Because why not? (German, Russian)

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Ice Blue
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Because why not? (German, Russian)

Postby Ice Blue » Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:23 pm

Hello everyone!

After more than a year of lurking I finally decided to start a log, though I'm not sure I'll write regularly in it :)

Some background information: I'm 28, I'm Swiss and live in the French speaking part of the country. I started learning languages as a hobby when I was 21 years old ; at the time I was in uni but very bored with what I was studying there (I actually dropped out of it at 22). One day I stumbled on a video of Nanne Grönvall's song Hall Om Mig and it got me super interested in Swedish. For almost a year I worked on this language very diligently and I ended up finding the HTLAL forum, where I discovered endless possibilities in the ways of learning languages - as well as the concept of wanderlust, with which I battled for something like two years before I decided that enough was enough and that I needed to concentrate on three languages max. So for the last... three, four years I've been concentrating my efforts on German, Croatian and Hungarian. The results are... not particularly impressive but I'm still satisfied with it. I can finally watch tv shows in German without the help of subtitles and have now read a few books in it too. Basically I now need to work on my output - easier said than done! German has been a real struggle for years, I have no idea why. Suffice to say that when I noticed that the language had finally *clicked* in my brain (something I had waited for a looong time to happen), I was extremely happy for I knew that the hardest part was behind me and that all I needed to do now was to consume media in the language.

Croatian is coming along nicely ; certainly much more easily than German ever did which is quite a surprise. I've been watching animated movies and children tv shows dubbed in Croatian for the last three weeks (no subtitles available for most of those). It's hard to say how much I actually understand because I'm getting better at the language and not because I actually remember some of the lines from my previous binge watching. Since the beginning of 2019 I've done 7 hours of listening, which is already more than what I've done for the whole of 2018. I really neglected Croatian last year.

Hungarian is definitely the language that gave me the most trouble out of all the languages I've ever studied (even more so than Japanese, which I actually took evening classes for once a week during a year and a half when I was still in high-school). The vocabulary is so different, the word order so unusual... I like that it's so difficult though. It's a real challenge and I want to see if I'm able to teach myself such a language from scrap. Right now I barely understand anything when I watch tv shows with no subtitles - maybe 5 to 10% of what is being said, depending on the complexity of the dialogues. Of course that's much better than it used to be but I still have a long way to go.

I will keep on studying these languages the most during 2019 ; I want to read Harry Potter und der Feuerkelch , then I'd like to log in something like 70 hours of German listening, 70 hours of Hungarian listening and maybe 30 hours of Croatian listening.
As you can see, those are rather small numbers considering I have no special goals when it comes to reading in those languages (except the Harry Potter one). That's because I alternate periods of language learning with periods during which my other hobbies occupy most of my free time. Right now I'm in a phase where I do a lot of language studying but I know that in a few weeks I'll be either busy playing video games or, hopefully, be back to writing my novel, which takes a lot of energy and time. So if I manage to squeeze this total of listening hours during 2019, I'll be satisfied :D

Other languages:

Next in line for some serious studying : Russian. I have a love-hate relationship with this language, just like I have a love-hate relationship with the country itself. I'm usually not one to learn a language just because it would be useful, I need more than that. To be honest I don't really know why I'm going to learn Russian. I first started studying it a few years ago more out of boredom than anything else. At the time I was already working on Hungarian and in comparison Russian looked quite easy ; I learned cyrilic for fun, then a few words, then had fun studying translations of Russian bands' song. Now the language sounds quite familiar and I feel like it wouldn't be too much effort to actually become proficient in it. I think 20 hours of listening would be a good start - I'll be using some russian youtubers Let's Play videos to get that input. I'm in absolutely no rush with that language which is why I don't particularly want to log in a lot of hours. Also, I have a bilingual english-russian book of compiled fairy tales that I want to read.

Languages that I've studied but are on the back burner for now : Hindi, Japanese. Love those language, especially Hindi and its beautiful script but for now I'll do nothing more with those than listen to songs and maybe watch an anime or two.

Well I think that's enough for today! Now it's time for some German :D
Last edited by Ice Blue on Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Daniel N.
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Re: Because why not?

Postby Daniel N. » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:09 pm

It surprises me every time I hear someone finds Croatian easier than German (and he or she is not Russian or Czech). I'm glad you like it!
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Re: Because why not?

Postby lavengro » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:13 pm

Ice Blue wrote:.... To be honest I don't really know why I'm going to learn Russian. I first started studying it a few years ago more out of boredom than anything else. At the time I was already working on Hungarian and in comparison Russian looked quite easy

As someone who would someday love to give Hungarian a try, it scares me every time I hear someone say that Russian looks quite easy compared to Hungarian!
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Re: Because why not?

Postby StringerBell » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:01 am

I'm looking forward to reading more of your log. Your English writing is very good. Was there anything in particular that you did to develop it so well?
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Re: Because why not?

Postby Ice Blue » Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:10 am

Daniel N. wrote:It surprises me every time I hear someone finds Croatian easier than German (and he or she is not Russian or Czech). I'm glad you like it!


I don't even know why, it's like Croatian has such "clear" sounds that it's much easier to guess which words ends where. The vocabulary sticked much more easily too than the German one, although I really can't say why :?: Also, German's "verb at the end of the sentence" rule is quite difficult to get used to!

lavengro wrote: As someone who would someday love to give Hungarian a try, it scares me every time I hear someone say that Russian looks quite easy compared to Hungarian!


Haha, no worries, I know about people who found Hungarian to be easier than Russian or some other well studied languages, so really, take my opinion with a grain of salt :) I hope you will take the plunge with Hungarian!

StringerBell wrote:I'm looking forward to reading more of your log. Your English writing is very good. Was there anything in particular that you did to develop it so well?


Thank you :) Honestly, my English level fluctuates quite a bit... Earlier in my twenties I had two friends with whom I could only communicate in English so writing long emails to them definitely helped in that regard. I also used to write fanfictions or original short stories in English. And probably more useful than anything else: reading. Fanfictions, once again, at first. I started reading those in English when I was around thirteen or fourteen years old and through the years I've read hundreds of thousands of words; probably more than a million. This helped tremendously :) (I wasn't aware at the time but reading fanfictions was me taking the risk to learn wrong since those can be written by absolutely anybody with no control on the quality of the writing. But it was so much fun!)


**

So, after a few days of being too lazy to write anything in my log, here's what I've been doing:

German

-Listening: 4H15 (a few Galileo episodes and a Disney movie)

Croatian

-Listening: 1H20 (an animated movie)

Russian

-Listening: 30 minutes
-Reading: One page and a half (Father Frost)
-Translating: one song (Знак Водолея by Винтаж).


**

I haven't done anything in Hungarian. For now I'm happy working on my German with the help of Galileo. I like those documentaries; they're short, diverse, sometimes silly but interesting. I might start working on another Russian translation today. We'll see :)

I also want to exercise today; I hurt my shoulder last summer during a workout and since then I found all possible excuses to not do anything anymore even though my legs were working perfectly fine :D
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Re: Because why not?

Postby SGP » Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:54 am

Ice Blue wrote:
Daniel N. wrote:It surprises me every time I hear someone finds Croatian easier than German (and he or she is not Russian or Czech). I'm glad you like it!
It is a bit of a surprise to me, too. But different people have got different learning abilities. And there are some things in German that also could be much easier.

I don't even know why, it's like Croatian has such "clear" sounds that it's much easier to guess which words ends where. The vocabulary sticked much more easily too than the German one, although I really can't say why :?: Also, German's "verb at the end of the sentence" rule is quite difficult to get used to!
Did you ever hear about Mark Twain's (non-fiction) book about the "schreckliche" German language? Even at his time, these "End of the Sentence Verbs" already were being discussed a bit. And yes, they may be a bit difficult to get used to in the beginning. But I wouldn't at all consider them an obstacle that is too difficult to overcome.

lavengro wrote: As someone who would someday love to give Hungarian a try, it scares me every time I hear someone say that Russian looks quite easy compared to Hungarian!

Haha, no worries, I know about people who found Hungarian to be easier than Russian or some other well studied languages, so really, take my opinion with a grain of salt :) I hope you will take the plunge with Hungarian!
Hungarian and Finnish are a bit special because they belong to a different family. But still... sometimes things could appear more difficult than they really are.
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Re: Because why not?

Postby Ice Blue » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:23 pm

Well, I'm back after an incredibly long time! (half a year, almost)

It's not that I have forgotten about this forum ; I actually still lurk there almost everyday but I'm quite lazy and every time I logged in with the goal to write another post I'd go "Nah, I'll do this another time". Well, now is the time I guess! :)

Looking back on what I wrote a few months ago I can see that my language learning goals have shifted quite a bit ; while I had decided to put most efforts towards Croatian and Hungarian, I ended doing absolutely nothing with the latter. So what have I been doing?

-Croatian: I watched a few animated movies (The Lion King 1 and 2, Bug's Life, Boss Baby, Dinosaur, Mulan and Balto 1,2 and 3) and a few episodes of Legend of Korra. I'm quite happy with what I can understand which amounts to something like 40-50% of what is being said (sometimes even more!). I also tried reading the translated version of the novel Divergent by Veronica Roth. I understand most of the dialogues but when it comes to descriptive paragraphs my comprehension is still quite low, even though I should know what's happening because I've read Divergent in French. Still I'm happy with my progress ; when I tried reading that same novel a few months ago even the dialogues were difficult to make sense of.

Recently I decided to put Croatian on the back burner because I suddenly found myself quite motivated to give Russian more time. My knowledge of those languages is too shaky for me to learn both at the same time - I fear I would end up mixing them.

-Russian: Russian has unexpectedly become my main focus those last two months. I watched the entire season 1 of Desperate Housewives in Russian - no subtitles. I could barely understand anything (something like 2-3% of what was said, a few words here and there and very rarely part of an easy sentence) but my goal was simply to get used to the spoken language. I've watched the series enough time to know what's happening in every scene so it's still an enjoyable activity. At the end of season 1 and after a few hours of Let's Play videos on youtube I noticed the language was getting easier to understand. When I re-watched the Let's Play vids I had first seen two months ago, I could suddenly understand something like 20-25% of what was being said - quite an increase in comprehension compared to my first viewings (that being said, Let's Plays are often repetitive and the content a bit limited ... but still)

I'm currently on episode 8 of the second season of Desperate Housewives and here too I noticed changes : my comprehension has now increased to something between maybe 5 to 8% of what is said. I found that to be very encouraging : as a mean to boost my comprehension and learn more vocabulary I've read the first two chapters of the translated version of José Mauro de Vasconcelo's novel My Sweet Orange Tree. I have no idea if the translation is actually good ; I'm just trying to get used to written Russian and learn a few words while reading something I enjoy. I also managed to find some manga translated in Russian, and I've read a few chapters. It's not a lot but still much more than what I had planned to do at the beginning of the year with this language.

German: A few days ago I came back from my second trip in 2019 to Austria - I went there for the first time ever in january and visited Innsbruck and Salzburg. Last week I visited Vienna : it's such a beautiful city and I look forward to going back there. I actually spoke no German there, only English. The fact is that when it comes to understanding the spoken language my abilities are not too shabby but my output is miles behind ; I'm guessing this is because I never write in German and rarely read it. From what I remember those are the two activities that really cemented my knowledge of English in my early twenties. So I decided to double down on my efforts with German : I bought Picknick mit Bären by Bill Bryson (one of my favorite authors) and I'm currently re-reading In eisige Höhen by Jon Krakauer - the German translated version of Into thin air. I can already see that my reading has improved : when I first read In eisige Höhen - and even though I knew the story because I had previously read that book two times in French - there were a lot of descriptive paragraphs where I only had a very vague idea of what was happening. Now I still don't understand everything but I can grasp most of what's going on even through those complex descriptive paragraphs.

I'm also currently watching Downton Abbey in German. Love it!

Goals : For the coming months and for as long as my motivation remains I'm going to watch all movies and tv series that interest me either in German or Russian. I will try to read Picknick mit Bären in its entirety and at least two or three manga in Russian. If I manage to do that I'll be satisfied!

SGP wrote:Did you ever hear about Mark Twain's (non-fiction) book about the "schreckliche" German language? Even at his time, these "End of the Sentence Verbs" already were being discussed a bit. And yes, they may be a bit difficult to get used to in the beginning. But I wouldn't at all consider them an obstacle that is too difficult to overcome.

I actually hadn't ever heard about it but it intrigued me and I looked for this essay just now and found it! This should be interesting :)

Well that's it for now... See you all again later (in another six months, maybe?!)
Last edited by Ice Blue on Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Because why not?

Postby Ice Blue » Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:15 pm

I had my first dream in German during the night. Well, "in German" might be exagerating a lot, since I remember only saying one badly constructed sentence and it was something like "Gibt es Restaurant in der nähe?" (I know my priorities). Even if it's only one very short sentence I'm happy because I actually can't remember ever dreaming in English - and I was using that language quite intensively a few years ago so you'd think a few dreams here and there in English would have been a logical occurrence.

German

I tried reading Bill Bryson's Picknick mit Bären but didn't get very far. I understand what's going on but there are just a few too many words whose meaning escape me for it to really be enjoyable. Also, the text size is a bit too small for my liking. I plan on going back to this book but later, when I will have expanded my vocabulary.

I started reading Mathilda by Oliver Pätzold, which seems a bit easier with a vocabulary closer to what my level allows me to understand. The synopsis says it's a story about a father looking for his eighteen years old daughter that fled somewhere in Germany, while an asteroid hits the Earth and provokes a tsunami and earthquakes that destroy parts of Europe. I hope I'll like it enough to go through all 400 pages!

I have two days off coming during which I'm going to study German but probably not as much as I had planned because I have exams coming up and have to study for those too. I'm probably going to watch episode 2 of Downton Abbey and maybe a movie.

Haven't done anything in Russian or Croatian those last days, I'm concentrating solely on German and it's going pretty well :D
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Re: Because why not?

Postby Ice Blue » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:02 am

I forgot to mention that previously but corrections are welcome if you notice mistakes in my posts. I'm not asking for you to mention every little mistake (it would be way too tedious) but more like if you see some really weird turn of phrases or some very blatant grammatical errors, or mistakes that I appear to be making often. I'm usually satisfied with my writing level in English (especially since I don't actually need it for anything, so no pressure) but I'd like to be able to keep writing short stories in it and not feel like it's a chore.

German:

Watched six episodes of American Horror Story : Roanoke. The episodes are quite short - not even 40 minutes for some. I'm not planning on watching the next four because I saw this serie a few years ago and remember thinking the last episodes were meh ; too gory, not very interesting. Also watched an episode of Das Grosse Baken - Die Profis. This is harder to understand because some candidates have strong regional accents but it's a good listening exercise :)

I had planned to watch Chernobyl in German but my coworker/friend wanted us to watch it last night... in French. So that's what we did and in retrospect it wasn't such a bad idea because the show is rife with technical and scientific terms which I definitely wouldn't have understood in German.

Currently reading :

Image

I'm on page 135. I have looked up a few words but apart from those I'm doing extensive reading rather than intensive. I still understand everything that's going on ; I think the writing style is quite simple, so it's not like I suddenly gained a high level of comprehension in German.

Yesterday I started reading this book :

Image

Definitely way harder than Mathilda. Fortunately I'm familiar with the case so I'm not totally lost but this is a read that is going to take much energy from me. It's also very long : 670 pages. I'll tell you how it's going a few chapters in :)

Russian:

Didn't watch anything but read the first volume of the manga Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories . I'm on the second one now.

Italian: I hadn't planned to be working on Italian but yesterday I assisted to a few presentations in this language in the context of my job training. We actually had a translator in the room with us that was translating simultaneously but I didn't want to wear the headband device because it was hot. So I decided to simply listen to the presenters. That went very well. Quite happy to see that even though I definitely can't speak Italian with ease at least I can still understand it :D
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Re: Because why not? (German, Russian)

Postby Ice Blue » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:12 pm

German I'm on page 150 of Die Toten vom Djatlow-Pass. It's actually not as difficult to read as I had imagined. Wasn't expecting to see pictures of the bodies. Aleksej Rakitin really did some detailed work with this book. I'll soon be getting to the "what could've happened?" part and I think it's going to be interesting.

Russian I'm on episode 10, season 2 of Desperate Housewives.

I started reading an article written by Anna Politkovskaya. It's difficult, I barely get anything and I'm using google translate to help. I'm probably not yet at the level where it would be useful for me to read something as complex but whatever. I'm not going to wait years and years before doing something I actually want, and reading Politkovskaya's articles in her mother tongue is definitely something I want to do. Reading her books is partly what got me interested in Russia's politics (hers and Svetlana Alexievich books too).

I don't really like the Russian language ; it doesn't sound particularly beautiful to my ears. I'm not the biggest fan of the country (though I don't hate it either). This is the only language I'm learning purely because it could be useful and because I want to read the news in the source language.

For fun I tried reading two pages of Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago. I have the French version too so I simply read one sentence after another, first in Russian, then in French. Let's just say I still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding what I'm reading :)

Other I found my Swedish version of the book Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets that I had forgotten I actually had. I read a few sentences to see if I remembered anything from my Swedish studies, a few years ago. I understood more than I expected, probably because now I can also read in German, which helps with the vocabulary. It felt good to see that even though I haven't studied Swedish in many years I haven't lost all of it and hopefully I could get back to my previous level quite easily (mainly because my level was quite weak to begin with!)

I'm also starting to feel the need to study Hungarian, which I haven't done at all this year. I'm going to Budapest in a few days, I'll buy a book there to try and start reading a bit in that language :)
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