds very poetic, but place names are just as down-to-earth as in other languages :)

EDIT: Gosh, I’ve just realized I’ve only written about me… and this is your log! Sorry. I don’t really have anything to ask or contribute other than I’m glad to see you enjoying Sursilvan. I’m looking forward to reading more about this language, and I hope you’ll share from time to time your observations on broader issues the Romansh language community is facing.
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh and others

Postby Ogrim » Thu Sep 03, 2015 9:25 am

Bakunin wrote:Sursilvan sounds very poetic, but place names are just as down-to-earth as in other languages :)
EDIT: Gosh, I’ve just realized I’ve only written about me… and this is your log! Sorry. I don’t really have anything to ask or contribute other than I’m glad to see you enjoying Sursilvan. I’m looking forward to reading more about this language, and I hope you’ll share from time to time your observations on broader issues the Romansh language community is facing.


Thanks for coming by, Bakunin. You are welcome to contribute to my log any time, especially if it is about Romansh :) It is nice to see that other members of the forum have an interest in this minority language which is in remarkably good health taking into consideration the small number of native speakers.

By the way, you have an interesting choice of languages which is quite rare as well, and your study methods are quite different from those of most people here, so I will certainly read your log as well.

I guess Sursilvan is as down-to-earth as most languages when it comes to it. In fact, I found the Graubündner to be very practical, hands-on, no-nonsense people, just like most Swiss I've met (without meaning that as a stereotype). And I would love to have the opportunity to go hiking in Graubünden more often, as it is I have only been to Surselva twice. It is not too far from where I live, but it is a question of time (and cost, Switzerland is expensive!)

I like the other idioms of Romansh as well, and I have a small ambition of improving my understanding of Vallader, as I would also like to visit Engiadina at some point. If you know Sursilvan it is really not that much of an effort, it is mostly about learning certain differences in phonetics and grammar, as well as some different vocabulary.

I will certainly be writing more or less regularly about my "excursions" into Romansh language and culture in this log.
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