Iversen's second multiconfused log thread

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Iversen
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Re: Iversen's second multiconfused log thread

Postby Iversen » Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:13 am

I'm behind schedule with my wordlist repetitions - I only did Greek,Albanian, Romanian and Latin yesterday. On the positive side I have read at least 100 pages of a Greek grammar in French as goodnight goody, and I have listened to some interviews in relevant languages on Youtube. One thing that surprised me was an interview with a lady named Cristina Aguilera, whom I had expected to be fluent in Spanish because of her name and her Spanish song titles. And then she admitted to be into the process of learning the language! I have since looked her up on Wikipedia and noticed that she was born in New York, but even there her parents should have taught her Spanish from day one.

I'm not going to write more right now. It's Easter so there are all kinds of special activities going on in the museums of my town, and that's where I'm heading now.

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Iversen
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Re: Iversen's second multiconfused log thread

Postby Iversen » Sun Apr 21, 2019 9:25 am

Yesterday I got through the rest of the Romance languages I have studied. The most noteworthy among these is of course Old French, which I learnt to read almost fluently during my French studies way back in the 70s, but haven't tried to activate becuse I haven't got a Modern into Old French dictionary, and it is sheer hell to try to learn a language where you can't even check the simplest words. As you might say in the old way:

ANC.FR: Ome se puet demandier porquoi vault faire une liste de mots en Ancien françois si ome ne poeit oncques esperer apprendre come parler cete langue. Gie suis realiste, mais puis que ne ai nenil un dictionaire suficient du François moderne en François medieval (ni Freelang ni Glosbe ne poeient aucunement remplir mes besoings) le travail avecques le dic du feu messier Greimas dans le sans inverse porroit possiblement m'aider a activiser( ?) cete langue que gie sais desja lire.

Heaven knows how many errors I did here (even within the flexible borders of ancient French spelling)!

I could of course also have tried to made a wordlist in Ancient Occitan since I do own an Old Occitan -> Modern French dictionary (and I followed a course in the language in 70s), but again - I lack a dictionary in the other direction, and while my French is at a rather decent level my Occitan isn't (despite another course in the 70s). I don't own Sardic or Gallegan or Rhaeto-Romance dictionaries, nor dictionaries of the Italian dialects so that luckily prevents me from trying to make wordlists in them.

It seems that repetitions of 4-5 languages per day is a feasible goal so now I only have to do repetitions of my lists in English, Scots, High and Low German, Dutch, Afrikaans, Swedish, New Norwegian, Irish and Finnish (!) before Easter is over. And if I don't make it then I just take a day or two more - against expectation I seem to remember enough of my considerations from the initial round to make it relevant to do those repetitions, but normally it would have been more efficient to do them at most a day or two after the original lists.

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Re: Iversen's second multiconfused log thread

Postby PfifltriggPi » Mon Apr 22, 2019 10:23 pm

What did you use to learn Old French? I've tried and failed once, and have a hard time finding resources for it, but am very interested.
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Iversen
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Re: Iversen's second multiconfused log thread

Postby Iversen » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:03 pm

Well, I studied French at the university of Århus in the 70s, and we had a teacher who was an expert in the old forms of the Romance languages and probably one of the leading experts in the field at the time (Poul Skårup). And of course he did the courses in Ancient French and Ancient Occitan, which not only meant that we had a teacher who knew everything worth knowing about those languages (he could even speak Ancient French!), but also a teacher who himself was an active researcher - and I have always liked to see languages from the standpoint of a linguist. These were however only meant as reading courses with no intention of teaching us how to write let alone speak those old languages, but still a good foundation. In Italian and the languages of the Iberian peninsula there is not quite as much need of courses in the old forms because they are closer to the modern forms.

With one exception all my paper books about the two languages date back to those courses, and they may not be available any more. The exception is the "Initiation à l'ancien français" by Sylvie-Tacchela from 2006 (Hachette), which still may be available - and a good starting point for a homelearner. The main items among the rest are the following ones:

Ancien Français:
Dictionary: "Larousse Ancien Français" by A.J.Greimas, which is more than enough to suit my needs (if I had been a scholar I would have tried to add the one by monsieur Godefroy).
Grammars: "Précis historique de la language française" by Knud Togeby, Akademisk forlag (in Denmark) and "Petite Syntaxe de l'Ancien français" by Lucien Foulet, Champion 1930 (bought second-hand), supplemented by morphological tables compiled by my teacher
Main text collection: "Anthologie de la litérature française du moyen âge" by Groult, Emond, Muraille

Old Occitan:
Dictionary: "Petit dictionnaire provençal-français" by Lévy, 1909 (bought second-hand and once the property of the eminent Danish scholar Sandfeld)
Grammar: "Grammaire provençale" by Jules Payot, 1932 (also second-hand - and once again once it belonged to an eminent old Danish scholar, but this time his name was Blinkenberg)
Textcollection etc.: "Introduction à l'étude de l'Ancien Provençal" by Hamlin, Ricketts, Hathaway

The complete and unabridged dictionary by Godefroy is on the internet, and I have actually used it to check the validity of some of my guesses, but most of the language materials you find on the internet are at best second-rate. The exception is of course the text collections, where it is possible to find a fair number of good sources.

And now to the burning question: how to start of restart your studies in a dead language. I think the main key to succes is to study bilingual texts intensively and in conjunction with intensive, but fastidious study of grammars, and once you are far enough, to read a lot without caring to much about petty details. The secondary key is always to think: could I end up writing/speaking this language? If you have that attitude you are more likely to focus on the main structures and leave totally insignificant translation problems aside.

Since last update I have spent one day without doing any language study at all and one day doing the usual things. And my harvest was 6 wordlist revisions, so now I only lack 5 (i.e. Dutch, Afrikaans, English, Scots ... and Finnish). I have not yet ordered a comprehensive something-to-Finnish dictionary so there is no risk of succombing to the temption of studying Finnish here and now, but doomesday came nearer the day I got that peek into a Finnish-Danish dictionary. Could it really be that easy?

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Iversen
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Re: Iversen's second multiconfused log thread

Postby Iversen » Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:30 pm

The last five wordlist repetitions have now been done, and I have to consider what the next move should be. I'm sure I'll do a similar general wordlist run sometime in the future because it forces me to work with ALL my languages, and it mercilessly shows me which ones are in the most urgent need of attention - and it can't be a surprise that the weakest ones are at the top of that list (Irish, Albanian and some of the Slavic ones). I have spent a lot of time organizing and reorganizing my music collection lately, and the advantage of this should now be that I can use the music files to provide a background for my study acitivities without fearing that anything nasty disturbs my peace of mind - except that some of the compositions still haven't got themes in that part of the registration system, but luckily I don't have to solve that problem right now.

So just in order to do something totally different, one element in my agenda for today will be to transform my heap of notes about Irish morphology to proper green sheets and to work my way through a number of texts in different languages like for instance Albanian and Slovak (and if time permits, maybe also other Slavic languages like Polish and Serbian). On the other hand the wordlist exercise has been a positive experience insofar that it has shown me that I haven't lost my foothold in for instance Afrikaans in spite of having neglected that language for weeks on end.

I have even also planned to do a little bit more listening to files from the internet in the next days than I have been able to do while organizing my music. I have already made a beginning in that ...

PLATT: ik höff gistern een lüütje Beten Platt hört, meehrstendeels met Ina Müller. Ik höff dree vun sien Beuken koop, un sie leest 3 Minuten vun een dorvun, "Platt is nich uncool". Aver er is ok länger texte op 't Internet, so wie Yared Dibaba sien Kommentar to jichtenseen Football-WM-FInale met volle 17 Minuten. Jared is met 1o Johren vun Ethiopien to Düütschland komen, aver er is een vun die meest aktieve Plattschnacker op düütsche Television - wat nich veel zeegt, üm dat die Düütschen höffen siene gute ölle Dialekten johrelang totaal vernachlaten.

AF: Ek het iewers baie onderhoude oor Afrikaans van die Suid-Afrikaanse sien Webwerf gekry, alle met die titel "Die Tale Wat Ons Praat". Ek weet eintlik nie of hierdie reeks is steeds aan die gang nie, maar daar is nou 'n boek met 'n paar gesprekke daarvan op die mark. Ek het egter gister op een van die ou uitsendings geluister, en tot my groot wonder het ek die meeste nog verstaan, alhoewel ek nog nooit gereelde gesprek in die taal het gehad nie.

GER: Daüberhinaus habe ich auch deutsches Fernsehen geschaut, so mein Germanisches hat wohl seinen Anteil meiner Aufmerksamheit bereits gehabt. Jetzt ist es wichtiger, ein Bißchen Irisch und Albanisch und Slowakisch und vielleict Griechisch zum Tagesprogramm hinzuzufügen.

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Re: Iversen's second multiconfused log thread

Postby Iversen » Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:56 am

Today I have been copying/studying texts in four languages. Maybe I should first explain why this isn't as idiotic as it sounds. First, if you just read a text you will not be happy about things you don't understand so you will tend to skip over them without even noticing. If you write a copy of a text then you have enough time to notice where the problems are, and you will be more inclined to try to solve them. Depending on the level you are at in each language and the difficulty degree of the text itrself it may be possible to work just with the text and a dictionary, but for anything that is just a little bit hard a bilingual version is much better - even if the translation is full of errors.

There is of course a limit: Google's Latin translations are so utterly rotten that they aren't informative at all so here it is better to find texts that also are published in translations - although humanmade translations sometimes are so illoyal and far from the original that they also make you waste more time than you gain. But having a translation - even if it isn't perfect - is a boon, not only because it can serve you the solutions to some of the translations problems on a silverplatter, but also because it can be used to confirm your own assumptions about the meaning. And with improving comprehension this last aspect becomes more and more important.

I have settled for a system where I produce bilingual text collections of maybe 4-5 pages, and in one session I'll typically do one page or less - after all, writing text by hand takes time. But my feeling is that getting really close to a short text gives me a window into the inner workings of a language, and then I can later introduce the bird's eye view you get from reading or listening extensively. If a text is so difficult that I can't keep the sentences with their interpretation afloat in my mind in their entirety I'll of course do a second run, and the second time it is almost certain that I can do it. And it then feels as if I actually am on a higher level which is comforting, though not necessarily true.

Today that happened with my first text, a Polish one about paleontology. I know that the text is difficult because my small Oxford dictionary couldn't answer at least half of the words I looked up, but luckily I also have a big fat green Pons with far more words in it. If the text had been easy I would not have had to look as many words up, and I would probably have found most of them in the Oxford thing, which claims that it has got 35.000 headwords in its two sections.

PO: Przykładem tego zjawiska jest słowo oznaczające grupę ryb, których jedynym żywym przedstawicielem jest niebieska ryba Latimeria. Tekst zawiera następujące zdanie: "Należały do niej równiez ryby mięśniopłetwe, których nazwa pochodzi od grubej, mięsistej podstawy płetwy." Słowa 'mięśniopłetwe' nie znaleziono w żadnym z moich słowników, ale z pomocą Ponsa widziałem, że to ryba z mięsistymi płetwami - a potem wiesz, że mówi się o grupie ryb o nazwie 'coelacanths' w języku angielskim.

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The second language was Slovakian, where I used a text about birds from the homepage of Košice zoo, which I actually visited last year. And to my surprise it felt like a breeze compared to the Polish one. And from there I proceeded to a text in Greek about the effects on stars from swallowing large amounts of dark matter - and that was even easier to understand. Of course I have been reading about dark matter in a variety of languages earlier, including Greek, so the topic has so to say become one of my 'vocabulary islands' - but nevertheless it is quite nice to feel that you have progressed in a language. I still remember when I started out learning Greek. First I went through a textbook written by a man named Mystakidis, but after that I simply started out translating a blue guidebook to Delphoi into Danish - and when I had finished that I could barely read Greek, but now it is only a fraction from being listed as a language I claim to speak - albeit only at an A something language, due to the less than minimal exposure I have had to the spoken variety.

GR: Η σκοτεινή ύλη αλληλεπιδρά μόνο με τη συνηθισμένη ύλη μέσω της βαρύτητας, αλλά αν ένα άστρο πιπιλίζει αρκετά από την ουσία, πρέπει να γίνει βαρύτερο και αυτό πρέπει να έχει αποτελέσματα. Και τότε νομίζω: μια πολύ χρησιμοποιούμενη κλίμακα στο σύμπαν είναι ένας ιδιαίτερος τύπος σουπερνόβα, όπου ένα μικρότερο αστέρι απορροφά ύλη από έναν γείτονα μέχρι να φτάσει σε κάποιο βάρος και να εκραγεί. Συμπεριλαμβάνεται η σκοτεινή ύλη σε αυτούς τους υπολογισμούς;

The last language was Romanian, where I hadn't even bothered to get translations of the text since it is so easy to read the stuff. The first theme here was once again the effects of dark matter, and after that I read about the cosmological constant and its possible involvement with the utterly mysterious 'dark energy' (probably a misnomer, at least if you expect energy to be carried by some kind of field). I have earlier read and commented upon a text about the same subject in Greek, so it's a theme that has become somewhat familiar to me. But I most definitely don't understand the mathematical complexities behind the surface...

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Re: Iversen's second multiconfused log thread

Postby Carmody » Thu Apr 25, 2019 8:37 pm

Iverson,

I would like to ask you a more general question if I may.

I saw your comments in the
List of habits from people who have mastered many languages
where you mentioned that you knew numerous languages.

I am a B1 with French and only French. I have everything to learn when it comes to language learning.

Would you tell me for all those languages that you know, where are you on the proficiency scale? That is, do you know most of them at an A1, B1 level or a C1 level, or whatever.

For me to retain the necessary vocabulary words in so many languages is beyond my reach. However it sounds as if you are able to do it with lists. Does that mean you are constantly refreshing every other week in a language?

Many thanks.

Carmody
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Iversen
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Re: Iversen's second multiconfused log thread

Postby Iversen » Thu Apr 25, 2019 9:18 pm

OK, prepare for a long answer.

I have not done any regular proficiency test in any language since I left the university in January 1981, so I normally just say that I have done monolingual trips in 11½ language - the half one is obviously Esperanto since I only have used it during conferences within the venues, but spoken something else outside them. The other 11 languages are Danish (of course), Swedish, English, German, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Castillian, Catalan, Italian and Romanian. By 'monolingual trip' I mean that I refuse to speak anything than the local language to any local person, and that I try only to think and read and write in it during my stay. It can't be a 100 % immersion because sometimes I do speak to other tourists or tourist guides or whatever, and I may also update this thread in English from hotel computers - but the plan is to avoid any other language than the local one.

I would say that the weakest ones among those I mentioned are Dutch and Romanian, but even there I have been discussing anything from the animals in the local zoo over the weather to nuclear physics and sights I ought to visit - which should be enough to justify a B2 even in the weaklings among the 11½. However if you catch me during a gathering where people are speaking German or Italian behind my back it may take several minuts to get my brain spinning in Dutch or Romanian. My Swedish tone isn't quite nativelike, but I know all the words I need. And my spoken Esperanto has been up and down since I only have refreshed it during gatherings and conferences, but now I have paid for paper versions of the magazine of UEA (the international Esperanto organisation), which means that I regularly get a boost, and right now I also feel that this language is right at the tip of my tongue.

It might be worth mentioning that I have done lectures in 7 languages, and if the *** jerks at the upcoming gathering hadn't refused my proposal I could have added Portuguese to the list. If you can do a lecture in a language without looking into your notes then I think you are entitled to claim you speak the language. But now my involvement with any kind of conferences or gatherings has come to a screeching halt so there won't be any further additions to the list. I'm not going to participate in any more of these events.

And then there is the rest. Hmm ... that's a complicated question.

Let me first say that I have been studying Greek for several years, and during my last two visits I went almost monolingual the last day both times. If I could take a plane down there for a week or so tomorrow I think I could add Greek to the list, but only at something like a A2 level - I have too many holes in my vocabulary. The same applies to Russian, but there I have heard far less speech during the last couple of years so I might have a problem understanding the responses if I were dumb enough to engage in a conversation. But it would just take some hard aural training to get ready for my first conversation in Russian. As for Bulgarian and Serbian (+Croatian, Bosnian) I can more or less read them, and I could probably survive as a tourist - but not as a monolingual tourist. And my Polish and Slovak are also too weak for that, but I'm close to being able to read them. The same applies to Bahasa Indonesia - the limitation is that I have close to zero listening experience.

I would probably try speaking Afrikaans if I got the chance, but each time I have visited South Africa everybody has spoken to me in English - and I'm slightly worried about the political implikations in answering back in Afrikaans. When I have visited Northern Germany I have hardly ever heard any native speaker utter anything in Low German, so I have almost given up keeping it on my agenda - except as a written language. And the same could be true of Scots, but here at least some persons up North speak English with a Scots accent, and during the last gathering I actually got the chance to have a conversation in broad Scottish - and I think I passed the test. As for Latin I have been hovering just below the level where I would be confident enough to have a conversation, but I have done a 5 minute talk in Latin about tardigrades and their similarity to my Latin skills so with a bit of preparation and the right situation I would have a go - albeit at a modest level. My Irish and Albanian are definitely not close to be added to the list, but I'm studying both sporadically and in bursts.

And finally: how come I didn't mention Norwegian, in spite of Norway being a close neighhbour to Denmark? Well, I understand practically anything I hear from NRK television (even when people representing several dialects have heated conversations), but the dominating writing system (bokmål) up there irritates me because it looks like Danish with a lot of spelling errors, and that has prevented me from doing a real effort to add Norwegian to the list.

Right now my main plan is to learn to read the remaining languages in Europe (i.e. Finnish, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Basque plus a number of languages and dialects close to some of those I already know). And for the moment I prioritize that higher than learning to speak those from Eastern Europe which I already study as written languages now.

Carmody wrote:For me to retain the necessary vocabulary words in so many languages is beyond my reach. However it sounds as if you are able to do it with lists. Does that mean you are constantly refreshing every other week in a language?

Without my wordlists and my selective way of studying grammar it would have been TOTALLY impossible for me to keep afloat in a dozen active languages and at least the same number of passive ones. If I'm not buried in other things like my music collection I would typically study something like three or four languages in a day, not counting the major ones like English or German or French. I don't know how Mezzofanti or Krebs did it, except that Mezzofanti actually did use flash cards on paper. But for me those wordlists are the key to getting and maintaining my vocabularies in the languages I study.

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Re: Iversen's second multiconfused log thread

Postby Carmody » Fri Apr 26, 2019 1:20 am

You sound totally awesome.
Congratulations.
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Iversen
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Re: Iversen's second multiconfused log thread

Postby Iversen » Fri Apr 26, 2019 8:59 am

But apparently not awesome enough to make the judges from the gathering want to hear me speak about learning methods.

I do not claim that those methods will suit everybody, but I think people in general underestimate the value of systematic methods to learn the elements of language without being distracted by delectable and interesting content - like when I recommend that you don't try deliberately to understand speech from the start, but instead try to identify words and sentences (listening 'like a bloodhound' ). Of course I also stick to texts and documentaries about things that interest me when I do my intensive text studies, but one of the advantages I've got - nobody knows why - is to be able to sit down and learn things through standardized methods - like wordlists and compilation of green grammar sheets.

If I study difficult texts intensively for 10-15 minutes it is like they start to open up and reveal their meaning as if it only is at that moment my internal comprensiion software really begins to work. The effect is the same one you get at a much later learning stage by watching or reading native materials intensively, but here it comes while I'm still a dunce in a language. So being stubborn enough to keep working for 10-15 minutes is part of the story, but also that I somehow have the strange gift of not getting bored by dictionaries and grammars and bilingual text fragments.

EDIT: lots of spelling errors corrected
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