jonm's occasional log

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jonm
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Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:06 pm
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Languages: Native: English
Advanced: Spanish
Intermediate: French, Portuguese
Beginner: Italian, German, Latin, Greek
Dabbling: Sanskrit, Persian, Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9402
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Re: jonm's occasional log: German, Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic, Japanese

Postby jonm » Fri Dec 20, 2019 6:22 am

lichtrausch wrote:Do you find yourself warming up to tonal languages thanks to Burmese?

Sorry for the slow reply! Turns out I have a lot to say about this.

One way that dabbling in Burmese has helped me warm up to tonal languages is that it's inspired me to read about tonogenesis, and particularly tonogenesis in the Mainland Southeast Asia linguistic area. I find it quite interesting (I've just posted about it here), and I think that's made me at least a little more motivated to study tonal languages in the future.

Since this hasn't come up in the log, some context on my previous effort to learn a tonal language:

Ten years ago, I lived in Hanoi for almost a year, and I was pretty motivated to learn Vietnamese. I had done some Pimsleur before I got there, and while there I took classes, drilled old-school flashcards, read children books, and had halting but often fairly involved conversations.

I enjoyed it, but it was slow going. The sound system of Vietnamese was full of things that were new to me: preglottalized and implosive [ʔɓ] and [ʔɗ], labial-velar [k͡p] and [ŋ͡m], unrounded back vowels, lots of diphthongs and triphthongs... It's really a feast of interesting sounds, but this was before I studied phonetics, and while I was game to try and imitate these sounds, it was challenging without a clear understanding of what needed to happen in the mouth.

And then six tones. For a long time, I had to think about the tone of each and every syllable I produced, a bit like a novice guitar player who has to think about the fingering of each chord. Eventually the tones did start to gel, but I wouldn't say they ever became automatic and flowing. And then I left Vietnam and forgot almost everything I had learned.

I didn't study any tonal languages between Vietnamese and Burmese, but since joining the forum and filling up my plate at the language buffet, I've considered other tonal and/or analytic languages from China and Southeast Asia: Mandarin, Cantonese, Thai, and Khmer (which isn't tonal).

I've had good experiences traveling in China, Thailand, and Cambodia, so in that sense I'm well disposed towards the languages.

Mandarin would be really practical, given its size and importance. Also, I'm interested in Japanese and maybe Korean, and I generally prefer to follow the flow of vocabulary "downstream," learning classical languages before modern descendants and donors of loanwords before recipients. Given that preference, it would make sense to study some variety of Chinese, but I've opted for Japanese instead.

I think in general, I take a "gradualist" approach to learning new things. Paul Thomas Anderson (I believe paraphrasing another filmmaker) has likened screenwriting to ironing: "You move forward a little bit and go back and smooth things out." That's pretty much how I learn a given language and also how I take up new languages: venturing some ways into the unfamiliar, then circling back and consolidating, and then venturing out a little further than before. I imagine some folks here on the forum really enjoy learning a completely unfamiliar language without any bearings. I'd like to keep expanding and get there eventually, but I prefer to work my way up to it. Especially since I'm attempting to learn lots of languages concurrently, and it helps if they're related (genetically or through significant borrowing) and reinforce one another.

I think this basic preference has made the languages of MSEA feel like they're still a bit out of reach in two ways, and perhaps not challenging enough in a third way. They're a bit out of reach in that almost all of the vocabulary would be new to me, and the tones would probably take me a while. At the same time, I enjoy morphology, and with highly analytic languages, I kind of miss it.

None of this is set in stone, however. When I was a beginner in Spanish, the verbal morphology seemed like unnecessary work. Then after a while it became automatic and flowing, and it seemed incredibly beautiful. I imagine the only reason I've never felt that way about a tonal-analytic language is that I've never become fluent in one. Every language has its delights.

Also, these preferences only really apply when I'm picking out a new linguistic puzzle to have fun figuring out. When I'm in a situation where learning a language will help me communicate with people around me, that takes priority. But often, as with Vietnamese and Burmese, that situation doesn't last forever, and then the linguistic puzzle aspect becomes important again.

Actually, out of all the MSEA languages I've looked at, Burmese is probably the best fit for me at the moment.

With respect to vocabulary, it's as close to a bridge language as I'll find, since it borrowed extensively from Sanskrit and Pali, and it's genetically related, albeit somewhat distantly, to Chinese.

The phonemic inventory appeals to me. It includes several voiceless sonorants, which are fun, and two sounds that are hard to pin down. They're transcribed [θ] and [sʰ] in the Wikipedia entry, but as the first two phonetic notes explain, they're more particular than that. (The first sound is the key to pronouncing the Burmese word for "vegetarian," so I got a lot of practice with that one.)

I wouldn't say I mastered the tones or anything, but I didn't feel like they were holding me up. And there are some interactions between tone and other aspects of phonology that I find interesting. For example, the voiceless sonorants are quite subtle, and the Wikipedia entry says (in the third-to-last paragraph of the section on tones) that the distinction has largely passed from the consonant to the vowel, with the vowel following a voiceless sonorant being breathy or higher pitched. It could be a tone split in progress. I didn't know to listen for that when I was there and can't verify (and there's no citation on Wikipedia), but it's certainly interesting.

And while Burmese is largely analytic and most words are monosyllabic, I don't feel like I'm just putting one syllable after another, like laying bricks. There are minor syllables, and the two syllable-final consonants assimilate to the following consonant. One is a placeless nasal, and the other is a glottal stop before a pause, but if it comes before another consonant, then the consonant becomes geminate. (There are parallels to Japanese.)

And there's a certain amount of derivational morphology. For example, if you take an adjective-verb ("to be sweet," "to be spicy") and put an [ə] sound in front of it, you get the corresponding noun: "sweetness," "spiciness," or maybe "sweet thing," "spicy thing."

Finally, as long as I'm listing things I like, I'll throw in a cool bit of grammaticalization: the word meaning "to stay" or "to live, to dwell" is also a verb particle indicating that an action in progress.

All that, and I have friends living in Myanmar, and I found Burmese people really lovely.

I would definitely keep studying Burmese if I was living in Myanmar, and I'm pretty sure I would keep studying it outside Myanmar if there was an Assimil course. But it's challenging enough that I don't think I'd enjoy studying it outside Myanmar with the resources that are currently available (even though, as I mentioned in an earlier post, the Okell and Mesher courses seem quite good).

As for other tonal languages, now that I've gotten interested in tone as a linguistic phenomenon, I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up having another go at a tonal language before too long.
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lichtrausch
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Re: jonm's occasional log: German, Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic, Japanese

Postby lichtrausch » Sun Dec 22, 2019 7:25 pm

jonm wrote:One way that dabbling in Burmese has helped me warm up to tonal languages is that it's inspired me to read about tonogenesis, and particularly tonogenesis in the Mainland Southeast Asia linguistic area. I find it quite interesting (I've just posted about it here), and I think that's made me at least a little more motivated to study tonal languages in the future.

[...]

As for other tonal languages, now that I've gotten interested in tone as a linguistic phenomenon, I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up having another go at a tonal language before too long.

Sounds like you've found your gateway into MSEA languages! I really need to learn more about phonology so I can better appreciate the mechanics.

I might have mentioned before that I share your natural aversion to tonal languages. Worse, with the exception of the Burmese alphabet, I also don't find the MSEA writing systems aesthetically appealing. Especially Vietnamese (diacritics were not intended to be used with reckless abandon!). After long years of on-and-off studying Mandarin, this year I finally got excited about the language after finding some media that I really enjoyed. It's just a talk show with some intelligent conversation, but it did the trick for me.

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jonm
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Location: Massachusetts, USA
Languages: Native: English
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Intermediate: French, Portuguese
Beginner: Italian, German, Latin, Greek
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Re: jonm's occasional log: German, Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic, Japanese

Postby jonm » Sun Jan 05, 2020 9:15 am

My languages at the start of 2020 are:

German, Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic, Japanese

In this post I'll run through the intensive resources I'm using for each. (I'll save extensive materials for another time.)

Assimil is my primary intensive resource for every language except Latin, for which I'm using Lingua Latina per se illustrata.

I use sentences from Assimil and LLPSI to make Anki cards that I activate as I progress through the courses.

Assimil, bless them, provide a separate mp3 for each line of dialogue, with the text (but not the translation) in the tags. This makes it relatively easy to batch import an entire course into Anki. Getting LLPSI into Anki takes more time.

I make three kinds of Anki cards: listening, reading, and translation. The reading cards are only for languages that aren't written in the Latin alphabet. The translation cards come into play when I get to the second wave of an Assimil course.

Here's how the three kinds of cards work:

Listening:

  1. The front of the card plays the audio.
  2. I see if I can (a) understand it and (b) correctly type the sentence.
  3. The back of the card compares what I typed to the original sentence and plays the audio again.
  4. I practice pronouncing the sentence.

Reading:

  1. The front of the card shows the written sentence.
  2. I see if I can (a) understand it and (b) correctly pronounce it.
  3. The back of the card plays the audio.
  4. I practice pronouncing the sentence.

Translation:

  1. The front of the card shows the translation.
  2. I see if I can correctly type the original sentence, and as I type, I say the sentence out loud.
  3. The back of the card compares what I typed to the original sentence and plays the audio.
  4. I practice pronouncing the sentence.

Here are the intensive resources I'm using (or plan to use) and my progress in each as of January 1.

German

Assimil (With Ease 2014 / Perfectionnement)
: 82 / 100 : 0 / 70 Listening cards (first wave)
: 33 / 100 : 0 / 70 Translation cards (second wave)

This is the only Assimil course in which I've gotten to the second wave and started doing translation cards. I'm finding that the second wave is really important for locking in the language that I was exposed to in the first wave and making it productive. And for me, translation cards in Anki work better than translating each revisited lesson only once. There are bound to be sentences I don't translate correctly at first, and I want them to keep coming back until I get the hang of them.

This approach is really helping me remember the gender of nouns and the proper order of the different elements in a sentence.

Short-term goal: Finish the first wave of With Ease and start Perfectionnement.

Spanish

Assimil (Perfectionnement)
: 11 / 60 Listening cards (first wave)
: 0 / 60 Translation cards (second wave)

Modern Spanish Grammar: A Practical Guide, 2nd ed. (with workbook)
: 8 / 73 Chapters read & exercises

I look at Using Spanish as well as Perfectionnement, since both have good notes that call attention to different things. But when I get to the second wave, I plan to use Perfectionnement, because some of the translations in Using Spanish are a little awkward.

With the grammar book, I do the workbook exercises before reading the corresponding chapter. That way, I find out how well I know a particular area of grammar without brushing up on it first, and any mistakes or difficulties make the information in the chapter seem more pertinent.

French

Assimil (With Ease 1998 / Using French)
: 40 / 113 : 8 / 70 Listening cards (first wave)
: 0 / 113 : 0 / 70 Translation cards (second wave)

Le français par la Méthode Nature
: 21 / 50 Chapters read & exercises

When I got into Assimil, I was already low-intermediate in French, and I wasn't sure which course to do. I got eight lessons into Using French and found it appropriately challenging, but I decided I didn't want to miss With Ease. I think that was the right call. I've learned a good amount of new vocabulary, and while the grammar has almost all been familiar, I'm happy to reinforce it. And the dialogues are entertaining.

My productive skills in French lag behind my receptive skills, so I think it will be helpful to get to lesson 50 and start doing the second wave and the translation cards.

I'm also enjoying the Nature Method course. The narrative is a little anodyne, but I don't mind. I read everything out loud, both the chapters and the exercises.

Italian

Assimil (With Ease 1991 / Perfectionnement)
: 16 / 105 : 0 / 70 Listening cards (first wave)
: 0 / 105 : 0 / 70 Translation cards (second wave)

L'italiano secondo il Metodo Natura
: 7 / 50 Chapters read & exercises

The current edition of Assimil Italian doesn't sound so engaging, so I'm using the previous edition. Like El catalán sin esfuerzo (which I hope to get back to someday), it has an ongoing storyline that begins with someone arriving in a new city to stay with friends.

As with French, I'm reading the Nature Method course out loud, both the chapters and the exercises.

Italian is low priority at the moment, and when I do something in Italian it's usually reading or listening for pleasure, so I don't expect these progress bars will fill up quickly.

Latin

Lingua Latina per se illustrata
: 12 / 31 Listening cards (chapters 1–31)
: 16 / 56 Chapters read
: 3 / 56 Exercises

I make the listening cards from Ørberg's audio, which only goes through chapter 31 of Familia Romana.

I'm mainly basing my pronunciation on Allen's Vox Latina, which means I pronounce a couple things differently from Ørberg. For example, I don't pronounce word-final m as [m] or n before s or f as [n] but instead pronounce the preceding vowel as a long nasal vowel. I also pronounce t and d as dentals, whereas Ørberg pronounces them as alveolars.

These are small adjustments that are easy to make. Overall, I quite like Ørberg's pronunciation. His spoken Latin feels easy and "lived in," and his reading of his own work is warm and sprightly.

Ørberg also consistently distinguishes between long and short vowels when speaking and marks long vowels with macrons in the text. I would be interested in doing the Assimil course by Desessard, but I've sampled the different versions of the audio, and the speakers don't seem to pay attention to vowel length. And only the German-base book marks long vowels. Maybe I'll read it without audio when my German gets good enough.

Sanskrit

Assimil (Sans Peine)
: 17 / 100 Listening cards (first wave)
: 15 / 100 Reading cards (first wave)
: 0 / 100 Translation cards (second wave)

I said in my last post that I enjoy learning languages with complex morphology. Sanskrit is really putting that to the test, but so far confirming it. It helps that I can see parallels with Latin.

I like the Assimil course a lot so far. It's well paced, with good explanations. The voice actors have a lot of personality, and the dialogues conjure up vivid scenes of India.

Arabic

Assimil (With Ease 2015 / Perfectionnement)
: 16 / 77 : 0 / 70 Listening cards (first wave)
: 13 / 77 : 0 / 70 Reading cards (first wave)
: 0 / 77 : 0 / 70 Translation cards (second wave)

I've seen three criticisms of this course:

  • The audio is slow, exaggerated, and harsh.
  • The course starts out easy and ramps up slowly.
  • The course starts out teaching certain archaic features and later phases them out.

I basically agree with all three characterizations, but for me, the first is not a big deal, and the other two are good things.

I generally like that Assimil audio starts out slow and clear, but I agree that the audio for this course overshoots the mark. It doesn't really bother me though. I do have another complaint, which is that there have been a few short exchanges that are grammatically between a man and a woman, but the male actor does both parts.

I appreciate the gradual learning curve, since just about every aspect of Arabic is new to me: the script, the grammar, the vocabulary, and quite a few sounds. There's a lot to take in, and I'd rather go slowly and get lots of practice.

And I like following language change "downstream," so learning archaic features only to phase them out later works for me too.

Short-term goal: Get to lesson 28, at which point I'll have been introduced to all the letters and sounds.

Japanese

Assimil (With Ease)
: 16 / 98 Listening cards (first wave)
: 14 / 98 Reading cards (first wave)
: 0 / 98 Translation cards (second wave)

The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Course
: 528 / 2300 Recognition cards

I'm using the two-volume English-base Assimil course. The latest French-base course combines the two volumes, adds review dialogues, and tweaks a couple of the other dialogues, but it seems that the new audio was generated using text-to-speech and sounds unnatural in places (see messages 67–70 here).

An example of how the preferences guiding my choice of languages are not set in stone: I've had some interest in learning Japanese for years, but I held off, in large part because I didn't want to memorize over two thousand kanji. Now kanji practice has become a highlight of my language routine.

Kanji no Satori by Steve Thenell is a good introduction that helped me understand and appreciate how kanji work.

And then my main resource is The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Course by Andrew Scott Conning. Although it only came out in 2013, it seems to have fallen out of print, and it's going for crazy prices, but I kept an eye out and eventually snagged a reasonably priced used copy.

I looked at a few books that teach kanji or hanzi, and I feel that this one offers the best mnemonics: vivid, often etymologically grounded, creative where etymology would be less helpful.

Here's what I do when "meeting" a new character:

  1. I look at the character and its basic meaning(s).
  2. I read the notes and have another look at the character in light of the suggested mnemonic.
  3. I look at the sample vocabulary. Sample compounds only include characters that have already been introduced. If there any I don't remember, I flip back and review them.

Image

Each page introduces four characters, and I do a page or two or three at a time and then activate the corresponding Anki cards. The cards couldn't be simpler:

  1. The front of the card shows the character.
  2. I see if I can remember at least one of the basic meanings, which are revealed on the back of the card.

When I meet a character in the Kanji Learner's Course or review it in Anki, I don't try to memorize its readings. I learn the readings in context as the character comes up in Assimil. Or if I first meet a character in Assimil, I get the readings and context up front, and later I'll encounter the character in KLC and get a story relating its form to its meanings. Either way, Assimil and KLC complement each other, one resource creating a partial, provisional entry in my mental lexicon, the other rounding it out and reinforcing it.
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jonm
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Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:06 pm
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Languages: Native: English
Advanced: Spanish
Intermediate: French, Portuguese
Beginner: Italian, German, Latin, Greek
Dabbling: Sanskrit, Persian, Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9402
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Re: jonm's occasional log: German, Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic, Japanese

Postby jonm » Mon Jan 06, 2020 3:05 am

lichtrausch wrote:Sounds like you've found your gateway into MSEA languages! I really need to learn more about phonology so I can better appreciate the mechanics.

I might have mentioned before that I share your natural aversion to tonal languages. Worse, with the exception of the Burmese alphabet, I also don't find the MSEA writing systems aesthetically appealing. Especially Vietnamese (diacritics were not intended to be used with reckless abandon!). After long years of on-and-off studying Mandarin, this year I finally got excited about the language after finding some media that I really enjoyed. It's just a talk show with some intelligent conversation, but it did the trick for me.


Sorry once again for the slow reply. Happy to hear you've found your enthusiasm for Mandarin! Interesting media can make such a difference, and that show does seem interesting. I actually listened to half the episode, enjoying the sound of the discourse without understanding a word. After that, I managed to resist sampling Assimil Chinese for a few days, but then I caved and gave it a whirl. Fortunately for my already crowded language lineup, it wasn't long before I felt daunted by the tones and returned Mandarin to my long list of "hopefully someday" languages. Would you say you've gotten the hang of the tones? How did you approach them?

I also find it hard to get into a language if I don't find the writing system aesthetically appealing. Actually, that was an issue with Burmese. There are so many characters composed of parts of circles! When I was in Myanmar, I was always on the lookout for a typeface that I really liked. The friend I stayed with is a designer who pays attention to such things, and we would point to signs and say, "What do you think of that one?" There was a film festival going on in Yangon while I was there, and I went to a screening in the park, and my attention was divided between the film and the typeface used for the subtitles, since it was one of the few I really liked. Also, there were used bookstores with old comic books, and some of the hand lettering was really beautiful (I wish now that I'd taken pictures or brought some home). But I felt like I had to hunt for specific styles that I liked, whereas with some writing systems, I'm fond of the underlying system. Someday I'd like to learn Bangla, in part because I like the writing. Reminiscent of Devanagri (which I also like) and other Brahmic scripts, but with some extra verve...

Image
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lichtrausch
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Languages: English, Japanese, German
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Re: jonm's occasional log: German, Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic, Japanese

Postby lichtrausch » Mon Jan 06, 2020 10:36 pm

jonm wrote:Would you say you've gotten the hang of the tones? How did you approach them?

When a Chinese interlocutor doesn't understand me, it's almost always due to my grammar or word choice rather than my tones, so I think I approximate them decently. I still can't reliably pick out tones from normally spoken Chinese though.

Aside from just imitating what I hear, I looked at a tone chart for Mandarin and learned the sandhi rules. I've received some helpful corrections from native speakers, for example that I wasn't holding the note on the first tone for long enough. Recently I've played around with my pronunciation of Chinese, without being held hostage to pinyin. I have no evidence to back up this, but to my ear syllables can take on a subtly different quality depending on what tone is modifying the syllable, if that makes sense. But tonal languages have taught me that I have a bad ear for pitch, so take that with a grain of salt.

But I felt like I had to hunt for specific styles that I liked, whereas with some writing systems, I'm fond of the underlying system.

That sounds exactly like my experience with the Thai script. For example I like the font of the headline in the article below, but the font of the main text (which seems to be something like the standard font for Thai) leaves me cold.

https://www.thairath.co.th/news/foreign/1741193
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jonm
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Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:06 pm
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Languages: Native: English
Advanced: Spanish
Intermediate: French, Portuguese
Beginner: Italian, German, Latin, Greek
Dabbling: Sanskrit, Persian, Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9402
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Re: jonm's occasional log

Postby jonm » Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:19 pm

lichtrausch wrote:When a Chinese interlocutor doesn't understand me, it's almost always due to my grammar or word choice rather than my tones, so I think I approximate them decently. I still can't reliably pick out tones from normally spoken Chinese though.

Aside from just imitating what I hear, I looked at a tone chart for Mandarin and learned the sandhi rules. I've received some helpful corrections from native speakers, for example that I wasn't holding the note on the first tone for long enough. Recently I've played around with my pronunciation of Chinese, without being held hostage to pinyin. I have no evidence to back up this, but to my ear syllables can take on a subtly different quality depending on what tone is modifying the syllable, if that makes sense. But tonal languages have taught me that I have a bad ear for pitch, so take that with a grain of salt.

I'm really setting a record for slow replies here. Sorry about that. I unexpectedly started working on something that meant taking a break from the forum. More on that in a moment, but just want to say that I think you're right about tone interacting with other aspects of the syllable. I know in Burmese, for example, what's called a checked tone makes the vowel more lax, so /i/ comes out as [ɪ], /e/ comes out as [ɛ], etc. Hope I'm remembering that right. I don't know much about Mandarin, but it seems very plausible that the different tones could be characterized by more than just a particular pitch contour: vowel quality, voice quality, etc.

Also, it gives me hope for my own language learning that you didn't initially take to tones but have gotten the hang of them.

As for what I've been working on that's meant less time on the forum and also less time for language learning, it's my master's thesis, which had been in mothballs for about five years. I had finished all my classes, and I had come up with a pretty cool fieldwork adventure: I went to Ladakh, in the far north of India up in the Himalayas, where they speak a form of Tibetan that retains complex initial consonant clusters that gradually get simpler if you go west to east. I bicycled around recording people saying certain words, and the idea was to investigate that variation within the dialect continuum.

The adventure part was pretty great—the mountains look like those rover pictures of Mars, and in between settlements you have it all pretty much to yourself, and then the towns and villages are little pockets of green where there's enough water to grow things. And people are incredibly warm and hospitable.

And the fieldwork went well too. Then I got back and had tons of work to do cutting up the audio and trying to make sense of it. And at some point I set it all aside and got involved in other things and thought I might never circle back to it. But recently I was inspired to actually finish, and that's what I've been working on.

As I say, it's meant a lot less time for the languages I'm studying just for pleasure, but here's what I've been able to do...

Spanish

Listening to the Marvel Studios Noticias podcast.

French

Assimil (With Ease 1998 / Using French)
: 53 / 113 : 8 / 70 Listening cards (first wave)
: 4 / 113 : 0 / 70 Translation cards (second wave)

One of my goals at the start of the year was to get into the second wave in Assimil and start doing translation cards in Anki, and I've done that, though further progress will be slow.

I'm reading a book called Le prisme des langues by Nicolas Tournadre, a linguist who specializes in Tibetan, so it's tangentially related to the thesis.

And I'm really enjoying a language learning podcast called Impolyglot.

Modern Greek

Assimil (Sans Peine 2017)
: 14 / 99 Listening cards (first wave)
: 10 / 99 Reading cards (first wave)
: 0 / 99 Translation cards (second wave)

Language Transfer
: 30 / 120

A recent addition to the language lineup. Assimil and Language Transfer make a great combination.

Also reading this interlinear short story collection. Here's the "about the author":

Roubina Gouyoumtzian is a Modern Greek author who is inspired by Michael Ende, Jostein Gaarder and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In her writings, she uses symbolism and explores the concept of time, humanity, as well as death and its acceptance during or at the end of one's life. Roubina's stories allow the reader to walk on the fine line between surrealism and metaphysical projections of the human mind.

I'm only two stories in, but I'm enjoying it so far, and I'm excited to find a beginner reader that deals with themes like that. There's also a second collection by the same author.

Sanskrit

I like the Assimil course, but I'm kind of stalled in the third week, so I've started reading Walter Maurer's The Sanskrit Language. To summarize what I wrote about it over in Sahmilat's log, I like that the author's personality and opinions come through in the explanations, and each chapter has a passage of connected, accessible Sanskrit that he's written or adapted. I'm only through the second of those, and it took me a while to read, but it was very satisfying. I'm skipping the parts where I would translate English sentences into Sanskrit though.

Japanese

The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Course
: 584 / 2300 Recognition cards

I review kanji in Anki most days and occasionally learn new ones, but further progress will be slow. Assimil is on hold.

Others

Nothing new in the other languages. For some of them, I've been able to keep up with Anki reviews, and for others, I only review now and then, and the cards are really piling up. It's OK though, that was pretty much what happened when I was in Myanmar, and it only took a week or so to dig my way out when I got back. I expect I can do the same if and when I finish the thesis.
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