Brun Ugle comes clean: Confessions of a wayward owl (NO/ES/DE/JA/FR/PL/TR/KMR/BCS)

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Brun Ugle
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Brun Ugle comes clean: Confessions of a wayward owl (NO/ES/DE/JA/FR/PL/TR/KMR/BCS)

Postby Brun Ugle » Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:33 am

At the end of last year, I made the New Year’s resolution not to take up any new languages. I then broke it both immediately and spectacularly and ended up starting nearly half a dozen new languages during the course of the new year – at least two of them before the New Year’s rockets were even cold. Of course, I didn’t want to admit to having broken my resolution and I especially didn’t want to admit that Rdearman’s attempts to get me to learn French had finally succeeded, so I pretended to stick to my original languages, even going so far as to not count my study times for all my secret languages (three at that time) during the February 6WC.

At first, I had no problems juggling all my languages and worked on all of them almost every day. Everything was going really well until summer when I tried to add in Polish. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Well, either that or all the other complications I had this summer with the kittens, my eye-problems and a new boyfriend taking up a lot of my spare time. My solution? I added Kurmanji Kurdish to the mix. Somehow, it didn’t help.

In the course of this adventure, I learned that some languages are definitely easier than others. This is partly a matter of the language itself, how regular it is and so on, and partly a matter of how similar it is to a language you already know, but it is also to a great degree, a matter of what materials are available to you. It’s a bit like when the police break down a door in a movie. You know it’s not so easy in real life, but some doors are definitely easier than others. I had to slam my shoulder into Turkish and Serbo-Croatian multiple times before making a crack in the door. French, on the other hand, was more like a screen-door. I just leaned against it and fell through. Of course, I’m not saying everything is easy. Once the police get through the door, they might still encounter some pretty nasty bad-guys. French pronunciation and orthography were mildly troublesome, though nowhere near what I’d feared. The only real bad-guy I’ve met so far is the pronouns. I’m still working on disarming them.

I haven’t really had any trouble with mixing things up so far and I find loads of expected and unexpected similarities between languages that I can use to my advantage. For example, the loan words between Turkish and Serbo-Croatian and between Turkish and Kurdish weren’t too surprising, but Turkish also seems to have a bunch of loans from French and Spanish that were less expected, and the grammar reminds me a bit of Japanese.

To avoid an incredibly long post, I’m just going to give a brief summary of what I’ve been doing with my various target languages so far this year and a quick outline of my plans for the near future. I’ll write more details in future entries.

Norwegian
I haven’t really been working much on this, but I have made more of an effort this year than in previous years. Basically, all I’ve been doing is to look up words, and sometimes even write them in my notebook, when I read in Norwegian. Surprisingly, even this tiny effort seems to make a difference in my abilities for a period afterwards, or at least it feels so and that is perhaps the most important thing since my ability seems to correlate with my confidence. My Norwegian has been suffering a bit lately since I speak so much with my boyfriend who is currently in the A2 class (meaning he is not A2, he’s working towards A2), and other friends of a similar level. That means I have to use basic vocabulary and speak in rather short sentences without a lot of complex phrasing and conjunctions, making my speech sound rather choppy and simple. I also find myself getting influenced by my boyfriend’s mistakes, especially the ones he stubbornly repeats no matter how may times I try to correct him. My plans for the future are simply to continue reading actively and noting down vocabulary as I feel like it.

Spanish
This year was mostly about watching a lot of TV, reading a few books, and occasionally Skyping with Zenmonkey, but I did finally decide it was time for some real study and got a C1 level textbook. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it until this summer when my routine was starting to fall apart. I still haven’t even made it though the first chapter. However, some of the exercises are very involved, especially since I try to be very thorough about them. Even though I haven’t managed to work on it so often or to get very far with it, I find that like my efforts with Norwegian, it really seems to pay off every time I do get around to doing even a little work.

My plans are to continue with the textbook (Vitamina C1), eventually get back to the C-level of GdUdE, and continue reading, watching and Skyping on a regular basis. I also want to do some more writing work, but I think the textbook is likely to give me enough writing work for now.

German
In addition to a bit of reading, TV and Skyping with Zenmonkey, I finished the A1 level of Themen Aktuell and made it to the penultimate chapter of the A2 level, but I haven’t been making much progress on that lately. Before, I was doing a chapter a week, but since summer, I’ve been lucky to get through a chapter a month. When I’m finished with the A2 level, I want to finish the A-level workbook I’ve nearly, but not quite, finished twice. I’ll then work on the B1 level of Themen Aktuell and the B-level workbook and look for something more in the B range. My German is sort of weak, but also sort of OK in almost all areas, except prepositions that follow verbs – there I’m terrible.

Japanese
I finally, finally found something that works for me for now and isn’t too painful – Satori Reader – so, I’m just going to keep on with that, occasionally supplemented with other activities. Japanese is going to remain on the back burner, but like with Norwegian and Spanish, I’m finding that even this minimum effort approach seems to help.

Polish
Polish is the one language I admitted to adding mid-year, and I really haven’t made any more progress than I’ve written about. I did the Pimsleur mini-course of 8 lessons and hated it. Since then, I’ve been doing a bit of Memrise, but I’m still in the beginning of the first course. I’ve also done a bit of Glossika. I have Assimil, but haven’t started on it. What I really need is a simple, straight-forward course with lots of exercises that lets me just follow along without having to think and plan too much. That’s something I lack for most of my secret languages. I think I’m going to let Polish remain on the back-burner, doing Memrise, Clozemaster, eventually Assimil, and perhaps some other course like Teach Yourself or whatever I come across that appeals to me, and I will of course keep watching Peppa Pig.

French
Technically, I did a bit of dabbling in French, or pre-studying as I like to call it, last year. All I did was to work on pronunciation in preparation for studying it in the future. I was using the Gabriel Wyner Pronunciation Trainer Anki deck, but I never even finished it because I got a bit sick of Anki. Maybe I’ll go back to it someday. Of my secret languages, French is the one I’ve worked on the most partly because it was the first one to get added (though BCS was not far behind) and partly because it’s easy and transparent and there are plenty of good materials. So far, I’ve gone through the FSI French Phonology course twice and the first half of the FSI French Basic course (2-3 times for each chapter). The first quarter of the course was really easy, but then it started getting a little harder. I’ve struggled a bit more after chapter 9 or 10 when they suddenly started with having both direct and indirect objects in the same sentence. For some reason, French decided that they should go in one order with first and second person IO’s and another order for third person IO’s, and my brain and my tongue just broke. Also, most French pronouns don’t seem like real pronouns to me and that doesn’t help. They just don’t have the right flavour for pronouns.

I’m thinking of trying some other materials for a while and then making another stab at FSI. Maybe I can try the DLI Basic course. I’ve been reading about it lately in some other threads. (That’s another disadvantage of learning languages in secret. You can’t ask for advice, and have to just scour the forum on your own hoping to find the answer to your problem.) I also did the first Memrise course and part of the second one, and watched about 15 of the French in Action videos and did maybe the first 30 or so passive wave lessons of Assimil. I’ve also used a bit of Glossika and Clozemaster as I have for all languages where it is available and has enough sentences to be useful.

Serbo-Croatian
It wasn’t many days into the new year, when I started studying Serbo-Croatian. This is one of those languages that I really, really love, and yet always end up pushing aside for something else. It’s the same with Finnish, which I was also going to take up again, but still haven’t because I ended up adding Polish, Turkish and Kurdish instead.

If French was a screen-door language, Serbo-Croatian was much more of a steel-door language. I kept trying various materials, getting a little way and then getting stuck. But each time I threw myself at the door, I made an almost imperceptible dent, and eventually, it started to get easier. I think most of my progress has been made by using Glossika for Croatian, and watching Peppa Pig, which for some reason I find fairly easy to understand in Croatian. Croatian Peppa Pig was the inspiration for my Peppa Pig Project. I just watched it and miraculously started to understand. Of course, I had some background in Serbo-Croatian to help me. In addition to Glossika, and Peppa, I’ve been using Teach Yourself Croatian (not great and the one voice actor must have had laryngitis or something), FSI Serbo-Croatian (leans more towards Serbian and the drills aren’t really presented drill-style like in the French and Spanish courses. There’s just some bored-sounding guy reading up the answers rather than giving a prompt, a pause and then the answer. Even so, it was somewhat helpful.), Daniel’s course, the hr4eu course, utalk for Bosnian, Assimil Kroatisch ohne Mühe, a bit of LR of Harry Potter in Croatian, PONS Kroatisch, and probably a few other things I’m forgetting at the moment. I didn’t make it very far in any of the courses and lately, I haven’t done much. It seems the languages I love the most are always the first to get pushed aside. I do hope to be able to keep battering away at it though, even if just a little bit each week. I was doing well in the spring for a while, doing half an hour or more per language per day, but that was before addition of three more languages, a bunch of cats and a social life.

Turkish
I’d been tempted by Turkish since last fall when a fairly large group of Turkish asylum seekers came to town and I started working with them through my volunteer work. They were such interesting and friendly people and I felt drawn to them. None-the-less, I managed to resist Turkish until early February. Since then, I’ve done the first four Memrise courses, about 35 (of 44) tracks of the LT intro course, five chapters of Teach Yourself, about 15 passive lessons in Assimil, about five or six lessons of FSI, watched a bunch of Peppa, done some Glossika and worked on Clozemaster. In a way, Turkish is harder than Serbo-Croatian, but I haven’t felt like I’ve been futilely throwing myself against a door. I don’t really think it’s that the courses are so much better either, but rather that I was able to find better synergy between them. Having LT, Clozemaster and Memrise really helps, it seems. In the beginning, I really did struggle with Turkish though. I’d never considered that I might have any sort of synaesthesia, but maybe I do, sort of. There is something similar to taste and texture in the way I perceive languages and Turkish is incredibly bland, like overcooked, watery oatmeal. I think it’s the vowel harmony. Finnish also has vowel harmony, but only two-way and that gives it a very round, smooth texture and delicate flavour. But Turkish has both two-way and four-way vowel harmony and very mild stress, so it seems to lack both flavour and texture at first. This made all the words sound the same to me and made them very hard to remember. Now though, I seem to have finally broken through and things are starting to stick. I still can’t understand much Turkish, not even much of Peppa Pig, but I’m starting to make sense of things and remember the words more easily. The grammar isn’t too bad. It’s a bit like Japanese sometimes, but it still seems harder to decipher than Japanese for me. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to it. I can sometimes understand enough of conversations around me to at least figure out the topic, so that’s something, but I have a long way to go. I just borrowed the Teach Yourself course from the library again, so I’m going to be working on that for the next little bit and then continue on finishing the other materials I’ve been working on. At this point, Turkish is one of the languages I’m concentrating hardest on since it is one of my boyfriend’s native languages (or almost native. He learned it when he was about ten.) and some of his family members only speak Turkish.

Kurmanji
I started thinking a bit about learning Kurmanji (a Kurdish language) back in spring when I started hanging out more with some Kurdish friends, including the one that would later become my boyfriend, but for a long time I resisted both learning Kurdish and changing my relationship to my friend. Eventually, both he and Kurmanji managed to convince me to change my mind. With all the other things going on this summer, I didn’t actually start learning Kurmanji until the beginning of September and I really haven’t done much with it yet. There are more materials than I initially expected to find, but there isn’t really a lot out there and a lot of it is sub-optimal. I’ve started several textbooks only to give up and try a different one. I think I’ll have to just go back and forth between them. In some ways, it’s like my struggle with Setswana, but the difference is that there are slightly more materials for learning Kurmanji, and since it is my boyfriend’s native language and the only language spoken by some of his family members, my motivation to learn it is very high. So, in spite of the lack of ideal materials, I’m enjoying trying to figure it out. I also have the option of getting help from natives. I plan to make an effort to write a good bit about Kurmanji in my log since I think it might be more interesting for people since there aren’t many people studying it here, and might possibly be a useful resource for anyone who wants to try to learn it later.

6WC
One of the reasons to come clean was that I wanted to participate in the 6WC again and didn’t want to hide the majority of my study-time. Also, I’d like to choose either Turkish or Kurmanji as my target language, which I can’t do if I’m keeping those languages secret. I haven’t decided which of them to target this time. I’ve only fairly recently “broken through” with Turkish, so this might be an opportunity for some solid progress if I choose it as my target language. I could have finishing the TY book as my main goal. If I choose Kurmanji, it will be a bit more difficult since I am still in the process of throwing myself fruitlessly against the door, but maybe the intensity of the 6WC will help me to break through more quickly. So, the choice is between some quick progress maybe resulting in being able to use Turkish in a basic way, or hard work that may result in making the initial breakthrough so that I will finally be in position to eventually make progress.

Anyway, I hope to maybe be a bit more active in my new log than I was in my old one. It might help that I’m no longer hiding half my languages. And it looks like this entry turned out to be pretty long even though I tried to limit what I wrote about each language. Sorry, but you should probably just get used to it. I doubt that it will get any better.
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Re: Brun Ugle comes clean: Confessions of a wayward owl (NO/ES/DE/JA/FR/PL/TR/KMR/BCS)

Postby StringerBell » Wed Oct 30, 2019 1:38 pm

What a thrilling update; I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It deserves a bucket of popcorn. I can't wait for the next episode! Your analogy about breaking down doors was excellent, and really made the whole explanation come alive.

I find synaesthesia fascinating. I sometimes think I might have an extremely mild form of it with numbers and math. Even as a kid I could do mental math extremely fast (I'm almost always faster and just as accurate as a calculator) and when asked how I did it, I remember feeling frustrated because it was so obvious - numbers were like liquids that you just poured in the various place values until you reached the right amount. I don't think this is really synaesthesia, but whenever I hear about someone else who has even a mild form of it, it really catches my attention.
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Brun Ugle
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Re: Brun Ugle comes clean: Confessions of a wayward owl (NO/ES/DE/JA/FR/PL/TR/KMR/BCS)

Postby Brun Ugle » Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:54 pm

StringerBell wrote:What a thrilling update; I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It deserves a bucket of popcorn. I can't wait for the next episode! Your analogy about breaking down doors was excellent, and really made the whole explanation come alive.

I find synaesthesia fascinating. I sometimes think I might have an extremely mild form of it with numbers and math. Even as a kid I could do mental math extremely fast (I'm almost always faster and just as accurate as a calculator) and when asked how I did it, I remember feeling frustrated because it was so obvious - numbers were like liquids that you just poured in the various place values until you reached the right amount. I don't think this is really synaesthesia, but whenever I hear about someone else who has even a mild form of it, it really catches my attention.

I don’t know, it sounds a bit like synaesthesia to me, but I’m no expert. I’m not sure my sensation of taste/texture relating to languages is even really synaesthesia since it’s so mild, but maybe. The stereotype you tend to hear about is people seeing different numbers or sounds as having different colors or something similar, but when you look into it, it seems like anything where you have some sensation of a different sense than the one that should be stimulated counts, so why wouldn’t numbers being liquids count? I can do math in my head, but I’m not fast and to have even a moderate speed, I have to practice a lot and I don’t feel like it. I was pretty good at it back when I was poor and had to add up all the prices in my head when shopping, but I don’t have to do that anymore.
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Re: Brun Ugle comes clean: Confessions of a wayward owl (NO/ES/DE/JA/FR/PL/TR/KMR/BCS)

Postby rdearman » Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:22 pm

rdearman wrote: This year I have decided to have some resolutions, but no goals.

Distract Brun Ugle with at least one other new language.
Spend 20 minutes per day per language + 1 other learning project.
Do a Free and Legal Challenge for another language. The next one starts in January right?


Of course like most years these resolutions will probably be broken by the 2nd of January. Except the first one, I'm definitely doing the first one.


SCORE !!!!
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Re: Brun Ugle comes clean: Confessions of a wayward owl (NO/ES/DE/JA/FR/PL/TR/KMR/BCS)

Postby Elsa Maria » Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:37 pm

This is such an exciting update! I can understand why you wanted to study in secret, but I am grateful that you "confessed" and I can't wait to see how your 6WC progresses.

I watched the TV clip about the kittens. Norwegian subtitles popped up automatically, and I was able to read them rather easily since I can read Danish. But listening to the clip was proof that the leap from Danish listening comprehension to Norwegian will be big! Congratulations on the story.
Last edited by Elsa Maria on Wed Oct 30, 2019 7:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Brun Ugle comes clean: Confessions of a wayward owl (NO/ES/DE/JA/FR/PL/TR/KMR/BCS)

Postby MamaPata » Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:43 pm

Exciting!
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Re: Brun Ugle comes clean: Confessions of a wayward owl (NO/ES/DE/JA/FR/PL/TR/KMR/BCS)

Postby Radioclare » Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:57 pm

I can't believe you started learning Serbo-Croatian and didn't tell me :lol:

I am in awe of your ability to tackle so many languages at once though! I can't seem to balance two at the same time, so this is a very impressive update :-)
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Re: Brun Ugle comes clean: Confessions of a wayward owl (NO/ES/DE/JA/FR/PL/TR/KMR/BCS)

Postby Lianne » Wed Oct 30, 2019 7:11 pm

I'm excited to follow this log! It'll make me feel less naughty for picking up Italian while still intermediate in French and wanting to get back into ASL... :lol:
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Brun Ugle
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Re: Brun Ugle comes clean: Confessions of a wayward owl (NO/ES/DE/JA/FR/PL/TR/KMR/BCS)

Postby Brun Ugle » Thu Oct 31, 2019 7:16 am

Radioclare wrote:I can't believe you started learning Serbo-Croatian and didn't tell me :lol:

I am in awe of your ability to tackle so many languages at once though! I can't seem to balance two at the same time, so this is a very impressive update :-)

Your log is always full of temptations. So it’s partly your fault that I’m learning BCS. My intention was actually to go more for Bosnian, but there are so few materials for that that I’ve ended up using mostly Croatian materials, but that’s why I choose to call it Serbo-Croatian or BCS rather than specify.

Seeing you making so much progress doing half an hour of Russian every day has inspired me too. Back when I was able to keep my languages in balance, I was trying to do about half an hour of each and it was going well, but as I said, that was three languages, one boyfriend and a bunch of cats ago, and my study routine is no longer so well-balanced. Unfortunately, I’m still no Expugnator.
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Re: Brun Ugle comes clean: Confessions of a wayward owl (NO/ES/DE/JA/FR/PL/TR/KMR/BCS)

Postby Brun Ugle » Fri Nov 01, 2019 7:58 am

Elsa Maria wrote:This is such an exciting update! I can understand why you wanted to study in secret, but I am grateful that you "confessed" and I can't wait to see how your 6WC progresses.

I watched the TV clip about the kittens. Norwegian subtitles popped up automatically, and I was able to read them rather easily since I can read Danish. But listening to the clip was proof that the leap from Danish listening comprehension to Norwegian will be big! Congratulations on the story.

Well, there is also the problem that most people don't speak Bokmål. Bokmål should be fairly easy for you to read since it is based on Danish with just a few modifications. However, we were speaking Trøndersk dialect, some of us more so than others, so that would make it harder to understand.

Lianne wrote:I'm excited to follow this log! It'll make me feel less naughty for picking up Italian while still intermediate in French and wanting to get back into ASL... :lol:

Go for it!
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