Coldrainwater's German Log

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Dagane
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby Dagane » Sun Aug 16, 2020 10:53 am

coldrainwater wrote:I It took more than 8,000 pages at 300 words per page, but I have finally reached a point reading Steven Erikson where I am not actively adding an appreciable number of new words to my vocabulary list (...). It would have undoubtedly happened sooner had I chosen an author with less complex prose, so the data should be considered in the context of that one Malazan series.


That was my strategy years ago when I tried to boost my vocabulary in English :lol:. It's certainly difficult at first but then it also pays off later on.
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:35 pm

Dagane wrote:
coldrainwater wrote:I It took more than 8,000 pages at 300 words per page, but I have finally reached a point reading Steven Erikson where I am not actively adding an appreciable number of new words to my vocabulary list (...). It would have undoubtedly happened sooner had I chosen an author with less complex prose, so the data should be considered in the context of that one Malazan series.


That was my strategy years ago when I tried to boost my vocabulary in English :lol:. It's certainly difficult at first but then it also pays off later on.

I definitely agree. Some of the words in that series have formed such a strong impression in my memory, emotional and otherwise, that they may not be going anywhere. The ones I think of most show up so often in the book that they likely never made any wordlist of mine. The repetition was also spaced over 4-5 months giving me time to integrate that world of words into my overall life and learning experience. A lasting benefit of fantasy is to be able to take a rich fantasy world like that and map it on top of our own reality, helping to understand it (and oops, helping us to learn a new language in the same space).

I imported the entire dict.cc dictionary into a SQL database recently but haven't done any work with it yet. When I finish the Malazan series, I suspect I will want to do a bit of light text analysis on the corpus to get a feel for what shows up most and least often. Having the text via Calibre facilitates that step.

It probably doesn't show up in my writings here, but since I read both series in English and German, some of the English has seeped into my daily vocabulary at work too and I have even gotten a few (positive) comments on it. I might be misattributing, but I know Erikson has sent me, with interest, to Webster's on many occasions. I am happy to have read the English version alongside the German and learned from it all. I find the way that author communicates and interacts with humans in the series is equally useful in real life.
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:00 am

Listening Practice

Lately, a day often begins pondering how streams of text lead to lively images and action sequences and how they all work in concert with abstract elements. Special emphasis goes toward making them ever more vivid and immersive. After all, a reading experience has multiple components and the author can only do so much. The day often ends with strikingly similar thoughts. I take that as a sign that I have been reading adequately.

After more than seven months of consistent daily reading in German, what is going on in my head seems about par for level and method. Listening practice, though still very much at beginner competency, has changed character and now feels like there is an internal battle going on inside my head filled with competition and strife. The recent tendency to visualize orthography as I listen rivals and often eclipses other well-meaning efforts, efforts that run the gamut from careful holistic listening aimed at comprehension, word parsing, identifying collocations and other such fun to counter-productive cases involving outright retreat, flight and even rebellion. The collocations often jump out as one-time epiphanies after I have surely heard them for the n-teenth time and precede being able to actively produce them in speech.

Likewise, it appears that word visualization precedes comprehension for the level of text (written and spoken) that I target. By default, I commonly see the orthography of English and Spanish in the back of my mind while listening and it is nice to see this tendency take hold in German as well even if it does so quite imperfectly at first. Some German words are missing entirely while other spellings trail off and blur into uncertain oblivion. Habits like that certainly seem like a ringing endorsement nudging me in the direction of an L2->L2 LR.

Concerning listening content, 50-100 hours chunks of podcasts mixed with occasional audiobook content appeal even though they are still well above my level. One podcast fitting the bill is Deja vu Geschichte. It is a history podcast with good quality audio and typically a single narrating voice. If there is one thing common to podcast history enthusiasts, it is just that. Contagious enthusiasm. I used to go on large scale raids of iVoox and it is no coincidence that the format and many aspects of this German podcast are very similar to what I sought and found so readily while learning Spanish. The narrator speaks clearly and, though the material is likely considered intermediate, I can listen at A2 and reach for more.

If I want higher comprehension, I need to pay attention...in spurts of course so as not to get overwhelmed. I also need all my ducks in a row since the little things, usual and unusual, matter. Closing my eyes while listening and getting extra sleep both help for example. Warmups are needed and comprehension veers in and out like the signal of a badly tuned radio. All of those ‘needs’ are more or less indicators of my current listening level that will fade in importance and hopefully converge to something more useful over time. Déjà-vu is perhaps a more pertinent first podcast choice than I previously imagined.

As a side note, on a brief interlude from the Malazan world, I read a book recommended to me by a friend, Die Stumme Patientin. I successfully tried an experiment with this one and flipped my Anki around, reading L2 first and only referencing the L1 translation when needed. It is as close as I have come to extensively reading a book in German yet. The book is in an unfamiliar genre for me but was quick and easy to read in translation. Short sentences. Simple language, even in German. I enjoyed it as both a confidence booster and technique modifier. Plot twists were also new to me and the overall experience created the intended suspense.
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:21 pm

Nun gut, ich habe ein bisschen gelesen.

Der goldene Herrscher - 575 S.
In Sturm des Verderbens - 860 S.
Die Stadt des blauen feuers - 720 S.
Tod eines Gottes - 720 S.
Die Flucht der Kinder - 650 S.
Die Schwingen der Dunkelheit - 735 S.

All in all, after finishing the ninth book of Malazan Book of the Fallen, I can safely say this is the longest and best fantasy series that I have read. The translation for volume ten is not available until May and August of next year, so I have an intermission at hand. More than anything, I appreciate that the series offered new and much-needed perspectives on life, specifically around human actions, interactions and motivations. Erikson is nothing if not well-informed philosophically and he includes many internal monologues. Reading it as a parallel text made certain that I did not miss any of the original source data. Luckily, his humour is up to the task of breaking the monotony and he uses it well and often to manage tone and feeling, counterbalancing the heavy feeling that philosophy brings to the deck. As someone who is introverted and would always need to attach some negating prefix to the word social, I feel like I now have a very useful toolset at my disposal. The dialogue presented fits my personality and the work seems to open up a mindset for me that I can grow with, expand upon and incorporate. In short, Erikson's writing personality and style fit me well as a reader.

Foreshadowing in the series is excellent, making them one and all good candidates for rereading. Malazan forums tend to have those club-style and yearly. I have found one booktube that I like so far, Mike's book reviews and I mentioned it because he is planning to read this series for the first time in 2021 so will be covering it live. I like his channel because he genuinely encourages people to read as the main purpose and I relate well to his personality and presentation style.

Der Name der Rose is the only other book I have on a reread list so far, which I originally read as El nombre de la rosa. In the case of both Umberto Eco and Steven Erikson, I am somewhat torn between reading more of their work and engaging in a reread of prior works. I suppose I shouldn't complain about win-win situations, least of all now.

Even though my comprehension isn't stellar (isn't even particularly good to be clear), I have been padding my reading with separate audiobooks, just to keep the ears in shape. Hours listened are not super high, but I am making sure to inch forward and avoid any regression. I have done enough mulling and lurking that I now have quite a list of fantasy books and authors that I am interested in reading. It may be that some of them work as audiobooks once I am a bit further along in the acquisition process.

Concerning vocabulary, the biggest innovation I have made in the last few months is that I find it worth my time to hand-pick images to accompany vocabulary words. I include these now in my Anki list and they have made a huge and positive difference. I am not sure I would want to revert to a state where I don't use images in some way, shape or form. One of the things I love about images is the raw speed going from word to meaning. I found myself doing that often in the past, fumbling for some L1 word that I didn't really need to bring all the way out to 'active blurt' status.

I have also gravitated to making sure I can recognize the words on sight as an added challenge, with or without the help of context sentences I create. I am doing a better job of grabbing context as I read, which makes the process more memorable and more enjoyable. All this adds time and administrative overhead, but with much greater efficacy to show for it. Other than that, the process hasn't varied considerably and is working well.

Edit: Found an interview posted a few days ago with Steven Erikson, author of the series I just read. If you are interested in the series, it is worth checking out.

Interview - Steven Erikson 10/7/2020 (Spoiler alert)
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Sun Oct 11, 2020 7:26 pm

Immersion Reading

Today, I rediscovered an Audible resource termed Immersion Reading that has been available for years now, but that I believe does not get sufficient press here on the forums. My normal operation protocol is to do first and make confession later, in several areas of life I should probably add. Nevertheless, Amazon might as well have tied a bow on Immersion Reading for language learning purposes and so I feel best mentioning it now rather than waiting for my penchants to goad me into full gear. I think several forum members might want to include it in their repertoire for the ongoing Super Challenge or in pursuit of other life and language fun. I suspect the reason it is not mentioned as often is that WhisperSync integration and Immersion Reading are assumed to be obvious and common knowledge. Part of the reason I did not jump on the bandwagon sooner was that I didn't realize how dead-simple it was to setup.

Cerca 2016, both Ani and Jeffers made a post announcing its availability and I decided to follow up on the current state of affairs now at the end of 2020. I was impressed with what I found for several reasons:

  • The current Whispersync selection is impressive, at least in German.
  • I am making a personal note to take a look at Spanish, since I have modest hopes that they also have burgeoning stock.
  • They continue to be offered at a deep discount when bought in conjunction with the Kindle eBook off Amazon.
  • I suspect some may be able to borrow Audible books from their local library and then apply Whispersync, saving the cost of the initial text. That is something I have not tried though, so take it with a grain of salt. There are myriad other legit tricks and tips to accomplish similar.
  • Long story short, it should be easy enough to do this on the cheap while investing minimal admin time.
  • I bought one to test and adding the audiobook only cost me a few dollars.
  • The technology now looks to be in a mature, functional state without hassle. I will update the post if I run into new issues.
  • On Android, I just opened the Kindle book, clicked down on the audio once inside the book for a quick download, then hit play.
  • I don’t like losing my place, so I want and perhaps need the sentence highlighting that it offers. My eyes wander where they shouldn't.
  • Goes without saying that we get a professional human narrator and unabridged, instantly matched text to audio, saving a non-trivial amount of work reconstructing the same using different methods.
  • I can modulate speed and backtrack per usual app functionality.
  • Says it is available for Fire, IOS and Android.

One reason I like parallel text so much via Anki is that I can't get lost flashing one sentence at a time in both languages. That dual-language format shares common functionality with sentence highlighting aspects of Immersion Reading. My German listening skillset is not fully up to the task of tackling the audiobooks I am most interested in at the moment, but I see a few L2->L2 LR options that appear perfectly reasonable. Benefits often seep in unexpectedly when swapping techniques, and that applies here as well. E.g., I feel the combined human voice, sentence highlighting, potential for repeat playback, and ease of operation will enhance my active concentration enough to make it well worth my while. Hope this tool is useful to some of you as I see it as an improvement over several other options.
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:00 am

I am on vacation this week and my normal schedule has been favorably augmented by a trip to Big Bend National Park, very close to the Texas/Mexico border. The day before yesterday I hiked to the highest point in the park, Emory Peak and today I managed to reach a neat little grotto near Upper burro mesa pouroff.
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Emory Peak offered a short, fun but safe bit of scrambling near the top to hit a 360 panorama. The camera lens on my cell might have bit into a bad combination of dust and rock, so the Alltrails photos are the best I can offer. The attached images are from Burro mesa today as I knew to pack a better camera. From fellow hikers and the wiki link above, I know this park has quite the fossil record to its name. Also, a number of people search for this Red Buffalo. It is apparently a bit tough to track down and you need to know the area decently.
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Sat Oct 24, 2020 10:35 pm

Trail advice is always valuable to me. I met a family hiking the Lost Mine Trail and wanted to record a small portion of our conversation that may be relevant for travel purposes. One gentleman in the group was a 70-year old veteran. He was in very impressive condition both mentally and physically and could easily keep pace with a group 30 years his junior. From it all, the Canadian, Alaskan, and the general northern portion of US wilderness (Wyoming, Montana) were described to me in ways that pretty firmly cemented them into my future travel plans. Some of it had to do with freedom and the ease of safe camping and RV travel, but perhaps the most succinct way to put is the feeling of how areas and landscapes open up before you.

It is easy to get caught up and somewhat carried away while in a vacation mindset, but also very much worth doing I would say. It is one of the easiest ways to change perspective.

I am definitely getting a better feel for what it is like to spend time in the desert, both indoors and out. They weren't kidding about dark skies, stars, and the night sound of neighbouring wild animal packs. Hiking in the seethe of the night could easily go from inclination to personal hobby in these parts.

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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Sun Nov 01, 2020 11:26 pm

I am a few hectic and catch-up laden days late in writing an entry for the last parallel text that I finished, namely Das Parfum by Patrick Süskind. I really enjoyed it and definitely recommend it for German learners. It was my first native language book and I felt it was about the right jump in difficulty to go from a moderately challenging translated fantasy to a first native text.

I saw the movie about twelve years ago and it made such a strong and positive impression on me that I still remembered much of the plot. The same is already starting to happen with the book as I like it now more than when I was actually reading it. It was a lateral step upwards in terms of language difficulty compared to Malazan.

Artstation animation
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Sun Nov 15, 2020 9:11 pm

Monarch Pass and Crested Butte, Colorado

For those of you who may have been here and others that may wish to visit one day...Yesterday, I packed poles and crampons in the back of my car and drove from Houston, TX to Crested Butte, CO to start my November vacation. Along the way, I saw camel, deer, birds that surely want to fly but can't, cattle and buffalo. The trip had a 17-hour minimum duration and I played an audiobook in the background, a recording of Kinder des Nebels (Mistborn) by Brandon Sanderson. I took naps at truck stops and avoided all manner of human contact. My hands more or less dripped sanitizer and I likely left the gas pumps in cleaner condition than before refuelling. In essence, I traded biological risk factors for a combination of extra driving risk and added duration.

The last five or six hours of the trip were the most exciting and surreal. I drove into the Colorado mountains at sunrise (this is worth emulating) through an impressive change of landscape that never fails to amaze when one drives from east to west across Colorado (I have done this at several different latitudes, sometimes starting from Denver, sometimes not). I then ascended and crossed Monarch Pass under slightly dubious winter storm conditions (this, however, is not worth emulating). Visibility was quite poor at times since you get occasional whiteouts due to snow flurry, but the drivers with whom I shared the road were experienced and kept their wheels in check and chain. Ultimately, I added some unexpected but not unplanned for spice to the last leg of my ride into town.

Mountain plains driving in
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The residence that I am staying in has very impressive interior art as well as signed skiing memorabilia. In addition to recognizing the face and signature, if you look closely at the jersey below, you will see a reference to the Kitzbüheler Alpen as well as some film information for those interested.
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Adverts, ice axe and crampons
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I will post more and especially want to give a language update. I will see if I can share more photos via single link album in addition to those I upload through the net.
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Tue Nov 17, 2020 1:10 am

Der Zauberberg von Thomas Mann

I don't plan enough to have planned it this way, but my ongoing vacation to the mountains aligns all too perfectly with a reading of Der Zauberberg (Wikipedia spoiler alert) by Thomas Mann. For those of you not familiar with the work, the surface-layer story takes place in a resort setting high in a mountain village of Davos, Switzerland. It was the site of a sanatorium that, among other things, acted as a treatment facility for tuberculosis and the Spanish Flu in the 1920s. I might take it as a given how many parallels exist between our current pandemic and the one upon which Magic Mountain is centred. My own personal parallel as I alternate between ''restcure'' and taking regular daily excursions in a small resort town of Colorado are just as striking to me personally and I am anxious to reflect on it all while immersed under such unique circumstances.

Language and book details

Without a doubt, I bit off far more than I could read and the learning process has become decidedly more intense. Intercalated blocks of multi-hour binge-reading subjectively made the difference between being in a groove and being in a rut. To hour, I have accepted and experienced far more in the way of slow, sentencewise progress than I have instances of flow. However, those rare instances of flow give me a peek into what it must be like to read German fluently and are notable confidence boosters. Metacognitively, I learn more about the language learning process when I fall into those states of flow and can simultaneously draw perspective on what it is like during more mundane study circumstances.

I am especially happy to read Magic Mountain in both English and German. Not since I read a version of the Decameron in Spanish now years ago have I enjoyed a translation so thoroughly. The native German is superior, but certainly not at every turn of phrase. In both languages, the work is highly quotable. I am taking rather copious notes and opt to capture both English and German translations for reference. Page for page, I would label this book as the most useful language learning book that I have read to date for or in German. Mann wrote Magic Mountain in a very meticulous manner, describing many of the actual events, social climate, setting and scenery in painstaking detail, using extensive and precise vocabulary. In my notes, I noticed that I became comfortable with his idiolect and general writing style about a fourth of the way through the work. In contrast, sentence length is a more persistent, epic, and ongoing challenge. I wrote a personal note on the topic and will drop it in here in case it helps others. Namely, holding the full parallel English sentence in short term memory does not always work perfectly with [Mann's] longer sentences and the brain's path of least resistance then becomes a curious admixture with the moiety of efforts simply directed at reading German outright. That may be a bit counter-intuitive, but not implausible.

Getting used to the writing epoch was so interesting that I likely didn't perceive that aspect as overly burdensome and have moved past those issues mainly by embedding myself firmly in the relevant zeitgeist. For reference, I did the very same thing when reading 19th-century Spanish literature. To boot, it is also very helpful that Mann employs an elegant leitmotiv throughout the work, making it easy to stay on the path to comprehension and follow the thread of his ideas across time and text. Mann had very specific aims in writing Magic Mountain that, fortunately for me, did not include completely losing the reader.

Interspersed are many and splendid, but not overwhelming references to classical, religious, and philosophical works. Wikipedia is a more useful reference than Duden and Mann's writing is anything but provincial. I feel it is worth setting aside time to explore the references he uses, even to the point of tangential wandering. I enjoyed the Wikipedia experience so much in German that I am likely to include it more explicitly in my future learning endeavours.

It is easy to see why Magic Mountain met with wide acclaim and easier still to justify my own personal indulgence in it. The work itself is written as a philosophical dialectic first and foremost. By extension, don't expect much in the way of action (but the storytelling is excellent) and definitely don't expect it to be anything like a spell-bound page-turner. In case you haven't read the many excellent german learning logs, it is commonly suggested to read other works by Mann before taking up Magic Mountain. There is a reasonable case to be made to read Mann chronologically, which would likely have been the author's own preference given his direct comments on the matter.

As a side note, if you get a chance, even if you choose never to read the book (a valid choice as it is not for everyone by a longshot and other works of his may be significantly better, YMMV), I highly recommend reading the author's endnote presented right after the Finis Operis and available only in the English edition to the best of my awareness. He wrote it himself using quite advanced English directed at an American audience (his words). I won't say more about it to avoid spoilers other than to mention that he gives insight into his personal writing process, his relation to other greats of German literature, certainly into the Magic Mountain storey itself along with his previous and future novels and finally into his choice of language for exposition.

Time marches on and I suspect this work will soon fall in the public domain, so access to this and more is no doubt forthcoming. It is clear that I chose not to wait around. I will share some text analysis that I completed last week in a separate post. The same goes for some quotes I found interesting.

Translator's Note H. T. LOWE-PORTER
The translator wishes to thank, in this place, a number of scholars, authorities in the various special fields entered by The Magic Mountain, without whose help the version in all humility here offered to English readers, lame as it is, must have been more lacking still. That they gave so generously is not to be interpreted otherwise than as a tribute to a work of genius. But with all their help, the great difficulty remained: the violet had to be cast into the crucible, the organic work of art to be remoulded in another tongue. Shelley’s figure is perhaps not entirely apt here. Yet, since in the creative act word and thought are indivisible, the task was seen to be one before which artists would shrink and logical minds recoil.

But of the author of The Magic Mountain it can be said in a special sense that he has looked into the seeds of Time. It was in dispensable that we should read his book; intolerable that English readers should be barred from a work whose spirit, whatever its vehicle, is universal. It seemed better that an English version should be done ill than not done at all.

If you read, even a little between the lines, Porter very much had to win over Mann and not the other way around. In the end, they became much closer and separately, I would say she won the fame she deserved.

H.T. Lowe-Porter 1907 and a note on her struggles as a female translator
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