Carl's log: Spanish, Scandinavian, German

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Carl's log: Spanish, Scandinavian, German

Postby Carl » Wed Oct 28, 2020 3:40 pm

I've lurked for some years on HTLAL and this site; this is my first post.

My major new project is to learn to understand spoken Danish. It's bugged me for years that I can't understand spoken Danish, and now I intend to remedy that.

I lived in Sweden and Norway for five years each, starting in 1991, and was able to live and work comfortably in both languages. I haven't returned since 2001, but I maintain the languages through reading the news, listening to podcasts, and off-again, on-again schedules of conversations with native Swedish speakers.

I visited Denmark often; the written language is similar enough to Swedish and (especially) Norwegian that it took little effort to become comfortable reading the paper, and I read one novel, Frøken Snillas fornemmelse for sne. But spoken Danish is very different--the standard characterization is that Danes speak like they have hot potatoes in the back of their mouths. At Scandinavian conferences, the Danish speakers make a (generally successful) effort to speak so non-Danes can understand them, but the Danish of the street or radio or TV is hard for me to pick out the words in.

My mild background frustration with not understanding Danish has been amplified this year, as I've started listening to the podcast Norsken, Svensken og Dansken, with three radio journalists, one from each of those countries, gathering weekly for a "panskandinavisk terapitime." The Dane, Hassan Preisler, seems to have a lot of interesting, sometimes heart-wrenching, comments to contribute to the conversations--but I can't understand a whole lot of what he says. And when they play clips from Danish media, it's even harder to understand.

So I'm going to start a listening-reading (LR) experiment, based on Yuurei's experiment with Italian: I'm also mimicking the format of describing the experiment.

My situation is a bit different from Yuurei, who was approaching Italian as a new language related to other, known languages. I'm working from a decent knowledge of Danish vocabulary and grammar; I just want to understand it as spoken. Also, I have no desire to speak or write Danish--I can easily use Swedish or Norwegians when communicating in Scandinavian with Danes.

I've purchased Harry Potter og De Vises Sten as ebook and audiobook, and that will be my source material. I know the material well: I've read it in English; I'm reading it (LR) in Spanish; and I've used the movie to make Spanish subs2srs Anki flashcards, which I'm zooming through.

I was dismayed when I started listening to the book, because the reader uses a Danish close to the clearly spoken variety I'm used to from pan-Scandinavian conferences. But dipping in here and there, it seems the Danish--while easier for me to understand than a lot of spoken Danish--is generally a more typical, for-Danes-only variety.

I took a Dialang test for the first time. The horrible interface made it an ordeal.

My plan looks as follows:

Listening-Reading in a language I can read but not understand when spoken (Danish)

Previous learning: No formal studying, except for looking up occasional words when reading. Exposure from numerous visits.
Knowledge of related languages: Swedish (C1), Norwegian (B2); both estimated for end of the time I lived there, 20 years ago.
Dialang pre-test listening: Dialang said my self-assessment was consistent with A2, but the test results suggest I'm at B2. I think the test results place me too high. While I answered most of the (mostly) multiple choice questions correctly, there were a bunch of things in the recordings that I didn't understand.
Dialang pre-test reading: I was so put off by the clumsy format of the listening test, including its freezing for a long time when I'd done 27 of 30 questions, that I didn't take the reading test. However, on the placement test, where I was given a list of 50 or so verbs and asked to say whether each was a real word or nonsense, I scored 583 out of 1000. Dialang said, "People who score at this level typically have a good basic vocabulary, but may have difficulty handling material that is intended for native speakers." This may underestimate my reading skills, since I may recognize Danish words in context, both from the context and from their relationship to Norwegian or Swedish words, without being able to accurately identify them as true Danish words in this test.
Time frame: October 29, 2020 - finished, probably a month or so
Expected learning time: 30 hours
LR Material: Harry Potter og Den Vises Sten (Runtime: 9:40)
Learning steps:
1. Listen to audio while reading along in Danish x2 (19:20)
2. Listen to audio without reading (9:40, unless I decide to repeat some sections)
Alternative: If I've mastered understanding the Danish sufficiently before the second time through while reading, I may start step 2 early.
Test conditions: To prevent contaminating the experiment, I will refrain from any other exposure to spoken Danish during the time of the experiments, except for the 20 minutes or so of Danish in each weekly episode of the podcast Norsken, Svensken og Dansken. I may use a dictionary a little or look up special things like how to count from 1 to 100 in the Danish system of 20s; if so, I'll note it in a future post.

Maybe I'll write something about my work learning and maintaining other languages in a future post. However, I already fear I take too much time away from language learning to read about it; I'm hesitant to jump into the fray of writing and responding here. I plan to report back on the results when I'm finished.

20201030: Edited to correct spelling of "Yuurei"
Last edited by Carl on Fri Oct 30, 2020 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Carl's log: Spanish, Scandinavian, German

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:52 pm

Welcome onboard!

That's some plan you've got there! There are members here who are native speakers of the Scandinavian languages, so feel free to ask any questions you might have. I'm from Sweden and watch anything I can in Danish and Norwegian. I've written a little about my listening experiences for both languages in my log (posts from late 2018 until the end of 2019).
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