gsbod's language log (mostly German)

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gsbod
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Posts: 304
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:22 pm
Location: UK
Languages: Native: English
Also speaks: German
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Rusty: French
Language Log: viewtopic.php?t=1152
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gsbod's language log (mostly German)

Postby gsbod » Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:44 pm

Now that there is a bit more clarity on what will be happening with the forum situation, I think the time has come to set up my language log here, picking up where I left off with my log on HTLAL.

I have just returned from a somewhat epic two week trip to Germany. I had a great time, the only disappointment being the quality of my German! Well, you reap what you sow, and in the weeks leading up to the trip I had been somewhat distracted by other things and had not been spending as much quality time with the language as I should have done. Also, when I was actually in Germany, I should have made more effort to listen to the radio, watch TV, and read more in German than I actually did. However, it was a really active trip and we packed a lot in. I think it's the only holiday I've ever had where I've stuffed my face and still lost weight! There wasn't much down time for media consumption, and during the down time I did have I was generally too tired to do anything more complicated than simple card games. I also confirmed my suspicions that German TV is, in general, pretty dire, I would say on a par with Channel 5 here in the UK. Radio Deutschlandfunk, on the other hand, seems to be at least as good as our BBC Radio 4, so I really should make more of an effort to listen to it.

Some linguistic high points, however, as follows:
Going to a music festival with a really good mix of bands who sing in German and those who sing in English, and understanding some of the stuff that the bands were saying to the crowd in German
Going to a rather lovely cinema to watch the film Victoria - the dialogue of which is actually mostly in English, since the main character doesn't speak German, however the overall effect was that when I could understand the German it added to my understanding of the film, but when I couldn't understand it it just added to my empathy for the main character
Doing a boat trip around the harbour in Hamburg with a German commentary and actually being able to understand some significant chunks of it
Booking into a spa where the guy behind the counter asked me if I wanted to switch to English, I said I didn't mind, he carried on in German and I somehow managed to keep up
Sharing a grumble with a lady outside a café about the cost to use the toilets

Of course there were other times where I was so tired I struggled to manage the most basic things in German. And times when people spoke to me and I didn't have a clue what was going on. And there was that one time in Starbucks where the guy looked at my name scrawled on the side of the cup and was trying to figure out how to pronounce it, and I had a horrible sinking feeling since if you pronounce my first name using German pronunciation rules it sounds like a word you shouldn't use in polite company (turns out it had been spelled wrong anyway, which saved me a good deal of embarassment!)
Last edited by gsbod on Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:04 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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: 8100 / 10000 German Books (10,000 pages)

Corrections are welcome

gsbod
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Posts: 304
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:22 pm
Location: UK
Languages: Native: English
Also speaks: German
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Language Log: viewtopic.php?t=1152
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What next in German?

Postby gsbod » Mon Aug 31, 2015 10:13 pm

Just before I went away on holiday, I finished my Begegnungen A1 textbook. I can't remember the last time I actually finished a textbook. My usual habit is to get halfway through and be distracted by something else. Which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as I am distracted by something else which also helps me learn the language.

Anyway, having finished the A1 textbook, I had something of a dilemma about what to study next. Last year I worked through the first half of Begegnungen A2 in my German class. I could have started work on the second half of the textbook, however if I enroll in the next class this autumn, this would basically mean I would be studying ahead of the class. Not necessarily a bad thing, again, but is it the best use of my time right now? And in any case, if I study ahead too far, maybe I should be aiming for a class at an even higher level anyway (actually, this is another dilemma I shall have anyway come enrolment time).

While I was in Germany, I of course paid a visit to a German bookstore with a substantial Deutsch als Fremdsprache section and even though technically I don't need any more German books, I still came away with a Lernkrimi (Mord Unter den Linden, graded at A2) and a grammar revision/practice book aimed at A1-B1 called Grammatik aktiv. I've made a start with both of those over the last week, and aim to continue with both through September.

I rather like the format of Grammatik aktiv. It borrows a little from the format of Grammaire Progressive (although it's not quite as awesome, I don't think anything is), in that each grammar point is dealt with on a two page spread, with a colourful summary of the grammar point to start with, followed by some practice exercises. The book itself is graded, starting with points you would probably learn at A1 and moving on through A2 and B1 as the book progresses. But even under the earlier grammar points they throw in a couple of more challenging exercises, with A2 or B1 labels against them so that you know what you are facing. Next to the contents page there is also a page of frequently asked questions, with references to the relevant chapter to answer those questions. I think this is a really neat feature, as I can either quiz myself (can I answer the question?) or I can find a quick link to information to answer all those annoying grammar questions that I still need an answer to.

And just to make the point that I'm not just spending my German time on textbooks and easy readers for learners, I'm keeping up with informal tutoring on iTalki, still reading Kafka am Strand (admittedly somewhat slowly - also, it's a long book!), and watching the TV show Berlin, Berlin.
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: 8100 / 10000 German Books (10,000 pages)

Corrections are welcome

gsbod
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Playing around with progress bars

Postby gsbod » Mon Aug 31, 2015 10:21 pm

Updated 10/04/2016:

German Stuff
Begegnungen B1 pages: 70 / 242
Die Gelbe aktuell pages: 21 / 357
Berlin, Berlin episodes: 60 / 86

Completed:
Kafka am Strand percent: 100 / 100

On hold:
Grammatik aktiv chapters: 36 / 80
Sage und Schreibe chapters: 6 / 99
Mord Unter den Linden pages: 37 / 139

Spanish Stuff
Mi Vida Loca episodes: 11 / 22
Gramática de uso del español A chapters: 6 / 107
Assimil lessons: 5 / 109

On hold:
Destinos episodes: 7 / 52
Last edited by gsbod on Sun Apr 10, 2016 5:47 pm, edited 21 times in total.
0 x
: 8100 / 10000 German Books (10,000 pages)

Corrections are welcome

gsbod
Green Belt
Posts: 304
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:22 pm
Location: UK
Languages: Native: English
Also speaks: German
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Rusty: French
Language Log: viewtopic.php?t=1152
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日本語で韓国語を the ultimate language nerd (side) project

Postby gsbod » Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:42 pm

I have finally decided to start dabbling in a language nerd project which I have been thinking about doing for quite some time.

I am going to learn some Korean, using Japanese as the base language!

I don't know much about Korean, however I do know that there are some similarities between Korean and Japanese, even though they are apparently not related. So there should be some interesting parallels in the grammar, plus the fact that both languages share a lot of vocabulary based on Chinese characters, even though there aren't many/any links between original Japanese and original Korean words. So the intellectual curiosity of my inner language nerd has been well and truly piqued by the thought of figuring out a bit more about how Korean works, using Japanese as the base language.

I don't have any lofty goals for Korean however. I just want to have a dabble and satisfy my curiosity. German is still my main priority. Korean is for play time. Also, my chosen study method should also have the additional side effect of keeping my neglected Japanese alive, and I'm quite curious as to how that will play out too.

The course book I am using is 新装版できる韓国語初級I - which I chose because it was one of the first ones that came up on an Amazon JP search, I could confirm that it comes with answer book and CD, and the reviews looked ok.

So far I have just read through the introduction, where I have learned that, apparently, 韓国語は易しい (Korean is easy). From the point of view of a native English speaker, Korean is supposedly one of the most difficult languages to learn, so it's really nice to get a completely different perspective by approaching it through Japanese. The reasons that Korean is easy, are that both Korean and Japanese use particles, the word order is largely the same, and, as I noted above, there are similarities between words based on Chinese characters.

So the next step is to learn how to read/write ハングル (no, I can't spell it in English and I can't be bothered to look it up, I'm learning this language through Japanese after all!)
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: 8100 / 10000 German Books (10,000 pages)

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Evita
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Re: gsbod's language log (DE/FR/JA/KO)

Postby Evita » Fri Sep 04, 2015 5:09 am

Well, good luck with Korean! Knowing Japanese will definitely make it easier for you.

I think the official name of the Korean alphabet in English is Hangul, but it's also often called Hangeul because that's how 한글 is romanized according to the latest rules: ㅎ-h ㅏ-a ㄴ-n ㄱ-g ㅡ-eu ㄹ-l.
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gsbod
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Re: 日本語で韓国語を the ultimate language nerd (side) project

Postby gsbod » Sat Sep 05, 2015 4:40 pm

I guess it was about time I dabbled with a language which presented a whole lot of real pronunciation problems.

I am not one of those lucky individuals with a natural talent for pronunciation. Rather, I am someone of average ability who cares about pronunciation enough to make some effort with it. However, in the great scheme of things, German and Japanese don't have too many pronunciation problems to be solved (or tactically given up on). Korean, on the other hand, seem to be a different beast entirely.

Vowels are tricky for me anyway. I think it's because, being a native English speaker, my vowels are my identity! I've discovered the sound 으 which at the moment I am tending to pronounce like the German ü, even though I know it's wrong, but right now I can't make it right and I figure the most important thing is that I continue to differentiate mentally 으 and 우. 아 and 오 I can just about handle, but then there is this 어 vowel which seems to sit between the two of them just to confuse me.

And that's just the vowels. I know I'm also going to have to start worrying about minimal pairs of aspirated/non-aspirated consonants, which I'm already expecting to be a challenge for my English speaking mouth and ears.

I know this sounds like I'm just complaining, but really, I'm quite enjoying the challenge of facing some brand new linguistic problems.

Also, now I'm getting to know how Hangeul (thanks Evita!) works, I think it's a rather lovely writing system.

The best thing is that, since I am only dabbling, I can enjoy the challenges and then put it down again when I've had enough. Right now it's just a single textbook and a notepad, with no pressure and no expectations, and I'm just enjoying the sense of wonder at new discoveries.
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Evita
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Re: 日本語で韓国語を the ultimate language nerd (side) project

Postby Evita » Sat Sep 05, 2015 6:47 pm

gsbod wrote:I guess it was about time I dabbled with a language which presented a whole lot of real pronunciation problems.

I am not one of those lucky individuals with a natural talent for pronunciation. Rather, I am someone of average ability who cares about pronunciation enough to make some effort with it. However, in the great scheme of things, German and Japanese don't have too many pronunciation problems to be solved (or tactically given up on). Korean, on the other hand, seem to be a different beast entirely.


True.

Vowels are tricky for me anyway. I think it's because, being a native English speaker, my vowels are my identity! I've discovered the sound 으 which at the moment I am tending to pronounce like the German ü, even though I know it's wrong, but right now I can't make it right and I figure the most important thing is that I continue to differentiate mentally 으 and 우. 아 and 오 I can just about handle, but then there is this 어 vowel which seems to sit between the two of them just to confuse me.


Generally it's pretty easy to pronounce 으 because it's barely there. Let me give you an example. Koreans have borrowed quite a few words from English but they had to change them so that they would fit within the Korean rules. Let's take the word "style". It starts with two consonants. In Korean, a syllable can never start with two consonants, so what do they do? Drop one? No, they create a separate syllable for the first consonant. The result looks like this: 스타일. You see that the 으 is there, but the pronunciation is practically the same as in English.

As for 어 and 오, sure they are difficult at first, but maybe German will help you. If you listen to the words "oben" and "kochen", you will hear that the "o" sounds in them are different. The first is similar to 오, and the second one is similar to 어.

And that's just the vowels. I know I'm also going to have to start worrying about minimal pairs of aspirated/non-aspirated consonants, which I'm already expecting to be a challenge for my English speaking mouth and ears.


The aspirated ones won't be a problem, they correspond pretty well to their English counterparts and their pronunciation rarely changes. But in general there are many pronunciation rules to remember, and a lot of them are for connecting two syllables. For example, the letter 's' (ㅅ) can be pronounced as either 's', 'sh', 't' or 'n' depending on what comes next. For example:

옷 - ot - clothes
옷이 - oshi - clothes + a particle

The problem with words like this is that if you learn just the dictionary form 옷, you won't recognize this word in speech because it will be pronounced differently depending on what particle (if any) follows it. It took me months to come to terms with this and start internalizing it.

Another example:

있어 - isso - exists
있나? - inna? - exists?
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: 325 / 1500 Korean Hanja

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gsbod
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Posts: 304
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:22 pm
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Languages: Native: English
Also speaks: German
Certificates: Japanese (JLPT N2)
Rusty: French
Language Log: viewtopic.php?t=1152
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Re: 日本語で韓国語を the ultimate language nerd (side) project

Postby gsbod » Sat Sep 05, 2015 7:03 pm

It's interesting that 으 has a tendency to disappear - something very similar happens with the u and i sounds in Japanese when they come after an unvoiced consonant.

The oben/kochen distinction did occur to me, yet I seem to still struggle more with 어 and 오. I don't know if this is because the difference in spelling forces me to be less lazy, or if there is something else going on.

Thank you for the tip on sound shifts before particles - I will make sure to pay this some attention when the time comes.
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gsbod
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Posts: 304
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:22 pm
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German: A Personal Super Challenge

Postby gsbod » Wed Sep 09, 2015 7:45 pm

My German has reached that magical stage where native materials are accessible enough that all I need to do to improve my comprehension is keep using them, and yet I still have competing demands on how I spend my German time. I thought that now would really be a perfect time for a Super Challenge in German, except I'd have to wait until next May for that. So the idea occured to me, that I could do my own Personal Super Challenge instead!

This certainly comes with some benefits. I get to set my own rules and work within my own timetable and I get none of the downsides to comparing myself with others (admittedly none of the upsides either). I also get to play around some more with the cool new progress bar feature, which I think makes up for missing out on the Twitter Bot.

So this is what I'm going to do:
Books: I'm going old school, with 10,000 pages. I'll count anything that has or could appear in some kind of bound paper volume, but I'll probably be reading most of it on my Kindle. I won't be counting newspaper articles, web pages etc, just to keep things simple
TV/Film: Since this project is my own, I'm going for a nice round 10,000 minutes. I'll count any films or TV programmes as long as I am concentrating on them and not using English subtitles
Timescales: My concern here is volume, not speed. I don't want to put myself under unnecessary pressure to prioritise when time is tight, but I still have the target to aim for when I do have the free time. So I'm not setting a deadline. Also, I'm going to count stuff I've already watched/read, because I only really started with native materials this year, I'm half way through various TV series and a novel and I don't want to complicate things, and it's a personal challenge so it's up to me anyway. It also fits nicely in with the 読みたい/"I want to read" theme with which I started my old HTLAL log in January.

I will keep updating this post to add things once I've finished reading/watching things.

Edit: I am now just tracking what I read and watch using a spreadsheet on Google Docs, which is proving much simpler for me!
Last edited by gsbod on Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:45 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Anya
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Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=21&t=754&p=11667#p11667
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Re: gsbod's language log (DE/FR/JA/KO)

Postby Anya » Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:14 pm

Hi gsbod!

I am in Heidelberg right now, for three days, and I wish you good luck with your German!
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