Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

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Ogrim
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/viewtopic.php?t=873
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Fri Dec 21, 2018 11:27 am

It is the last day at work and tomorrow I am heading to Norway, where I probably won't visit the forum very often as I will be fully occupied being lazy 8-) , eating and drinking too much and meeting up with old friends. I'll therefore just post a very quick end-of-year summary.

I'll start with the books I've read and finished. I am less satisfied than last year because the top two languages are Swedish with eight books (I blame you, Jean Guillou, for writing such entertaining stories) and English with seven. Norwegian and German follow with four each, then three Russian, three French, two Spanish, two Romansh, one Portuguese and one Dutch. So books in nine languages, one less than in 2017, and too much dominance of native or almost-native languages. At Christmas I'll therefore stay away from books in English or Scandinavian and focus mainly on reading Russian and probably Romansh.

There are a few books that I started but put aside, like a couple of very long and complex Russian novels, a boring French book and a badly written Spanish novel. I am currently reading in German, Russian and Romansh, but not sure if I will finish one or the other before 1 January.

The year has been dominated by my struggle with Arabic. There have been many ups and downs, and right now I am in an uphill struggle as December has been very busy and I just don't have time to study as much as I would like. I'll try to put in more hours during the holidays.

Russian is moving along slowly. My biggest weakness there is probably active vocabulary. I can read quite well now, but when I speak I often get stuck because I can't recall the right word quickly enough.

Romanian became a serious study language late in the year, and I will certainly continue working on both my receptive and productive skills. Although familiar and somewhat transparent, I've decided to slow down and focus more on learning the grammar properly. I realised the temptation to rush it was a mistake if I want to be able to speak and write correctly at some point.

As for the rest of my languages, I continue to to use them more or less regularly, at least for consumption of media. I won't bother mentioning each and every one of them, except maybe Latin, because I have not really done anything with this language except helping my son prepare for his vocabulary tests and checking that he got his cases right. I don't have any immediate plans of working on my Latin knowledge, but if I ever find the time I might try to read some more frequently.

So to sum up, not a bad year, but not a year with really great progress either. Time is what it is, and with many other obligations and activities to fill my days I can only put in so much for language studies.

To those of you who are or will be on holidays, enjoy, and see you all in the new year!
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Ogrim
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/viewtopic.php?t=873
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:15 pm

Happy New Year everyone!

After a week of festivities in Norway I am back trying to get into the daily routines of work, family obligations and language learning + other hobbies. I had a great time in Norway, but spent less time studying and reading than I had planned for; familiy parties and meetings with friends took up more time than expected this year. Still I managed to get halfway trhough the Romansh novel Il scutinem dallas olmas. I read some pages of Классическая музыка. История музыки, биографии великих композиторов и музыкантов, the Russian book about classical music I mentioned in a previous post. I also strarted on a book called Made in Germany, written in German by comedian Kaya Yanar, I finished Retour à Sefarad, and I made progress with the Italian biography about Rossini. I find this last one a bit tedious, as the author mentions almost every opening night of every opera he wrote in some detail, including who were the lead singers. The Beethoven biography I read earlier in the year was more intesesting because it focused more on Beethoven as a person and what drove him to compose. Still I'll try to get through it, I enjoy reading in Italian. Anyway, I am quite happy that I've managed to read in five different languages this Christmas. Now I have a long list of "currently-reading-books" on my Goodread account so I guess I should focus on one or two of them to finish quickly and then turn to the others. Talking about Goodreads, I've set myself the target of reading at least 35 books this year. Last year I went for 30 and got to 34, so I should manage to meet that target, as I am already well underway with a few.

I don't usually make a lot of language-related resolutions for the new year, and I am not going to take part in any challenges. From experience I know that life does not allow me to e.g. study at least 30 minutes a day for 365 days in a row. Things are bound to come in the way one day or the other. However I do have the intention of seriously studying Arabic, Romanian and Russian, I would also like to improve my spoken German, and I want to spend a bit more time improving my Romansh vocabulary and getting more familiar with the smaller "idioms". My main non-language resolution is to do more sports and lose weight, but I am starting softly-softly. Cold weather and dark evenings make it harder to get out of that couch. :?

I found a new interesting Youtube channel in Russian the other day, called Энциклоп. It is by a young Russian called Arsen Klinichev and he has made a number of videos about languages which are entertaining and good listening practise for anyone learning Russian. I have a hard time following him at times though, he talks really really fast. For an example, here is his video about Spanish.

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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby David27 » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:08 pm

I found the same Russian YouTuber about a week ago and have watched hours of his videos. I second the recommendation to Russian speakers here, the videos are really well done, educational, and entertaining.
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:36 pm

It's been more than a month since my last post here. The thing is that January has not been a good month. Workwise it has been a lot more hectic than I expected, then I got ill for a while and I probably got the "post-Christmas blues", because I have not been motivated at all to do very much with languages or anything else for that matter. Now the last few days things feel a bit better, maybe because in a few days we are heading to Peru :) . We, that is my wife, the kids and I, are going on a semi-private trip - it means that it has been organised through a travel agency, so we have flights, hotels, transport, guides and some meals paid for in the package, but we are not going with a group. We will do the typical tourist route: Lima, Arequipa, Titicaca, Macchu Picchu and Cuzco. In total we will be there for ten days. I really look forward to this break, and I can take advantage of the long flight to progress with the many books I have started on but still not finished.

In January I've been using various languages as always, reading, listening and watching TV in Russian, German, Spanish, French, English, Romansh and Dutch. What I have wilfully ignored most of the time is Arabic and Romanian, so now I need to catch up again on those. Not sure how much study time I will get once we are in Peru, but as quite a bit of the time will be spent travelling in cars, buses and planes I should be able to find some moments for real studying. We'll see, I don't fret about it, I've always taken the view that if I am not really motivated to study, it's better just to wait and eventually the motivation comes back.

Don't know if I will post again before leaving for Peru, but I will certainly come back and tell you about my experiences in the land of the Inca.
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Elenia » Wed Feb 06, 2019 4:53 pm

Enjoy!
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby MamaPata » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:15 pm

Have a lovely time!
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:24 am

I am back from Peru! It was a great trip, although a bit tiring, because we were travelling most of the time, meaning that we spent many hours on the road and slept in five different hotels during the 9 days we were there.

Peru is a country of great contrasts. When we arrived in Lima it was summer - 29 degrees and sunny. Lima is a huge, chaotic city with about 10 million inhabitants and, it seems, almost as many cars. Crossing the road can be a nerve-racking experience, driving is crazy and no one seems to care about pedestrians. That said, there is plenty to see and do. We stayed in the Miraflores area, which is the posh, touristy part of Lima, close to the Pacific Ocean. On our first morning we had a guided tour of the old centre, dominated by old colonial buildings, the cathedral and the Plaza Mayor:

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Picture: Plaza Mayor de Lima.

From Lima we were to go by plane to Arequipa in the afteroon on the second day, but our plane was cancelled due to bad weather so we had to spend an extra night in Lima, and only got to Arequipa the next day, leaving practically no time there before taking a bus to Puno. This is a small city on the shores of Lake Titicaca, at 3.800 metres above sea level. I did notice the thin air, my lungs struggled to get sufficient oxygen to my head. In spite of that, it was perhaps the most interesting part of the trip. We headed out on the lake in a small boat to visit los Uros, an indigenous people who live on floating islands in the sea. They make the islands out of layers of cut totora, a thick, buoyant reed that grows abundantly in the shallows of the lake. We visited a small comunity on one of the islands and got to listen to Aymara, which is considered an official language in this part of Peru. We then went on to another (natural) island called Taquile, inhabited by the Taquile people, who speak Quechua.

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Picture: Uro woman on one of the floating islands selling handicraft to tourists.

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Picture: A couple of "taquileños".

Back in Puno we got to enjoy la fiesta de la Candelaria, the yearly festival in honour of la Virgen de la Candelaria. Although a religious festival, it is dominated by dancing groups dressed up in a way that reminds you of the Rio Carnival, and marching bands which perform in the streets from early morning to late evening. The consumption of beer and pisco is also very impressive...

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Picture: La Fiesta de la Candelaria

We then went on to Cuzco, or Cusco as the Peruvians prefer to write it, the old colonial capital of Peru, once the centre of the Inka empire. It is a very nice city, but has become a bit too touristy in my view, as it is the point of departure for most visits to Machu Picchu, which was the last stop on our tour. I won't bother posting a picture from there, I am sure most people will know how it looks anyway, so I rather share a picture from what was the best part of the trip as far as my daugher is concerned, a visit to a llama farm:

Image

In summary, we learnt a lot about the old Inka civilisation, as well as about culture and politics in modern Peru, I got to hear Quechua and Aymara spoken, and of course Spanish all the way. I found Peruvian Spanish very easy to understand - more so than the Spanish spoken in Mexico or the Dominican Republic for example. Pronunciation is somewhat closer to European Spanish than most other Latin American accents, and vocabulary-wise there were not that many words which were particular or different.
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Fri Mar 29, 2019 10:46 am

I am back after a longish absence. A few days after posting about my travel to Peru, I got a really bad cold, and I also got somewhat depressed, although not in a clinical sense. In any case, I did not feel like going back to language learning straight away, but preferred to concentrate on two of my other hobbies, music and technology. I've "wasted" hours watching tech videos on Youtube, in particular the Apple sheep (Tailosive Tech), whose rants are quite fun, i think, but also other channels, like the Verge, Daily Tekk, Zone of Tech and others. Then I've spent (not wasted) many hours explioring the catalogue of Idagio, the classical music streaming service I subscribe to, and discovered new fascinating composers and performers.

I've also been somewhat obsessed with Brexit lately reading compulsively the live blog of Andrew Sparrow on the Guardian and watching parliamentary debates on Sky News and BBC. I won't comment on the politics, but just say that I have personal reasons to be interested, because my daughter will move to London in September to start university there, and with the Brexit uncertainty we don't know how things will evolve as regards her financial and legal situation in a year or two. Apart from that, they way events unfold in Westminster, I have to say that for a political anorak like me, Brexit is better than any TV show. Every day seems to end with another cliffhanger...

But enough about that. Now I am here again because my desire to study languages has come back with a vengeance. I have not changed my priorities, Arabic is still on top, followed by Russian and Romanian. Just to tease myself I've subscribed to Al Jazeera on Twitter. I don't understand much if anything, but seeing those tweets helps motivating me to study and study hard. As always when I have been lazy for a while, I need to go back and revise - the lack of consistency is a serious barrier to advancing in Arabic, especially as regards retaining vocabulary. Fortunately I feel that it comes back quickly, I don't have to revise my vocabulary lists over and over again, once or twice is enough before I can move on.

I also need to work more on vocabulary in Russian and on activating my skills, that is speaking and writing more. I will try to set aside at least two hours every week to practise my writing skills (which are pretty bad, as I hardly ever write in Russian), fortunately my Russian teacher has agreed to correct my texts without charging anything for it. I also want to get back to reading more Russian, over the last month I've basically only read books in Spanish, French, English and Norwegian.

So without making any promises, I do want to say that I hope to engage more often and more actively with the forum from now on than I have done over the past couple of months. I realise I've actually missed you.

By the way, I see that the pictures from Peru I included in the post above have disappeared. Can any of you who post pictures regularly give me advice on the best way to publish pictures and make sure that they stay visible?
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Radioclare » Fri Mar 29, 2019 1:56 pm

Ogrim wrote:I've also been somewhat obsessed with Brexit lately reading compulsively the live blog of Andrew Sparrow on the Guardian and watching parliamentary debates on Sky News and BBC. I won't comment on the politics, but just say that I have personal reasons to be interested, because my daughter will move to London in September to start university there, and with the Brexit uncertainty we don't know how things will evolve as regards her financial and legal situation in a year or two. Apart from that, they way events unfold in Westminster, I have to say that for a political anorak like me, Brexit is better than any TV show. Every day seems to end with another cliffhanger...


Just wanted to say that Brexit has been interfering with my language-learning too! I keep getting home from work and thinking "Tonight I'm going to do LOADs of Russian!"... then I turn the radio on for the news and end up spending half my evening reading a BBC live feed instead :lol:

Personal views aside, I'm paying particular attention to developments now that 12 April is in the mix as the potential date. I'm involved in running the Esperanto Association of Britain and we are holding our annual conference - which happens to be our 100th annual conference - in Dover, of all places, starting on... 12 April! The highlight of the event is supposed to be a daytrip to Calais, on 14 April, re-enacting one of the first ever international Esperanto meetings, when French/British Esperanto-speakers travelled between Dover and Calais in 1904. It seemed like a good idea at the time we planned it, but now it feels like we couldn't have picked a worse date and location if we'd tried :cry:
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Mon Apr 01, 2019 2:03 pm

Radioclare wrote:Personal views aside, I'm paying particular attention to developments now that 12 April is in the mix as the potential date. I'm involved in running the Esperanto Association of Britain and we are holding our annual conference - which happens to be our 100th annual conference - in Dover, of all places, starting on... 12 April! The highlight of the event is supposed to be a daytrip to Calais, on 14 April, re-enacting one of the first ever international Esperanto meetings, when French/British Esperanto-speakers travelled between Dover and Calais in 1904. It seemed like a good idea at the time we planned it, but now it feels like we couldn't have picked a worse date and location if we'd tried :cry:


You certainly made an interesting choice there! In Dover you'll actually be on the famous cliff edge ;) . Though my guess is that there will be another delay and more can kicking. (Yes, I've learnt how to speak Brexitish 8-) .) The next few days will be pretty interesting.

This weekend the weather was just too good to sit inside - spring is really here - so on Saturday we went over to Germany to do some shopping and have some wholesome German food at one of our favourite restaurants. It had been a long time since the last time we took a trip across the border, and it was nice to be able to speak some German again. Lately I've been watching German TV very regularly, but I am always a bit rusty when I have to speak it, it normally takes a few minutes before I'm sufficiently "warmed up" to feel at ease.

On Sunday I got to spend a few good hours in the sun revising Arabic. We went to a park nearby to enjoy the feeling of "almost summer", and for me it was a good occasion to focus on Arabic again.

I should have picked up my Russian books again this weekend, but on Friday I discovered that my favourite Franco-Libanese writer, Amin Maalouf, recently published a new essay called Le naufrage des civlisations so I promptly got it on my Kindle and have been through more than half of it already. Maalouf has come to be rather pessimistic about the state of the world, but I find the book very interesting, not least how he puts today's events into a historical perspective and, of course with hindsight, shows how the relations between "the West" and the Islamo-Arabic world could have been very different if certain events had taken another course. I have read all of Maalouf's works, and I recommend them highly to anyone who is interested in understanding more about the historical relations between "Occident" and "Orient".
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