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

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

Postby Cavesa » Fri Sep 25, 2020 5:56 pm

Hi! It's great to read from you again! You've been missed!

Yes, a car is the most reliable way of transport. We see the limits of the mass transports much better now, so I hope the pressure on the limitations of the cars will be a bit milder in future. I've been travelling like crazy too, even though "just" between Prague and my current town of residence. After 7 months of not seeing my family, I made 5 trips during summer. So, I think I've topped your km count :-D But yes, it does get tiring. I love to drive, but it is a bit hard to organise everything around such trips. And I've been a bit living in fear of something going wrong at any moment. The borders closing, confinement, and so on. Well, this time, the south is worse off then us. But we'll see how it goes.

Not sure, whether it is the historical memory working (people in my country haven't been tolerating all this too well, it reminded them of the communism times far too much), or everybody is getting anxious. But a study pattern might help us all :-)

The "post-lockdown depression" is an interesting phenomena. We have seen an increase in various mental health issues here, but it's mostly all the postponed stuff, mixed together with the usual load. But I've noticed this "mild" thing everywhere outside of the hospital, and so have friends in other countries. A sort of a discouragement, "laziness" to do a lot of stuff because you simply don't know whether it even matters. I hope the whole continent will get out of it together. Don't be too harsh on yourself.

The workplaces are not the same anymore, you're right. I wish you the best workplace atmosphere possible under the circumstances.
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby iguanamon » Fri Sep 25, 2020 7:55 pm

Welcome back, Ogrim. I'll second Cavesa- you have been missed. There's not much driving I can do here on this small island. I can't drive to the States to visit my family there, because I live on an island. I can't fly up there because... Covid. I'd have to go through 4 airports and airplanes and my parents are in the high risk group. My kids are in England, which presents other difficulties for all of us in visiting each other. I don't even feel comfortable visiting Puerto Rico these days and it's only a 160 km flight away.

The pandemic is miserable for all of us, even if like you, you've had Covid already. The life of the island where I live is gone. We socialize here. Well, we used to socialize- at the beach. We used to have parties at each others' homes. Of course, there's a lot of "used to do" for all of us these days.

As to languages, I am getting better and better with Catalan, after having pretty much dropped it for a few months. It's funny how things come back to you. It's all still there in the mind, it just needs re-activating to bring it back. The good thing is, you're not in a hurry and it's not your first trip around the language-learning block. Are you still thinking about bringing back your Romanian?
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Mon Sep 28, 2020 12:42 pm

Thank you Cavesa and iguanamon, I appreciate your kind words.

Cavesa wrote:Don't be too harsh on yourself.


Oh I am not really. If there is something 2020 has taught me, it is to take things as they come and be more stoical in general. I don’t care about long-term goals and plans any longer, because you never know what may happen. I actually find that liberating right now.

iguanamon wrote:As to languages, I am getting better and better with Catalan, after having pretty much dropped it for a few months. It's funny how things come back to you. It's all still there in the mind, it just needs re-activating to bring it back. The good thing is, you're not in a hurry and it's not your first trip around the language-learning block. Are you still thinking about bringing back your Romanian?


I’ve recently read up on your log and your progress with Catalan. I am not surprised, you have always been consistent once you start on a new language. I admit I dabble and fall victim of wanderlust a bit more often, but yes, I am seriously thinking about bringing back Romanian, but first I now want at least to get back to the level I was in Arabic before pausing it at the end of May, and also refresh my Russian. Maybe in a month or two, if I manage to keep a good rhythm now that I’ve taken up studying again.
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Thu Oct 08, 2020 2:20 pm

I really enjoy Arabic again, and I am happy to say that I have not lost too much during my four-month break. Sure, vocabulary needs to be activated again, and I've had to relearn some grammar points, in particular verb conjugations, but I feel I am back on track.

As for Russian, I am no longer taking classes. My (ex)-teacher offered Skype lessons, but right now I find it hard to fit them into my schedule and I also think that the "return on investment" is not as high. If the lessons could still take place in presence during my lunch break at work then I would probably continue, but for the time being I'll just work on my own reading and watching videos and news on YouTube and Russian TV channels. I try to read a couple of pages in my Dostoyevsky biography every night, but sometimes I am just too tired to get a lot out of it.

My eternal problem is to stay focused - Romanian is a language I really want to relearn, during the lockdown I started dabbling in Czech, and I also would like to take it up again at some point. Then there is Classical Greek, which still is attractive to me. I also want to improve my Latin reading skills, and.... You get the picture.

However my latest Wanderlust project is Hebrew. Yesterday, when I should have worked on Russian, I found myself spending a couple of hours learning the Hebrew script and watching some Youtube videos from HebrewPod101 which I found on Youtube. I know it is a bad idea to try to start Hebrew now, so I am not going to go there - but I do like the sound of it and at some point in the future, when my Arabic is more consolidated, I may venture down that route. Hebrew grammar is probably easier to get one's head around if one already has one Semitic language under the belt.

I haven't talked about Romansh here for a long time, but I keep reading La Quotidiana every day and occasionally I watch videos on the RTR player (Radiotelevisiun Romontsch). I have also picked up a new novel in Sursilvan called "Culaun da Crestaulta" by Toni Halter, and I really enjoy reading Romansh literature again.

And finally, I think I may have shared some music videos with Romansh singer-songwriter Mattiu Defuns in the past, but as I am too lazy ;) to go back and check which ones, I just wanted to share these two here, as I think they are quite nice.




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

Postby Ogrim » Mon Oct 12, 2020 12:55 pm

Yesterday Sunday, in a moment of boredom (and after a couple of glasses of wine :? ) I went on an e-book shopping spree, so now I have even more books on my Kindle which I may never get around to read. Sure, I will definitely read some of them very soon, because I like the authors or the topics really interest me, but others are more for "maybe one day".

I did not splash out a lot of money, most of the books cost just a few euros, and some were for free. So here's the list

Nos frères inattendus by Amin Maalouf, one of my favourite writers in French. This is his latest novel, recently published, and I cannot wait to read it.

How to be a liberal by Ian Dunt. This British writer, journalist and compulsive Twitter contributor always has interesting ideas and perspectives on politics and society, even if I don't necessarily agree with everything he says.

Faust by Goethe (in German of course). This is one of those classics you think you know but never actually read from start to finish. Not on the top of my reading list, but some day....

Doktor Faustus by Thomas Mann. I read the book in Norwegian many many years ago, and now I would like to read the original. I'll probably get to this one before Goethe's Faust.

ألف ليلة وليلة (One thousand and one nights in Arabic. Way way beyond my current level, but how cool will it be when I can read about Aladdin and the lamp, Ali Baba and the thieves or Abdullah the Fisherman in the original! A real motivator!!

Colloquial Hebrew. You know, because one day....

L'extase du selfie et autres gestes qui nous disent by Philippe Delerm. Another of my favourite French writers, ever since I read his essay collection La Première gorgée de bière et autres plaisirs minuscules. This is another short book of mini-essays, so I am going to read this relatively quickly.

Δάφνις καὶ Χλόη (Daphnis and Chloe) in Classical Greek. I enjoyed this story in translation back in my university days, and if I ever find the time to go back to studying Greek again, this is a text I would like to try reading.

In other news I had a reasonably good weekend of language learning. I am finally advancing more with my Dostoyevsky biography, and I had a long session revising Arabic vocabulary, and also re-listening various times to the recordings of the dialogues in Langenscheidt. (Not all of them, but the four-five latest chapters). I also revised one of the monologues in Arabic voices and found I understood it much better now than five months ago, so I am happy that I have not really forgotten much during my break.

I also found a YouTube channel called LearnArabicwithMaha, and found that she explains grammar rules quite well, so watching her videos is a nice supplement to my course books for understanding Arabic grammar. Here is an example where she explains the plural of nouns in Arabic. I think she actually makes sense of how irregular noun plurals are constructed.

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

Postby Ogrim » Fri Oct 16, 2020 3:14 pm

Lingualism (lingualism.com) is a company specialised in learning material for Arabic. They publish dictionaries and manuals for MSA but also for various Arabic dialects, like Levantine, Egyptian, Moroccan and Tunisian. The book Arabic voices which i am currently working with is one of their products.

I hadn't been to their website for a long while until yesterday, and I came across a great book for my next step in Modern Standard Arabic: A novelised version of Romeo and Juliet. You can purchase it as an e-book (pdf-format) and it is really good value. For 13USD you get two versions of the book, one with voweled text and one without the short vowel signs, and you can download an audio recording of the whole book for free. The book includes a vocabulary list for each chapter, and a translation into English. As it is a pdf, you can of course also print out the book and use it in paper. Another good thing is that they use a reasonably big font, so you don't need a magnifying glass to read it. :D I still need to expand and consolidate basic vocabulary before starting with it, but in a few weeks time it will probably be one of my main learning tools. The two book versions and the audio are now on both my iPad and my laptop, ready to go.

Image

In other news, I am back to Classical Greek again (could not resist) and I am also dabbling a bit in Latin now and then, all this just because I stumbled across the YouTube channels ScorpioMartianus and polyMATHY. YouTube can really have a dangerous influence on you. ;) For Greek I have picked up Reading Greek again, and for Latin I have picked up an e-book version of Cupido et Psyche by Apuleius, and I am revising some grammar using an old Latin grammar book written in Danish, which I bought when doing Latin at university. I found the e-book for free on the website The Latin Library, they have a really good selection of Latin texts, both classical, medieval and "Neo-Latin".

Finally, I am not forgetting Russian, but it has mostly been watching some news clips and other videos on YouTube, and I have read a few more pages about Dostoyevsky. This weekend I will try to spend a bit more time on "active" studying, I need to improve my vocabulary.
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guyome
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby guyome » Fri Oct 16, 2020 3:39 pm

In case you want to work you way up to Apuleius' original work, there is a slightly simplified version of the story published by Susanna Bails in 1967: Psyches and Cupidinis Fabula.
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Wed Oct 28, 2020 11:22 am

Here in France today we are waiting for President Macron's TV appearance at 20.00 to know whether we will go into another lockdown or not. From what the newspapers are saying it looks likely, although it may be less restrictive than the one we had in spring. For me it will not make a huge difference, the main being that I will be 100% teleworking again (now it is 50%). We already have a cerfew, meaning that everything is closed and you are not supposed to leave your home between 9pm and 6am, and I haven't been to the cinema or theatre or any other event at all since March, and I have had lunch at a restaurant just a couple of times since the summer. The positive side of another confinement is that I will most likely be able to spend a bit more time on languages than I currently do.

The last couple of weeks I have been spending some more time on Latin, maybe to the detriment of time spent on Arabic. I realise that I really like Latin in spite of its difficult grammar and syntax, and although I have no pretension of being able to speak Latin, I want to be able to read some of the classics without having to decipher the meaning of each sentence like if it were a puzzle. That's why I find that it is best to stick to prose for the time being, so I am reading Apuleius right now, and I am going to try to read Thomas More's Utopia later on. I love Ovid, especially the Metamorphoses, but as he wrote in verse it is more of a challenge to make sense of it all, as the syntax is subordinate to the prosody or metrical feet.

I also continue with Classical Greek, although slowly. For the moment it is mostly about acquiring vocabulary, I will worry more about grammar later on.

Vocabulary acquisition is also my main focus with Arabic, and somehow that hardest part of it. I came over an Arabic-French "pictionary" aimed at kids which I find quite useful in drilling some basic vocabulary related to everyday objects. Then I continue with the MSA chapters in Arabic Voices and I relisten to some Langenschidt lessons from time to time.

My Russian is somewhat in maintenance mood for the time being, limited to the occasional read of the Dostoyevsky biography and news articles on the web.

So right now Romanian and Czech are on hold. I know I will get back to them some day, but my "rediscovery" of the Classical languages has altered my priorities (again). :)
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Cavesa
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Cavesa » Wed Oct 28, 2020 12:30 pm

Ogrim wrote:Here in France today we are waiting for President Macron's TV appearance at 20.00 to know whether we will go into another lockdown or not. From what the newspapers are saying it looks likely, although it may be less restrictive than the one we had in spring. For me it will not make a huge difference, the main being that I will be 100% teleworking again (now it is 50%). We already have a cerfew, meaning that everything is closed and you are not supposed to leave your home between 9pm and 6am, and I haven't been to the cinema or theatre or any other event at all since March, and I have had lunch at a restaurant just a couple of times since the summer. The positive side of another confinement is that I will most likely be able to spend a bit more time on languages than I currently do.


Yes,for me it is no change either in most things. This small town is rather dead even without curfews and lockdowns, so what. I can still take a walk within the hospital, which is at least a bit of fresh air, but rather depressive even normally. I am just worried about my relocation. I'd hate to get stuck here for too long.

I see the possitive side the same way you do. It's one of the few things keeping me sane, truth be told.

Vocabulary acquisition is also my main focus with Arabic, and somehow that hardest part of it. I came over an Arabic-French "pictionary" aimed at kids which I find quite useful in drilling some basic vocabulary related to everyday objects. Then I continue with the MSA chapters in Arabic Voices and I relisten to some Langenschidt lessons from time to time.


The French seem to publish quite a lot of stuff for the Arabic learners. It was one of the things tempting me to try Arabic instead of Hebrew. I wonder, what are the German based learning resources like, if you compare them to the French ones? Are there any general characteristics and differences? These two base languages are still important but get discussed so little on the forum :-)
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Ogrim
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Re: Ogrim's language experiences - Russian, Romansh, Romanian, Arabic and more

Postby Ogrim » Thu Oct 29, 2020 9:40 am

Cavesa wrote:The French seem to publish quite a lot of stuff for the Arabic learners. It was one of the things tempting me to try Arabic instead of Hebrew. I wonder, what are the German based learning resources like, if you compare them to the French ones? Are there any general characteristics and differences? These two base languages are still important but get discussed so little on the forum :-)


It is true that you can find a lot of material in French for learning Arabic, but when I did my research a couple of years ago I did not find much that was suited for self-learning from scratch. There is of course Assimil, and then you have the Harrap's Arabe cours intégral which is published by Larousse - the method is somewhat comparable to Routledge's Colloquial series. You do find good dictionaries, and quite a lot aimed at children, which I guess is mostly targeted at the Arab-speaking immigrant community.

As for German resources vs. French, it is difficult to generalise, so I'll just stick to my impression of the Langenscheidt "mit System" series. Firstly, they do not promsie you to be fluent in six months or achieve proficiency after doing the course. The Arab course indicates that you may get to A2 level. I find it reassuring that they don't promise more than they deliver. Secondly, the courses are quite methodical with a typically traditional structure: Each lesson has an introductory text followed by a dialogue, vocabulary lists, grammar explanations, cultural points and exercises. It can feel a bit overwhelming at the very beginning, they introduce a lot of new vocabulary and serveral grammar points in each lesson. It requires serious studies and you have to accept that you cannot go quickly if you really want to "absorb" all the new stuff in each lesson. I've typically spent tens of hours on a single lesson, and I typically went back and revised old lessons while progressing through the course.

Without recurring to stereotypes, I may say that I find the German-based material to be serious and demanding in that you are expected to work methodically (mit System). It is not about "assimilating" a language little by little, the approach is more analytical and, well, systematic. That said, in the end also Langenscheidt does not differ that much from e.g. Routledge or Linguaphone, which in my view are quite "old school" when it comes to their approach to language learning and the way the courses are created.
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