Morgana's log

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Iversen
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Re: Morgana goes down the rabbit hole (German, Russian, Swedish)

Postby Iversen » Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:27 am

I learnt the Russian far back in the mid 70s before visiting Moscow and Leningrad with a university tour group, and I didn't learn anything apart from the alphabet (except a few touristic words like "пекси кола" and "спасибо") - but it turned out that I was the only one in the group who could read the names of things like metro stations. And my method was brutal, but efficient: I transcribed page after page of Russian text until I knew each and every letter. But I still couldn't understand anything of the language, and even though I did buy some text books and dictionaries near the end of my studies I never really got started. That only happened almost thirty years later, but then I could still recall the letters clearly after just a few hours of studying. And it was easy to add the other Cyrillic alphabets when I got around to the respective languages.

I did the same thing with the Greek alphabet, although there I was aided by the use of single letters in physics and mathematics. Apart from this detail it is the same story: transcribing, transcribing, transcribing page after page - and then the whole thing can be learnt in a few days (and people with better memory than mine could probably have done it in a few hours). I have also learned the Georgian and the Korean writing systems this way before travelling to those places, but since I haven't used those systems later I don't remember them at this moment.

So sheer bulk transcribing will also be my preferred method with other alphabets in the future.

And I still like to study languages - it can only be certain methods that sometimes appear to be slightly boring. Like transcribing texts in unknown languages...
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Re: Morgana goes down the rabbit hole (German, Russian, Swedish)

Postby Morgana » Sat Jul 20, 2019 1:14 am

Radioclare wrote:I had exactly the same experience with the alphabet when I started learning. I was so frustrated because it feels like the internet is full of websites/polyglots telling you that you can learn the Cyrillic alphabet in X amount of time and implying that it's really not a big deal, but like you I found that there was a huge jump between memorising individual letters and actually being able to read. ...

The stress is also a big deal for me and probably the other reason why I've failed to learn Russian so many times, because it makes me really stressed (haha!) to look at a word and not have a clue how to pronounce it.
Thank you for this. (Seriously.) I don’t mind uncertainty on a larger scale like reading extensively or watching tv without subtitles. But this small-scale “how do I even say this word?” stuff presses all the wrong anxiety buttons.

Radioclare wrote:All the other languages I've learned have been much simpler in this respect; Esperanto is obviously completely phonetic and BCMS works on the principle of "write as you speak and read as it is written",
Ditto. Swedish and Icelandic aren’t perfectly phonetic but they are light years ahead of English and especially in Icelandic’s case you never need guess what any of the vowels sounds like. Finnish was of course a dream with the 1:1 sound-grapheme correspondence. I’m finding German is quite transparent too in this regard.

Radioclare wrote:The only way I feel I'm making progress with Russian is by using Memrise. I find SRS deathly dull but it's good because a) it makes me spell words out, and I think the better I get at spelling them, the easier they are to read and b) I add audio from Forvo for every word I learn, to make sure I never learn a new word without knowing how it sounds. Adding the audio is time-consuming and boring, but I'm trying to convince myself that this is just like having to memorise the gender of every word I learned in German.

I will also admit some recent discussions have made me consider why I am doing a category IV language at all when I don't find language learning particularly enjoyable and I could be doing another category I/II instead :lol:


I'm so glad to find out that I'm not the only person here who doesn't find language learning particularly enjoyable :lol:
Hahaha oh my I have no idea why I have persisted in this hobby for almost 3 years because it’s so frustrating and one never really masters a language so it’s just no end in sight. But I have time to kill and I’m not so good at coming up with new hobbies lol.

Thanks for your tips for how you make Russian work (Memrise, typing answers, Forvo audio). I’m doing something similar by putting all the dialogue lines from Assimil into Anki, as well as some extra vocab here and there with audio from Forvo. I only do L2 > L1 cards though so I don’t get the typing practice with the cards, but I do type up some bits of the lessons in order to make some of the cards so it’s not zero practice. I have no doubt it all helps but I think the nature of Russian is that it’s going to feel more opaque than other languages regardless.

I really appreciated the commiseration! Sometimes it’s just nice to know I’m not the only one who finds this stuff challenging/annoying. Thanks :)



@Iversen, thank you for sharing your successes with transcribing. I am going to hang onto this idea for the maybe not-too-distant future since it seems to be so effective. I’m just not sure yet how determined I am to make Russian work for me. Thank you again :)
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Re: Morgana goes down the rabbit hole (German, Russian, Swedish)

Postby StringerBell » Sat Jul 20, 2019 1:40 pm

Morgana wrote:Thank you for this. (Seriously.) I don’t mind uncertainty on a larger scale like reading extensively or watching tv without subtitles. But this small-scale “how do I even say this word?” stuff presses all the wrong anxiety buttons.


My husband has been living with me in the US for almost 10 years - he spends 99% of his day in English, and has studied/used/watched English for years even before coming here; I think his English is better than most native English speakers even if he has a mild accent. Not only can he immediately tell which county an English speaker is from (like if they're from New Zealand vs. Australia), but even among Americans, he can identify a person's region/state (and can even differentiate between various southern accents since he spends a lot of time watching southern Youtubers) He knows black inner-city slang (thanks to watching The Wire!) and early 19th century terms and high-level modern vocab that sometimes I don't even know.

Yet, there is still occasionally a moment where he pronounces an English word wrong because he's come across it while reading but never actually heard it said aloud. He can laugh about it and say, "why would I ever think I could figure out how something is pronounced in English?" Here is someone with a truly impressive command of the language who has no way to pronounce something correctly unless he's heard a native speaker say it first - that is so f-ed up, if you think about it. If I weren't a native English speaker, I don't think I'd be able to deal with that, and yet hundreds of millions (or billions) of people learn it, at least to some basic survival level, so clearly it can be done.

Is Russian pronunciation as unknowable as English? Is there really just no way to know how anything is pronounced, or is it an issue with only certain words? I never really realized that this was such an issue in Russian. I guess I should be grateful that at least Polish has an extremely consistent pronunciation (to say nothing of using the same alphabet which is extremely easy to read once you learn a handful of letters/letter combos that don't exist in English - I also don't think I'd cope well having to learn a totally new alphabet even though I'm strangely drawn to the Cyrillic alphabet. I'll try to remember that next time I guess frustrated!
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Radioclare
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Re: Morgana goes down the rabbit hole (German, Russian, Swedish)

Postby Radioclare » Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:56 pm

StringerBell wrote:Is Russian pronunciation as unknowable as English? Is there really just no way to know how anything is pronounced, or is it an issue with only certain words? I never really realized that this was such an issue in Russian. I guess I should be grateful that at least Polish has an extremely consistent pronunciation (to say nothing of using the same alphabet which is extremely easy to read once you learn a handful of letters/letter combos that don't exist in English - I also don't think I'd cope well having to learn a totally new alphabet even though I'm strangely drawn to the Cyrillic alphabet. I'll try to remember that next time I guess frustrated!


No, it's definitely not as bad as English. I have no idea how anyone ever manages to learn English :lol: It's just that stress in Russian can be on any syllable and some of the vowels are pronounced quite differently depending on whether they are stressed or where they are in relation to the stressed syllable. The position of the stress sometimes also moves between different versions of the same word. To take a simple example, water is вода in the nominative with the stress on the second syllable, so it sounds like "va-DA". But in the accusative case, it becomes воду which is stressed on the first syllable, so sounds like "VO-du". While there might be some rules and trends, it generally feels like there's no way of knowing this without memorising the stress of every single word. And outside of texts for beginners the stressed syllable isn't marked, so when you encounter a new word and don't know where the stress falls, you can generally imagine a couple of different pronunciations and have no way of knowing which is right :?

Morgana wrote:Thanks for your tips for how you make Russian work (Memrise, typing answers, Forvo audio). I’m doing something similar by putting all the dialogue lines from Assimil into Anki, as well as some extra vocab here and there with audio from Forvo. I only do L2 > L1 cards though so I don’t get the typing practice with the cards, but I do type up some bits of the lessons in order to make some of the cards so it’s not zero practice. I have no doubt it all helps but I think the nature of Russian is that it’s going to feel more opaque than other languages regardless.


I'm keen to see how you get on with Assimil :) I have the German version for Russian which I tried using a couple of years ago when I had learning Russian as a new year's resolution. I got to the end of the passive wave and was really enjoying the audio, but once my initial January enthusiasm wore off I soon started finding Russian too hard again and gave up. I'm really tempted to go back to Assimil sometime soon though and see if I can do better second time around.

And yes, sometimes I think commiseration is the best thing about this forum :lol:
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Morgana
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Re: Morgana goes down the rabbit hole (German, Russian, Swedish)

Postby Morgana » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:10 am

StringerBell wrote:Is Russian pronunciation as unknowable as English? Is there really just no way to know how anything is pronounced, or is it an issue with only certain words? I never really realized that this was such an issue in Russian. I guess I should be grateful that at least Polish has an extremely consistent pronunciation (to say nothing of using the same alphabet which is extremely easy to read once you learn a handful of letters/letter combos that don't exist in English - I also don't think I'd cope well having to learn a totally new alphabet even though I'm strangely drawn to the Cyrillic alphabet. I'll try to remember that next time I guess frustrated!
Radioclare gave a great example already with the very problematic ‘o’ so I won’t repeat. Some words have three or four o’s and you have no idea where the stress is, and unstressed ‘o’ can actually make one of two sounds which there is apparently a rule for once you know the stress, but the stress can only be learned on a word-by-word basis (no rule for it). Apart from ‘о’, the letters ‘а’, ‘е’, ‘я’ all suffer some possible sound changes when unstressed, and there is also something about и/ы that I haven’t picked up on totally yet (after some consonants, one of those vowels sounds like the other). As far as consonants go I think it’s likely very similar to Polish where there is word-final devoicing and the way an unvoiced consonant will make any directly preceding consonants also unvoiced. There is also the odd silent consonant lol. As Radioclare said, it’s not as bad as English, but that doesn’t say much :lol: On the other hand, having some knowledge of French I would say Russian pronunciation is worse than French just because as convoluted as French pronunciation/orthography is, there are rules and if you get to know them you will know how to say anything in French from how it’s spelled. This will never be possible with Russian because there is no rule to predict stress, stress can be on any syllable, and the stress affects how one pronounces the vowels.

——

Anyway just so it’s clear (lest I am coming across as too whiny) I think Russian is a cool language and I find the grammar really fun so far, I love how it sounds and I look forward to all the media available once I am at a level where I can make use of it.
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Re: Morgana goes down the rabbit hole (German, Russian, Swedish)

Postby Morgana » Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:46 am

If I do L2R2 do I count both the minutes and the pages, or just one or the other? (This is personal tracking not SC tracking.) I don't know how to get listening time in for Swedish unless I keep my eyes and/or hands busy simultaneously, and I don't want to watch tv again just yet, so it's podcasts or audiobooks (unless there's some other option I can't think of???) and audiobooks come with books that will let my eyes do something.

I decided to do L2R2 with Röta because I never quite finished the audiobook prior to my 12-day break from Swedish. I got in 52 minutes today. I also imported my Swedish deck back into Anki and had about 360 reviews, of which I did slightly less than half. I was failing a lot of cards :lol: I think I'm just a bit rusty doing literally zero Swedish for 12 days.

One more lesson each for Russian and German with Assimil (32 > 33), and lesson 5 of the RT course. I was searching/browsing Reddit last night and read some very beginner Russian (не знаю почему ...) one of the Russian learners had written in one of the language subs on there and I was so delighted I was able to read it that it gave me a slight boost in morale. I think what I want to do for Russian in particular is get to some non-course something that I can actually do. Which probably doesn't exist because I know next to no Russian but I think I'd feel more confident about where this language is going for me if I can do something easy.

Something new about German in today's lesson: conjugated verbs are in the last position in subclauses :lol: It was weird enough in main clauses to have infinitives in the last position, but this thing with subclauses is hilarious. I can't wait to see what happens when there is a conjugated verb plus an infinitive in a subclause (no spoilers!!!). I have no idea why German seems so hilarious (in a joyful way) to me. I found it very endearing to find out es tut mir Leid means "it does me suffering" :lol: If you don't know German, that's their equivalent of "I'm sorry." Compare with Swedish's "I am sad" (jag är ledsen) or "forgive/excuse me" (förlåt). I might make this a side project to find out how various languages apologize lol.
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Re: Morgana goes down the rabbit hole (German, Russian, Swedish)

Postby aaleks » Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:13 am

About stress in Russian words. Native speakers misplace it too. Not the way non-native speakers would, I guess, but it seems there really is no rule so we just know how this or that word is supposed to be pronounced (or just guess). Sometimes misplaced stress might be just a regional way of saying the word, or something like workplace jargon, etc.
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Re: Morgana changes her log title (German, Russian, Swedish)

Postby Morgana » Thu Jul 25, 2019 1:08 am

Since Friday (07/19), I have:
- quit Russian
- resumed Swedish
- also resumed Russian
- dumped all of my Icelandic material back onto my laptop’s hard drive
- ordered Assimil Spanish
- made future plans for Finnish
- decided I don’t actually care about Spanish and therefore cancelled the order for Assimil
- questioned everything
- felt like whatever time I might spend on Icelandic would be better invested in French (bigger language = more media)
- started feeling demotivated/overwhelmed, thought it might be fun just to focus on the Germanic languages I've got going
- gave up on the idea of ever doing Icelandic and/or Finnish
- quit Russian again
- Dutch?!
- resumed Russian again

Yikes I get off the path way too easily :lol: With the waffling over Russian, it came down to this: there isn't another language I'd rather do in its place, so if I'm going to do three, the third one ought to be Russian.

I have forgotten to previously comment about AndyMeg's exciting path adjustment toward ALG. I am quite interested to hear about how that goes for her/him. Good luck, AndyMeg :D

From the ALG video AndyMeg posted:
Dr. Brown concluded that adults haven’t lost the ability to learn languages like children. Rather, they’ve lost the opportunities for experience that children get, and gained abilities to consciously think about language, and try to speak, study, and practice it. Using these abilities gets in the way of learning languages as well as children do. That suggests with the same kind of experience and approach as children, adults can learn languages practically as easily and as well.

Dr. Brown wrote that those who did best with ALG were those who practically forgot that they were learning a language.
So ALG isn't just about having a long silent period (while preferably being immersed I suppose), but also not trying to think about or analyze the language. Enjoying it. Being interested in the content, the message being communicated.

AndyMeg also posted about changing how she/he tracks time (or not tracking) and made some observations about behaviour when tracking or not tracking and I've made similar observations about my own behaviour. I think tracking is a useful practice because it provides some kind of feedback in terms of how regularly/consistently one is engaging, but there are also drawbacks. In my case, when I track I tend to feel more averse to getting started because I have the attitude that I need to get X amount of time in. I avoid doing little activities here and there throughout the day, because tracking 5-10 minute little bits throughout the day is a pain. But then saving up all my language time for a big chunk somewhere just creates this overly rigid/formal attitude towards spending time in the target language, so it kind of backfires... for me, anyway. So with Swedish at least I'm going to stop tracking again. With the beginner languages I'll keep tracking as long as I'm in course land, since that's desk time anyway.

Alright so it has been another weekend/weekstart of disruptions that left me with not much focused time for learning but loads of time to overthink (see the stuff at the start of this post lol). But anyway I think what I need to do with Russian is find some easy, fun stuff to do. Assimil is fine but it's like banging my head against a wall at times because in real time it feels like nothing sinks in. And then I also thought I should get on the Youtube algorithm thing like other people around here. I don't use Youtube much at all and certainly not while logged in because it never occurs to me to build up a viewing history. But I should do that with my TLs and then I eventually won't have to put effort into finding stuff to watch, Youtube will find it for me.

Since I'm not an app person though, I deleted Clozemaster for the 5th or 6th time over the weekend. I just keep forgetting to use it.

And finally, speaking of algorithms, Spotify put the following song on my Discover Weekly playlist and I admit it's got me curious about Dutch now:


I mean... how hard could it be to do Russian plus literally all of the Germanic languages? (Not literally all of the Germanic languages. Also I'm not being serious at all, about doing all of them or about doing all of them being easy.) Elsa Maria mentioned about ordering Assimil Dutch, so I will perhaps wait to hear how she finds it before I jump on that bandwagon.
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Re: Morgana changes her log title (German, Russian, Swedish)

Postby Morgana » Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:46 pm

I think I'm setting a record for the slowest progress through an Assimil course. Since the start of the month I've done 13.5 lessons of Assimil Russian (23 > 36.5) and 10 lessons of Assimil German (24 > 34). I've also done 5 lessons of the RT course (0 > 5). I took 12 days off of Swedish between the 8th and 19th inclusive. Though I brought Swedish back on the 20th for 52 minutes of L2R2 of Röta, I followed that up with not touching Swedish for another 6 days. On the 27th I did 26 more minutes of L2R2, for a total of 78 minutes since the 20th.

Lesson 35 of Assimil Russian was a kind of chaos I am choosing to pretend never happened. They just started rattling off cases endings for the genders/plurals of nouns and adjectives, followed up with some verb conjugations that I am not sure I grasped. The verb conjugations did include the imperative, which is easy, so that was one bright spot I guess. My new strategy for dealing with the grammar notes Assimil includes in their course is to read them over and then disregard. I am instead putting 99% of my energy into understanding each dialogue. I can do a clean-up round after completing the first pass through Assimil, or, more likely, I'll simply buy a grammar book to work through when the course is done. No active wave for me, btw.

One other thing I'm trying with Russian is dropping lesson reviews. I feel uneasy about this, but doing my usual Russian session leaves me feeling very mentally drained so I'm trying to reduce the cognitive load. Every line of every dialogue already goes into Anki, with audio. Also into Anki goes each exercise from each lesson (usually 5 audio and 5 fill-in-the-blanks). In a way I've been double reviewing, by doing Anki and going over the last 3 dialogues 2-3x each. But I'm going to hope Anki alone will be sufficient review from now on.

I have recently remembered that Cortina exists so I might do that after Assimil. Or maybe focus on the RT course. Or both or neither while doing a grammar book. Of course, at my current rate of progress through Assimil it will probably be the end of the year before I've completed it :lol: :cry:

As for German, it's still going fine I've just had some disruptions to my regular routine over the last 2-3 weeks and haven't been prioritizing getting the lessons in. Anki reviews rarely give me problems though, so I'm not worried about the stretches of nothing between lessons.

And then that just leaves Swedish. Röta is not a challenging book for me. The audiobook is relatively pleasantly read. I have previously listened to it about 75% of the way through, which could be a good thing or a bad thing but it just feels neutral to me. Considering all of these points, L2R2 should be a low-stress, low-effort activity for me to get in everyday, and yet I don't.

I have some ideas for changes/additions to the above, but I haven't made any decisions yet. Maybe by the next update :P
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Re: Morgana changes her log title (German, Russian, Swedish)

Postby cjareck » Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:36 pm

Morgana wrote:Every line of every dialogue already goes into Anki, with audio. Also into Anki goes each exercise from each lesson (usually 5 audio and 5 fill-in-the-blanks).

I also use this method. However, with dialogues, I put the script and audio to one line and only some pictures as hints for the second line (which is in most cases the reply). Then I try to guess what should be in the second line. The idea is based on the exercise from FSI Hebrew Basic Course. I should also make the opposite - audio and script for the second line and hints to guess the first one, but I do not want to mess with the system that works very good already.
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