kanewai's book shelf

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kanewai
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Re: kanewai's book shelf

Postby kanewai » Thu Oct 29, 2020 10:46 pm

I think the idea of rotating through my active languages is going to work for me, at least for now. I did a week solid of Kwiziq for Spanish, followed by a week of Speakly for Italian, and am now starting a week+ of Kwiziq for French.

I made more actual progress this way than I did with a couple months of doing a little-bit-of-everything. I can coordinate podcasts and tv shows with this, though not reading - it takes me too long to read a single book.

As for materials, I'm very satisfied with Kwiziq and the CLE books for French. Kwiziq is enough for Spanish, for now. I need something more focused than Speakly for Italian. I like the course, but it's not the best for intensive study.
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Jean-Claude Izzo, Total Khéops: 120 / 350
Posteguillo, Y Julia Retó a los Dioses: 0 / 100
Elsa Morante, L isola di Arturo: 100 / 100
Assimil, Le grec: 45 / 100
Language Transfer Greek: 75 / 120

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Re: kanewai's book shelf

Postby kanewai » Sun Nov 08, 2020 11:19 am

The rotation system is working - I feel like I'm actually solidifying what I know by studying one language at a time, and rotating every seven to ten days.

I have some new podcasts and books these days. I'm feeling lazy, so I'll just cut-and-paste the descriptions for now. I could recommend everything on this list. The Decameron in particular is a revelation; I thought I'd read a few stories to get a taste for it, but I am enjoying it far more than I expected. The original was too hard for me, and the English translations lacked a certain magic. This one is just right.


French

podcast: Anicet Mbida, Ombline Roche, Avant Demain.

La véritable innovation, c'est celle que l'on s'approprie collectivement et qui finit par transformer nos vies. Dans "Avant demain", Anicet Mbida et Ombline Roche vous proposent de laisser le futur angoissant à la science-fiction et de vous plonger au cœur des grandes mutations.

Comment notre habitat va-t-il devenir modulaire et évolutif ? Comment l’intelligence artificielle influence-t-elle nos goûts? Comment l’eau redevient-elle une énergie primordiale? Chaque mois, découvrez les innovations qui sont déjà en train de façonner nos vies.


podcast: Jean de Cars, Au coeur de l'histoire.

Dans cette série de récits inédits, Jean des Cars tire un fil à partir d'un fait d'actualité récent jusqu'à un événement historique.


Italian

novel: Decameron in italiano moderno, Modern translation by Luciano Corona

Corona propone il capolavoro di Boccaccio dando a tutti la possibilità di leggerlo in una prosa moderna ma fedele all'originale. Come è noto il "Decameron" è la storia di un gruppo di dieci giovani (sette donne e tre uomini) che per sfuggire alla peste scoppiata a Firenze nel 1348 si rifugia in un casale nella campagna fiorentina. Per far passare il tempo ognuno di loro ogni giorno, e per dieci giorni, racconta una novella. Si avranno così 100 novelle.

podcast: Marco Cappelli, La storia d'Italia

Benvenuti a "Storia d'Italia", podcast che ripercorre la lunga e complessa storia italiana, da Costantino fino ai nostri giorni.

podcast: Il podcast di Alessandro Barbero. Lezioni e Conferenze di Storia


Spanish

novel: Fernando Del Paso, Noticias del Imperio.

Esta novela se ha convertido en un clásico de las letras mexicanas. En ella, Fernando del Paso se ocupa, a través de la emperatriz Carlota, de describir no solamente la vida de este personaje histórico sino la de México durante el Segundo Imperio. De forma magistral narra a través de la vida de Carlota una parte de nuestra historia, regida por Maximiliano de Habsburgo.

podcast: Ricardo López, La Lista (Presentación de Así como suena)

La lista documenta la historia de francisco soto, un militar mexicano encarcelado desde hace nueve años, acusado de colaborar con los zetas y torturado por otros militares. Continúa escuchando a partir del viernes 25 de septiembre. Un episodio nuevo cada semana.
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Jean-Claude Izzo, Total Khéops: 120 / 350
Posteguillo, Y Julia Retó a los Dioses: 0 / 100
Elsa Morante, L isola di Arturo: 100 / 100
Assimil, Le grec: 45 / 100
Language Transfer Greek: 75 / 120

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Re: kanewai's book shelf

Postby kanewai » Mon Nov 16, 2020 11:03 pm

French

Nothing for now.


Italian

The Decameron has been a revelation. The stories are fun, and the morality is surprisingly progressive. And in some the moral of the story would make even today's progressives sound like Puritans.

Take this story from Day 2: A ship is wrecked at sea, and the daughter of the Sultan of Egypt is believed lost. In fact she has been rescued, and becomes the lover of her rescuer. But she's so beautiful that another man kills her lover and takes her for himself. She weeps for her lost man, but eventually adapts to the new one. And then it happens again, and again, and again ... eight times in total. When she finally makes it back to her father's court she and a merchant construct an elaborate alternate-history to protect her honor: she says she was rescued by Christian nuns, hid her identity in order to hide her faith (Muslim), and had spent the years hiding out in the nunnery until she could find passage back to Egypt.

The alternate history works. Her father the sultan welcomes her back. Ed essa, che con otto uomini forse diecemilia volte giacuta era - and she who had known 10,000 nights of pleasure with eight different men - is as pure as a virgin when she finally marries into another royal family. The moral of the story? Bocca basciata non perde ventura, anzi rinnuova come fa la luna. The mouth that has been kissed does not lose its freshness, but renews itself like the moon.

I can't even imagine an American writing a story with a happy ending like that.


Spanish

Noticias del Imperio is fascinating, but also exhausting. It starts in 1927; Carlota - former Empress of Mexico and all the Americas -has gone mad and is now a prisoner (perhaps by choice) in a Belgian castle. She spends her days lost in a day dream, recalling her youth as a princess in the Hapsburg court, Napoleon III's dream to extend the empire to the Americas, and then the rapid fall of first that empire in Mexico, and then of all the great empires of Europe. It's quite an opening.

The next hundred pages alternate between Benito Juárez's education in Enlightenment ideals, his rise from poor Indian to president of Mexico, and a long stream-of-consciousness history of the Hapsburg Empire "between the two Napoleons," and the Emperor Maximilian's execution by members of the restored Mexican Republic. Then it's back to Belgium - after the great empires have crumbled to dust.

And that's only the opening - the novel is a massive 1000 pages. Fernando del Paso is aiming to create a Mexican War and Peace.

Here's a taste: Carlota in 1927, talking in her mind to Maximilian about some of what's happened since his death 60 years prior:

Yo soy Carlota Amelia de México, Emperatriz de México y de América, Marquesa de las Islas Marías, Reina de la Patagonia, Princesa de Teotihuacán. Tengo ochenta y seis años de vida y sesenta de vivir en la soledad y el silencio. Asesinaron al Presidente Garfield y al Presidente McKinley y no me lo dijeron. Nacieron y murieron Rosa Luxemburgo, Emiliano Zapata y Pancho Villa, y no me lo contaron. No sabes, no te imaginas, Maximiliano, la de cosas que han sucedido desde que tu caballo Orispelo se tropezó en el camino a Querétaro y tú y tus generals se quedaron sin agua, pero con champaña, cuando enveneron con las cadavers de los republicanos las aguas del Río Blanco. Gabriel D’Annunzio se apoderó de Fiume y Benito Mussolini y sus camisas negras entraron, triunfantes, en Roma. Nacieron Kemal Atatürk y Mahatma Gandhi y descubrieron las vitaminas y los rayos y yo voy a ordenar una lámpara para tostarme con ella, para que la piel me quede más bonita que la piel de tu amante india, mi querido, mi amante Max. Yo soy Carlota Amelia de Bélgica, Baronesa del Olvido y de la Espuma, Reina de la Nada, Emperatriz del Viento.
9 x
Jean-Claude Izzo, Total Khéops: 120 / 350
Posteguillo, Y Julia Retó a los Dioses: 0 / 100
Elsa Morante, L isola di Arturo: 100 / 100
Assimil, Le grec: 45 / 100
Language Transfer Greek: 75 / 120

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Re: kanewai's book shelf

Postby kanewai » Thu Dec 17, 2020 10:46 am

I've been rotating my focus between Italian, French, and Spanish about every ten days. That will change soon. A lot of my mental energy and time has been taken up on a side project, but I should wrap that up in early January. And then I will be able to study my target languages more intensely ... and face the temptation of adding a new language.

French - I enjoyed focusing on Kwiziq in ten day spurts. I'd make good progress, without feeling like I was burning out or treading water. But a few days ago I learned that my Marseille conference is back on for September 2021. This is a major opportunity for me, so I want my French to be damn good. The damn pandemic better be under control by then. I have some novels on order, and I'll start reading when they arrive.

Italian - I'm still enjoying the Decameron immensely. It's hard to binge, though, so it's going to take me quite awhile to finish. I'm only on the fourth day. I've been studying with Grammatica pratica della lingua italiana by Marco Mezzadri, which is great. I was going to do a big push in Italian in preparation for a month-long walk on the Via Francigena this spring, but I don't think the world will be over the pandemic yet. And so I'll delay another year - which

Spanish - I stalled with Noticias del Impero. The author must have done an insane amount of research, and it shows - sometimes he'll drop references to ten or fifteen new events or characters in a single page. The language is flowing and beautiful, but it's exhausting. A lot of reviewers mention that the first five hundred pages are a struggle, but insist that after that it's brilliant. I made it to 250 pages. I like it, but it's exhausting, and I'd be spent after a page. I moved on to El guardián invisible by Dolores Redondo. It's a detective thriller, and usually genre fiction is much easier to read than more literary fiction. The reviews are great.

and ...

Arabic - Assimil Arabic was on sale online for about half the price it normally is. And if I'm not going to Italy this spring, and if I finish my project in January, and if I'm already going to be in France in the fall ... I have friends who still want to do a big trip to Morocco. And I'll be so close, and I'll have three weeks to travel, and that's a perfect excuse to give Arabic another shot. And I write this full well knowing that Assimil isn't always that great for non-Romance languages, and that their Arabic course has a bad reputation. SO maybe in another month Arabic will be back in rotation.
5 x
Jean-Claude Izzo, Total Khéops: 120 / 350
Posteguillo, Y Julia Retó a los Dioses: 0 / 100
Elsa Morante, L isola di Arturo: 100 / 100
Assimil, Le grec: 45 / 100
Language Transfer Greek: 75 / 120

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Re: kanewai's book shelf

Postby Deinonysus » Thu Dec 17, 2020 11:16 am

kanewai wrote:Arabic - Assimil Arabic was on sale online for about half the price it normally is. And if I'm not going to Italy this spring, and if I finish my project in January, and if I'm already going to be in France in the fall ... I have friends who still want to do a big trip to Morocco. And I'll be so close, and I'll have three weeks to travel, and that's a perfect excuse to give Arabic another shot. And I write this full well knowing that Assimil isn't always that great for non-Romance languages, and that their Arabic course has a bad reputation. SO maybe in another month Arabic will be back in rotation.

I'm 30% through the latest French edition of their Arabic course and I have no problems with it. I think a lot of the criticism was for an older English edition in two volumes where the Arabic text was handwritten and not very legible. The version I have is in one volume with all the text clearly typed. I can't comment on the versions in other languages.

As you probably know, Assimil Arabic is for Modern Standard Arabic and it won't help you much with spoken Moroccan Arabic, but it will help you read any written materials such as street signs or menus. They do also offer a short Moroccan Arabic conversation guide in French.
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Re: kanewai's book shelf

Postby kanewai » Thu Dec 17, 2020 11:40 am

Deinonysus wrote: I'm 30% through the latest French edition of their Arabic course and I have no problems with it. I think a lot of the criticism was for an older English edition in two volumes where the Arabic text was handwritten and not very legible. The version I have is in one volume with all the text clearly typed. I can't comment on the versions in other languages.
That's good to know. I had an old bootlegged copy of the French one, and what I remember was hating the audio - it was too artificially slow.

Deinonysus wrote:As you probably know, Assimil Arabic is for Modern Standard Arabic and it won't help you much with spoken Moroccan Arabic, but it will help you read any written materials such as street signs or menus. They do also offer a short Moroccan Arabic conversation guide in French.
Just becoming more comfortable reading it will be a major milestone! I know the alphabet, but I have to work through every word letter by letter. It would be awesome if that part were a bit more automatic.

I'm assuming that we will be speaking French 99% of the time. But if I do manage to complete the MSA course I'll start exploring dialects.


I do have the Assimil Moroccan conversation guide, and was using it on and off before our last trip got cancelled. I would not recommend it, or any of their 'conversation' courses. They are on the level of any mass-market phrasebook. What's interesting, though, is that the audio recordings were very pleasant - unlike the exaggerated accents of the main course.
2 x
Jean-Claude Izzo, Total Khéops: 120 / 350
Posteguillo, Y Julia Retó a los Dioses: 0 / 100
Elsa Morante, L isola di Arturo: 100 / 100
Assimil, Le grec: 45 / 100
Language Transfer Greek: 75 / 120

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Re: kanewai's book shelf

Postby Deinonysus » Thu Dec 17, 2020 12:00 pm

kanewai wrote:
Deinonysus wrote: I'm 30% through the latest French edition of their Arabic course and I have no problems with it. I think a lot of the criticism was for an older English edition in two volumes where the Arabic text was handwritten and not very legible. The version I have is in one volume with all the text clearly typed. I can't comment on the versions in other languages.
That's good to know. I had an old bootlegged copy of the French one, and what I remember was hating the audio - it was too artificially slow.

Deinonysus wrote:As you probably know, Assimil Arabic is for Modern Standard Arabic and it won't help you much with spoken Moroccan Arabic, but it will help you read any written materials such as street signs or menus. They do also offer a short Moroccan Arabic conversation guide in French.
Just becoming more comfortable reading it will be a major milestone! I know the alphabet, but I have to work through every word letter by letter. It would be awesome if that part were a bit more automatic.

I'm assuming that we will be speaking French 99% of the time. But if I do manage to complete the MSA course I'll start exploring dialects.


I do have the Assimil Moroccan conversation guide, and was using it on and off before our last trip got cancelled. I would not recommend it, or any of their 'conversation' courses. They are on the level of any mass-market phrasebook. What's interesting, though, is that the audio recordings were very pleasant - unlike the exaggerated accents of the main course.

The audio of this version is also quite slow and exaggerated especially in the beginning but I think that's typical for Assimil. I don't think it's any slower than, say, the Norwegian audio. I'm not sure how it would compare to the audio of other editions because this is the only edition I've used.

That's too bad that the Moroccan phrasebook isn't good. I was thinking about getting it because my wife and I would love to visit Morocco someday. There don't seem to be many good resources for Moroccan Arabic.
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Re: kanewai's book shelf

Postby kanewai » Mon Dec 21, 2020 8:02 am

A lot of my incentives for language learning revolve around travel. The promise of a good adventure gives me the ability to focus and commit to the work in learning a language beyond A1. The promise of being able to read books, or understand movies and podcasts, comes after.

My travel plans are in flux thanks to COVID (or Miss Rona, as some of my friends call her). And with my travel plans, so my language plans

  • Spring 2021 - Italy, Via Francigena
  • Fall 2021 - Marseille (work), Morocco, Greece
  • Spring 2022 - Morocco
  • Fall 2022 - Italy, Via Francigena

Which means that instead of focusing on Arabic and Italian this year I will be focusing on French and introducing myself to Greek. And while Morocco was going to be (and will be) a trip with a group of friends, Greece will be a solo trip. There are too many places I want to explore at my own pace, without worrying about the group's needs. And solo travel is perfect for language study!

I'm starting with Language Transfer, and then figure out what to do next. I inherited a Pimsleur set years ago, so I need to see if the CDs are still good. I have another non-language related project that should wrap up in early January, and then I'll have the time and mental energy to add a new language ...

... just like I do every January. Often I don't last the year. But sometimes I actually succeed in learning it.
3 x
Jean-Claude Izzo, Total Khéops: 120 / 350
Posteguillo, Y Julia Retó a los Dioses: 0 / 100
Elsa Morante, L isola di Arturo: 100 / 100
Assimil, Le grec: 45 / 100
Language Transfer Greek: 75 / 120

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Re: kanewai's book shelf

Postby kanewai » Tue Jan 05, 2021 3:58 am

2020 in Review

Surprisingly, I read less this year than I have in other years. I finished 12 books, and 19 audiobooks, though I also quit part way through quite a few others. I stopped tracking anything for the super challenge. I set myself a general goal of five books each in English, French, Italian, and Spanish, defining book as: one actual book, rather than x-pages. I read three of each.

As for studying, I seem to follow the same pattern every year: I'll have periods where I study a lot of languages, periods where I try to focus on my core languages, periods I just want to chill and read books, and periods where I just don't do anything. And then, I repeat it all.

I made a good-faith attempt at both Homeric Greek and German in the early part of the year. I seriously enjoyed Greek, but it would take a serious and sustained commitment for me to make progress. As with other attempts, as soon as I take a short break I seem to lose everything. I don't know what my block is with German. I've learned harder languages with less struggle.

Most of the diversity in the list comes from the first few months of quarantine; Italian and French were the only ones I sustained throughout the year.

For the coming year, I'm going to attempt to learn Modern Greek. I have a trip planned for September, and that will provide plenty of motivation. I've really been enjoying the target-language only courses like CLE for French and GP for Italian, so I'll keep working on those when I can. I got a lifetime membership for Memrise for when I'm motivated for occasional bursts in Turkish and Arabic. I'll keep reading and listening in Spanish, but I don't know that I'll have time to actively focus much on it. I also have a new copy of Assimil's L'arabe, which I also don't have time for ... but it will be there tempting me until I open it.


I'll star & hyperlink the things that really stood out for me.


Best of 2020

French

Books
Tahar Ben Jelloun. L'enfant de sable. 1985
* Marcel Proust. Le temps retrouvé. 1927
* Ibrahim al-Koni. Les mages. 2010


Audiobooks
* Marcel Proust. Le Temps retrouvé. 1927
JRR Tolkein. Les deux tours. Le retour du Roi. 1955

podcasts
* Jean Des Cars, Au couer de l'histoire
* Anicet Mbida, Ombline Roche, Avant demain

Courses
* Kwiziq - to 95% in A1, 87% in A2, 48% in B1.
* CLE Phonétique progressive (A2-B2) - finished



Spanish

Books
* Fernando Aramburu. Patria. 2016
Santiago Posteguillo. La traición de Roma. 2009
Mario Vargas Llosa. Tiempos Recios. 2019

Audiobooks
Gabriel García Márquez. Cien años de soledad. 1967
Fernando Aramburu. Patria. 2016.

Podcasts
Miguel Ángel Coleto. Documentos
Así Como Suena
* David Cot, La Historia de España

Courses
* Kwiziq - to 95% in A1, 27% in A2, 6% in B1.


Italian

Books
Giacomo Casanova. Fuga dai piombi. 1788
Elena Ferrante. La vita bugiarda degli adulti. 2019
* Boccaccio. Decameron in italiano moderno (Days 1-5)

Podcasts
* Marco Cappelli, Storia d'Italia
* Alessandro Barbero, Lezioni e Conferenze di Storia

Courses
* Marco Messadri. GP: Grammatica pratica della lingua italiana (five lessons)


The rest
* Hans-Friedrich Mueller, Greek 101: Learning an Ancient Language (Great Courses; finished half)
Memrise Arabic (2 levels), Turkish (2 levels), German (1 level)
Assimil German (50 lessons)
Great Courses German (7 lessons)
9 x
Jean-Claude Izzo, Total Khéops: 120 / 350
Posteguillo, Y Julia Retó a los Dioses: 0 / 100
Elsa Morante, L isola di Arturo: 100 / 100
Assimil, Le grec: 45 / 100
Language Transfer Greek: 75 / 120

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Re: kanewai's book shelf

Postby kanewai » Sat Jan 09, 2021 10:14 pm

I did a fair amount in everything this week. I think the excitement of finally starting modern Greek is carrying over into other languages. I know the pace I kept up this week isn't sustainable. I've been hear before: once Greek gets hard it's going to take up more of my time and energy.

Right now it feels good to re-visit all my languages, but at some point I'll keep the focus on Greek and French and rotate through the others as time allows.

I'm really grooving on the native-language only grammar books. I was intimidated by them before, but now that I'm using them it feels like a whole new world has been opened. I don't even mind that I need to start with A1/A2 to use them properly. I'm not in a rush to finish any of them; I picture using them off and on over the next couple years, similar to how I did with FSI French and Spanish.

I want to start logging more often. I think it's helpful, though it's tricky to do when I do dozens of small things a week.


Greek - daily
courses: Language Transfer to lesson 28, and Assimil to lesson 8. I'm transcribing each of the Assimil lessons into a notebook. I will need to find a solid grammar book too. I thought about FSI, but I think the spelling changes would just confuse me. The modern pronunciation looks nothing like what I would have predicted, and nothing like the way we pronounce Greek-derived words in English. I want to stick with what's modern for now.

I usually crash with Assimil somewhere between lessons 35 and 60, unless it's a language that I've studied properly before. And so I have a Greek-only grammar book on order: Επικοινωνήστε Ελληνικά (Communicate in Greek). If you click on the images on the website you get a preview of the contents, and this one impressed me more than others I looked at.

French - daily
courses: I'm rotating between Kwiziq and CLE Grammaire progressive (A2-B1). I'm trying to close-out the early levels of Kwiziq, but once get over 80% on any level it gets hard. I start getting sloppy, or making small mistakes, and if increase my score by 1% on one night I'm just as likely to see it drop the next. Below 80% I always make steady progress.

novels: I started Amin Malouf's new book, Nos frères inattendus. 2020. I bought it blind - it was being advertised on a lot of the French podcasts as a major publishing event (read the new book by Amin Malouf! Coming out now!), and I know it's just marketing ... but I bought a copy anyway. So far I like his style. I didn't read any reviews, so all I know is that there is a writer on an isolated Atlantic island, and the apocalypse might be happening.

Italian - most days.
courses: Grammatica pratica della lingua italiana was the right choice for me.

novels: I'm still on day 5 of the Decameron. I genuinely enjoy it, but I've been reading it for months now, and might take a break.

Arabic and Turkish - A few days.
courses: I cleaned out my backlogged 'review' section of Memrise for both. As usual with Memrise, it was satisfying for a few days & then becomes irritating. It's vocabulary without context. With both I got stuck on words like "popcorn" - a word I don't think I know in any single language other than English. And because I don't care how to say popcorn, I don't retain it and get it wrong, and Memrise decides that what I really need to do is review that useless word five more times until I get it right.

I also started Assimil Arabic. I had tried a borrowed copy years ago, the French version, and despised the audio. It doesn't bother me as much this round, although it is very exaggerated and slow. I don't know if they've re-recorded it in the past decade, or if I'm just more tolerant.

Spanish - A few days
courses: I dove in and ordered Gramática de uso del Español (A1-A2).

podcasts: David Cot's new La Historia de España is excellent.

television: I started watching 30 monedas. It starts with Judas receiving his 30 pieces of silver while the centurions thrust spears into a screaming Jesus, moves a cow giving birth to a human baby in a small Spanish village in the present day, and then slowly ties the tow events together It's billed as a horror-comedy. It's definitely watchable, and the leads are very pretty, but I'm not sure yet if it's actually good.

9 x
Jean-Claude Izzo, Total Khéops: 120 / 350
Posteguillo, Y Julia Retó a los Dioses: 0 / 100
Elsa Morante, L isola di Arturo: 100 / 100
Assimil, Le grec: 45 / 100
Language Transfer Greek: 75 / 120


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