Not all those who wander are lost

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sfuqua
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9248
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Re: Not all those who wander are lost

Postby sfuqua » Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:09 pm

Well, I've been sick and my routines have been messed up. Yesterday, I did almost nothing other than make a big anki deck of Portuguese sentences from Gabriel García Márquez. This matches a big deck of pretty much all of GGM in Spanish, which I made years ago, and which was important in lifting my Spanish to a higher level.

This reminded me of the old days, and today, in between coughing fits, I read García-Márquez in Spanish. It reminded me that I've come a long way since way back when with my Spanish and that some books that used to be real challenge are a lot easier... By doing that I reminded myself what a hopeless fanboy I am of GGM. I zipped from book to book, all day, sometimes with tears coming down my face, enjoying one of the most powerful minds I've ever known in print. Not all of his stories are appropriate for gentle souls, but I love his way of looking unflinchingly into the darkness and somehow, sometimes in mid sentence, finding light.

I wish he could have finished that last book before dementia and death took him away. Heck, I wish he was working on a new one.

I feel a lot of gratitude that way back when, people from this community encouraged me to keep trying with Spanish. When I started, I really didn't expect to be able ever to just sit down and read hard books in Spanish. Now I can. There is so much more to read...

I'm going to stop whining and give Portuguese a real shot. It is a wonderful language that somehow suits me. There is great literature in Portguese too. My goal is to get to the "just read" point with Portuguese by next summer. We'll see. Maybe it will take longer...

I'm happy. I'll be happier when I get over this nasty cold.
8 x
Big Old English anki deck : 626 / 9525
This is years worth of work. I'm going to see how long I can stand it.
I just had a bad crash of my anki deck, I've reset a lot of things.

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sfuqua
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9248
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Re: Not all those who wander are lost

Postby sfuqua » Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:39 am

OMG, I've fallen down the rabbit hole...
I was cruising along, learning Portuguese with Assimil, making progress, and all of a sudden I fell into Old English.

It is a fun language that gives a window into a time long ago and a place far away from California. I'm moving along pretty briskly and I am totally in love with this language...
Some of the poetry is astoundingly good. I don't know why I haven't paid any attention to these before. I've long been a fan of Bernard Cornwell novels, including his Saxon series, and the world of this language is one of swords and cold and oaths and fate.

One nice this about this jaunt into Old English is that I have limited goals. If I could get to the point where I can shadow and read aloud Old English, I would be one cool middle school science teacher, language hobbiest dude.

For a native speaker of English, Old English fades in and out in its familiarity, sort of the way Portuguese does for a person familiar with Spanish. But it is not the same language at all. I have some familiarity with case marking from Latin and Irish, and Old English has a pretty straightforward system at first glance. There are irregularities, of course, but there is a lot that is familiar. There is nothing about the pronounciation that is terribly difficult for someone familiar with some of the other European languages. There is a surprising amount of writing; I didn't realize that English has the longest history of writing in the vernacular of any of the European languages. There is a ton for me to learn about history.


(non language related rant)
One depressing thing about Old English is that, when you search for it by its other names, Anglo Saxon or Englisc, you can find yourself in some of the darker parts of the Internet. It seems that this is another code word for the whole tiresome, Nordic race superiority crap. As the proud father of three wonderful mixed race kids (all my kids are a couple of shades darker than me), I find this whole racial purity, racial superiority stuff to be nasty nonsense...

OK, I have a some ancestors who probably came to Britain as the Romans left. They show up on DNA tests. I also have some ancestors who were there when the Romans came; they show up on DNA tests too. I'm descended from noble warriors and romantic poets. Of course, more recently I'm descended from a bunch of farmers, philosophers, and country western music fans from Kentucky. My racial identity from these noble ancestors seems a little weak however. I'm more the bookish nerd in the hot tub type.
(/rant)

I'm happy, and I'm learning. Life is good...
Last edited by sfuqua on Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:27 pm, edited 3 times in total.
9 x
Big Old English anki deck : 626 / 9525
This is years worth of work. I'm going to see how long I can stand it.
I just had a bad crash of my anki deck, I've reset a lot of things.

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Re: Not all those who wander are lost

Postby IronMike » Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:48 am

sfuqua wrote:OMG, I've fallen down the rabbit hole...
I was cruising along, learning Portuguese with Assimil, making progress, and all of a sudden I fell into Old English.

@sfuqua, I'm dong a little holiday OE challenge starting around 17 Dec if you're interested in joining us. Will use TY's new Complete Old English as the text. More info including others interested here.
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My 2020 Polyglot Fitness Challenge!

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sfuqua
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Re: Not all those who wander are lost

Postby sfuqua » Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:08 pm

I seem to have come full circle in the past year and a half.
As I was cruising around in Old English, I read a bunch of Modern English to get background on the language. I was devouring a book a day, and it reminded me how much I love reading. Just reading.
I decided to restart my French and Spanish reading, and it was like being set free. I'm a long way from fluent in any of the languages I played with recently, and it is so nice just to take off and read, just read in a language. In Spanish, as long as I stay with genres that I am familiar with, I don't really have to slow down to read. With French, the popup dictionary is needed to keep up comprehension with pretty much anything.
When I was trying to do the superchallenge, I spent a lot of time trying to do various tricks to make the material easier to read. I fooled around with anki decks a lot, and I did a lot of rereading. The trouble with this appoach is that it slows down the stories a lot. Another thing I did was to try to stick with books that I have both in Spanish and in French. By the time that I would reread, shadow, and learn all the vocabulary words, my interest in the story would be gone.

Well, one of my mental breakthroughs about learning language is that I realize that I enjoy learning foreign languages, but I do stupid things when I have big end goals. I need, above all to enjoy the ride. If I'm not enjoying things, I'll never get anywhere.

A few years ago, frustrated by being stuck in the Intermediate Doldrums in Spanish, on an emergency trip to a sick parent, with no study materials with me, I picked up a hard copy of a Ken Follett book translated into Spanish. I discovered I could just read it. I read about 7000 pages over the next year and my Spanish just exploded. It didn't transfer much to speaking, but my progress was amazingly rapid. For the most part with this, I just read, and listened to audiobooks of what I was reading.

I've started out reading the same translated book in French and Spanish, just reading a chapter in Spanish and then in French. After a week of this, both my Spanish and French are tuning up nicely. I can see a rapid improvement in my French especially. I may have dragged out French too much; perhaps I should have just started reading in it.

I'm going to "just read" in both languages for a while, and I will listen to audio versions of the books when I do my morning walk. I plan to switch between books and genres whenever I feel like it. No schedules, no daily page counts, or anything. Lately I've been reading a Merry Gentry book by Edith K. Hamilton. These books have plenty of sex and violence, to keep the interest up.

(personal side note)
My wife's health has taken a turn for the worse the past few months, and I don't really have enough bandwidth for much stress in my life right now. We are hopeful about the eventual outcome for her health, but it is difficult when someone you love is hurting. I'm going to be reading to escape from the real world, but frankly that's what I usually do when I read...
(/personal side note)

My language learning is bringing joy into my life. We fight on.
13 x
Big Old English anki deck : 626 / 9525
This is years worth of work. I'm going to see how long I can stand it.
I just had a bad crash of my anki deck, I've reset a lot of things.

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sfuqua
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Re: Not all those who wander are lost

Postby sfuqua » Fri Nov 15, 2019 5:31 pm

I haven't even switched languages, and here is another post :D

I"ve put a bar in my signature. This isn't so much a goal as a way to measure how close I am to the amount of input that is supposed to lead to free reading of pretty much any material, perhaps a C1 level for reading. I can listen to audiobooks in Spanish with about the same comprehension as I have when I read, but of course the popup dicitonary is harder to use with an audiobook.
My French comprehension of audiobooks is very spotty. One thing interesting about my French reading, which is a new development in the past couple of weeks, is that I have started to half comprehend a lot of words that I could never produce. I remember when I got to this point with Spanish, it was a time of very rapid progress. I will hit a sentence, and there will be only a couple of words in it where I am absolutely certain of the meaning, but when I take off, I find myself recognizing possible cognates with English or Spanish, or words where I have a vague idea of the meaning, and my brain will somehow assemble a meaning for the whole sentence that makes sense. This leads to more speed and therefore more input.

Right now these results are with a translated novel with a readabilty index that comes in at about the year 6 level of education, 6th grade in the U.S. Not Proust.
7 x
Big Old English anki deck : 626 / 9525
This is years worth of work. I'm going to see how long I can stand it.
I just had a bad crash of my anki deck, I've reset a lot of things.

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sfuqua
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9248
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Re: Not all those who wander are lost

Postby sfuqua » Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:13 am

I read almost 50 pages today, mostly in Spanish.
It seems like I can't live without an anki deck. I made, or actually revived, a couple of old decks that I made from opensubtitles. I've started doing 10 cards a day in French and Spanish. I pass the card if I can repeat it aloud without looking at the print, and if I understand it. It's just practice moving my mouth. In its way it's not too different from what you do with old glossika.
Beyond that I'm just reading in both languages...
6 x
Big Old English anki deck : 626 / 9525
This is years worth of work. I'm going to see how long I can stand it.
I just had a bad crash of my anki deck, I've reset a lot of things.

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sfuqua
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9248
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Re: Not all those who wander are lost

Postby sfuqua » Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:45 am

I had health and work pressures kept me from doing much except a little listening to French, about 25 minutes.
I was listening to a section of the book, which I had already listened to in Spanish. Unlike my usual results, for some reason, the French was easy today on my walk.
Go figure...
2 x
Big Old English anki deck : 626 / 9525
This is years worth of work. I'm going to see how long I can stand it.
I just had a bad crash of my anki deck, I've reset a lot of things.

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sfuqua
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Re: Not all those who wander are lost

Postby sfuqua » Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:55 pm

Huge work and family health issues have interferred, but that's life. I'm doing some reading and listening every day. I've had other periods in my study where I would obsess and either feel guilty or stay up at night to try to meet my study goal. Today, it seems like 40 or 50 pages a day is possible. During the week it is all over the place.
6 x
Big Old English anki deck : 626 / 9525
This is years worth of work. I'm going to see how long I can stand it.
I just had a bad crash of my anki deck, I've reset a lot of things.

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sfuqua
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Old English(studying)
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9248
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Re: Not all those who wander are lost

Postby sfuqua » Sun Dec 01, 2019 6:02 am

Family health is looking up.
I'm not changing my signature, I still want to read another 10000 pages or so of Spanish and French, but the past few days, I have been fooling around with Icelandic/Norse.

There are a lot of interesting courses on Icelandic available, and there are a ton of Icelandic novels. I'm not sure if I've ever met anyone from Iceland, but heck, it is an insteresting language with a ton of history. I wish Irish had as many contemporary novels

One thing I discovered on my hard drive was an old glossika Icelandic course. Apparently I pulled the trigger back when they were on big discount just before they were taken our of circulation. These aren't beginner courses, but they make sense at the Intermediate/ high beginner level. They're more of an activity than a course. I also found the wonderful, Michel Thomas like, free Icelandic course from Aleric, https://alarichall.org.uk/teaching/modern_icelandic.php

I downloaded it, put and album cover on it (Northern Lights over Iceland), and started it. I've been hitting it at a pace where I'll finish it in in about a month. Aleric also made a memrise course which I downloaded and converted to anki. I redid the cards to add pictures (blue lagoon and people walking in snowstorms in Iceland), and I'm going through this in parallel with the audio course. Anki helps the stuff from an audio course stick. One thing I never liked about Michel Thomas course is that you need review to make it stick, but the nature of the course itself makes it inappropriate for review (the awkward students and all of the English).

There are other nice courses like the colloquial Icelandic course and the Teach Yourself Icelandic courses. At least they appear nice. One course that I am sure is fun is Byrock's http://www.vikingnorse.com course; it is full of pictures, diagrams, and maps. There is a lot more than just language there. Now, Old Norse is not modern Icelandic, but this book uses a modern Icelandic pronunciation and it seems that modern Icelandic is a lot closer to Old Icelandic that one might expect.

I haven't done a purely audio course for a while, and it has been interesting to see how I respond to it. It feels like it is more profound than the usual audio/print courses I seem to prefer, but it slips away quickly. Without a live teacher, some of my errors have been funny. For a day or so, I got ð and þ completely switched in my brain. I was consistently pronouncing one as the other. My Icelandic started to sound a lot better once I figured it out and switched them back. I'll probably never need to speak it, but it would be nice to pronounce it correctly. What a fun, weird old guy I would be reciting Old English and Old Norse poetry in the bar! What could be weirder than reading a novel in Icelandic after dinner.

Wow, there sure are a bunch of racist idiots who seem to think that they have some sort of connection to a mythical pure Nordic race! As some of you who follow this strand may have seen that I get a kick out of the DNA test I had a few years ago. There are several thousand ancient DNA genomes online now, and while the big DNA testing companies do a half-baked job on ancestry, it is possible to compare results directly with ancient samples, which is a lot more fun that "10% German". Your results depend completely on what samples you compare yourself to. With hundreds of sets of samples, it may even mean something. Anyway, some of the new sets of samples online give some different results. My closest sample set is still Roman Britain, I somehow have a close connection to some people buried in an Early Medieval cemetary in Italy, that one I don't understand, perhaps some connection to Scandanavia or Britain during the Roman Empire. The other one that is very close is a sample of Gaelic people (thralls possibly) from Iceland. Everything else is Britain, Ireland, Saxon, or Scandanavian populations. It's interesting to feel a connection to ancient people. Maybe I've just watched too many TV Vikings and Saxons...
editing to fix my usual bad spelling and typos
Last edited by sfuqua on Sun Dec 01, 2019 3:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
5 x
Big Old English anki deck : 626 / 9525
This is years worth of work. I'm going to see how long I can stand it.
I just had a bad crash of my anki deck, I've reset a lot of things.

DaveAgain
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Re: Not all those who wander are lost

Postby DaveAgain » Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:18 am

sfuqua wrote: As some of you who follow this strand may have seen that I get a kick out of the DNA test I had a few years ago. There are several thousand ancient DNA genomes online now, and while the big DNA testing companies do a half-baked job on ancestry, it is possible to compare results directly with ancient samples, which is a lot more fun that "10% German". Your results depend completely on what samples you compare yourself to. With hundreds of sets of samples, it may even mean something. Anyway, some of the new sets of samples online give some different results. My closest sample set is still Roman Britain, I somehow have a close connection to some people buried in an Early Medieval cemetary in Italy, that one I don't understand, perhaps some connection to Scandanavia or Britain during the Roman Empire. The other one that is very close is a sample of Gaelic people (thralls probably) from Iceland. Everything else is Britain, Ireland, Saxon, or Scandanavian populations. It's interesting to feel a connection to ancient people. Maybe I've just watched too many TV Vikings and Saxons...
I'm very slowly working my through Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I've got the bit where western Europe keeps getting invaded and ruled by various eastern powers, Germans, Slavs etc. The portable loot in Italy attracted people from all over. :-)

There was a doccy about Alfred the Great a little while ago, one thing mentioned was a visit to Rome, where he stayed in the the British/Anglo-Saxon part of town. I'm sure that there were pockets of British merchants in all the trading/political centres.
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