A Words Enthusiast

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Kat
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Kat » Tue May 22, 2018 9:38 pm

Wenn du dich konkret auf diese Situation beziehst, kannst du schreiben:
Die Kinder konnten (mein) Chinesisch verstehen.

Könnten (mit Umlaut) ist der Konjunktiv, du beschreibst aber ein reales Ereignis.

Deine zweite Frage ist für mich schwierig zu beantworten. Mein Sprachgefühl sagt mir, dass „eigentlich“ nicht in diesen Satz passt. Ich kann dir aber keine gute Erklärung dafür geben. :(

Ich wusste ehrlich gesagt nicht einmal, was für eine Wortart das ist. Laut Duden ist es ein Modalpartikel:

Ich hab es ja schon immer gewusst! Dann lass es halt bleiben! Wozu soll das eigentlich gut sein? Des is fei nix.* All diese Wörtchen lassen sich schlecht erklären oder in andere Sprachen übertragen. Sie drücken eine bestimmte Einstellung des Sprechers aus, beispielsweise eine Bekräftigung (in unserem Beispiel das ja, das aber auch andere Funktionen übernehmen kann), eine gewisse Indifferenz (hier das halt) oder auch Erstaunen, Zustimmung oder Ablehnung. Somit verraten sie mehr über den Sprecher selbst als über das, was er sagt.


(https://www.duden.de/sprachwissen/newsl ... hen-August)

* Das letzte Beispiel am besten ganz schnell wieder vergessen. Das ist Dialekt und wird nur in Bayern verstanden. :lol:

Soweit ich mich erinnern kann, haben wir im Deutschunterricht nie feste Regeln für solche Modalpartikel gelernt, vielleicht auch, weil sie in der gesprochenen Sprache viel häufiger vorkommen als im Schriftlichen. Ich kann also nur versuchen, subjektiv zu beschreiben, warum sich mein Sprachgefühl gegen das „eigentlich“ sträubt.

„Eigentlich“ drückt für mich aus, dass etwas anders als geplant oder erwartet ist. Im Hintergrund schwingt ein „aber“ mit.

Zum Beispiel:

Sie lernt eigentlich schon seit drei Jahren Spanisch, aber sie versteht kein Wort.
Eigentlich wollten wir in Griechenland Urlaub machen, aber dann haben wir uns doch für Italien entschieden.

In deinem Satz ist das nicht so. Ich erfahre, dass die Kinder in China gelebt haben. Wenn sie lange in China gelebt haben, ist es auch nicht verwunderlich, dass sie Chinesisch verstehen. Es ist einfach eine neutrale Information.

Ich bin nicht sicher, ob dir das weiterhilft. Vielleicht kann jemand anderes es besser erklären oder kennt eine offizielle Regel?
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Axon
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:28 am

Danke noch mal, Kat, du hast es sehr gut erklärt.

There is a big change coming up in my life but I don't feel much moved by it. In just two days I'm leaving Indonesia for the first time since September. My study abroad program is over. My girlfriend and I are going to China for two weeks, then to the US for a little more than a month, then back to China where she'll finish her undergrad and I'll teach English. I'm looking forward to quite a bit of learning!

That means Indonesian is coming to a close. I'm actually going to be one of the MCs for the closing ceremony and I think they'll have me speak in Indonesian for that. I'd say my overall level is a B1/B2 threshold. I've absolutely had B2 days but they're not very common, particularly as classes wound down and I spent more and more time on other languages. That's a tradeoff I'm okay with. Especially since my listening is strong and my reading isn't bad, plus the nature of the language means I don't have to worry about forgetting conjugations or declensions. It's very natural for me to use everyday Indonesian because I do it every single day: ordering food, getting laundry, handling visa paperwork, buying clothes, renting a motorbike, taking taxis...

I'm bringing along quite a few books in Indonesian to improve my reading level. I've got a grammar book, a couple of translated and original novels, some nonfiction about culture and economy, and two travelogues. Plus the language won't be far away as my girlfriend will still be taking classes and writing papers in it. In any case, the language in a book like "Indonesia, ASEAN, and the Uncertainty of International Relations" is much more accessible at times than that of a trashy romance novel because of all the high-level loanwords from English. Reading at the B2/C1 level shouldn't be too hard to achieve.

I finished another few short stories in German. Who would have thought that I'd improve my passive skills in German this much during a year in Southeast Asia?

I'm averaging something like 40-60 minutes a day of Cantonese study for the 6WC. Still loving it, especially since I found a new sitcom last night. It's actually the longest-running sitcom in China (In-Laws and Out-Laws), with sixteen years of almost-daily episodes to choose from. I like that I'm getting a good variety of Guangzhou Cantonese accents - some of them clearly have the high falling tone which has disappeared from most Hong Kong speech. I miss most of the particulars about what's going on and I rely on the Standard Chinese subtitles a lot. That said, there's a lot I do understand, and as it's a daytime sitcom it doesn't matter if I miss a scene or even a whole episode. Fun fact: this show was the debut of Liu Tao, one of the leads in the first Chinese show I ever watched (Ode to Joy).

And without trying, I'm also watching a healthy amount of Mandarin media in addition to the everyday speaking and listening I do. I've watched two movies these last two weeks and the last two days my girlfriend has been into one of those massive, grueling talent shows that China puts on. The first one I saw was The Rap Of China last summer, and this one is something about 101 women vying to be part of a new girls' music troupe. It's an interesting show and I can follow it fairly easily with the Chinese subtitles.

Unfortunately, I have been informed recently that my spoken Mandarin has kind of a "head voice," doubtless from being exposed to mostly women speaking Mandarin every day for the last two years. Because of my girlfriend's relentless mocking advice, I'm actively trying to speak in a lower and less cutesy register now. A show about a hundred women competing to see who is the cutest is not helping this effort. What has been helping is shadowing Chinese government documentaries about manly Chinese men building manly roads and manly bridges all over China. :lol:
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:00 am

I love being in China.

I spoke exactly as much Cantonese as I wanted to in Guangdong. I actually didn't go to Guangzhou itself, just the smaller nearby cities of Shunde and Foshan - and the museum I really wanted to see in Foshan was closed due to a bad storm. Still got to see a different museum and eat quite a lot of tasty food. Lots and lots of people in these smaller cities (smaller by Chinese standards, mind you - Shunde has 1.7 million people) are identifiable from their accent as being from another part of China.

Walking around at night, I heard Cantonese from pretty much everyone, including teenagers walking together. In restaurants, you'd see some staff members struggle a little with Cantonese and some have no problems switching between that and Mandarin. If I heard a clerk or waiter speaking Cantonese I'd do my best to ask whatever simple question I had in Cantonese, and almost every time they took it in stride and answered me back immediately. Only a few times did people show any kind of surprise that I, a white American, was speaking Cantonese in China.

This kind of fits with my theory that body language is a hugely important part of getting people to speak their language to you. I have spent most of the last two years in Asia and, despite being obviously foreign and still having an accent that's far from native, strangers almost always address me in the local language.* At some level, I'm somehow communicating to them that I'm comfortable in their environment and don't need to be further accommodated linguistically.

Anyway, after leaving Guangdong I've now been in Sichuan, where there's no one to speak Cantonese with and it's now all Mandarin most of the time. I really, really need to do something like drp9341 is doing with his Polish, and learn how to express myself in Mandarin. I am solidly conversational and very comfortable following conversations - I just can't take part without the rhythm grinding to a halt. Sichuanese is still kind of hard to understand, at least from the older generations. Young people still grow up speaking Sichuanese but it's closer in several ways to standard Mandarin. Last year I could listen to my girlfriend's grandma and pick out a word every few sentences, now it's a sentence every few sentences. Progress!

I've found more pinyin-annotated books. I know it's a bit of a crutch, but it really shows me how much better my listening is than my speaking. Reading a pinyin-annotated children's book feels like reading in French - lots of unknown words but I always know what's going on. The last two days I read through the 200-page comic book 父与子, a translation of the obscure German comic Vater und Sohn. It was originally wordless but they've added dialogue and descriptions of what's happening. I'd like to do an exercise where I explain what's happening in the pictures, kind of like what Bakunin used to do for learning Khmer.

*In Indonesia, this was Indonesian, never Javanese. In China, so far it's been Mandarin if the person can speak Mandarin. If they can't or aren't very confident with it, they just speak their own local language and expect me to keep up. A large majority of people in Sichuan, at all levels of society, are not confident with Standard Mandarin.
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:50 am

Like every time I go to China, I did a lot of listening and not enough speaking. Also, true to form, I got sick again. This time it was real bad tonsillitis, a true torture for a language lover in a city with the world's best food.

I made some noticeable progress in understanding Sichuanese. I was able to tune in to the accent more and also pick up some of the special words that aren't used in Mandarin. This time around, I was more aware that Sichuanese is a related dialect that's very similar, not something that "developed" from Mandarin. That's why you can't reliably turn Mandarin words into Sichuanese words. You have to know more about older forms of Chinese before you can predict Sichuanese pronunciation with accuracy. My comprehension for everyday conversation jumped up to about 90% - but remember, 90% means I'm missing one word in every ten at least.

I also made a little progress in reading Mandarin, and collected a bunch of important words that I'll turn into flashcards to help with my literacy. As for speaking, my illness stopped me from doing a ton of that but I still had several long conversations. Got better at the process of joining in a group conversation instead of just sitting back to try and understand.

Now I'm back in the US for about a month, where I hear many languages every day. Heard two today I couldn't identify at all - maybe Greek, Hebrew, or Lithuanian?
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:40 am

I've done very little study for the last two weeks. That's actually really surprising to me. It's mostly because I'm spending a lot of time with friends I haven't seen in a while and won't see for just as long. I've also been taking some short trips with my girlfriend to show her around California.

Language is still very much on my mind, of course. That's just a base personality trait at this point. :)

Gosh, my "language work" doesn't even merit any bolding of language names. Here's what I've got:

I read about 20 pages of Ender's Game in German along with a couple of German websites. I very briefly spoke German to some tourists that I was eavesdropping on when they asked me to take their picture at the Golden Gate Bridge. I read a couple of news stories in Spanish and Indonesian. I did a lot of background listening in Mandarin to some TV dramas and still regularly mix Mandarin phrases and sentences in with the English when I'm out and about.

Using neumanc's new Overlearning program, I finally finished a project that I started more than a year ago on my old computer. I took an old Teochew course for Mandarin speakers, translated and recorded an English version, and churned out a set of spaced-repetition MP3s. It went very quickly and if I can find the time I'd like to create similar ones using whatever resources I can find for lesser-studied Chinese varieties. I'm not sure if this Teochew course is public domain (and to be honest it's not a great course nor are my recordings very good) but ideally I can host it somewhere for others to use in the future.

My freelance writing jobs usually come at pretty inconvenient times, like when about to go camping or explore a new city. If I can just get on top of them....
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Tue Jul 24, 2018 4:40 am

About the same as last time, except with more wanderlust. I envisioned myself very intensively studying written Mandarin during my time in the US but that's absolutely not happening. Whenever I casually read Mandarin it's not too bad, and I know from experience that the motivation will materialize once I'm in China. I'm thinking more and more that I should just read instead of mining things into Anki. But I've made so many nice flashcards!

I got Teach Yourself Japanese and Malay from the library. I've listened to the first three Japanese dialogues about five times each, just consolidating more and more passive knowledge at a comfortable rate. I'm purposefully not speaking until I can get some quality chorusing time in. My plan for being an adequate tourist in Japanese this winter is to chorus and shadow the best voice on the TY CDs for about ten hours and then do Glossika plus targeted vocab once I know where and when I'm going.

I really like the TY Malay audio as an introduction to Malay for the speaker of Indonesian. The Malay accent sounds very funny to me and it's easy to learn the new words from context.

I watched some German television for a while, read some news in Indonesian, ordered noodles in Mandarin and eavesdropped on the next table, thought in French and Spanish.

Began Duolingo Hungarian. Also holding back on Glossika and speaking until I can lay some groundwork with chorusing. Maybe this is penance for liking isolating languages so much.
Last edited by Axon on Sun Aug 05, 2018 1:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Sun Aug 05, 2018 1:12 am

Back in China! And not sick yet!

I've moved to Kunming, China to become an English teacher. I'm very excited. I've met some of the folks at the school and will be apartment hunting for the next few days. I think it'll have some of the usual challenges of English teaching combined with the usual challenges of working for a private school anywhere, but so far everyone's extremely friendly and it's easy to get along with them all.

It's important for me as a foreign worker - not only a dedicated hobbyist now - to be able to use the language of my country at a high level. Particularly in an industry which, I feel, has too many people who make too little of an effort to excel at their jobs. Fortunately my time in America didn't seriously atrophy my Mandarin and I can feel it coming back by the minute. I'm very glad my school isn't like some I've heard about where they don't want you to use any of the local language. I think I'll have to stick with English with the kids, but I'm already using a lot of Mandarin with the school staff.

I'd like to do some kind of linguistic work on Southwestern Mandarin, as it's one of the healthiest varieties of Chinese around and I can already understand a lot thanks to exposure to Sichuanese. And of course there are quite a few healthy minority languages related to Thai and Burmese. By "linguistic work" I mean probably recording a bunch of things and putting them online with transcriptions and translations. rdearman says there's lots of room on this site for additional things, and I'd love for that to be expanded in a way where I don't have to do any programming - just field linguistics :lol:

I continued a little bit with the Hungarian, Japanese, and Malay, and soon I'll do some pronunciation work with Japanese and Hungarian. Malay is something I'm not worried in the slightest about picking up, so I think I'll just drop any actual study time and just look at it again when I'm interested.

Vietnamese now gets a bold heading as it's my 6WC language. Day 3 of studying it, it's beginning to come back in some ways and I'm making new connections. On the two plane trips I spent a lot of time going over textbook audio and Glossika audio I've saved to my computer. Elementary Vietnamese by Binh Nhu Ngo is far and away the best language textbook I have ever seen - it's only missing translations for the dialogues, but that might even be a good thing as I have to concentrate on it more and look up words I don't know. I am pleasantly surprised to find that some of the syntax things that gave me such trouble years ago fit quite nicely into an Indonesian framework. When I started Vietnamese I was also ramping up my Chinese for the first time, and I wanted the two languages to fit together in ways they didn't, which frustrated me. Now, after doing extremely little with Vietnamese for two solid years, things suddenly make more sense.

Mandarin got quite a workout yesterday and it's about to get another today. And then the next day, and the next...

I brought French and Russian parallel text books from the US to complement my German one. We'll see how things develop in that direction.

I need to go to Hong Kong in the next few weeks for visa reasons. Although I haven't really touched Cantonese for six weeks, it comes to mind readily in a way that it certainly didn't before. Once I actually know when I'm going, I'll ramp up the Cantonese again and of course speak it as much as possible while there.
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:12 pm

Somehow I am better at Mandarin than ever before. I don't even think my German has ever gotten this good.

Back in January I met a Chinese guy in Bali and we had two long conversations in two days. I performed adequately - certainly I was at a conversational level, but after 40 minutes I was pretty mentally exhausted from struggling to find words. I could feel myself getting better by the second one, but of course then I went back to Yogyakarta and stayed at what, I thought, was a pretty plateaued level of Mandarin. I spoke it fairly regularly (3-4 times a week at minimum) to chat with the Chinese students, but rarely had long or challenging chats.

When I left Indonesia I remember noticing how at ease I was chatting with these same Chinese students in the airport, while also keeping in mind that it was still not too hard of a conversation and that I had a long way to go. Then, yes, I was in China for another two weeks, but a lot of that time I was laid up with horrific throat pain and could barely focus on deciphering the Sichuanese around me, let alone try to improve my speaking. Then I went to America and spoke extremely little Chinese for six weeks - just a few sentences a day if that.

But now I've been in Kunming for just two friggin' nights, and I can speak Chinese. So much is automatic. I speak fluently and confidently. I pick up new words from context and remember them. People laugh at my jokes.

Now, I'm not going to get too ahead of myself. I absolutely lose steam throughout the day, to the point where in the evenings I start flubbing simple words and asking people to repeat things. There's always always more vocabulary to learn and more ways I could improve my organization of my thoughts. Actually just tonight as I was losing steam and being less clear, one of the people I was talking to started "translating" what I said into more natural Mandarin for the benefit of the other. I'm sure plenty of the things I say sound unnatural in some way. Still, it's an amazing feeling and I'm very proud of what I've achieved so far.

Today there was also a surprise Russian test when another American teacher brought his Russian girlfriend to lunch with us. He doesn't know any Russian and she knows only a handful of words in English and Chinese. I guess they mostly use sign language and meaningful looks. Anyway it was a welcome surprise to her that I could offer a little bit of conversation in her native language. I had a strong mental image of dredging up Russian words in my brain past Chinese and even Indonesian layers of vocabulary.

It's a cute little anecdote and I might never meet her again, but it was actually a powerful reminder of the importance of keeping up my other languages because you just never know. On the surface I know it's ridiculous to spend a ton of time on languages I don't really have an interest in, just because there's a tiny chance I might meet someone who can't communicate any other way. Deep down inside, though, I actually felt a little ashamed that I didn't know more of this stranger's language, thousands of miles away from both our homes and far from any expectation that I needed to know it. Ken Hale said it was a mark of respect to speak to someone in their own language, and I suppose I've really taken that to heart.
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:13 pm

The day after I gave myself such a glowing review of my Chinese, I was much more tired and made way more mistakes. I'm doing a lot of immersion here, in a way that really very rarely happened in Indonesia. I am involved in a Chinese conversation roughly six to eight hours a day, every day. It's actually not that draining because I can do a lot without thinking, but combine it with long days of walking around or taking the subway and it means I sleep deeply every night. I have firmly established the habit of speaking mostly Chinese at work. I thought I'd have to kind of cajole people into it, but it turns out my Chinese is better than everyone's English so they don't mind at all.

I predicted I would have a lot of spare time to study Vietnamese for the 6WC but that hasn't been the case. Not only that, I don't quite feel the motivation that I had with Cantonese last time. That, combined with the surprising vigor of the contestants this time around, means I'm probably not hitting the top ten. My routine is to do Glossika plus intensively review the dialogues of Elementary Vietnamese. I can't really keep this up for more than an hour and native videos are too difficult for me still. After about another two weeks I'll be done with EV and have a look at some more resources.

A friend of mine mentioned starting to learn German and I couldn't help but bury him in resources. German and Mandarin are by far my favorite languages to teach and give advice about self study. I also read German forums for about an hour, taking notes on informal writing for an article I'm working on.

Life is hectic trying to find a good place to live in a new city, but once I'm more established I very much want to get in the habit of reviewing multiple languages daily. I'm going to have a nice long commute which will ideally be divided between freelance writing jobs and language study time.
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:40 pm

Well I've almost settled into a pattern here even though I haven't really started work. As I still haven't gone to Hong Kong to switch my tourist visa into a work visa, I can't actually do work for pay yet. This is just a "long training session" then. I really can't complain though, every single person at work is so willing to lend a hand for absolutely whatever I need. As I expected, my subway commute gives me ample time to write or study languages. You know you're a language nerd when you choose an apartment far enough away from work to give you time to listen to Glossika on the way.

Weil ich nicht so viele Möglichkeiten habe, Deutsch zu benutzen, werde ich diesen Eintrag auf Deutsch schreiben. Es gibt immer noch sehr gutes Deutsch irgendwo in meinem Kopf, und die Frage ist jetzt: wie kann ich es freilassen.
Ich habe sehr viel von maedchen.de letzendlich gelesen um einen kurzen Aufsatz zu schreiben. Da wollte ich sehen, wie die jungere Generation Abkürzungen und Mundartsformen online benutzt.
Als ich in der U-Bahn gesessen habe, habe ich auch einen Artikel mit einer leisen Stimme vorgelesen. Ach ja, auch habe ich in einem Deutschen Restaurant gegessen. Leider gab es niemand, mit denen ich auf Deutsch unterhalten konnte. Es ist immer ein bisschen seltsam, wenn man Essen von einem Land mit einer Sprache von einem anderen Land bestellt (Mexikanisches Essen auf Indonesisch, Deutsches Essen auf Chinesisch usw.).

Ideally there are not too many mistakes in that paragraph because I caught several when I read it again. I actually wrote two sentences with English verb placement because I didn't know how I wanted the sentence to end when I wrote the verb. Luckily that type of mistake jumps out at me when I re-read.

I've actually spoken less and less Chinese these last few days as the tiredness from early mornings and late nights is catching up to me. I have a particular memory of one "high water mark" on the third or fourth day here that I've only come close to since, not surpassed yet. But I'm learning how to do more daily life things, and I have learned dozens of new words already without doing any kind of review. It's still quite hard when I'm in a conversation and there are two or three unknown words all next to each other all of a sudden.

Perhaps proportionally I've found time and motivation to ramp up the Vietnamese study. Today was a banner day as I finally got around to starting a next stage of using the Elementary Vietnamese book. I finished the first ten lessons (my audio for dialogues 11 and 12 are missing) and, satisfied with my comprehension of those dialogues, began to cut up the Grammar Notes sections into a short audio review course for myself. The book actually comes with near-complete narration including native speaker example sentences for the grammar notes. Doing this (starting from the end of the book and working forward) means that I'm spending quite a bit of full-attention time on these grammar notes and example sentences, and this combined with my near-daily study for the last two weeks means that I'm learning a lot more Vietnamese than before.
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