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Ketutar and languages

Posted: Thu Jul 14, 2016 6:33 pm
by Ketutar
So... I just joined the Super Challenge. I know I won't be able to keep this up for 6 months. Probably three weeks. But right now I'm really into languages - again - and blogging my fingers off. Trying to do too much too quickly is not a good idea for anything.

I am challenge mad. Just say "challenge" and I will sit prettily by your feet and begging like a dog, drooling all over the place. :-D Can't resist a challenge. :-)

And I love books and movies!

So, what I am going to need help with is the "keeping the motivation, inspiration, spirit up" part. I know what to do with languages, I just need to keep doing it for 20 months. Or 18.

I'm thinking about the reading part of the Super Challenge. Sure, it's "books", but shouldn't any reading count?

I have just been spending some time studying about reading as a way of learning languages, and people are speaking about how "expensive" reading can be.

There is a study (hearsay - can't give you any information about that) that states that
"If students read approximately a million words of running text a year, and if they know 96-98 per cent of the words, they will be exposed to 20,000 to 40,000 new words… If students learn one word in ten through context, they will learn somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 new words through extensive reading in a year."

[Million words a year is about 4000 fully written pages a year, is about 80 pages a week, and a million words is about 40 relatively short books (like your average children's chapter book) (or 10 mastodon novels)]

They were talking about how reading only newspapers doesn't give you the same results, and came to the conclusion that newspapers are in the end too easy reading and the development will stagnate at some point. There just isn't enough new words and repetition for a person to effectively learn the words.
And the thing is that one should read ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. To get most benefit from reading, one should read fiction and non-fiction. Novels, short stories, fairy tales and legends, poems and drama, song lyrics and graphic novels, travel books, manuals, newspapers, textbooks, self-help and how-to books, documents, essays, reports, criticism, philosophy and gossip magazines, speeches, letters and diaries, biographies and advertisement...

So how does this apply to the Super Challenge?

One could count every word and approximate that 250 words is 1 page and during the challenge one is supposed to read 5000 pages (100 books à 50 pages), but the pages of a book do not have consistently 250 word pages, do they? So one could take one page, one piece of paper with text, as one page. Of course, reading 10 toddler picture books with 5 pages each is not the same as reading a "book", is it? So one shouldn't count a piece of junk-mail with 20 words on it as one page either.

But... it's kind of books and movies, not just any text and not just any... filmed piece of media, like funny cat videos on YouTube, is it?

And I love books, fiction, novels, so I don't need to worry about what to read :-D I wanted to learn French because of Alexandre Dumas and Jules Verne... now, I can find both on-line, some with audiobook to listen as I read, but the problem is that it's a bit old language :-D But, I'm counting on that the archaic and old-fashioned ways of using the language will be cleaned out when I start using the language like a language. The core of the language in those novels is sound. I think.
I'm planning on getting all René Goscinny's comic books; Lucky Luke, Oumpah-pah, Astérix and Iznogoud - I grew up reading these.
I also love Gaston by André Franquin and Tintin, but I have been collecting Tintin in Swedish, so I don't think I will be getting it in French any time soon.

As tv/movies I have on my list Joséphine, ange gardien. I really like that series, even though I understand practically nothing :-D It is going to keep me busy for a quite a long time.
I have on my list Éternelle, which is a French miniseries, which I have on DVD - no subtitles. On any language :-D So really a challenge, which I don't know much about, but really want to see.
I have on my list The Brotherhood of Wolves; Arsène Lupin and The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec. To begin with.
I also like Amélie and Belphégor and Un amour de sorcière. I have seen all of these movies, with English subtitles, so I know what happens, so I can watch them without subtitles, if I can't find them on DVD.

adding my book and movie list link here:

Day 2

Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:12 pm
by Ketutar
Ok, so I cheated a little... I added La Belle et Le Bête to my list of movies I have watched... I saw it on Monday (11th of July) :-D
So, not so much so, no ;-)


I re-read the part of Arsène Lupin I read yesterday. Does that count? ;-)
I know, I know, it's for me to decide. Technically I did read it. It's just 9 pages. But... no. I don't think it counts.

-----So, I am preparing for the unavoidable death of interest coming soon...
-----according to statistic it's going to happen at the end of next week.
-----If I'm "lucky", it won't be the "3 week spurt" but "3 month spurt", but statistically it will be :-D

-----Now, I know that to learn languages one needs to be a tortoise.

----------(Oh, I just heard a really stupid joke about that, in the Korean drama "Full House"...
----------"if a really, really cute bunny and a really, really fast tortoise race, which one wins?
----------The tortoise, of course. It's really, really fast?
----------What if a really, really cute bunny and a tortoise with sunglasses race, which one wins?
----------The tortoise, of course! It's the same really, really fast tortoise, just disguised!" X-D
----------Yes, I know, my sense of humor is really, really childish.
----------Often. >:->)

-----But one needs to be a tortoise.
----- It is better to study 15 minutes a day, every single day, than 8 hours a day for three weeks every now and then.
----------Or... the funny thing with languages is that you never really forget anything...
----------you are not starting from scratch next time you start studying.
---------------I noticed that about Albanian. You see, a couple of years ago, I decided to study 52 language in 52 weeks,
---------------and started with Albanian, and it went really well.
---------------Right now the only thing about Albanian I remember is that moon is "höna", which is the hen in Swedish.
--------------------(Moon in Finnish is "kuu", which is pronounced the same way as "ko" in Swedish, which is the cow...
--------------------I will remember that for the rest of my life :-D
--------------------A Swedish friend of mine got a hysterical laughing fit and managed to breath out among the laughter
--------------------"there's a whole farm in the moon!")
---------------Well, anyway, I looked at my blog entries about Albanian, and it did ring a bell... or several bells.
---------------I think I would get very quickly back to where I was and just continue with that.
---------------It's just that... Albanians don't seem to be very open people.
---------------I think I should live there for a while to better appreciate the culture and the language.
---------------Pity, really, because what I did manage to dig up was interesting.
---------------Albanian kitchen especially was very interesting, almost anything I managed to translate sounded delicious :-D
----------So, I don't think one forgets, really. I think they speak of fossilized and rusty languages... but... it's more like... a plant...
----------it grows as you tend it, but when you don't, it shrivels and... plants die. Something that works like that but doesn't die...
----------mushroom, maybe? Something that grows when tended and shrivels when not, but is dormant, not dead,
----------and when you water it, it grows back up again. Sponge? Nah. What ever :-D

---------------The rusty and fossilized reminded me of all those ancient mechanisms (in movies) that function perfectly
---------------after thousands of years of non-use without a hint of rust or decay :-D
---------------Even wood parts are fully functional after hundreds of years.
---------------Perhaps languages are a bit like that... they just look dusty and dead, but when you step on that loose stone,
---------------you'll find out the arrows are still as sharp as they were the day they were first sharpened :-D

--------------------I feel like I have ADHD :-D

----- In the Super Challenge, you are to watch 100 movies and read 100 books in 20 months.
----- 20 months is 610 days. 100 movies is 9000 minutes and 100 books is 5000 pages. That makes it 9 pages and 15 minutes every day.
----- So if I commit to do that, no matter what, I will win the challenge.
----- It takes me 18 minutes to read 9 pages in a language I know well, and 30 minutes in a language I'm just getting to know,
-----and 15 minutes to watch 15 minutes of a tv show or movie (DUH! :-D) so it takes about 45 minutes to do both.
----- So the REAL challenge here IS TO DO THIS EVERY DAMN DAY FOR 20 MONTHS. Not the amount of text or recording.

So the 9 pages I read today is perfectly according to the plan. :-D


Anyway, as I started saying, I'm preparing for the death of inspiration, and part of that is breaking up a goal into steps, and that 9 pages/15 minutes is one step.

The other parts are presented here:


Oh, and I found a site where one can watch French tv series and movies online...
It's probably a really bad site, violating copyright and all that. Just so that you know.

Day 3

Posted: Sat Jul 16, 2016 3:22 pm
by Ketutar
It started well. Then I noticed that I had been goofing around for 8 hours and not done any studying X-)

I have noticed that I need to do the most important thing of the day first. Now the most important thing is getting comfortable with French. All the other things should come after that.
Also, the most important thing to me with French is Memrise. I thought that if I do that 15 minutes a day, every day of the year, come rain come shine, through thick and thin and sick and sin... yeah, you get the idea. :-D
So I should go straight to Memrise and do my 15 minutes when I get up, and after that do all the other things I want to do during the day. :-D
Today I didn't. So I got in my Memrise quarter about an hour ago - 4pm :-D

Bah. There's plenty of day left.

So... I think I need to clarify something here. I live on disability pension.
The good thing about that is that I do have the whole day to do exactly what I want to do.
The bad thing is that... sometimes the pain gets too bad and I do nothing but breathe and try to survive, and being in pain makes me very tired, so I sleep a lot. Sometimes the pain keeps me awake... so my hours are pretty irregular. There are days when I can log in the hours in the middle of the night, sometimes there will be no hours at all. I try to do Memrise every day anyway.

Another thing is that I am totally mad about languages and I want to collect all of them. Gotta catch 'em all! you know. :-D
So every time I hear about a new language I want to learn everything I can about it.
So... I'm very split when it comes to languages. On my list there are currently over 100 languages. It's hard to focus on one language at a time, but I really, really, really want to improve my French.

Anyway... I'll go back to Memrise and do my Portuguese, and then I'll spend the rest of the day with movies and books. :-)

Au revoir, mes amis :-)

Finns det några fransk-studerande i närheten?

Posted: Sun Jul 17, 2016 7:55 am
by Ketutar
I'm feeling a bit lonely, and I wonder if there are any French challengers here in Stockholm-Södertälje? We might perhaps set up our own polyglot conference and meet? Kanske träffas i någon café e bavarder? Je suis celui avec le dictionnaire français :-D

I saw a movie last night. "Qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au Bon Dieu?" It was great :-D
I read the synopsis first and then the Wikipedia article (some spoilers), didn't understand much, but I laughed. Some of the jokes were pretty simple and easily understood and the facial expressions of people were great. Especially Christian Clavier, Pascal N'Zonzi and Salimata Kamate :-D I love the scene when the guys march in the kitchen carrying the humongous fish with pride, and meet their wives who are not amused at all :-D

I also like reading Arsène Lupin. I have read the stories before, but... there's a certain (je ne sais quoi :-D) quality that is difficult to translate. In translation French seems almost a bit childish, too much flourish in some places, too simple in others, but in French it's just right.

I am still suspicious to the effect, though... I KNOW why it should work in theory, but my heart doesn't know it. It feels "too good to be true". How could my French improve when I'm enjoying myself and not understanding 90% of what I hear/read?
I suppose I'll find out in 17 months :-)

A little bit about me

Posted: Sun Jul 17, 2016 8:59 pm
by Ketutar
I was born in Finland to a 100% Finnish speaking family in the 100% Finnish speaking Savo.
(No, I don't speak Savonian and I am not Savonian, my parents were "immigrants" from Tampere.)
I don't know how old I was when I realized that there is such thing as "languages" in the world. I remember listening to my big sister reading her English book when she was at 3rd grade (when in Finland we start teaching the 1st foreign language to kids), so I must have been 6.
I remember it being very fascinating.
Also, there was this show, "Hello, hello, hello", teaching kids English. I loved that show. I was six.
I suppose SOMETHING must have stuck on me!

Formal language education of mine:
I studied English from 3rd grade to the end of High school, 9 years
I studied Swedish from 7th grade to the end of High school, 6 years
I studied German from 8th grade to end of 9th, 2 years
I studied French one year in High School.

In Finland the idea of education is "grammar is the short cut to knowing the language". A lot of time is put in grammar and vocabulary, reading, writing and listening. We didn't speak much at all.
When I moved to Sweden 1995 I couldn't follow what people said and I tried to avoid every possible option to speak Swedish. But they had the Tolkien society, which I hadn't been able to find in Finland... and I am SOOOO Tolkien fan! (Yes, I studied all the languages from the appendix I could. I read the Lord of the Rings when I was about 10 I think and the appendix is full of my notes.) So I joined, and people were kind and tried to communicate with me, in hacky English and half-incomprehensible Swedish.
And then I fell in love...
With a Danish guy.
Dating someone in foreign language might be a very effective way of learning, but there is no way as effective as arguing with someone! Especially with someone who is really particular with grammar and language... Half of our quarrels ended with me screaming "PUHUTAAN SITTEN SUOMEA, HELVETTI, NIIN EI TARTTE KORJATA MUN VIRHEITÄNI!!!" Of course it didn't work :-D

Back to general language interest. I am a collector. I want to collect everything. So I started collecting languages. I hogged every dictionary in the house. I hogged my siblings' old text books. I hogged the grammars. I hogged my dad's old language courses. I robbed the library, copied by hand every book there about languages. They had this big, thick book with a page of "all the languages of the world": (Of course not, but they had several hundred languages in it.) I copied it all. It didn't have spelling, though, only text. It can be a bit difficult to figure out how to read something like this:
And then I took every class I could find, and followed every television language course...
This happened in the 70s and 80s, before the Internet and CDs. Heck, it was even before walkman :-D I think my dad bought me one when I was 15 or so. It was yellow and I loved it and I used it to listen the language cassettes :-D
So - languages I have studied a little bit more than copying a sample text from Languages of the World (or something like that. Could well have been Katzner's book.)
- Spanish
- Italian
- Russian
- Dutch
- Danish
- Arabic
- Japanese
- Lithuanian
- Swahili
- Turkish
- Estonian
- Hungarian
- Welsh
- Irish
- Breton
- Basque
- Portuguese
- Maltese
- Chinese
I think... might be more, but if I can't even remember studying the language, does it matter? :-D

I had a dream, to know 40 languages when I'm 40... I'm 47 now and I know the same old 3 languages. :-D I wish to bring up my French and German to the same level, and then after that Spanish... and the rest of them :-D It's kind of... well... it irks me that I start thousand things and finish none.
So now I have committed to 20 months. Let's see what happens :-D

Just a quick note - ranting

Posted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 8:46 am
by Ketutar
I'm going through French A1 at Memrise, and the woman reading some of the sentences drives me crazy.
"comment vas-tuŠŠŠŠŠŠ" "le taxiŠŠŠŠŠŠ"

She makes me so irritated that I start making mistakes just to avoid hearing those Šs.

I suppose that's good. I get to practice my tolerance with idiots.

Thoughts about learning languages

Posted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 3:27 pm
by Ketutar
I am more fluent in studying language than actually studying languages, if you know what I mean :-D I know all about the theory, but practice is... not so good.

emk wrote:Basically, I think the only way to push through to B1 and B2 is to dive right in and start actually doing stuff: listening, reading, maybe trying to speak, or perhaps writing 50 to 100 words regularly and getting some corrections. But how do you know when you're ready for this stuff?

Now. You are ready now.

the thing with all these challenges are that YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE FLAWLESS NOW. You just NEED TO DO.

When you are writing, it doesn't need to be perfect French. (Babelfish translation is quite OK. After all, it's good enough for Yahoo! :-D)

When you are reading, you don't need to understand everything.
----- I just read the second Chapter of Arsène Lupin. What I understood of it was that there was this guy who had a lot of nice things.
----- Arsène wrote him a letter telling him he was coming on a specific date to take what he wanted.
----- The police didn't take the rich guy seriously, but luckily he found the inspector who was famous for having arrested Arsène Lupin
----- and managed to get the man to sit with him and a couple of guys he hired and guard his property,
----- but in the morning he had been robbed. Ah. Oh la la! Mon Dieu! Ce n'est possible!
----- I remember reading it in English a couple of years ago. There was a lot of talk about what he owned and how he lived
----- and how impossible it was to get in the house. So I understood enough in French. Youpi!

When you are speaking, it's ok people can hear you are not very good at it. You don't need a perfect pronunciation nor do you need to sound like native. Frankly, it's great people can hear you are just a beginner. They'll have a much more patience and effort to understand you, and help you. Which is what you actually want, even if you don't know you do :-)

When you are mimicking, no-one needs to understand anything that comes out of your mouth.
It's like Saara speaking "what languages sound when you don't understand anything". (I would like to point out that she does NOT speak "Italian" on the video, she speaks "pizza".)

When you are watching films and series - without subtitles - you don't need to understand anything, just get an idea of what is happening. And it's ok to prepare oneself by reading the synopsis of the episode or movie. It's like me watching Aşk-ı Memnu - I didn't know much anything about Turkish, but I did learn things. Things I still remember today, and it was 2011 when I watched it... I wish I could trust myself enough to hop straight into Kdrama without the subtitle training wheels.

Now, of course people say one shouldn't "teach oneself" errors, and producing "google translations" is exactly that. Teaching oneself bad forms, but I believe more in the power of good language. The more one hears, the more correct SENSE OF THE LANGUAGE one creates, and the faulty grammar and forms and words will be forgotten. Now, if we were like that one woman who can't forget anything... she would have problems with the "lilla lejoner"*.

And one can only do it according to one's knowledge and skills. Beginners are not going to be good at it. Beginners WILL make mistakes. (Or they fail even at being beginners :-D). We learn more from mistakes than from getting it right.

* lilla lejoner - a classic error people studying Swedish make
- Little is "liten" in Swedish. In Swedish the adjective is conjugated by the gender and number of the word, usually -n, -t, -a. "Little" is a strong adjective, which means that it follows its own rules. Instead of "liten, litet, lilla" it conjugates "liiten, litet, små". Huh? Totally illogical.
Also the "ett" gendered words are a bit odd, too. Like "lion", "lejon". "ett lejon, många lejon"... Logically it should get the -ar/-er ending of the Swedish plural, but ett words won't.
So instead of the correct "små lejon" many people say "lilla lejoner". (Little lions, small lions)

Re: Ketutar and languages

Posted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:52 pm
by Ketutar
Je trouve que je dois faire le grand saut... et ecrire en francais. Je sais que cet forum est en anglais, et je devrais ecrire en anglais, mais... comment puis-je demander aux autres ce que je ne fais pas moi-même?

Oui, c'est très difficile et fastidieux, mais c'est la triste realite de mon français. C'est la vie :-)

J'ai fait mes devoirs. 15 minutes de Memrise. Un film français. (Sur la piste de Marsupilami. Charmant. :-)) 10 minutes de lecture - lecture à haute voix, remarquez, s'il vous plaît! Et c'était aussi très fastidieux. C'est presque impossible d'ignorer les attentes; "je dois répéter la prononciation, je dois comparer la manière correcte et la mienne. Je dois télécharger l'enregistrement en YouTube. Je dois..."

This is really bothersome as well. I don't know enough words. I don't know enough grammar. I don't know enough ways of saying ordinary things. What I do have to do is read more and watch more series and films, so that I learn the words and forms.

Anyway, what I have done today is:
- my Memrise. And I decided to let go of all the other languages for time being. So, good bye, Portuguese, au revoir!
- my reading... and I read it out loud and recorded it and even listened to my recording... and I did it twice and it sounded better the second time. But, dear, how... it sounds like someone who has just learned to read. :-D Which is pretty much what it is :-D Well, I did only 3 pages, but it feels like it was much more. (I read Madame d'Aulnoy's Babiole. I couldn't figure out what kind of creature she turned into, so I checked the english translation, and in that they were talking about a monkey. With black face. So I went to see what kind of monkeys have black faces, and found the Vervet monkeys... and then I checked if they have ever been kept as pets, and if so, were they depicted in paintings in the 17th century France, and I found out that, yes, Vervets and some other kinds of Guenons have been kept as pets, and have been painted, and THEN I went to see the French text again, and guess what... the French text called the animal "la guenon". Ha. So, now I have learned a little zoology and French art history (there's apparently an art form called Singerie. Singe being a monkey in French. It is painting monkeys as humans, you know, those paintings of monkeys dressed up doing things like playing games and having a barber shop... there's a lot of monkey barbers, and interestingly enough, all their customers are cats.
I need to finish the second chapter of Arsène Lupin. I think I'll just read it, without audio, for some reason it's harder with the audio... perhaps I'm concentrating harder and cannot let my thoughts wander, which happens when I normally read...
- My film. I saw a trailer to Marsupilami movie. Those of you who don't know what or who Marsupilami is, go and find out. They are wonderful creatures, and the movie was wonderful too :-D
- and I have written - voilà!

Now, tomorrow I have more chores to do, so less time for French... I wonder if I should write my shopping list in French... Bien sûr, je ne vois pas pourquoi je pose la question! :-D

Re: Ketutar and languages

Posted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:33 pm
by tomgosse
Ketutar wrote:Je trouve que je dois faire le grand saut... et ecriré en francais. Je sais que cette forum est en anglais, et je devrais ecriré en anglais, mais... comment puis-je demander aux autres que ce que je ne fais pas moi-même?

Oui, c'est tres difficile et fastidieux, mais c'est la triste realite de mon français. Ce la vie :-)

Il est correct d'écrire en français dans votre propre journal.
From the forum rules:
Language: All posts should be in English, apart from the multilingual rooms, logs and challenges, where other languages are allowed
Emphasis mine.

Re: Ketutar and languages

Posted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:03 am
by Ketutar
Merci, Tom!

I have to share, I posted the above French at iTalki for corrections and I ONLY RECEIVED SOME MINOR CORRECTIONS!!! YAY!!! I'm really excited and happy about that! (spelling errors, wrong gender, a quo too much and "c'est" written as it's said "ce"... silly, really, but that I do too often. Est-ce que becomes est-que, for example.)