Morgana's log

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Iversen
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Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1027
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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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Morgana
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Postby Morgana » Sat Jul 20, 2019 1:14 am

Last edited by Morgana on Mon Nov 25, 2019 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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StringerBell
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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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Postby Morgana » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:10 am

Last edited by Morgana on Mon Nov 25, 2019 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Morgana
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Postby Morgana » Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:46 am

Last edited by Morgana on Mon Nov 25, 2019 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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aaleks
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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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Morgana
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Postby Morgana » Thu Jul 25, 2019 1:08 am

Last edited by Morgana on Mon Nov 25, 2019 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Morgana
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Postby Morgana » Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:46 pm

Last edited by Morgana on Mon Nov 25, 2019 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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cjareck
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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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