Neurotip's log: Italian and Icelandic, i.a.

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Neurotip
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Neurotip's log: Italian and Icelandic, i.a.

Postby Neurotip » Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:21 pm

Background
I've loved languages from a very early age. I was lucky enough to have been taught some French at school from the age of six or seven up to 16, and I did a couple of years of German as well. They were saved from rusting away completely partly by my general language interest, but partly also by my interest in classical music and the singers I had the pleasure of accompanying during my twenties and early thirties. Over the last year I've started listening regularly to Philippe Cassard's 'Portrait de famille' programme on French radio which I hope is improving my comprehension (although I've seen all six series of Engrenages and still have no idea what they're saying)! My German is severely atrophic and improving this situation is high on my to-do list.

Italian was the first language I learnt outside of school - though I think I was still about 15 or 16 - because of a developing interest in Italian-language opera. I'd have started off with a couple of book-and-cassette courses and moved on to short stories and a couple of novels, supported by Mozart and Puccini. Since then it's been smouldering away like French and German. It was nice to be able to test it out in Sicily a couple of years ago and to find that I could have an extended conversation with a sympathetic native speaker (in standard Italian, not Sicilian!) without too much difficulty.

Spanish I started only a few years after Italian, but I never had that much interest in it and it's always been a bolt-on to Italian. I've warmed it up two or three times in the last few years for tourist purposes, with the effect that last year in a restaurant in Granada I asked for 'burro'. Seriously.

At university I tried a bit of Czech, motivated by my opera interest having moved on to Janacek and meeting a native speaker. I never got much further than learning some of the grammar (this is a recurring theme - syntax and morphology have always been the fun bit for me, vocab largely a chore), but I can at least recognise the odd word in Slavic texts.

I spent a couple of months in southern Sweden as a student and made a serious attempt to learn Swedish, before and during (at least it seemed serious to me at the time). At the standard I managed to reach, it was basically useless in Sweden and I haven't looked at it again in any depth since, but it was fun.

A few years ago I visited the Cyclades and spent maybe three months learning Greek before going. My competence in the language was and remains essentially nil, but I fell in love with the sound and feel of it and someday I will return to it.

In a similar way, I spent a few days in Iceland three years ago and did Alaric Hall's (original) MP3 Icelandic course in the run-up to this. I was strangely charmed by the language - I cannot honestly say why although I suspect there is an element of 'people use this every day? really?', as well as the aura of antiquity and the distant echoes of English. Last summer I noticed Alaric had done a revised course, tried it and got hooked again. More below.

Other languages that have attracted my attention over the years have included: Maltese (Arabic grammar but Sicilian vocab and written in Roman script, 'the Vietnamese of Europe'), Russian (apparently I loved the BBC's Russian Language and People [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLN9WG-2Ya0] as a small child!), Japanese (I don't think I could ever afford the time to study it seriously but so beautiful), Finnish (of course... [http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Finnish]), etc.

Current activities and goals
Since discovering this forum I've been inspired to set some language-learning goals for 2018, which I posted in the New Year's Resolutions thread at Christmas just gone.
Goal 1 get Icelandic up to a solid A1, perhaps even A2, with 100 hours of study. At the moment I'm working through the 'Viltu læra íslensku' videos https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLq5-Y9TskeAsWFxI3EL6ef7e8lfbJb042, which I've converted to MP3s so I can listen to them repeatedly while commuting, and studying the transcriptions [link]. As well as that I'm trying to decode Ævar [http://www.ruv.is/thaettir/visindavarp-aevars] and one or two other websites, and using Anki as much as possible to consolidate new vocab.
Goal 2 well, it was to get Italian to B1... but now the Dialang tests say I'm at B2 in writing and C1 (!) in listening. I've settled on B2 as a realistic estimate of my current ability, but this has scuppered my SMART objective so I'm now simply aiming to be able to understand a standard non-fiction broadcast with little effort and getting the point of pretty much every sentence. I'm currently using Wikiradio [http://www.raiplayradio.it/programmi/wikiradio/], which has the benefit that the narrator is different each time, and Dario Bressanini's Scienza in Cucina videos [http://bressanini-lescienze.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it/] as well as reading his blog. I've also bought two copies of one of the Montalbano books (Il gioco degli specchi), one in Italian and one in English, and am doing pretty well, missing only about one crucial point every five sentences or so.

Future plans, as mentioned in my New Year post: improve German, pick up Greek again, try Russian.

Thanks for reading if you've got this far! I'm going to try to post monthly if I can, so see you then :)
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Neurotip
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Re: Neurotip's log: Italian and Icelandic, i.a.

Postby Neurotip » Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:33 pm

Oh, by the way -- I've just made a couple of recordings of myself reading out texts in my TLs and I'd be extremely grateful if any native speakers happened to drop by and offer any comments! :D

Icelandic https://www.dropbox.com/s/sk3k0dw0g002kk0/%C3%A1ram%C3%B3ta%C3%A1varp.mp3?dl=0
text at http://www.ruv.is/frett/aramotathattur-aevars

Italian https://www.dropbox.com/s/rec58x9pd9d33ia/cachi.mp3?dl=0
text at http://bressanini-lescienze.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it/2017/12/07/il-mondo-dei-cachi/
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dampingwire
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Re: Neurotip's log: Italian and Icelandic, i.a.

Postby dampingwire » Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:21 pm



Eccellente. Senza pause o esitazioni strane.

I had no issues at all listening to it and understanding it without the text in front of me. If that was an unedited first attempt you should have a word with RAI to see if they have any vacancies for announcers :-)
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Josquin
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Re: Neurotip's log: Italian and Icelandic, i.a.

Postby Josquin » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:03 pm

I second dampingwire. Both recordings seemed to be extremely good!

I'm not a native speaker, but I have dealt both with Italian and Icelandic and this seemed to be pretty close to native-like pronunciation in both cases.

Bravo! :D
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Deinonysus
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Re: Neurotip's log: Italian and Icelandic, i.a.

Postby Deinonysus » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:46 pm

En frábær! Glad to meet a fellow opera fan and Icelandic learner! I see that you already have plenty of learning resources, but here are some suggestions for beginner resources anyway: I had a lot of luck with Pimsleur's Icelandic course. It's pretty expensive but great if you have a commute, and your local library may have it.

The University of Iceland has a great free Icelandic course at https://icelandiconline.com/. Their beginner course is "Bjargir" and has a lot of videos of Icelandic short interviews and dialogues.

Good luck!
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Neurotip
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Re: Neurotip's log: Italian and Icelandic, i.a.

Postby Neurotip » Thu Jan 25, 2018 6:43 pm

@dampingwire and Josquin: Siete troppo gentili :D So bene che non è vero, ma per me la fonologia, e le suoni del parlare (della parola? non so come si dice questo) in generale, è sempre stato uno degli aspetti più piacevoli dello studio dei linguaggi. Per questa ragione è spesso accaduto che qualcuno ha creduto che io parli qualsiasi lingua abbastanza bene quando non è infatti così. Ma grazie tuttavia!

@Deinonysus: Thanks! Yes, I have registered on the Bjargir course and have got a little way through, but I find its pace a bit leisurely - I'd rather have something chunky to chew on for a while. It would probably be good for me to work through it though. It's certainly a good way of learning vocab and common phrases. Maybe I will...
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Re: Neurotip's log: Italian and Icelandic, i.a.

Postby Neurotip » Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:22 pm

Log post 2: February 2018

Icelandic. Mostly I've been working intensively on the Viltu læra íslensku videos numbers 1-5. I've been memorising the vocabulary using Anki, studying the transcripts until I can properly understand the syntax of each sentence, listening to them while walking to and from work at least two or three times a week, and so on. Some aspects of pronunciation are proving a bit tricky, particularly diphthongs in positions which demand a short vowel (þáttur, þætti), and how fast speech differs from medium and from hyper-clear speech, which parts get slurred and which remain clear. I love this aspect of learning languages, and the way you know when you're getting it right because it 'clicks' and your movements become more economical, less effortful.
I'm also still trying to get some basic word categories down pat. The basic numbers are fine, but I don't know the full inflectional paradigms of the first four yet, and I'm working on hvað, þetta and so forth. Adjective inflections are particularly troublesome so I'm concentrating on just getting all the nominative and accusative forms right first, which is more or less OK now. I feel a bit embarrassed that I still have a lot of this basic stuff to do, but Icelandic is notorious for being unusually rich in it of course. Hopefully at some stage in the not-too-distant future I'll be able to go straight from deciding what I want to say and looking up any words I don't know to just saying it, rather than spending minutes on end grinding away on the grammar.
From time to time, for a bit of light relief, I'll look at an article from Vísindavefurinn or a random blog and see how much I can work out, then paste it into Google Translate and try to piece together how the sentences are working. I fondly imagine this is helping but I must say it's slow going!
Lest this should seem a bit bleak, I should say that I am still in love with Icelandic - she is a demanding mistress and takes more than she gives, but I don't begrudge her! I do worry a bit that I'm being overly self-indulgent in this respect and phrases like 'completely pointless' do come to mind now and then, but then I scarcely use any of my languages for any useful purpose beyond enjoyment, so I don't feel too bad. :)
By the way, fellow Icelandic learners: I've been using the online Ice-Eng dictionary at wisc.edu, but am starting to find it a bit sparse and have already come across words it doesn't include. Wiktionary is helpful (hat tip to Wiktionary by the way - I found out today that Sw. inte is derived from a cognate of enginn with a neuter t on the end, which is the sort of thing that delights me) but I'd be interested in investing in a good printed dictionary. Any recommendations?

Italian. My work on Italian, if you can call it that, has been mostly passive. I've been reading Bressanini's blog and watching some of the corresponding YouTube videos (covering up the English subtitles!), and listening to at least a couple of Wikiradio programmes a week straight through (again on my commute). Both are stuff I'm at least slightly interested in, and the latter exposes me to a variety of speakers, albeit mostly pretty standard ones. (One of them has a really odd way of pronouncing s, z, sci etc. though - is it a regional accent or a lisp?) It's difficult to know if I'm making progress, but when I started listening to these programmes about six weeks ago I found it pretty frustrating and needed to concentrate very hard to follow the argument, while now it is significantly more enjoyable, so perhaps we are getting somewhere.
I haven't done any actual learning work as such, but it is becoming clear to me that I need to revise my pronouns and conditional verb forms, so I hereby announce this as an Official Goal for the coming weeks.

Other than that, I'm still listening to Philippe Cassard's Portrait de famille podcast most weeks just because I like it. I also have an office colleague who is a native Finnish speaker (albeit with a rather odd accent, she says) and I am sorely tempted to learn Finnish instead... well, a bit.

Really enjoying following the forum although reading others' logs can make me feel a bit humble (that might be a good thing come to think of it). Must make sure I don't spend more time reading it than working on TLs...
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dampingwire
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Re: Neurotip's log: Italian and Icelandic, i.a.

Postby dampingwire » Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:14 am

Neurotip wrote:Both are stuff I'm at least slightly interested in, and the latter exposes me to a variety of speakers, albeit mostly pretty standard ones. (One of them has a really odd way of pronouncing s, z, sci etc. though - is it a regional accent or a lisp?)


That link points to an episode presented by Fabio Fiori. I've never heard of him before but he sounds perfectly normal to me. Then again the 'net says he was born in Rimini which is not that far from where my father comes, so that might account for it. It's not a lisp.
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Re: Neurotip's log: Italian and Icelandic, i.a.

Postby Soffía » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:26 am

Neurotip wrote:By the way, fellow Icelandic learners: I've been using the online Ice-Eng dictionary at wisc.edu, but am starting to find it a bit sparse and have already come across words it doesn't include. Wiktionary is helpful (hat tip to Wiktionary by the way - I found out today that Sw. inte is derived from a cognate of enginn with a neuter t on the end, which is the sort of thing that delights me) but I'd be interested in investing in a good printed dictionary. Any recommendations?


Hi! This is the printed dictionary that I own, and the best Icelandic-English one that exists to my knowledge: https://www.forlagid.is/vara/islensk-ensk-orðabok-2/

However, it's the second, expanded edition of the online one you linked to, so there's a possibility that it might not be extensive enough for you. Apparently it has 28,000 headwords while the previous edition had 24,000.

(That's the publishers' website – I expect it'll be cheaper ordering it from there than anywhere else, though you never know. They ship quickly and are very helpful by email. EDIT: though I see you're in London, in which case you can likely pick it up at Foyles.)

I could have sworn that there was a newer more comprehensive one when I last visited but I now suspect I must be thinking of the English-Icelandic one: https://www.forlagid.is/vara/ensk-islenska-ordabokin/

I also recommend http://www.ordabok.is, which is better in the English-Icelandic direction but is pretty good, and (in my opinion) worth the rather low subscription if you like having an online dictionary. It claims 350,000 entries – a good resource when the printed dictionary isn't enough.

(This is a dangerous conversation as I'm now considering buying the massive Icelandic-Icelandic dictionary that I've been longing for over the past four years. Hey, they've dropped the price!)
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Neurotip
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Re: Neurotip's log: Italian and Icelandic, i.a.

Postby Neurotip » Sat Feb 17, 2018 5:05 pm

dampingwire wrote:That link points to an episode presented by Fabio Fiori. I've never heard of him before but he sounds perfectly normal to me. Then again the 'net says he was born in Rimini which is not that far from where my father comes, so that might account for it. It's not a lisp.

Fair enough. I've just had another listen and the first couple of occasions are where he says: 'Lost at sea - Disperso in mare - si legge...' and a few seconds later 'milleottocentonovantacinque'. In the first case it sounds to me like 'leddze' and in the second case 'ottozento ... zinque' (with unvoiced z). Is it just something people sometimes do, or regional, or just him - or is it me?
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