zatris' unlog

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zatris
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zatris' unlog

Postby zatris » Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:18 pm

In 2016 I started a log here tracking my efforts to learn Latin and Ancient Greek, but unfortunately I didn't manage to update it routinely, and the log was abandoned after three or four months and a handful of posts. On top of that, my language studies also suffered, and almost two years later I still haven't finished either Familia Romana (first installment of Ørberg's Lingua Latina per se illustrata series) or Athenaze I, though I've made reasonable progress on the former.

With that said, here I am again to try to maintain a regularly updated log during the course of a year, even though the prospects of me actually doing it are far from auspicious. My intention is to create a weekly entry, but I might post more often if I feel like it, or less so, depending on the circumstances. Alternatively, I may just drop it outright, which wouldn't be a surprise, taking into account my poor commitment before; however, I really want to be serious this time, because I think the log can be a good source of motivation. It's also a writing exercise in English, and here's another thing: I'm going to chronicle not only my Latin and Ancient Greek activities, but my English and French efforts as well, and whatever else I might study along the year.

Don't take me too seriously, though.

So, without further ado, let me summarize where I am at regarding each language and the objectives for 2018.

Latin
Well, I'm still studying Familia Romana, currently in chapter XXV. Despite what I've said above about my progress, it's been some time since I last went through a lesson and the corresponding exercises in Exercitia latina, so now I'm rereading it from the beginning, concurrently with Colloquia personarum, a companion book with additional text for the first 24 chapters. There's a second companion book, Fabulae Syrae by Luigi Miraglia, with texts corresponding to the remaining chapters.

Another resource I used (mainly for review) was Gramática latina by Napoleão Mendes de Almeida, which is a Brazilian Latin textbook somewhat similar to Wheelock's Latin. I've decided to drop it though, after 25 lessons, because it's insanely boring and dry and I had to force myself to even open it. I'm turning to Wheelock's itself for review, which, from what I can see, doesn't seem to be so unrewarding.

I have been working on declension tables as well lately. Not in the sense of preparing one single table, but choosing a few words from each declension and devoting ten or fifteen minutes a day to write out the entire paradigm for some of them, various times. So far I've already finished tables for the 1st, 2nd and 4th declensions. Working on the fifth as of now. I could say that I know the declensions pretty well actually, but there's no harm in drilling them.

Later I'll prepare verb conjugation tables too, which I haven't internalized as well as I have the declinations. In hindsight, I should have started to do that earlier, but better later than never.

The plan for 2018 then is to finally finish Familia Romana, the workbook and the aforementioned companion books. I've got Ørberg's edition of De bello Gallico and his anthology Sermones Romani, which follow the same pattern of marginal annotations of the main series and are recommended for those who have completed Familia Romana. I intend to read both. Apart from that, I have no specific objectives regarding Wheelock's Latin but to persist with it. I'll establish an aim after I get started and can reasonably gauge how much progress I'm able to attain within the year.

Ancient Greek
In my last entry on the previous log, I said that I was working on chapter V of Athenaze I. Now, almost two years later, I'm proud to announce that I've advanced... four chapters. Yeah. I don't have mighty objectives for Ancient Greek in 2018, I just want to go back to the book and stick with it to the end. That's it.

Oh, and make some tables, as I'm doing for Latin.

English
English has been the elephant in the room for some time now, especially pertaining productive skills. I have difficulty with the pronunciation: it's mainly the rhythm of sentences that's hard for me to reproduce well, but some sounds, especially the vowels, aren't easy either. Besides, my vocabulary is somewhat poor, which is made glaringly obvious when I try to read literature - or really anything out of some very narrow fields that constituted the bulk of my English reading material for some time -, and my command of grammar is shaky. Oh, listening is bad as well, etc.

To be honest, I study languages, above all, to gain direct access to its literature and some other media, and my approach to English is no different. I don't have an ambition to be actively super fluent in it, but I'm not at the point I want to be yet, and, like it or not, it is important nonetheless to at least refine my productive ability, even if pronunciation-wise I don't care for an absolutely perfect native-like accent.

What I'm doing now: studying Essential Grammar in Use, but following the advice given by the author himself, which is to focus only on the sections pertaining to grammar points the reader has a hard time with. Actually, I'm not following it to the letter: I skim through every unit, and when one pops up that I deem to be helpful, I slow down, read it carefully, and do the exercises. This way, I think I can finish it rather quickly and move on to the next installment, English Grammar in Use.

I'm also studying English Pronunciation in Use: Elementary, which I like a lot, and I'm already seeing some improvement. It's very basic, but I do need to get the fundamentals sorted out once and for all.

Other than that, I'm consuming native media, forcing myself to not rely so much on translation anymore. I'm currently watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (the BBC miniseries) with English subtitles and reading/listening through Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (this one I've just started). I'm also listening to Luke's English Podcast (very good for English learners) and some other news podcasts targeted to natives.

There are a handful of other Anglophone series I'm watching, and I'm switching subtitles on all of them to English, with the aim of turning them off eventually. I do the same when watching movies.

French
French was never a passion of mine, despite possessing a very rich literary (and filmic) tradition. It was part of my wishlist, of course, but I never intended to study it soon; it was an affair for after Spanish and Italian. To be honest, I had a sort of negative stance towards it, without any particular reason, really. However, one day I opened Duolingo, went to the French course for Portuguese speakers, and within a very short time I was loving it, and French had stepped up the ladder to gain first priority among the Romance languages I want to learn.

I've already finished the Duolingo course, and now I'm studying Assimil French with Ease, the FSI course on pronunciation (a marvelous resource) and, last but not least, Gaston Mauger's Cours de langue e de civilisation françaises. This one starts extremely basic, of course, and for now is working mainly as review of topics I've seen earlier in Assimil or Duolingo, but I'm not going to repeat with French the errors I made when learning English (which I basically studied "on demand") - so I need a structured course. Not only that, but Mauger's, as the title suggests, is much more than a language textbook; it delves into French culture, literature, history, etc., so you not only study the language but also get to familiarise yourself with the civilization that speaks and writes in it. Needless to say that I'm eager to get to this material (from what I can see, the second volume already makes use of some literary excerpts, though the dedicated "civilization installments" are III and IV) - but, this time, I want my fundamentals to be thoroughly covered.

---

How I'm going about all this: each day from Tuesday to Friday is dedicated to the main heavy lifting language activities (textbooks, exercises), one day per language. On Mondays, when I have a little more free time, I study all of them. Besides, each day I try to squeeze some little brief activity on the languages that aren't the focus of that day, such as devoting ten minutes to the Latin (and, soon, Ancient Greek) tables, going through or reviewing an Assimil lesson, etc.

That's it for now.
Last edited by zatris on Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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zatris
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Re: zatris' 2018 log (Latin, Ancient Greek, French, English)

Postby zatris » Fri Jan 05, 2018 10:15 pm

The last two or three weeks of December were extremely busy at home and at work, and consequently, I didn't get much done language-wise. I'm on holiday for the rest of January, however, so I think I can expect some reasonable progress.

I've made a few adjustements to my study plan. First of all, I've ditched my original schedule which was organised around the idea of dedicating one day per language. It seemed good in theory, but then I noticed that, if I missed even a single day, it meant a non-negligible period of time would pass before I could engage in "textbook study" again for the language of that day. And, thinking about it, even when there were no missing days, it still would put too much time between focused study sessions for each language. All this would be specially detrimental to Latin and Ancient Greek, both of which are rusty because of the abandonment they were subject to during 2017, but also for French, for I'm not able yet to dabble in native material (not even with my Romance discount), so the bulk of my work with it is textbook work.

In light of that, I've come up with a new rotating schedule which jumps from one language to the next faster than the former one, and requires no maintenance juggling in the case of a missed day: I have simply to proceed from where I was before. Let's see how it works out.

The second change was to my English study material. I've decided to ignore grammar for now and concentrate my efforts on pronunciation, which is my main weakness at the moment, along with listening ability. After I finish the three English Pronunciation in Use books, I go back to study the grammar-focused ones. I felt that working simultaneously through a grammar book (even if somewhat haphazardly) and a pronunciation book was robbing time from the latter, which was, on its turn, providing me with more immediate and palpable benefits. So, from now on, my only textbook for English will be English Pronunciation in Use: Elementary.

Now to the little I have done:

Latin
Just reviewing Familia Romana and reading the companion chapters in Colloquia personarum for now. I expect to get back to where I was before very soon. Besides that, I've worked through two chapters of Wheelock's Latin and found it to be more pleasurable than the other book I was using. I'm sticking to it for now. I've prepared more tables; currently writing down the 3rd declension.

Ancient Greek
Same thing, reviewing Athenaze. Yesterday I finished my review of chapter IV. Those reviews, though, are more thorough than the Latin ones; I'm not simply re-reading the chapters and taking note of vocabulary I had forgotten, but translating each chapter to Portuguese as well, just to keep myself honest, as one might say. Then I add the vocabulary for the chapter into an Anki deck for review. I'm not the greatest fan of SRS, but it's been helpful for Ancient Greek. Also, tables (2nd declension finished, now I'll tackle 1st).

French
I'm on lesson 55 of Assimil, which means I've already started the active phase. I admit I was doubtful, but it is really fun to do, and also encouraging, for one can see how some things that seemed difficult in the beginning are now very simple. As for Mauger's Cours de langue et de civilisation françaises, I'm on lesson 9. It's indeed idiosyncratic (I mean, compared to today's courses), and I love it.

On the pronunciaton front, I've started to study Phonétique progressive du français: Niveau débutant. Got through the first two units. It works really well as a complement to FSI Introduction to French Phonology, which can be frustrating sometimes for its avoidance to talk phonetics - it rarely, if ever, explains how to produce the sounds, expecting you to grasp everything just by sheer repetition. On the other hand, said repetition is the best thing about it, and that's why I think both courses complement each other rather well: Phonétique progressive approaches the subject instructively, while FSI provides you with a good framework for practise.

Apart from that, I've been occasionally listening to the Journal en français facile. If I read the transcript while listening, I can understand quite a bit (the main point of each news piece, sometimes the nuances), but given only the audio, I might be unable to even get the gist of what's being said.

English
As I said above, for now I'm concentrating on pronunciation only, when I'm actively studying. I'm up to unit 11 of the pronunciation book, but now that I'm not going to be studying grammar concurrently, I believe I'll progress faster. I've been reading through Assimil (the latter lessons), just as light practise. My textbook study time in English amounts to no more than that.

What else I've been doing then? I was unable to watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, so there's still four or five episodes to go, but I'm watching Netflix series Dark dubbed in English, without subtitles. It is said that dubbed series are usually easier to comprehend, and I intended to see it anyway, so I thought, well, why not? And I'm enjoying the experience. It helps that the series is good, very atmospheric (its style is reminiscent of Thomas Alfredson's work, especially - guess what - his own wintery brooding adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), but at the same time quite complex (it revolves around a few families' shared history, so there's a good number of characters to keep track of across two generations at least - but I'm not going to say much because it would be spoilery), therefore demanding a lot of concentration. My watching strategy is as follows: I watch it, going back as needed if I can't understand a dialogue (in this particular case I classify "not understanding" as not being able to grasp what the characters were talking about; if I get the general meaning, I go on, even if I don't understand every word), and, if I don't manage to understand it after re-watching four or five times, then I turn on subtitles.

I've watched three episodes till now, and was forced to turn on subtitles on six brief portions. I hope as I continue watching, the need to resort to subtitles will drop.

As soon as I'm done with Dark and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I'll try something more ambitious: I'm going to re-watch Lost without subtitles. Lost is a good choice for me because: (a) I've already seen it and know what it is about; (b) there are transcriptions available; (c) the characters have widely diverse backgrounds, so I have the chance to get exposure to varied vocabulary through the flashbacks; and (d) it's on Netflix, which facilitates things.

For the time being, I've defaulted to using English subtitles for English media, so that's how I'm watching Star Trek TOS; just finished the first season (pretty good; it's my first time watching it). After I begin the Lost experiment, and depending on how well it goes, I might adopt a strict no-subtitles policy towards movies and series in English.

Other than that, I keep L-Ring Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. One might call what I'm doing an asynchronous parallel text; after reading the chapter in English, I check the Portuguese translation for any portions that I deem particularly tricky vocabulary-wise; not many for now. Another thing I'm doing is highlighting passages that stand out as good pronunciation practise: then I go over them several times, trying to reproduce the pronunciation, intonation and speed of the audio-book to the best of my ability.

---

It's mightily hard to study four languages at the same time, but I'm determined to try and see if I can pull it off. I'd say that improving my English and studying French is my main focus, but I really do not want to drop Latin and Ancient Greek; let's see if I'm able to obtain slow but sure progress in them; I'm completely OK with the idea of taking more time than usual to learn both.

Update: Forgot to add that I'm taking part in the Output Challenge with English as my language. I'll update my signature to feature progress bars tracking my production. I'm not going to include my log posts in the word count, though.
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Re: zatris' 2018 log (Latin, Ancient Greek, French, English)

Postby Yuurei » Sat Jan 06, 2018 2:23 pm

Glad to see you back! I wish all the best for your studies and will be following our log with interest! :)
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Re: zatris' 2018 log (Latin, Ancient Greek, French, English)

Postby MamaPata » Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:40 pm

Your English is really good - I wouldn't have noticed that it wasn't your native language! Sounds like a fascinating set of languages - I look forward to hearing how it all goes.
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Re: zatris' 2018 log (Latin, Ancient Greek, French, English)

Postby zatris » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:24 am

Yuurei wrote:Glad to see you back! I wish all the best for your studies and will be following our log with interest! :)


Thanks, Yuurei! Your log is a constant source of inspiration to keep going. I hope this year I succeed on putting aside procrastination and maintaining consistency.

MamaPata wrote:Your English is really good - I wouldn't have noticed that it wasn't your native language! Sounds like a fascinating set of languages - I look forward to hearing how it all goes.


Thanks for the compliment, MamaPata. My writing is much stronger than my other productive skills, though - this has become even clearer now that I'm making brief, unscripted recordings every day for the Output Challenge. And I should note that a long post like the ones I've written here take me about one or two hours. It's very tiring.
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Re: zatris' 2018 log (Latin, Ancient Greek, French, English)

Postby zatris » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:07 pm

Just a quick update as I'm busy these days, so I'll concentrate on any new things I'm doing only, and not talk much (or at all) about the activities which I've already described here in the log.

So, I guess there's nothing new to report on Latin and French: I'm simply going on with my rotating schedule, without anything special to report. The Journal en français facile is getting a little easier, but not much, but I'm seeing some small improvement. I hope that I can advance with my French listening (and speaking, by the way) abilities in a way that I can keep them at least more or less the same level as my other abilities, avoiding from the beginning the wild imbalance I experiment with my English skills.

For English, I'm now certain that my decision to stop studying grammar for a while to focus on listening and pronunciation was right. It's paying off already, as I can understand more and more of what I watch. I've finished BBC's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and by the end I was trying to ignore the subtitles and look at them only when I couldn't understand what was being said. Maybe when I get to watch Smiley's People, I will try to do it without subtitles (but I want to read the novel first, and before that, the middle book of the Karla trilogy, The Honourable Schoolboy, which wasn't filmed - unfortunately, both will be in Portuguese, as it's the language I own them in). Still some episodes of Dark to go, still listening/reading the first Potter, etc. A new resource I'm using for listening are the Easy English videos from the Easy Language YouTube channel, which Axon recommended in another thread. Fantastic resource, I try to watch one or two every day (first hiding the subtitles, then again reading them and checking my comprehension, and usually a third time, without subtitles again). I've been watching the Easy French videos as well, though only when I feel like it (they're not so helpful yet for me).

On the pronunciation side, I'm also seeing some improvement, albeit slower, but noticeable. Regarding this, participating in the Output Challenge is very helpful, because some days I really have no desire at all to record anything, but force myself to do it so I won't get too behind of where I should be. However, as I perceive I'm getting better, the motivations grows, so it's really a virtuous circle, I think.

My Ancient Greek studies saw the introduction of the goldlist method. Let's see where it takes me. Vocabulary retention is a main problem I have with this language, so I'm willing to try it, especially since SRS doesn't seem to be helping much. Sometimes I feel that I'm wasting my time reviewing earlier chapters, studying the vocabulary, and tell myself that I should just go to chapter IX already and proceed from there, but I know very well the issues that would await me later on if I tried go on without solid foundations. Of course, this shouldn't become an excuse for endless reviewing, but I know I need those reviews for now. Anyway, I'm only adding problem-words to the list, in the hopes that they cease to be so at last.

That's it for now. Sorry for any incorrections etc., I've written the post somewhat in a hurry.
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Re: zatris' 2018 log (Latin, Ancient Greek, French, English)

Postby zatris » Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:18 pm

So, it's been a long time without an update, but I had my reasons. First of all, I got a little tired of writing the same thing over and over again, reporting the same activities; I'm not doing anything fancy learning-wise, just following some courses and consuming media, so really there was nothing exciting to share and I came to the conclusion that weekly updates weren't warranted. I didn't plan to come back only five to six months later, but alas it happened.

Then, there were (surprise, surprise) radical changes to my schedule and periods of no actual work done at all. The primary change is that I dropped Latin and Ancient Greek for now. I love both languages and it wasn't an easy decision, but I felt it was necessary and I don't regret it. I'm simply unable to fit them into my free time right now -- in hindsight, the very idea of studying four languages at once, one of them completely new to me despite being strongly related to my own native language, and other two possessing famoulsy complex grammar structures, that very idea wasn't too wise. Well, I guess I had to try and fail to accept that fact.

The other change is that I'm not studying every single day, though I try to do so as often as possible. I just alternate between French and English, dedicating a day to one, the next to the other, without a fixed schedule. For English, I keep focusing solely on pronunciation as far as structured study goes. Anything else I study "on demand", as necessity arises during reading/watching/writing. As a side note, I completely -- and, I must add, rejoicingly -- ditched the Harry Potter series with no intention of ever seeing it again. I don't hate it, but tell me how reading something you don't want to can get maddeningly annoying. The reason I was reading it was because I feared the difficulty of books I actually have an interest in, but now I know any difficulty is worth it (as long as it's not overwhelming to the point it becomes impossible to achieve progress) when you're dealing with something you want to. (By the way, I'm about to begin Stoner, by John Williams.)

Same thinking goes for series, movies, and even writing to be honest. The Output Challenge quickly became a chore because I was writing journal entries which were boring even to myself; needless to say I soon stopped writing anything. Recently, however, I stumbled upon a Neon Genesis Evangelion rewatch on reddit and suddenly I was writing 800-work posts without effort. Those write-ups alone got me to almost half of my word count goal (the rewatch is still going on if anyone's interested -- it's a great anime series). I'm watching it with English subtitles (tried the English dub, but didn't like it). Too bad I'm not learning Japanese right now... joking, I've learnt my lesson. In short, I'm studying English pronunciation and integrating the language into my day-to-day life as much as I can. Unfortunately, the spoken part of the Output Challenge is suffering badly, but maybe I'll cheat a little and CPR it by recording myself reading some of my written entries.

For French, I keep doing the same things I was doing before: Phonétique progressive du français and the Mauger course. Not feeling prepared to tackle native media yet, but when I do, I'll uphold that philosophy of reading what I want and go straight to Simenon and trudge my way through Les fiançailles de M. Hire. Wish me luck.

A lot of soul-searching went into those changes. I have many interests but do a very poor job of managing them and finding a place to each one in my limited free time. Usually I obsess over one of them during a few weeks or months while the others are neglected, until I get understandably sick of it and proceed to the next. Then I cycle through them. It's not that bad, but obviously it leads to a lot of frustration and time wasted, because when I finally go back to interest A, I have to do reasonable work just to get where I was when I left, to bring myself to speed. All of you know very well how languages are not suitable to that kind of haphazard treatment, and other interests I have (like playing the harmonica) are not either. So for the past few months I'm trying to deal with all of it in a more fulfilling manner, basically juggling everything at once, but with realistic expectations of progress (in the cases where any progress is to be expected). The only things I work hard to do every day are playing a little and writing fiction; I'm also rising early and generally doing a better job of managing my time, but that meant the forum got sidetracked. It's another thing I thought a lot about, my propensity to spend too much time reading or informing myself about any given topic as I postpone the moment to actually engage with it. Anyway, sorry, that got a little too personal.
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Re: zatris' 2018 log (Latin, Ancient Greek, French, English)

Postby eido » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:16 pm

zatris wrote:A lot of soul-searching went into those changes. I have many interests but do a very poor job of managing them and finding a place to each one in my limited free time. Usually I obsess over one of them during a few weeks or months while the others are neglected, until I get understandably sick of it and proceed to the next. Then I cycle through them. It's not that bad, but obviously it leads to a lot of frustration and time wasted, because when I finally go back to interest A, I have to do reasonable work just to get where I was when I left, to bring myself to speed. All of you know very well how languages are not suitable to that kind of haphazard treatment, and other interests I have (like playing the harmonica) are not either. So for the past few months I'm trying to deal with all of it in a more fulfilling manner, basically juggling everything at once, but with realistic expectations of progress (in the cases where any progress is to be expected). The only things I work hard to do every day are playing a little and writing fiction; I'm also rising early and generally doing a better job of managing my time, but that meant the forum got sidetracked. It's another thing I thought a lot about, my propensity to spend too much time reading or informing myself about any given topic as I postpone the moment to actually engage with it. Anyway, sorry, that got a little too personal.

I'm the same way. I'm glad you found a solution. If you ever want to scare yourself into being as impersonal and reporter-like as possible, just read my log. I write with no holds barred, and people get worried about me. (That's nice, but I'm in no need of worrying.) Good luck with your studies. Even if it takes you an hour to write a post, you do well at correcting yourself, because your English is lovely to read.
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Re: zatris' 2018 log (Latin, Ancient Greek, French, English)

Postby zatris » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:01 pm

eido wrote:
zatris wrote:A lot of soul-searching went into those changes. I have many interests but do a very poor job of managing them and finding a place to each one in my limited free time. Usually I obsess over one of them during a few weeks or months while the others are neglected, until I get understandably sick of it and proceed to the next. Then I cycle through them. It's not that bad, but obviously it leads to a lot of frustration and time wasted, because when I finally go back to interest A, I have to do reasonable work just to get where I was when I left, to bring myself to speed. All of you know very well how languages are not suitable to that kind of haphazard treatment, and other interests I have (like playing the harmonica) are not either. So for the past few months I'm trying to deal with all of it in a more fulfilling manner, basically juggling everything at once, but with realistic expectations of progress (in the cases where any progress is to be expected). The only things I work hard to do every day are playing a little and writing fiction; I'm also rising early and generally doing a better job of managing my time, but that meant the forum got sidetracked. It's another thing I thought a lot about, my propensity to spend too much time reading or informing myself about any given topic as I postpone the moment to actually engage with it. Anyway, sorry, that got a little too personal.

I'm the same way. I'm glad you found a solution. If you ever want to scare yourself into being as impersonal and reporter-like as possible, just read my log. I write with no holds barred, and people get worried about me. (That's nice, but I'm in no need of worrying.) Good luck with your studies. Even if it takes you an hour to write a post, you do well at correcting yourself, because your English is lovely to read.


Thank you for your words, eidos.

I realized my previous post ended a little abruptly, so as a post-scriptum to it: I'm going to try and visit the forum more, maybe even participate a little, but there will be updates here only when I feel I have something interesting to share, or if I ever do any fancy language learning experiment etc.

***

As a side note, I was watching this video the other day:



A great conversation between George Steiner, an American literary critic, and António Lobo Antunes, a Portuguese writer -- in French. They even talk a bit about languages.
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Re: zatris' 2018 log (Latin, Ancient Greek, French, English)

Postby zjones » Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:19 pm

zatris wrote:As a side note, I was watching this video the other day:



A great conversation between George Steiner, an American literary critic, and António Lobo Antunes, a Portuguese writer -- in French. They even talk a bit about languages.


Thanks for sharing. It's incredible how easy it is to understand George Steiner's French even at my meager A2 listening level. He speaks slowly and enunciates very well for an old guy!
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