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

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

Postby Ogrim » Tue Apr 30, 2019 9:28 am

Español
En Semana Santa estuve en Valencia, y aunque siempre me gusta volver a esta ciudad, tuve mala suerte porque el tiempo era espantoso. La costa levantina sufrió del peor temporal en más de 40 años - durante cuatro días no paraba de llover y había rachas de viento de hasta 90 km por hora. Bueno, a pesar del mal tiempo pudimos juntarnos con algunos amigos y ver a la familia de mi mujer. Y como no había mucho que hacer pasé un buen rato cada día leyendo libros y estudiando árabe. Voy por la mitad en la biografía sobre Miguel de Unamuno escrito por Colette y Jean-Claude Rabaté, una pareja de hispanistas franceses que han dedicado muchos años a investigar la vida de Don Miguel. El resultado es un libro de más de 700 páginas bien documentado sobre la actividad literaria, política y universitaria del gran escritor. Desde que pasé un año en Salamanca en mis tiempos de estudiante he tenido un especial interés por Don Miguel de Unamuno, que es una persona atípica en el mundo literario español, si bien un representante emblemático de la generación del 98 (llamada así porque en 1898, tras la guerra hispano-estadounidense, España perdió las últimas colonias que tenía, Puerto Rico, Cuba y Filipinas).

Français
J'ai aussi lu Karajan - la biographie par Pierre-Jean Rémy, écrivain et diplomate qui était membre de l'Académie française (il est mort en 2010). En fait je cherchais une biographie de Karajan en allemand, mais je n'ai rien trouvé pour mon Kindle dans amazon.fr. Par contre, j'ai acheté ce livre en français et je ne le regrette pas. Il est très bien écrit, et même si M Rémy montre son admiration pour le grand Chef d'orchestre, il ne cache rien de la partie la plus sombre de la vie de Karajan, notamment pendant les années nazi. Or, Karajan n'était pas du tout un naziste, mais pour pouvoir continuer à travailler comme Chef d'orchestre il a adhéré au parti nazi en 1935, et comme beaucoup d'allemands à l'époque il n'a pas voulu risquer sa carrière et sa position en opposant le régime. Pour lui seul la musique était importante. Dans les procès de "dénazification" après la guerre, il a été acquitté, si bien les alliés lui ont interdit de diriger un orchestre en publique pendant quelques années. Puis, dans les années 50, il est devenu le Chef de la Philharmonie de Berlin, le Chef de l'Opéra de Vienne et le Chef du festival de Salzbourg, et il est resté à la tête de la Philharmonie de Berlin jusqu'à sa mort. Pour moi, ce qui me frappe le plus de la vie de Karajan est sa quête de perfection dans tout ce qu'il a fait, et la discipline avec laquelle il a organisé sa vie. Il est sans doute l'un des plus grands chefs d'orchestre du XXème siècle, peut-être le plus grand tout court.

English
In addition to reading the two biographies about Unamuno and Karajan, I have as mentioned found some time to study Arabic. I am still going very slowly, but I enjoy the little progress I am making every day. Romanian has been a bit on and off, I have not been too serious about it lately, but I do flick through Romanian news on my iPad every other day. As for Russian, well, I have been lazy, but on Thursday I will return to my Russian class, so that will certainly inspire me to work more regularly on improving my vocabulary and grammar.

Returning to Karajan, here is a very good documentary about him which I found on Youtube. It is mostly spoken in German, but with English subtitles. In case you want to watch it, just know that it is about 90 minutes long.

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

Postby PeterMollenburg » Tue Apr 30, 2019 10:01 am

Ogrim wrote:
Français
J'ai aussi lu Karajan - la biographie par Pierre-Jean Rémy, écrivain et diplomate qui était membre de l'Académie française (il est mort en 2010). En fait je cherchais une biographie de Karajan en allemand, mais je n'ai rien trouvé pour mon Kindle dans amazon.fr. Par contre, j'ai acheté ce livre en français et je ne le regrette pas. Il est très bien écrit, et même si M Rémy montre son admiration pour le grand Chef d'orchestre, il ne cache rien de la partie la plus sombre de la vie de Karajan, notamment pendant les années nazi. Or, Karajan n'était pas du tout un naziste, mais pour pouvoir continuer à travailler comme Chef d'orchestre il a adhéré au parti nazi en 1935, et comme beaucoup d'allemands à l'époque il n'a pas voulu risquer sa carrière et sa position en opposant le régime. Pour lui seul la musique était importante. Dans les procès de "dénazification" après la guerre, il a été acquitté, si bien les alliés lui ont interdit de diriger un orchestre en publique pendant quelques années. Puis, dans les années 50, il est devenu le Chef de la Philharmonie de Berlin, le Chef de l'Opéra de Vienne et le Chef du festival de Salzbourg, et il est resté à la tête de la Philharmonie de Berlin jusqu'à sa mort. Pour moi, ce qui me frappe le plus de la vie de Karajan est sa quête de perfection dans tout ce qu'il a fait, et la discipline avec laquelle il a organisé sa vie. Il est sans doute l'un des plus grands chefs d'orchestre du XXème siècle, peut-être le plus grand tout court.


Salut Ogrim,

Merci pour m'avoir donné une nouvelle expression - 'tout court'. Je sais que c'est très simple, même si c'est une expression que tu pourrais utiliser presque tous les jours. Néanmoins, je ne l'ai jamais entendu auparavant, parce que je ne lis pas suffisamment de livres vraisemblablement.

Je sais que c'est inscrit dans les règles qu'on ne doit surtout pas discuter de la politique et j'envisage aussi que tu ne l'aimerais pas non plus si je lançais un débat sur l'histoire, les partis politiques, l'extrême droite et ainsi de suite ici, même ailleurs sur ce forum, même si nous sommes d'accord (je ne sais pas si c'est le cas). Heureusement, ce ne pas ce que j'ai voulu faire, ce que je voulais faire, ni ce que je ferai(s). J'ai tout simplement eu, soudainement, l'envie d'écrire en français un peu et te dire salut... en français... Quoi qu'il en soit, je veux dire quelque chose - bonne chance avec tes études d'arabe. J'aimerais être là avec toi, mais j'ai d'autres choses à faire maintenant, la même chose qu'avant, de dire n'importe quoi sur n'importe quoi... bla bla bla Mais, c'est un plaisir de lire ton parcours linguistique, à la prochaine ! Á propos, c'était intéressant de lire ce que tu as écrit sur Karajan.
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Arnaud » Tue Apr 30, 2019 10:20 am

Sur Amazon, si bien que, s'opposer à (ah, les prépositions... :roll: )
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PeterMollenburg
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby PeterMollenburg » Tue Apr 30, 2019 10:52 am

Arnaud wrote:Sur Amazon, si bien que, s'opposer à (ah, les prépositions... :roll: )


Ah ! Encore un autre manuel qu'il me faut !

Practice Makes Perfect - French Pronouns and Prepositions
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Fri May 03, 2019 2:49 pm

Merci pour ces mots, PM. Always nice to hear from you.

Et merci Arnaud pour les corrections. Actually I know all that, but this is what happens when I write in a hurry and forget to concentrate on the finer details. Although I use French a lot at work I still do not feel as comfortable as I am with writing in English.

I had my Russian class again yesterday after a four-weeks break due to school holidays for two weeks and me travelling the other two weeks. The teacher thought it was a good idea to do a quick repetition of how verbs of movement function, so we went through a few exercises where you had to pick the right one of the three (as in идти - ходить - пойти) and the correct tense. I realised I really have to go back and work on grammar again. I think I've spent too much time just reading books and news articles "passively" compared to the time studying grammar and vocabulary actively, and Russian is a language I do want to be able to communicate proficiently in. So more time and effort will again go into Russian, possibly to the detriment of some other activity, but I was not satisfied with the many doubts and errors I made in the exercises we did in class.

As for reading generally, people may notice that lately I've been concentrating on biographies and other non-ficition books. For some reason, at the end of last year, I got tired of reading novels and found it much more entertaining learning about the lives of real people who have made a great contribution to art and culture. I especially enjoy reading about composers and others who have dedicated their life to music. I've finished the Rossini biography, so I've started on another biography, called Nel giardino della musica, which is about the Italian conductor Claudio Abbado, who followed Karajan as Chief Conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker. I've also got a few others lined up, one about Giuseppe Verdi (also in Italian), one about Pushkin, one about Tschaikovsky and another about Rachmaninov, all in Russian, and two in German (about Thomas Mann and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy respectively). Then I still have 300 pages left of the Unamuno biography. Seems I have plenty of reading to do over the next weeks and months.

I am going to give some priority to Italian over the next couple of months, because mid-July we will go on vacation to Sardinia for two weeks. We've booked a "mobile home" (which is not at all mobile) in a sort of holiday camp there, and the guests seem to be mostly (if not only) Italians from the mainland, so hopefully I will get an opportunity to meet and mingle with lots of Italians. Therefore I want to feel more confident expressing myself in Italian. It went well last year when we visited Milan, but that was only for a few days and I did not get that many opportunities to have conversations which lasted more than a few minutes.

I must say I enjoy reading Italian again. I used it a lot in my university days and learnt it quite weill, but since then I have somewhat neglected this language, and although I still don't have much problem understanding Italian, I do need to refresh both vocabulary and some finer grammar points - and ensure that I don't mix up with Spanish.

I'll end the week with this clip where Claudio Abbado talks about the music of Beethoven (in Italian with English subtitles):

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

Postby Ogrim » Wed May 15, 2019 3:38 pm

Yesterday I was listening to some parts of the opera Prodaná nevěsta (The Bartered Bride in English) by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana and I felt this strong urge that I should really learn Czech! I very much enjoy the sound of it, and thanks to Russian I can at least understand a few words here and there, although it seems to me the differences are too important to grant mutual intelligibility of any significant degree. Now I have no time for another language right now, so it will just be on my list of languages I may dabble in one day. If ever I find the time to seriously work on a second Slavic language, Czech is probably top of my list.

I finished the book about Abbado, and now I concentrate on the Mendelssohn biography in German. It took a while before I noticed that they have kept some of the old German spelling (the author, August Reissmann, wrote the book in 1867) so I come across words like "thun" instead of "tun", "Theil" instead of "Teil" etc. It is not really a problem, I just wonder why the editor did not "update" the spelling throughout.

More and more German has become a part of my daily life. I like to listen to news in the morning when I walk to work, and I used to put on the Today programme at BBC4, but as some of the presenters (and guests) there got on my nerves I've switched to the German NDR Info instead, so now I get at least 20 minutes of news in German every morning. Then I read a couple of German newspapers and the Neue Zürcher Zeitung on my iPad almost every day, and regularly watch German TV as well. The only thing I don't do much is speak German, but whenever we go to Germany I try to use it as much as possible. So rather than dabbling in new languages I should revise German grammar and vocabulary to avoid some of the stupid mistakes I make.
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:41 pm

Time goes by so quickly, it is almost a month since my last post here. I have not been tremendously productive these weeks, but I have been working more intensively on Russian, and it is paying off in the sense that I am consolidating more vocabulary better and quicker than usual. I've started reading a Tschaikovsky biography, which includes long passages from letters he wrote, and it is quite interesting both from a linguistic and music-cultural point of view. Linguistically because I really can't tell any difference between the Russian of the 19th century and today (obviously they have modernised the spelling), and culturally because it tells how Russia and Russian music was received throughout Europe as Tschaikovsky toured the continent as a conductor. I also learnt that he actually met the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, whom he praises as a great musician and friendly person.

Arabic continues to be a bit of a stop-go-stop process. I need to get more consistency in my studying, but find it hard to set aside the time needed every day. It is like a marathon were I have to take a longish pause every three kilometres. Still no sight of the finishing line... What I have done lately is to spend more time copying the Arabic text from my course books. I find that it helps a lot in making vocabulary and grammar stick better when I write it all down. It also improves my calligraphy :) .

It is only a month until my Italian vacations, so I am now actually revising Italian grammar in addition to watching Youtube videos in Italian. Both la Repubblica and RAI have quite a good selection of clips from their programmes, and as most of them are quite short, it is easy to use any "dead" moments in the day for some Italian listening.
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Thu Jun 13, 2019 3:54 pm

I don't often post two days in a row, but today I had my Russian class and I was the only student who turned up, so got plenty of opportunity to speak. We talked about Pushkin, read an article comparing the efforts done by the "Francophonie" to promote French compared to what is done to promote Russian around the world, and discussed advantages and disadvantages of retiring early. Then my teacher had the idea to drill me with some exercises. The first one was about the use of -то. -нибудь and кое-, which was not as easy as I would have thought, the devil is in the detail, especially when you need to think about case and the use of preposition. Then we did one with также and тоже, which was easier, and finally the use of очен and много, where I am happy to say I got everything right. The lesson learnt from this lesson ;) is how useful grammar drills can be, not only when you are a beginner but also at the intermediate stage. I really should spend more time on this at home, and not limit myself to just reading and watching videos (although that is more fun than doing grammar exercises).

I also wanted to share an interesting article in German which I came across, Basically it debunks some of the myths that native German-speakers have about their language ("one of the world's most difficult languages", "impossible to learn" etc.) and defends a pragmatic attitude to language change, taking the view that the German language is not "decaying·" because people don't use the correct case endings or don't apply the Konjunktiv II when they should.

And finally a short youtube video about the use of subjunctive in Italian, presented by a professor at the University of Siena-Arezzo, Giuseppe Patota. The video is from the channel De Agostini Scuola, which has a lot of interesting stuff not only about language learning, but a load of other topics as well. A nice resource for listening to serious stuff in Italian.

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

Postby Ogrim » Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:13 am

We're experiencing a heatwave in my neck of the woods, and it is tough to do anything productive when it's 36 degrees C outside and almost as hot inside (no air conditioning). Still, the hot weather reminds me of Dubai and inspires me to work more on Arabic. :D I have now started to use the book Arabic Voices from Lingualism. I will work through those recorded in MSA first, and then try some of the ones spoken in dialect to see how much I can get out of them. Lingualism has also put up videos of the recordings on Youtube which I find good, although I also have the audio files on my phone and iPad. I am trying to push myself harder with Arabic now, because I feel I have come to a point where I really need to work seriously and put in more hours if I am ever going to progress beyond A1.

It doesn't mean I am neglecting Russian - I try to manage at least 30 minutes of vocabulary training each day, I've picked up my Russian grammar book again and currently I am revising case endings and when to use imperfective/perfective.

I've finally finished the biography about Miguel de Unamuno, so that is 900+ pages of Spanish read over the last couple of months. It is well written, my only critique of it would be that it focuses very much on Unamuno's political activities and work as a newspaper commentator, and talks very little about his literary and philosophical works, which is what interests me the most about Don Miguel. Still, reading his biography brought me back to my student days in Salamance, where I would sit in the square in front of his house drinking a beer and reading "El sentimiento trágico de la vida". Memories...

Edit: I posted too quickly, as I wanted to include this Spanish documentary about the life and work of Unamuno.

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

Postby Ogrim » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:30 am

In July I had a break from the Forum, because there was too much else happening and I did not really have much to write about nor the time to catch up with all the good stuff you people are doing. First there was my daughters graduation ceremony, and a few family members from both Norway and Spain came to visit for the occasion, which meant spending time with them and doing some touristy things in the area.

Then we went two weeks to Sardinia. This was a great experience, it is a beautiful island with a lot to see and do. The cities and towns are not the most interesting part of it, but rather the nature, the beaches and coves, the incredibly clean and transparent water with magnificant colours, and of course the people. Sardinians have a reputation for being friendly and hospitable, but somewhat closed to foreigners. Now it was not always easy to know if the Italians I interacted with in shops, restaurants etc. actually were from Sardinia, because a lot of people come over from the mainland to work there in the summer. We stayed at a "centro vacanze", sort of like a big camping site with all kinds of accommodation, from tents and camping cars to bungalows, mobile homes and appartments. We had a mobile home which was small but well equipped. Staff I spoke with, especially those in the entertainment team, were all young Italians from Milan, Turin, Rome etc.

I would say at least 70% of all the guests were Italians. The rest was made up primarily of Germans, but there were also some Dutch, Scandinavians and British people there. I also heard a family speaking a Slavic language which I had difficulty identifying. It was not Russian, Polish, Czech or Serbian/Croatian, so my guess would be Slovenian, but I am not certain. In any case, with the staff I spoke exclusively in Italian without any problem, except for one guy in the restaurant who just kept insisting speaking to me in English, and one from the animation team who spoke poor Spanish but was very proud of it. We ended up speaking a sort of pidgin mix of Spanish and Italian.

Sardinia is also interesting from a linguistic point of view. Apparently there is still a good number of speakers of Sardinian, sa limba sarda, but numbers are dwindling, and I don't think I heared it spoken anywhere, although I did see a number of street signs and other inscriptions written in Sardinian, e.g. in churches. Then there is the town of Alghero, where a variety of Catalan is still spoken by many locals, and I did overhear a conversation in Catalan between a waiter and a couple from Barcelona. For the most part though, a sort of standard Italian is spoken by everyone.

July was a good month for Arabic as well. I always study a lot when on a beach holiday, because I cannot just be on a beach doing nothing :? , so between swims I spent a lot of time on revising vocabulary and grammar. I decided to redo (again) most chapters in Langenscheidt, and this time round I found that the different verb patterns finally are beginning to stick and make sense. I also worked on a few texts and audios from Arabic Voices. They are still sort of difficult for the level I am on, but I find them interesting and a nice break from reading about توماس من المانيا (Thomas from Germany) :) .

I will soon have a second holiday, this time going to Valencia as we usually do in August, so more sun and more studying on the beach, and probably not very much activity here on the forum. In the meantime I will try to catch up with what has happened here in July.

P.S.
Just read the incredibly sad news about Josquin. His log is locked, which makes sense, so I mention it here to express my deep sadness. I followed Josquin closely from the first weeks of my joining HTLAL, we were on the same TAC teams a couple of times, and we had some really good exchanges about music and languages in our respective logs. RIP Josquin, and thank you for all the inspiration and good moments your contributions gave me and many others.
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