Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby DaveBee » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:34 am

smallwhite wrote:If that's the case I really should learn Russian :P In fact that's why I've been so interested in stats for Russian - Greek has been easier than I had thought, and if Greek and Russian are both Cat IV langauges without asterisk, I might as well go back to Russian which has far more speakers.
Are there language difficultly scales from base languages other than english?
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby smallwhite » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:55 am

DaveBee wrote:
smallwhite wrote:If that's the case I really should learn Russian :P In fact that's why I've been so interested in stats for Russian - Greek has been easier than I had thought, and if Greek and Russian are both Cat IV langauges without asterisk, I might as well go back to Russian which has far more speakers.
Are there language difficultly scales from base languages other than english?

I decided to change my answer :P

None that I know of, but you can work one out quite easily, at least one like FSI's which is rather simple. One for a Cantonese speaker would probably be like:

Cat I: Mandarin and other Chinese dialects
Cat II: no idea
Cat III: Thai (grammar is similar to Chinese), languages that are especially simple like Swedish, Dutch, creoles (I think)
Cat IV: romance, germanic, Jap, Kor, everything else just like FSI's list
Cat V: Arabic (especially difficult for any unrelated language)
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby blaurebell » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:21 am

smallwhite wrote:If LWT works like LingQ then you have to process every single inflected word - even if it's a cognate and even if it's your own name.


Actually, LWT might be different then. I don't know LingQ well, so I don't know how it works there, but in LWT I can ignore words with two clicks, which barely takes me a second. Now, that said, in Russian even names are inflected and in Russian native content all three names (first name, last name, patronymic) + nicknames are used depending on the closeness and politeness of the conversation. That's of course a major drag not because of all the clicking, but because you actually have to remember 4 different names that could refer to a single person and there are usually a lot of characters. That's why Russian literature tends to be confusing to us mere mortals, especially those who have a terrible memory for names, like me :D In any case, for Russian literature I might actually type the full name of every character in LWT and then I might have a chance to figure out who on Earth they are talking about with one click. I always got terribly lost when reading Russian literature in translation, so this is actually a neat trick! So having the option to annotate a name is actually a thing that I like about LWT. I don't have to do it though which makes it minimal processing for books with not so many characters.

Now, there is another option not to deal with a word: There is a "Well known" category where you don't write a definition at all, but still keep the word so that it doesn't show up as new again. There are two options to mark a word as well known, one takes 2 clicks, the other is a button that marks all the remaining new words in the text as known. I only use that global button for languages that I know well though - like Spanish or now French. For languages that I didn't learn with LWT this category is for the core vocabulary that I already learned elsewhere, so for Spanish I have much more well-known word forms than word forms with definitions, and most of the stuff I mark seems to be low frequency vocabulary. For a new language I will type the definition as long as I'm not thoroughly sick of the word. So after I have written the definition about 10-20 times I might just click well known and be done with it. And the same goes for different related words. Russian actually seems to have an awful lot of variations on the same word stem. The most obvious examples are things like "one-eyed" but in Russian there is even a word for "without fingers" and a lot more words that seem like literal descriptions instead of completely new words like in other languages. Basically by learning one word you might learn 5-10 related words all at once and of course after a while I simply don't write down a definition for all of those words and their gazillion word forms. The longer I read, the more words get the well known category, and for French for example I didn't type definitions for like 9000 word forms that were either variations of some word I knew already or cognates from English or Spanish. Just like you I don't have to create a card / type a definition if I don't feel like it.

If LingQ doesn't have these options for simply ignoring a word, then I don't know what's the appeal at all. As far as I know in LingQ there are no ratings for how well you know a word - there is only known, new and learning or something like that, right? That already seems limiting to me, because LWT has 6 different shades between unknown and well-known and that helps me a lot to differentiate between words that I just guessed from context or where I could tell you an exact definition. If the word means "dazzled" and I sort of know it as maybe "confused" then it only gets a rating of 3, whereas if I remember it exactly, then it's properly known. It's actually pretty useful to have a category of "sort of right" instead of just correct and incorrect. That's also something that always annoyed me with Anki, there is no "almost right". And I could theoretically also use LWT without all that typing by importing a dictionary. I don't use LWT that way though because I tend to learn words more quickly if I type. Also in anki and other flashcard programs I always typed the word out, but usually in L2 only. With LWT I type both L1 and L2. LWT vs LingQ is a bit like making your own cards with typing prompts instead of learning from a pre-made deck without typing prompts.

What I also find really cool about LWT is that I can export terms from it for anki if I actually want to learn the words for production too, with the context. I have done that a few times for Spanish for very specific Argentinian vocabulary. Those two programs actually work well together. In general LWT is not that different from flashcard prompts in general. However, it's more like having L2->L1 cards with context only, without actually having to create a card and seeing the exact same context again. You won't get sick of a card, because there are always new cards. Like Clozemaster maybe, only with the global context of a novel. You see the same word in a different sentence every time and the frequency of repetition is also not related to the restraints of your memory - you don't have any reviews piling up - but to the importance of the word and how much you want to read. One problem with Anki is also that there is no measure of importance unless you combine it with frequency lists. And most people seem to use frequency lists that have no relation to the vocabulary they actually need. Instead of learning the 3000 most common unknown words in a series of novel they might want to read, they might learn the 3000 most common words that appear in 50 year old newspapers. And the further down you get with the list, it's not that there will be less repetitions, it's as if "oak" is just as important as "tree". I like that kind of natural frequency of more important words more often, less important words more sporadically. With LWT however, most of the time my whole attitude is "I don't have to remember this at all". That's definitely different from Anki. I concentrate on understanding the sentence and that's it. I get positive feedback not from remembering the words, but from understanding the sentence and if I don't remember a word, it doesn't frustrate me because I'll understand the sentence even without remembering the word. And my brain then decides on its own that it better remembers certain words so that it doesn't take so much time to figure it all out.

But then, it's all just a matter of personal preference. There are people on here who put their novels through text analysers and learn the most frequent new words before starting to read. Makes total sense to me if one simply wants to read extensively and still make sure to pick up new vocabulary without having the reading flow broken up by dictionary lookups. I seem to enjoy reading even without that flow and I exploit that to minimise anki torture.

The best strategy is always the one that minimises torture. For some LWT is definitely more torture than Anki, I totally get it. And LWT is definitely more torture for some languages than for others. Russian is definitely not an ideal language to learn with that strategy, it's too inflected, so the number of new words goes down way to slowly. That said, I have to qualify that Russian simply resists ALL strategies. Grammar translations is awful torture because there is so much grammar, Assimil and Duolingo tend to be too difficult because it's so different a language, the vocabulary is super difficult which makes Anki and LWT a drag, a mainly communicative approach is super difficult because every sentence has the potential for a gazillion mistakes with cases, verb tenses and verb aspect and anyone trying to correct while speaking will be overwhelmed by the sheer number of mistakes to correct, which will then lead to fossilised mistakes. No matter how one approaches this language, there will be suffering and torture involved. That's just how Russian is. There is no solution to this problem other than giving up and looking for a less complicated language to learn :? In the end we Russian learners seem to be all masochists to some extent :lol:
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby LesRonces » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:46 am

LingQ is basically exactly the same as LWT but with a different interface. You can ignore words - and it's actually easier because as you land on a word you just press 'x' and it's automatically ignored and not counted in your stats. I'd love this shortcut button functionality in LWT.
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby blaurebell » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:18 pm

smallwhite wrote:
blaurebell wrote:French... 28,000 word forms... 9,800 separate words...
Russian... 11,960 known word forms... 1500 words... 193h...
So, for 9800 words in Russian I will have to deal with about 78400 word forms, yikes!

The numbers somehow don't remain constant. Heaps' law or something.


Only for time, the rest is pretty constant, if you ignore the related-word discount. With that I mean words you can guess from knowing other words.

smallwhite wrote:
blaurebell wrote:Russian... 11,960 known word forms... 1500 words... 8:1... 193h...
I have already 24000 word forms in the database in total

By "11,960 known word forms" do you mean "dog" and "dogs" are 2 word forms?
By "1500 words" do you mean "dog" and "dogs" are 1 word?

I know very little Russian but those numbers don't look right to me. Do they look right to you?
After 193h you only know 1500 words?
And your database, which I guess is a book or three, has only 3000 different words? That sounds like a reader.


Yes on word vs word form.

The numbers didn't look right to me either, but the frequency list did, so I thought they must be right. What I didn't notice was that it only counted words with a minimum number of 3 occurrences. Dah, stupid! Let's revise those numbers after modifying my command to include all words! Total words in the database so far: 9799 with 24,484 word-forms. Number of words learned: 4373 words. That makes more sense! The word-forms vs words ratio is actually 1:2.49 for Russian vs 2.91 for French. Now, that makes no sense whatsoever from the "experience" of learning Russian, why does the number of new words go down so slowly if French turns out to be more inflected? Well, I think for that the numbers for a single novel might start to shed some light: Let's try David Eddings - Pawn of Prophecy, because that's what my first novel in Russian was. Translated into Russian it contains 7059 words, and that's a 250 page novel in Russian. Translated into French it contains 5938 words. So, Russian has definitely more words to learn in general, but not so many, right? Well, one novel won't tell you much: Let's take the first Harry Potter for comparison: Russian 7597 words, French 4813 words, 300 page novel. That looks already a little worse. Well, let's take the whole Harry Potter series and we see what's really going on: 13217 words for the whole French translation, 24411 for the Russian translation! I would assume that most of these extra words are verbs by the way, thanks to the double-triple effect of verb aspect. Some of them might not be so difficult to learn because they are somewhat related to their aspect pair, but some have a completely different word-stem. That said, even learning a core vocabulary of the same size is more difficult in Russian. There aren't many cognates, those words actually have to be learned for real, much unlike French where I had like 70% vocabulary overlap with English and Spanish. Of those 9000 words in French I probably only had to learn 3000 words properly. Russian simply doesn't come with such shortcuts if you don't know any more closely related languages.

smallwhite wrote:If that's the case I really should learn Russian :P In fact that's why I've been so interested in stats for Russian - Greek has been easier than I had thought, and if Greek and Russian are both Cat IV langauges without asterisk, I might as well go back to Russian which has far more speakers.


Well, it really depends what Greek grammar is like and how much vocabulary there is to learn, how familiar the vocabulary seems, etc. Russian really is quite a slog, because it is difficult on many levels: Oodles of difficult grammar, 6 cases, verb aspect, variable word order, lots of non-cognate vocabulary and many of the words look and sound confusingly similar, difficult pronunciation in general. But then, I'm biased and would still choose Russian. I wouldn't even know what to do with Modern Greek, whereas Russian has tons of really interesting content that often doesn't get translated. Part of it is that there is no interest and ideological bias against Russian content, the other part is that Russian is super difficult to translate in general, especially into structurally simple languages. It's sort of possible with German, but even there you lose a lot of the subtleties. English is a total nightmare and most translations into English are simply unreadable. But well, it depends on your interests.
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby blaurebell » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:01 pm

Russian

So, after messing about with the script a bit more the numbers of learned words make much more sense. That's what happens when you use other people's scripts without much more than a --help command and no specification that the default setting doesn't make sense for what you want to do with the tool. So, total words in the database so far: 9799 with 24,484 word-forms. Number of words learned: 4373 words. If I managed to learn 1200 words with Anki in 50h once upon a time I would say that roughly 4300 in ~190h with LWT while reading almost 500 pages isn't half bad! And these Anki stats didn't even include all the time I wasted on making my own cards! The discouraging thing is now that in comparison to French I'll probably need to learn almost double the number of words for Russian! So, I will probably need something like 18,000 words to get to the same level of precision? Ah well, there is still a bit of a journey in front of me, I'd say. And now I better stop messing about with numbers and go read something in Russian instead :D

General

I was actually taking it easy yesterday so as not to overdo it. I even walked along the beachfront with the most brilliant sunshine and a proper summer feel. Today we have 31°C and it's super heavy. Luckily it's too hot outside to get distracted and it will probably cool down again before the temperature inside catches up. But then the erratic weather really messes with my health. I'd probably even prefer weeks of 31°C, because then at least the pressure wouldn't keep changing every 2 days, it's like 22°C one day 32°C the next, then 22°C again! It's giving me the worst headaches! So much for Spanish weather ...!
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby Xmmm » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:03 pm

blaurebell wrote:
smallwhite wrote:
blaurebell wrote:French... 28,000 word forms... 9,800 separate words...
Russian... 11,960 known word forms... 1500 words... 193h...
So, for 9800 words in Russian I will have to deal with about 78400 word forms, yikes!

The numbers somehow don't remain constant. Heaps' law or something.


Only for time, the rest is pretty constant, if you ignore the related-word discount. With that I mean words you can guess from knowing other words.

smallwhite wrote:
blaurebell wrote:Russian... 11,960 known word forms... 1500 words... 8:1... 193h...
I have already 24000 word forms in the database in total

By "11,960 known word forms" do you mean "dog" and "dogs" are 2 word forms?
By "1500 words" do you mean "dog" and "dogs" are 1 word?

I know very little Russian but those numbers don't look right to me. Do they look right to you?
After 193h you only know 1500 words?
And your database, which I guess is a book or three, has only 3000 different words? That sounds like a reader.


Yes on word vs word form.

The numbers didn't look right to me either, but the frequency list did, so I thought they must be right. What I didn't notice was that it only counted words with a minimum number of 3 occurrences. Dah, stupid! Let's revise those numbers after modifying my command to include all words! Total words in the database so far: 9799 with 24,484 word-forms. Number of words learned: 4373 words. That makes more sense! The word-forms vs words ratio is actually 1:2.49 for Russian vs 2.91 for French. Now, that makes no sense whatsoever from the "experience" of learning Russian, why does the number of new words go down so slowly if French turns out to be more inflected? Well, I think for that the numbers for a single novel might start to shed some light: Let's try David Eddings - Pawn of Prophecy, because that's what my first novel in Russian was. Translated into Russian it contains 7059 words, and that's a 250 page novel in Russian. Translated into French it contains 5938 words. So, Russian has definitely more words to learn in general, but not so many, right? Well, one novel won't tell you much: Let's take the first Harry Potter for comparison: Russian 7597 words, French 4813 words, 300 page novel. That looks already a little worse. Well, let's take the whole Harry Potter series and we see what's really going on: 13217 words for the whole French translation, 24411 for the Russian translation! I would assume that most of these extra words are verbs by the way, thanks to the double-triple effect of verb aspect. Some of them might not be so difficult to learn because they are somewhat related to their aspect pair, but some have a completely different word-stem. That said, even learning a core vocabulary of the same size is more difficult in Russian. There aren't many cognates, those words actually have to be learned for real, much unlike French where I had like 70% vocabulary overlap with English and Spanish. Of those 9000 words in French I probably only had to learn 3000 words properly. Russian simply doesn't come with such shortcuts if you don't know any more closely related languages.

smallwhite wrote:If that's the case I really should learn Russian :P In fact that's why I've been so interested in stats for Russian - Greek has been easier than I had thought, and if Greek and Russian are both Cat IV langauges without asterisk, I might as well go back to Russian which has far more speakers.


Well, it really depends what Greek grammar is like and how much vocabulary there is to learn, how familiar the vocabulary seems, etc. Russian really is quite a slog, because it is difficult on many levels: Oodles of difficult grammar, 6 cases, verb aspect, variable word order, lots of non-cognate vocabulary and many of the words look and sound confusingly similar, difficult pronunciation in general. But then, I'm biased and would still choose Russian. I wouldn't even know what to do with Modern Greek, whereas Russian has tons of really interesting content that often doesn't get translated. Part of it is that there is no interest and ideological bias against Russian content, the other part is that Russian is super difficult to translate in general, especially into structurally simple languages. It's sort of possible with German, but even there you lose a lot of the subtleties. English is a total nightmare and most translations into English are simply unreadable. But well, it depends on your interests.


I took a year of Ancient Greek in college and was a B1 reader at the end of it. In terms of complexity, Russian feels very similar to me.

All I remember about Ancient Greek is that we used an absolutely wonderful graded reader that made up a very entertaining story about some guy named Dikaiopolis. I still remember the chapter about ancient insurance fraud on the high seas. That was the fun part. The unfun part was we had two hours of homework at night, every night. And the homework mostly consisted of writing out verb conjugations (all irregular) and noun declensions (also fairly irregular) by hand. The professor was a genius who was was wasting his time on us beginners, but he was very old school and didn't give out a whole lot of As. 22 people signed up at the beginning of the first semester and at the end of the school year there were only 7 of us. I got a B+, even though the professor often told the class I was the only one whose Greek to English translations weren't clunky. By the way, a girl from Greece took the class because she thought it would be an easy A. She got a C+. The professor docked a point for every misspelled word ...

Modern Greek (as I understand it) got rid of a lot of the irregularities, but also has a greatly expanded vocabulary so it is even more comparable to Russian.

For all we complain about Russian, I guess Greek is just as hard.
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby blaurebell » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:59 am

Xmmm wrote:For all we complain about Russian, I guess Greek is just as hard.


I actually wanted to take Ancient Greek at university too and enrolled in Ancient Cultures as a minor to go with my philosophy major. Basically it was all Latin and Greek culture, philosophy and literature with obligatory Latin course and optional Greek course. It's a good fit for philosophy and I was really interested, but it seemed to be taught by a bunch of people who should have aimed at becoming school teachers rather than university lecturers. Not sure whether it was all the Latin + Greek grammar messing with them, but they not only had idiotic rules just like in school, but also "punishments" for breaking them, like extra homework or nonsense like that. On top of it they set the most useless waste of time hamster wheel homework in general. Like copying things out from a book :roll: In the end I switched my minor before ever reaching the Greek course. I always hated all the silly made up rules and hamster wheel activities of school, so I simply suffered too much on that course. Writing out verb conjugations and noun declension for a language one doesn't have to produce seems like a similar hamster wheel approach :?

I don't know Greek, but the Russian case system is definitely much more confusing than the Latin case system, 6 cases instead of 5 (+vocative, but Russian has some remnants of that too to some extent), different cases used for animate and inanimate objects, and Russian verbs are a mess because of the arcane black magic of verb aspect. I somehow managed to cheat my way through my Latin translations in high school with the help of the grammar tables in the dictionary. Only one Latin case is different from the German case system, so that was super easy to understand. I basically got away without learning any Latin, just by learning how to use a Latin dictionary properly. With Russian I actually had to learn the case system and verb system for real before I could read with a dictionary because it was simply too confusing to pick it up on the fly. Russians simply make a lot more distinctions that are not that important for most other languages - animate inanimate, location vs direction, perfective vs imperfective, verbs of motion. The main problem was wrapping my head around that weird way of thinking. Latin has the same logic as German and the Romance languages. That makes it a lot easier. Greek in any case looks like another variation on Latin+German+Romance logic, 4 cases (one less in modern Greek) + vocative, but the verbs look mildly weird. Nothing too crazy from a German perspective though. The grammar still looks more logical than Russian grammar. Vocabulary might be a little harder with Russian too, because it seems to have less cognates and the double-triple effect of verb aspect. But then, maybe Greek is more illogical than it seems :D
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby blaurebell » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:34 am

Russian

I'm now 86% into the book and if I continue at my current speed I might just finish the book in 3 days! That's pretty cool, since I wasn't really planning on finishing it before the end of the month. I guess I'm really getting into the story now. I was planning to finish my first 500 pages before the next 6WC to get to a point where I can really push the hours on reading and I think I've reached that goal already. After all, I can already average at 4 hours a day and that's pretty decent already. Basically I'm all set for that next big push. Incidentally I've also just reached 200h of reading!

Another little success: Yesterday I was looking about the Russian internet for something and to my surprise I actually understood most of what I was reading there without a dictionary. Seems like my reading comprehension is starting to become functional! It's still a bit of a strain to read cyrillic and I tend to avoid trying to decipher it when I don't need to, but after a few minutes I was skipping around the websites quite fluently, reading a sentence here or there without even intending to read them. It's definitely becoming more natural now!

As you might have noticed, I'm pretty much focusing on Russian these days, because I feel like I'm reaching a breakthrough point. So, this was supposed to be my Russian year, but since my Russian progressed more slowly than I had hoped, I actually did more Spanish and French than intended and even added some Italian. Basically my health objected to pushing my limits for proper study. More than 2h of any intensive Russian activity and my health would simply tank. Not good. Cutting back was definitely necessary. Now with only ~15% new word forms per page and already 4000+ words in the pocket it's less of a strain though and I can push it again. I wonder, might Russian still become my most studied language this year? If I really manage to push through another 400h of reading in the next few months, it might just happen! Whatever happens it will probably still be closely followed by Spanish.

Russian hours: 4.66h

Italian

One episode of Star Trek TNG in Italian.

Italian hours: 0.75h
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby smallwhite » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:18 am

blaurebell wrote:... the Russian case system is definitely much more confusing than... Vocabulary might be a little harder with Russian too...

You seem to find Russian much, much harder than everyone else on the internet and on this forum, and you're just at reading. Could it be your method? Or the books?
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