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, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:25 am

lichtrausch wrote:
Ogrim wrote:I guess I qualify as an old member, and lately I've been posting sparingly. I don't think I've graduated yet, though, because I still have this (foolish) ambition of learning Arabic to a high degree as well as taking my Russian to C-level, so I am still a language learner, although I do "indulge" more in languages I already know well than studying actively those I do not know so well. I know where I've been, but I am not so sure where I will be ;) .

Do you see yourself giving up serious language study once you reach a high level in Arabic and Russian? I find the idea of "graduating" appealing, but I think something would be missing in my life if I wasn't at least semi-seriously studying some language or another.


At my current pace it will take me 20 years to reach a high level in Arabic, although I am proabably retiring in 10 years time, so then I will have plenty of time to accelerate my learning. :) Seriously though, as long as my brain functions well I don't think I will give up language learning, but I am already at a stage where I don't want to get stressed about it. I feel more and more tempted to give in to wanderlust and take small bites of different languages here and there. I'd love to learn a lot of languages, but realistically I know I won't have the time and energy to become proficient in another five or ten, so I lower my ambitions to have basic notions of a few more. Celtic languages are definitely on my list, especially Irish, and so are a few other Slavic languages, primarily Czech and Serbian/Croatian. Then there are a few "exotic" ones I would like to dig into, like Basque and Armenian.

Right now my attitude to Arabic is that I will try to be consistent, doing at least some study every day, however modestly, but I don't let myself get frustrated over lack of quick progress. I also need time for all the other things I want to do in life.
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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 » Tue Mar 10, 2020 4:02 pm

I said in another thread that the coronavirus situation did not affect my language learning, but now it has because my Russian classes have been cancelled until further notice. Not that they posed any particular risk, after all there are just four of us including the teacher, but it is a general measure in my workplace where all meetings and "non-essential" activities are cancelled or postponed. This is partly because the Haut-Rhin, the neighbouring département, has been declared a "zone à risque" as the number of confirmed cases has increased a lot, and partly because we normally receive people coming from all over Europe every day.

Apart from that, life continues essentially as normal in my city. People still go to restaurants and cinemas, take public transport and go shopping. So far there is no panic-buying going on, and hopefully it will remain this way.

My other language activities continue without other interruptions than those I choose myself. I've had a mostly good couple of weeks with Arabic, working mainly on acquiring more vocabulary, which for me is one of the hardest part of this language, so I have spent some time doing word lists and drilling some verbs in order to try to make them stick. Due to the nature of Arabic verb conjugations, I've been experimenting with doing lists of e.g. 1st person singular of 10 different verbs, then 2nd person singular of the same verbs etc. rather than just listing all the persons and numbers in one "table", which si what I have always done with Romance languages. Not sure if it makes much sense or is just a waste of time, but I think that it at least helps me better memorising the meaning of the verbs.

I've also been watching some videos in Russian about astronomy on Youtube, thus combining one of my interests with learning Russian. It is sometimes a challenge as I have not really spent much time learning space- and physics-related vocabulary, but they are interesting, and there are some aimed at children which are relatively easy to follow.

I've been reading and watching quite a lot in Italian as well lately. I've started a biography of Giuseppe Verdi written by Orazio Mula and it is quite entertaining. Then I have also followed the news from Italy more intensely these last weeks. Right now the whole country seems to be in quarantine so not a good time to visit. There is of course a lot of serious reporting going on, but on YouTube you also find that many Italians still keep a sense of humour, like the four guys in this video:

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

Postby Ogrim » Thu Mar 19, 2020 3:54 pm

Just a quick update. I am in confinement as everyone living in France and soon most of Europe. I work from home, as much as I can, and go out once a day to buy groceries or just take a quick walk around the "quartier". You need to always bring with you an "attestation de déplacement dérogatoire" and ID whenever you leave the house, if not you can be fined 100 euros or more. it's a self-declaration but there are only five valid reasons: for work, in order to buy necessities like food or medicine, to got to the doctor, to help vulnerable family members or take care of children, and finally, to do some sports on your own, but always close to where you live and at distance from other people.

We're only on day 3, and this will last for at least two weeks, probably four or more. Not a problem for me so far, I have plenty to occupy myself with. Apart from the work I have to do, my wife and I try to do some house cleaning which we never seem to find the time for, and then I study languages, read, watch videos and Tv. Spent a couple of hours with Wagner's Tannhäuser while listening and reading the libretto at the same time. Then I am reading a lot more Russian than before, and also advancing in my Arabic efforts, so not all is bad.

My daughter managed to get here from London just before the lock-down, so the whole family is together, which is nice. Now we just have to manage not getting on each other's nerves as time passes - it is important to do things together but also to find time for individual activities.

Hope you are all well out there. Take care, and we will get through this.
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Mon Apr 06, 2020 1:16 pm

When I last posted here we hade been in confinement for three days. Tomorrow it will be three weeks, and there will be at least two more as the French government has prolonged it to after Easter. So that is a whole month locked inside the flat. I do go out from time to time, but only to buy necessities like food, toiletry and wine. ;) I've tried to get food delivered to the door, but the supermarkets offering this service are just overwhelmed with demands and whenver I try to book a slot there is none available.

My job is actually keeping me quite busy in spite of the lockdown, but I don't think I really do a full working week in hours. Many regular meetings no longer take place, and those we do by videoconference tend to be shorter (and therefore probably better).

I am afraid my motivation for language learning has gone down a bit, which is a shame as I have more time for it. I've really not felt up to doing much in Arabic, and although I read a bit of Russian from time to time, I've not really kept up the momentum. That may change now as my teacher has offered Skype lessons to compensate for the classes we could not continue due to the lockdown. I have my first call with her tomorrow, so this afternoon I need to prepare a bit as we will certainly talk about the Covid-situation and I need to have the vocabulary for that.

On the other hand I have been strongly tempted by wanderlust, and picked up Colloquial Czech again yesterday and downloaded the free audio from the Routledge website. I really did not plan to start a new Slavic language at this point, but it is tempting so I'll probably dabble a bit in it - at least go through a couple of lessons and see how easy/difficult it is compared to Russian.

I do spend a lot of time on music, and one positive outcome of this crisis is that many companies like the Opéra de Paris and Berliner Philharmoniker offer online concerts and operas for free. I find music a great help in dealing with this situation, it soothes my nerves and makes me more optimistic. Besides, our three rabbits simply love classical music, especially Mozart.

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

Postby Cavesa » Mon Apr 06, 2020 6:26 pm

Thank you very much fot the tip for the Berliner Philharmoniker! I knew about various platforms, like the Metropolitan Opera. But these concerts are great, and can be on the background, while I study. It helps and refreshes my mind. I can't do that with an opera. Music is really a marvel. And this is also one of the best orchestras in the world, I love the performances. Thanks!

I guess that a Czech coursebook might keep you busy for a while :-D Good luck!
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Tue Apr 07, 2020 9:15 am

Cavesa wrote:Thank you very much fot the tip for the Berliner Philharmoniker! I knew about various platforms, like the Metropolitan Opera. But these concerts are great, and can be on the background, while I study. It helps and refreshes my mind. I can't do that with an opera. Music is really a marvel. And this is also one of the best orchestras in the world, I love the performances. Thanks!

I guess that a Czech coursebook might keep you busy for a while :-D Good luck!


Glad that you like the Digital concerthall - here is a link if others want to try it out. And I agree, the Berliner Philharmoniker is a fantastic orchestra. I was actually going to go to a live concert with them this week. Every Easter they move to Baden Baden, which is a short drive from where I live, and they perform some six or seven concerts there. But obiously that was not to be, so I have to enjoy them online instead. Maybe next year...

I am "afraid" that I will get really serious about learning Czech. It is a fascinating language, and although I do recognise quite a few words from Russian, it is still different enough to be a challenge. I'll keep you posted on my eventual progress.
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Sun Apr 19, 2020 2:25 pm

I have been ill with the Covid19 virus. In fact I got ill the day after my last post here, and the first four-five days I was in bed with a temperature, headache, cough and cold sweats. Then I started to feel a little bit better and last week I could see my GP who tested me for the virus. Now I am feeling quite fine, but I still have to be in isolation for another few days, as they recommend staying in quarantine at least two weeks form the start of the symptoms. So I've been a "prisoner" in my bedroom all this time, staying away from the family.

I have been lucky. The symptoms were relatively mild and did not evolve into something worse I've avoided going to hospital with breathing problems or a lung infection, unlike so many others here in France, and especially in my region, which is one of the epicentres of the pandemic in this country.

Once I got over the fever I was able to start doing some stuff again, and over the last four-five days I have been very "productive". I've read a lot in German: I finally managed to take up again the Wagner biography I started last year and I finished it - all 928 pages. This book made me want to learn more about the philosopher Nietzsche, so in two days I read a short biography about this tormented genius, and started reading his masterpiece "Also sprach Zarathustra". I am also continuing with the Verdi biography, so it is not only German.

I've also dabbled in languages. I've spent a few good hours doing Arabic, revising vocabulary and grammar and starting on a new lesson in Arabic Voices. Then I felt an urge to dig out again my Classical Greek course "Reading Greek", and I've also made some progress with Colloquial Czech. I really wander around a lot now, but maybe because of the illness I can't concentrate too long on just one language.

So the good thing about being in isolation is that I have a lot of time to kill and can enjoy books and languages. The bad thing, apart from being ill, is the tediousness. I really want to get out and lead my normal life again, even if it is in confinement.

When I am too tired to read or study, I watch some videos on my iPad. I discovered CuriosityStream, which is an online streaming service for documentaries. Right now they have an offer of a one-year subscription for only 12 USD, and they have a lot of interesting stuff, especially in the categories of history, science, technology, nature and society. Most of the content is in English, and there is not really much about languages, so I would not subscribe if that was the only thing I wanted. For language-related stuff I find what I need on YouTube.

I will have a distance consultation with my doctor tomorrow, and as I have been without a temperature for four days now, I hope I can lift my self-isolation in a couple of days. Until then I'll continue with my reading and my language-learning in bed.

Stay safe!
Last edited by Ogrim on Sun Apr 19, 2020 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Maiwenn
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Maiwenn » Sun Apr 19, 2020 3:18 pm

Ogrim wrote:I have been ill with the Covid19 virus.


I'm so sorry to hear that, but I'm glad it was relatively mild. I hope your doctor will give you the go-ahead to end your self-isolation and that your health continues to improve. :)

How are you finding Arabic Voices?
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Cavesa » Sun Apr 19, 2020 3:39 pm

Strange how many of us are in Grand Est. :-D It is a beautiful region, but one of the most affected ones. Those 2000 religious in Mulhouse really had a bad timing.

I am glad you're having "just" the mild symptoms. I hope you'll get out of this soon and without sequels. You're clearly tackling the quarantine the best way possible, I wish you a lot of strength for the rest of it and after. And to your family.

And when this is over, perhaps we should profit from our new freedom to meet people to organise a regional forum meeting!
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Ogrim
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Location: Alsace, France
Languages: Norwegian (N) English (C2), French (C2), Spanish (C2), German (B2), Romansh (B2), Italian (B2), Catalan (B2), Russian (B1), Latin (B1), Dutch (B1), Arabic (learning), Ancient Greek (learning), Romanian (kind of learning)
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Sat Apr 25, 2020 5:17 pm

Maiwenn wrote:
Ogrim wrote:I have been ill with the Covid19 virus.


I'm so sorry to hear that, but I'm glad it was relatively mild. I hope your doctor will give you the go-ahead to end your self-isolation and that your health continues to improve. :)

How are you finding Arabic Voices?


Cavesa wrote:Strange how many of us are in Grand Est. :-D It is a beautiful region, but one of the most affected ones. Those 2000 religious in Mulhouse really had a bad timing.

I am glad you're having "just" the mild symptoms. I hope you'll get out of this soon and without sequels. You're clearly tackling the quarantine the best way possible, I wish you a lot of strength for the rest of it and after. And to your family.

And when this is over, perhaps we should profit from our new freedom to meet people to organise a regional forum meeting!


Thanks for your messages, Maiwenn and Cavesa. I am now basically 100% again, and will resume teleworking next week, which is both a good and a bad thing. Good because I need to catch up on work, bad because I will have less time for studying languages. :(

Maiwenn, Arabic Voices is a very good book for training your ear to understand different Arabic voices and dialects, but it is still a bit difficult for me. I am not ready to dive into the various spoken varieties of Arabic yet, so I tend to skip those spoken in dialect and just listen to those recorded in MSA for the time being. Also I wish the book would provide full vocabulary lists and better grammar explanations, but it doesn't. Then it is probably aimed more at B2 level students who already have consolidated the grammar and acquired a decent vocabulary, and I am not there yet, hardly an A1+ at this stage. But I try to keep up the motivation, and being in confinement at least has allowed me to structure my study time better, which has had a positive impact on my Arabic studies.

Cavesa, I like the idea of a regional meet-up, although I have always had mixed feelings about meeting forum members in person. In any case it doesn't look like we are going to be able to resume "normal life" for a long time yet, but I am certainly open to a meeting in the future. Apart from the three of us I am not sure who else is in the "neighbourhood" though.

I keep enjoying Classical Greek, and I am advancing quite fast. It is weird how old knowledge can get activated once you put your mind to it. I thought I had forgotten basically everything I learnt all those years ago, but going through the lessons I reactivate a lot of lost knowledge.

I've started reading a Spanish novel, called Lloran las piedras por al-Ándalus, by Juan L. Pulido. It is a historical novel about the wars between the Muslim rulers of Southern Spain and the Christian "reconquistadores" in the 13th century, seen from the point of view of a learned Arabic-Andalusian family. It kind of ties nicely in with my Arabic studies.
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