ALTVM VIDETVR

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vonPeterhof
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ALTVM VIDETVR

Postby vonPeterhof » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:45 am

The following post is the first post of the thread "VonPeterhof’s log - Yürükler’15+". For the beginning of the 2016 log, ALTVM VIDETVR, see post 9.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Looks like it's time to fully migrate to this forum - or at least duplicate my log over here. A brief introduction for those who don't know me from the old forum: I'm a 25 year old male Russian with some Korean and German ancestry who grew up in Kazakhstan. In spite of my background, while growing up I haven't had that much meaningful exposure to languages other than Russian and English outside classes. That changed in the spring of 2010 when I decided to learn Japanese on my own. Long story short, I passed JLPT N1 last year, and right now I'm on a three month course in Osaka with the aim of improving my business Japanese so that I can use the language professionally. I'm also taking part in Chung's Turkic Challenge (planning to do all the languages in the plan, except I've scheduled Uyghur instead of Kazakh, since I'm not a beginner in the latter and constantly trying to brush up on it anyway) and doing semi-regular learning and maintenance exercises in several other languages. With that out of the way, here's the duplicate of my latest post on the other log, with a couple extra details added for the benefit of people who haven't read the posts preceding it:


"My second month in Japan is soon coming to an end, and since this has been a rare week where I managed to complete all my planned language learning activities I might as well write a quick update here. The 15-minute presentation I gave in class went fairly well - the only criticisms I got were that I speak too quietly and monotonously, which probably means that my speech was okay in terms of content and grammatical correctness. On Friday I also wrote the final test for the elective subject of international commerce. For it we had to write between 1000 and 1600 characters about the present state and major issues in our respective countries' external trade within two hours. Mostly I just had to expand my text for a presentation on the same subject I had given earlier, so the biggest challenge was to write it all down within the time limit. While my speed of writing in purely mechanical terms is pretty good right now, I got really slowed down by having to look up words and how to write them every other sentence. Still, I think I did fairly well.

My exploration of Japan has also been going well. The trip to Tokyo was a bit of a logistical challenge, since we (my two schoolmates and I) went there using the Seishun 18-kippu pass, which only works for local trains (so no Shinkansen, night trains or other express trains with fixed seating). Departing from Osaka at 9:30 AM we passed through eight prefectures, made six transfers and reached Akihabara station around 8:00 PM. At least we got some good views out the train windows, even if Mount Fuji wasn't visible due to the cloudiness. We spent the next day visiting the Comiket, walking on the Odaiba and singing karaoke in Akihabara, while the next day we explored the areas around several other Yamanote line stations (Shinjuku, Shin-Ōkubo, Ikebukuro, Harajuku and Shibuya) before going back to Osaka on a night bus. Other places I've visited in the past month include Hyogo prefecture (Kobe, Himeji, Takarazuka and Nishinomiya), Shiga prefecture (Hikone and Toyosato) and Osaka's neighbouring cities of Sakai and Kadoma, plus I couldn't resist a second visit to Kyoto and Uji. Places I've visited include both traditional tourist spots like temples and castles, and more unconventional attractions, like an old school building in Toyosato that was used as the model for the school in the anime K-On!, or a bar in Kyoto famous for having 200 brands of vodka and endearing signs in broken Russian. I probably won't be able to afford any more distant trips, but I've still got some places I'd like to see in Osaka that I can visit with my handy all-city bus pass.

As for other language learning activities, my travels haven't left me much time for them, but I did try to fit in at least three Uzbek GLOSS lessons per week, and I've also managed to complete two additional units of TY Gulf Arabic (although I only kinda skimmed through the exercises, instead focusing on shadowing the dialogues and mining example sentences). I've completed Syromyatnikov's Classical Japanese grammar and Melioransky's old "Kazak-Kirghiz" grammar, so now their places in my weekly routine have been taken by 百人一首 and advanced Kazakh lessons on til.gov.kz. The novel that I'm reading in Japanese right now is 響け! ユーフォニアム (about 3/4 of the way though the first book in the series). While I think that the recent anime adaptation of the first book is written better in nearly every way, the book is pretty entertaining light reading with most of the challenging vocabulary being music-related. Although I'd probably rank it as upper-intermediate in terms of overall difficulty level, due to the fact that aside from the protagonist nearly all characters speak the Kyoto dialect (not the stereotypical どす/やす/はる kind, but the real modern thing, which has only a few subtle differences from the Osaka dialect), so the dialogues might be harder to follow without prior exposure to Kansai dialects.

I've now got three weeks left here, during which I'll need to make another long presentation and take tests in the rest of the classes. Gotta keep on making the most of my stay here!"
Last edited by vonPeterhof on Sat Aug 20, 2016 6:43 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: VonPeterhof’s log - Yürükler’15+

Postby Expugnator » Tue Sep 01, 2015 10:42 pm

Looking forward to reading about your experiences and your insights about Turkic languages!
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vonPeterhof
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Re: VonPeterhof’s log - Yürükler’15+

Postby vonPeterhof » Thu Dec 03, 2015 1:39 pm

Wow, it's... been a while, huh... I've honestly been meaning to write an update when I still was in Japan back in September, but lots of things got in the way. Then, when I got back to Russia, I never quite managed to make the time between job-seeking, (unpaid) translation projects and sinking ever deeper into anime nerddom (always complain about how there's "nothing to watch" at the start of the season, always end up watching more than 20 ongoing shows anyway; almost half of them are shorts, but still). Now that I'm most likely enjoying my last full week of unemployment, it's probably best to write an update while I still have the time.

The biggest news first - I got offered a job at the Japanese Embassy in Russia! Looks like my studies of business Japanese have yielded results after all. I had two interviews with them, the first of which started with tests of written and oral translation, both Japanese to Russian and vice versa. While I thought that my written translations were mediocre at best and the oral ones were downright awful, I guess they did like something about my background and my answers to interview questions. Besides, written translation should be a lot easier in the actual workplace, with access to the internet and specialized dictionaries, while my real-time oral interpretation skills just need lots and lots of practice. Apparently the job is going to primarily involve translating various written materials on the subject of economics, so this should make for a very good experience in both translation and general business Japanese. Looking forward to starting this job later this month.

My language studies have taken somewhat of a back seat since I got back from Japan, but I've tried to keep it up in all my languages. In the Turkic challenge, I've finished the Uzbek leg of the journey by writing a lang-8 post and have just finished the Japanese-medium Uyghur textbook Éling, Éling! While I didn't really like the fact that the book starts using the Uyghur Arabic alphabet extensively only in its second half, overall I thought it was structured pretty well (although the informational load per lesson might be a bit too heavy for someone with no experience in Turkic languages). In addition to that I've also been trying to read and/or listen to the Uyghur editions of Radio Free Asia and China Radio International, as well as the Kazakhstani publication Uyğur avazi in order to also get exposure to the post-Soviet Central Asian variety of Uyghur.

What surprised me the most about Uyghur was the vowel reduction. Not only was I not aware that there were Turkic languages where it occurs naturally (i.e. not under the influence of Russian), I've also never seen it occur in a way that isn't connected to stressed-unstressed vowel contrasts. The fact that the vowel reduction is nearly always reflected in the orthography makes it pretty easy to deal with in reading (since it's not obvious in what syllables it does or doesn't occur, unless you're familiar with the historical placement of long and short vowels), but it also makes it a little harder to look words up in a dictionary, since in many cases you're not entirely sure if the "i" is an actual "i" or a different vowel in reduced form. What also surprised me was how little difference there was from the Turkic languages I've dabbled in before in terms of vocabulary. While Uyghur's closest cousin Uzbek does seem a lot more Persianized, otherwise Uyghur's vocabulary is a Turko-Perso-Arabic vocabulary set very similar to the Oghuz languages (and much less similar to Kazakh, even though Uyghur is further to the east). I was also expecting to see at least a few Chinese loanwords, but so far I haven't seen any aside from proper names and the words for money. Nearly all Communist-derived political terms are from Russian rather than Chinese, and much of the academic vocabulary that isn't Perso-Arabic in origin is also from Russian, just like in Central Asian Turkic languages. There are even a few Turkish-style French loanwords, like "bombardiman" for "bombardment". The prevalent use of the Arabic alphabet does set Uyghur apart quite a bit, but I had already familiarized myself with it somewhat via the Kazakh Arabic alphabet used in China. I would actually like to preserve and keep reviewing my Uyghur Anki deck even after I move on to Kyrgyz, just so that I can keep getting exposure to that script.

As for other languages, I've probably been most consistent in getting through the Classical Chinese textbook, doing one lesson a week (ten lessons left now). I've tried to keep doing the other languages too, but would sometimes skip one or two of them on a given week. Having finished the Nasreddin Ilya Frank book I've switched to a similar book of Turkish jokes, and I've also replaced til.gov.kz lessons with just reading articles since that site was down for quite some time (in fact, I literally only just found out that it's back up). In terms of (non-Ilya Frank) books, I've finished the first book in the 響け! ユーフォニアム series and am currently about 2/3 through the second one (in other news, a second season of the anime adaptation has been announced!). Plus, after hiving finished Dostoyevsky's Demons I've decided to turn my attention to English classics, starting from... Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. Mostly because of this guy's Shakespeare videos, I guess.

Anyway, that's what's been going on in my life! I hope I'll manage to write another update before the start of the next year, but I can't make any promises..
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Re: VonPeterhof’s log - Yürükler’15+

Postby Sizen » Thu Dec 03, 2015 4:48 pm

vonPeterhof wrote: In terms of (non-Ilya Frank) books, I've finished the first book in the 響け! ユーフォニアム series and am currently about 2/3 through the second one (in other news, a second season of the anime adaptation has been announced!).


This is undeniably the best news I've heard all week.
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Re: VonPeterhof’s log - Yürükler’15+

Postby Yuhakko » Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:34 am

Good to hear from you !

I just wanna congratulate you on finding this job which will contribute to making you even more awesome at Japanese :mrgreen:

Also I saw on your list of animes that Gintama is on hold at episode 1. I think you more than anybody should really watch it! It's full of jokes and irony about other mangas and considering the number you've seen, you'll surely be able to get the most out of it ;)
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vonPeterhof
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Re: VonPeterhof’s log - Yürükler’15+

Postby vonPeterhof » Fri Dec 04, 2015 10:10 am

@Sizen This week they also announced that the compilation movie based on the first season is coming out on April 23 2016, which could mean that we'll get the second season as soon as the summer season of 2016. There were initially fears that we might have to wait until 2017, since Kyoto Animation has two other projects announced for 2016.

@Yuhakko Thank you! As for Gintama, yeah, I've been meaning to pick it back up for a while (especially since it sorta made the news earlier this year), but the size of the backlog has been scaring me away. Since I prioritize current series these days I can only really "catch up" on one show at a time, and right now I'm sort of occupied by Gatchaman Crowds. I had wanted to pick it up since the start of the previous season because I heard that it had interesting arguments about politics, modern technology and human nature, but how come nobody told me that it had my favourite male voice actor and my favourite voice actress playing the same character!? I really lost it last night when I heard Sugita doing his best HanaKana impression! But then, Gintama is probably the most Sugita-heavy show in existence, so I really don't have an excuse for not at least trying to catch up on it..
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Re: VonPeterhof’s log - Yürükler’15+

Postby tangleweeds » Fri Dec 04, 2015 10:08 pm

Congratulations on finding a job that will build upon and extend what you studied in Japan. Your log has been interesting to read.
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vonPeterhof
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Re: VonPeterhof’s log - Yürükler’15+

Postby vonPeterhof » Fri Jan 01, 2016 1:21 pm

Happy New Year, everyone! Looking forward to another year of language learning fun with this community!

2015 has been quite an eventful year for me - losing a job and eventually getting a new one, travelling to Japan for the first time, discovering a new way of appreciating anime, etc. In terms of language learning I've both expanded my horizons by trying out a variety of Turkic languages and deepened my understanding of Japanese. It wouldn't feel right to declare the year a "success", since I didn't actually set any concrete goals for it in the beginning, but for me it was definitely an unprecedented experiment in combining a focused approach in advancing one language with a controlled outlet for my wanderlust via pre-scheduled short stints in a series of closely connected languages. I'm pretty satisfied with the results.

Since I wrote my last update I've started my new job, and so far it's been pretty good. There isn't a lot of pressure to use the most proper business Japanese, since pretty much all of my interactions in Japanese are with people within the organization, but I'm still getting quite a bit of practice and feedback on my usage. Making translations and reports with technical terms from various fields has been pretty challenging, but it's the kind of challenge that I really like. However, unlike my previous place of work the end of the year here is actually a pretty slow period, so it looks like the beginning of the year is going to be the real test.

As for my plans for the beginning year, first of all I have to announce that after careful consideration I have decided to retire from the Turkic challenge. While I've definitely had fun participating in it, with each new language it seems to be moving into less chartered waters, with fewer and fewer resources available. I've already had some difficulty finding resources for Kyrgyz of the same level of quality and/or fun of engagement that I've found in other Turkic languages. While I'm very curious about the members of the family whose formative years haven't been shaped by Perso-Arabic influence, I would imagine that the shortage of resources and media would be even more severe. Plus, it is a bit lonely with everybody else seemingly having dropped out of the challenge. I'm grateful to Chung for the idea and inspiration and hoping to hear from him again at some point.

Okay, I guess there's another reason I'd like to cut this challenge short, and it's an idea that I've been toying with for years. I still haven't figured out all the specifics and once I do I will probably write it all up in a brand new log, but the basic idea is to follow up my current stint in Classical Chinese with a romp through several other "Classical" languages, including Latin, Ancient Greek, Classical Arabic, Sanskrit and possibly others. I've always been fascinated by "dead" languages whose lexical, grammatical, idiomatic and other influences persist in large numbers of modern living languages, not necessarily interrelated ones. While I doubt that I would want to pursue active mastery in any of them, I think it would be both interesting and useful to learn more about them and perhaps gain a couple of new insights into the modern languages they've influenced. I will think about the scale and the scope of this challenge in the next couple of days and report on my decisions.

For now, good luck to everyone with your own projects and challenges! 今年もよろしくお願いします!
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vonPeterhof
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Re: ALTVM VIDETVR

Postby vonPeterhof » Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:53 pm

2016 log: ALTVM VIDETVR[*]

I said I'd start a new log for this year's challenge, but then I figured out how to change the name of this log. So anyway, this year I'm setting out on a challenge to familiarize myself with some of the world's influential classical languages.
Wikipedia wrote: A classical language is a language with a literature that is classical. According to UC Berkeley linguist George L. Hart, it should be ancient, it should be an independent tradition that arose mostly on its own, not as an offshoot of another tradition, and it must have a large and extremely rich body of ancient literature.

The number of languages that qualify under this definition is somewhat large, so I should probably limit the scale of my challenge. The languages that I shall dabble in as part of this challenge will be either A) languages that have had a significant influence over a large geographical area and a large number of surviving modern languages, whether directly descended from the classical language in question or not; or B) languages with a more limited scale of influence that either interest me directly or are connected to other languages that I'm interested in. Since I am a language learner with a wanderlust problem, the latter category of languages will likely be subject to changes, but for now here is a provisional list of languages, with a brief description of the reasons for my interest, my experience with them and the resources that I currently have for them.

Classical Japanese
A natural outgrowth of my interest in modern Japanese. Last year I completed the book Классический японский язык by Н. А. Сыромятников (Classical Japanese language, N. A. Syromyatnikov). Since then I've been going through the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu poetry collection on this website which contains translation into modern Japanese and commentary. I've been doing one poem a week and am currently on poem 40 out of 100. I add sentences to Anki if they contain words, grammar points or poetic devices I wasn't previously familiar with. Also, my method of studying Classical Chinese involves quite a lot of reinforcement of my CJ (see below).

Classical Chinese
The literary tradition that shaped the East Asian cultural sphere. I started studying it in December 2014 using the book Ханмун: Вводный курс by Ю. В. Болтач (Hanmun: an Introductory Course, Y. V. Boltach). The book is subdivided into 55 units, of which I have covered 50 by now, trying to stick to a pace of one unit per week. Each unit introduces a new grammar point, some vocabulary/Chinese characters (with Korean readings), and several example sentences from both Classical Chinese works and later works by Korean authors writing in a Literary Chinese style. Initially I added most of the example sentences to Anki, but now I stick to those that contain previously unused characters. My cards feature the original sentence on the front and both the Sino-Korean readings and a Classical Japanese translation according to kanbun annotation conventions. Some of the works mined for example sentences in the book have readily available Classical Japanese translations online, like Analects or Mencius. For those that don't I try to compose my own translations using this site's introduction to kanbun and/or analogy from the other available translations.

Ancient Greek and Latin
Mentioning these together since they would eventually merge into each other. Both seem to be prerequisites for serious pan-European polyglottery. For Greek I've done a few units of le Grec ancien and read a few of Aesop's Fables Ilya Frank-style back in 2014. For Latin I've done about fourteen lessons of Hochschule Augsburg's Ludus Latinus. I'm still reviewing the sentences for both in Anki, but aside from that I'm pretty much a complete beginner.

Old Church Slavonic
I would mainly like to learn it in order to get a better understanding of Slavic historical linguistics. No experience to speak of and no resources on hand yet, but it shouldn't be too hard to find something for it in Russia.

Old Norse
Both a direct ancestor of Norwegian and other Scandinavian languages, and also an important literary language for Germanic historical linguistics. No real experience other than a couple lessons of this online course (I think; it was so long ago I'm not entirely sure it's the one). Now I'm wondering whether I should go back to that course or get my hands on the classic Introduction to Old Norse by E. V. Gordon.

Quranic Arabic
A major influence on the Turkic languages, as well as pretty much all languages spoken in the Islamic world. I learned the alphabet several years ago, and also tried out the first lesson of this series last year.

New Persian
Same as above, since most of the languages to the north and east of the Arab lands actually got their Arabic influence through a prism of Persian. No experience and no direct resources (I do have a book of Karachay-Balkar translations of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, but I'm not sure of how much assistance those will be).

Biblical Hebrew
Interests me both as the language of the Old Testament and as the language that has influenced Yiddish, which I'm very fond of. Haven't learned it beyond the alphabet, and the closest thing to a resource that I have is a book of translations of Russian poetry into (presumably modern) Hebrew.

Classical Sanskrit
The major classical language of the South and Southeast Asian regions and a very important language in the early days of Indo-European historical linguistics. No experience other than an unfinished Devanagari script course.

So, these are the languages I intend to tackle (or am already tackling, in the case of the first two). What I intend to do for each of them is the following:

1. Complete an introductory course of the language
2. Read through an annotated literary work/collection in the language
3. Try to complete a course in a modern language either descended from or strongly influenced by the classical language in question (if possible, one that I haven't studied before, but I'll try not to overextend myself)

So I guess the game plan for the immediate future is as follows:

- Continue what I've been doing in Classical Japanese (thanks to my work and my anime-watching hobby, I don't think any purposeful study of modern Japanese will be necessary)
- In order to minimize distractions from the classical languages at hand, suspend my regular learning activities in all non-East Asian modern languages (i.e., all but my weekly doses of Korean and Ainu) and limit my exposure to them to Anki and Twitter
- Finish the Classical Chinese textbook within January
- Following the above, start going through the Analects on kanbun.info, spending about an hour a week on them
- At the same time, start studying a modern variety of Chinese (y'all will never guess which one ;) ), also about an hour a week
- A couple of weeks later, once I'm comfortable with the rhythm, start doing one lesson of Assimil le Grec ancien per day

I don't really know how long this entire project will take, or how many alterations I make to it before I eventually give up. However, I am pretty hyped for it. As a wise man once said in my classical language du jour, 千里之行,始於足下 :)

[*]For those not in the know, the name of the log is a reference to a certain Latin faux-aphorism: Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur ("Anything said in Latin seems profound" :D ). I wonder if 所書以文言者必如名言 would be an accurate expression of the same sentiment with respect to Classical Chinese..
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Re: ALTVM VIDETVR

Postby Josquin » Mon Jan 04, 2016 7:25 pm

Good luck, sounds like an interesting project you're having there! I just wanted to comment on this:
vonPeterhof wrote:Old Norse
Both a direct ancestor of Norwegian and other Scandinavian languages, and also an important literary language for Germanic historical linguistics. No real experience other than a couple lessons of this online course (I think; it was so long ago I'm not entirely sure it's the one). Now I'm wondering whether I should go back to that course or get my hands on the classic Introduction to Old Norse by E. V. Gordon.

Gordon's Introduction to Old Norse is more of a primer than a real "introduction" to the language. The Professor used to recommend Sigrid Valfells and James E. Cathey: Old Icelandic. An Introductory Course as a first introduction to Old Norse, but recently there was a new course released, called Viking Language by Jesse L. Byock.

I cannot vouch for the quality of any of these, as I first learned Modern Icelandic and then simply started going through the readings in the Gordon primer. However, without any prior knowledge of (Old) Icelandic grammar or vocabulary, the book won't be of much use to you.
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