Saim's log 2017-2019

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-03-08, 9:40

eskandar wrote:I like how you're always trying different things. I can't tell if I keep doing generally the same things because they work for me, or just because I'm lazy. :hmm:


I think I try different things in part because I'm lazy. I don't really have any outstanding external reasons to study most (if not all) of my languages, so mixing up activities makes it easier for me to put the hours in.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-03-10, 10:59

Hungarian

A couple of days ago I finished my first novel in Hungarian! :mrgreen: I had a lot of fun and I'm really motivated to use more fiction in my language studies. I think I avoided novels for a while because I wasn't really sure of an effective way to use them, because I had no idea how to go about looking up words. Over the years I've abandoned lots of novels in various languages either out of boredom (not looking up enough words to make the novel comprehensible and thus enjoyable) or laziness/frustration (looking up too many words and taking the fun out of it).

As I mentioned here, I started by reading the first chapter, and then very slowly looked up all the new words I'd highlighted, adding sentence-based translation/audio flaschards. This was back in August last year: I obviously abandoned this approach because this was way too much effort.

I picked up the book again a week or two ago, and what I started doing was underlining all the new words, and putting boxes around words I felt were crucial to understanding the story or repeated themselves. I made sure to be strict and not draw boxes around too many words so it wouldn't be so hard to look them all up. Then the following day I would look up new words and add monolingual dictionary definitions with example sentences (adding English translations of any words I didn't understand in the definition or example sentences) to Anki, and keep reading the next chapter in the evening.

Eventually, the story became so gripping that I just wanted to keep reading and not bother looking up any words. So I kept using the same notation system for new words, but kept powering through and read the whole thing, reading several chapters a day rather than just one.

Now I'm going back through (just looking at the vocabulary I highlighted, not re-reading the entire story), looking up words and making monolingual flashcards. I'm going to keep doing this for a while and plan to go through the entire book, but if I don't feel like it anymore I'll just stop and move onto other materials so that I avoid procrastinating. Once I get bored of looking up words from this book I might move onto the other Hungarian novel I have, a krimi -- I just skimmed through some of the first pages and it looks way more manageable than it used to, I think after reading through my first novel it'll be much easier to read Hungarian for pleasure now. I've also been listening to a Hungarian politics channel on YouTube (Partizán); I've noticed even my listening comprehension has improved, which is kind of weird. :para:

I still think looking up a massive amount of things in the first chapter could be a good way to start understanding the book, especially with languages I don't understand so well yet, but I now realise the goal should be to look up progressively fewer and fewer words each chapter and to eventually immerse into the story.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-03-12, 10:53

Serbian

Lately I've been thinking about how to work on Serbian pitch accent. Sometimes I pass as a native, but I think that's because I've acquired the pitch primarily as intonation rather than as a real phonemic system, and having a slightly weird pitch system is "good enough" given how much variation there is in pitch accent (and there are varieties without any tonal system at all, most notably the Zagreb prestige dialect, but also the Torlakian speech of places like Vranje and Niš).

Since all monolingual Serbian dictionaries note the standard pitch of each word (as well as of inflections where it varies), I've been keeping the tone marks in my monolingual Serbian-Serbian Anki cards. I feel like even doing that has made me more attuned to the pitch when listening to Serbian, so I think I might be onto some thing here.

The problem is that I have no way to tell when I'm wrong. One idea I've had is to transcribe some Serbian speech, and then try and mark the entire text for pitch (I'll make sure it's a prestige dialect speaker so that it's close enough to the standard). I'll then check the correct pitch in the dictionary. I'll try this a couple of times to see if my accuracy increases in any meaningful way. Since this is only a single rising vs. falling distinction (there is also long vs. short but don't really have trouble noticing or producing that), it shouldn't be so difficult to start noticing more accurately, I think my knowledge of tones in Serbian will improve after only a couple of sessions (here's hoping!).

Once I'm able to accurately notice the fundamental rising vs. falling distinction, it shouldn't be too hard to iron out any kinks through dictionary lookups and general listening, including time spent in Novi Sad. It'll also to fun to be able to more accurately notice the dialectal variation in pronunciation.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-03-23, 12:37

I've started listening to the Jesus Film passively when I can't be bothered to do anything else. It's been translated into a whole bunch of Arabic vernaculars, more than a dozen Sinitic languages, pretty much every major Indo-Aryan language, so it's quite a precious resource. I can't imagine where else I would find two hours of comprehensible input in Sindhi from, for example. So far I've listened to the first 10 minutes in Pakistani Punjabi (mistitled as "Western Punjabi") twice over and the first twenty minutes in Palestinian Arabic once.

I couldn't imagine myself watching the full two hours in one go but it can't hurt to listen to it in chunks of ten minutes or whatever, it could be pretty useful to get used to.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-03-29, 12:22

I'm going to try a new method to make sure I'm not falling off the horse with my non-transparent languages. I've realised that the main problem I have with them is that whenever I feel like studying one of them I've already wasted a lot of time by the time that I've figured out what materials I want to use.

What I'm going to do is stick OpenOffice Writer to the Windows taskbar, and then stick an article in each of these languages to that icon. That way it only takes two clicks to go back to a text I want to read in Urdu, Hebrew, Turkish or Basque.

I'll make sure to read at least one page before looking up any words, highlighting new words as I read through the text as quickly as possible and then going through the new words as slowly as I need to. Of course for Hebrew, Turkish or Basque I'll make sure the texts aren't much longer than one page. For the time being I'm not going to do this for MSA; I think Arabic will be a bit more fun to study this way once I'm a bit better at reading Urdu.

For Urdu I'll make exclusively monolingual cards out of the new words in these texts. For Hebrew, Turkish and Basque I'll make monolingual cards for words strictly out of the text I'm studying, and then separate bilingual cards for any new words in the monolingual definition or example sentences.

Image
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While I find that for languages I can already read fairly well (Romance, Germanic, Slavic, Hungarian) it's better to print out several pages and try and read as much as possible in one sitting, I can't be bothered doing that even for Urdu, let alone Turkish or Basque.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-03-30, 10:09

I've deleted my entire Basque deck (245 cards) and the 200 Turkish cards I made in 2018 (there are 135 cards left now, all from 2019). There's no use constantly reviewing ancient cards.

A week ago I had suspended all 42 of my Mandarin cards not from Assimil, and now I've deleted them because I know I won't go back to them and it's more important to move onto newer material (I mean, I don't really have the time at the moment but I'll keep reviewing my Assimil cards). I had also suspended all the "Lesson (Number)" cards that weren't already leeches.

I've also deleted all 100 bilingual Urdu cards, I'm switching completely over to monolingual cards for Urdu.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-04-15, 10:04

Turkish

I'm trying to make dozens of cards a week. Instead of focusing on a single text in any given session I'll try and mine sentences from varied sources even when I don't have much time to study (so even if it's a 30 minute session make a couple of cards from an article and a couple from a YouTube video). If there are any cards I get sick of or find too hard I'll delete them to make way for new ones.

Mandarin

I've made a separate "character" deck because I've found my ability to learn new characters has decreased quite a lot. On the front side of the card there is the character, stroke order and an audio file (but with autoplay disabled so I test myself on whether I remember the pronunciation), on the back side the pinyin and one meaning. I write out the characters in a notepad whenever they come up in the character deck; I'm not trying to memorise the stroke order but writing out lots of characters should help make it less of a chore to learn to recognise them. I delete the "character" cards once I've seen them a couple of times (so the interval never really goes beyond a week), the point is just to prime me for the sentence cards.

French, Hungarian

I've been reading and listening to a lot of French lately and I feel my comprehension has skyrocketed, and when I try to talk to myself in French it seems pretty good to me. I recently finished my first novel in French, and watched an entire series on Netflix in a day (the episodes were only 30 minutes long, though). I've also been watching lots of Linguisticae and Le monde des langues videos on YouTube, as well as AJ+ and Brut on Facebook.

This summer I will spend a week in France with my parents so I think I'll be able to take advantage of the trip to get to a solid active level in the language (speaking).

There are lots of texts in Hungarian I need to read for my master's thesis, so my reading is getting quite good. I've also been watching YouTube videos here and there.

----

All other languages not mentioned here are on hold until I finish my MA.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-04-20, 16:06

Turkish

I've been wanting to get into Turkish TV for a while. The problem is that I'm not really into dramas where every episode is an hour long and the series is made up of ten seasons that all end on cliffhangers, which seems to describe a large portion of Turkish TV .

Luckily on Netflix there is a series that only has 10 episodes, lasting a season, and each episode only runs 45 minutes. It's also an action series so even if it's silly I won't be bored by endless, meandering drama.

The best part is that it's available with Turkish closed caption subtitles, as well as Turkish audiodescription (a narrator describes the action in Turkish whenever there isn't any dialogue) and that's without installing a VPN or anything. I can't wait to binge watch it this summer and then study it to death. :lol:
Last edited by Saim on 2019-04-21, 12:26, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby voron » 2019-04-21, 10:00

Looks like a good series which I've been meaning to watch for a while too. I am just a bit put off by the fact that it seems to have fantasy elements which I am not very much into; but then, the plot's unfolding in my beloved Istanbul should compensate for that.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-04-21, 15:51

In general, I don't think I watch enough TV to watch a whole TV series. :P Even movies are hard for me to watch sometimes! (And not just the Indian ones that are two or three hours long, if not longer).

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-04-21, 16:01

voron wrote:the plot's unfolding in my beloved Istanbul should compensate for that.


That certainly helped seal the deal for me, too. :D

vijayjohn wrote:In general, I don't think I watch enough TV to watch a whole TV series. :P


I don't get it. :?: I don't watch much TV either but when I watch a series I watch the entire thing. That's the benefit of relying on streaming services, DVDs and pirating rather than on the box itself.

When I watch TV I just mindlessly flip through everything. Sometimes a movie or a political talkshow will draw me in. Otherwise I get bored and turn it off. I couldn't imagine watching an entire show on the actual TV these days.

Even movies are hard for me to watch sometimes! (And not just the Indian ones that are two or three hours long, if not longer).


I find it hard to bring myself to watch movies, you're not alone. That's why I'm always glad when a friend proposes watching a film that isn't in English, although I have learnt some Polish vocabulary from subtitles (I learned the rather basic and useful word pasożyt from the recent American film Venom, for example; or at the very least it entered into my active vocabulary after that film).

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-04-21, 16:13

Saim wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:In general, I don't think I watch enough TV to watch a whole TV series. :P


I don't get it. :?: I don't watch much TV either but when I watch a series I watch the entire thing. That's the benefit of relying on streaming services, DVDs and pirating rather than on the box itself.

I think that at least these days, I tend to be either too busy doing other things or too sleepy to sit there passively staring at a screen. Or even if I'm not too busy or sleepy, I probably should be busy doing something else. :lol:

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-04-23, 11:28

French

I've been watching the French animé cartoon series Wakfu. It started off weak and some of the nods to videogame-style animation were a bit jarring at first, but it grew on me pretty quickly. It's no Avatar or Legend of Korra but it's a pretty solid series, and it's nice to see such a fun animated series coming out of Europe. It's certainly miles ahead of Teen Titans, which I naïvely thought of as the pinnacle of Western animé when I was younger.

I don't know what it is about cartoons, but I really like them, I find them much more watchable than most live-action shows. I'm nearly 25 and I still haven't grown out of them. I do like live-action TV, and if it's interesting enough I get drawn in after a couple of episodes, but as with films it's hard to bring myself to start watching. Maybe it's just the fact that cartoon episodes tend to be shorter, so it's easier to get hooked (I find I have to watch the first two or three episodes in a row to really get hooked on the series).

Chinese

Speaking of which, this video gave me a lot of motivation to keep studying Mandarin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-guLNAb5fo

I had no idea China produces anything like this. It looks it'll be a much more enjoyable, manageable way to study at the intermediate level (which is of course still a fair while away!) than forcing myself to read all the time, like I tried and (mostly) failed to do with Urdu, Hebrew and Arabic.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-05-08, 18:47

Saim wrote:I don't know what it is about cartoons, but I really like them

For whatever it's worth, I don't think my brother really got into reading anything other than comic books until he was about your current age.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-05-11, 10:32

Cloze cards

I think I've figured out the most useful way to apply Cloze cards to my study regime. It seems like a good way to polish production if I notice anything is falling through the cracks in a primarily input-based approach.

1. Specific idiomatic constructions that I suspect I might not otherwise acquire

Recently I came across the construction s'il en est.

Les propos anti Mai 68 de MC, attaquant les « libéraux libertaires » (oxymore s{{c1::’il en est}}), ne servent alors qu’à défendre la loi morale
Thus MC's anti-May '68 remarks, attacking "liberal libertarians" (an oxymoron if there ever was one), only serve to defend moral law.

The "problem" here is that Catalan has almost the same expression, including the use of the same pronoun (en), but it uses a different verb (haver-hi, equivalent to French y avoir). Here French uses the verb être, equivalent to Catalan ser/ésser.

So I made the following Cloze card:
Les propos anti Mai 68 de MC, attaquant les « libéraux libertaires » (oxymore s{{’il en est}}), ne servent alors qu’à défendre la loi morale

Another example is tant s'en faut and loin de là, which have the nonstandard equivalent loin s'en faut. The fact that the verb is reflexive here isn't obvious, and although I could easily remember that one of the three forms is nonstandard I wouldn't necessarily remember which one. So I made cards for the two standard forms.

2. To fix specific problems in my production

There are little fossilised errors in my Polish here and there and there are still some declensions that I can't retrieve immediately.

For example, I realise that zwierzę follows an irregular paradigm, but I can't always remember which cases specifically have the irregular forms with the palatalisation. So I Googled most of the declensions to find sentences to turn into cloze cards.

Pies domowy to zwierz{{c1::ę}} z niesamowicie silnym charakterem i instynktem przetrwania.
Jakim zwierz{{c1::ęciem}} będziesz w swoim następnym wcieleniu?
Za nieudzielnie pomocy potrąconemu w wypadku zwierz{{c1::ęciu}} grozi areszt lub wysoka grzywna.
Czego uczą nas zwierzęta?: Kobieta, która rozmawia ze zwierz{{c1::ętami}}


There's also the fact that in Polish people quite often say nie spodziewałem się, że, nie spodziewałem się + genitive or nie podejrzewałem, że, when talking about something they didn't expect or think would happen. I must hear these constructions daily but for whatever reason I haven't really incorporated it into my speech, and half the time I don't remember that spodziewać się is reflexive.

Pomyślałem, że... Nie {{c1::spodziewałem się}}, że...

3. Conclusion: how to use for other languages in the future?

I think that I might start making cloze cards out of my book of German grammar drills (but specifically the ones I got wrong the first time around, of course), I think that there are some things that'll take too long to properly acquire through input alone, and it won't be fun to speak until I really feel like I can produce the language with a reasonable degree of automaticity and accuracy.

I also think that if I went back to Basque I would make cloze cards out of a large part of the verb table, I realised that the fact that I didn't have the ability to immediately understand so many major verb forms severely hampered my ability to properly sentence mine (my retention rate for lots of sentences was very low, I was constantly repeating sentences because I couldn't remember what was the subject or object). Basque conjugation is very complex but the number of verbs that can be conjugated is rather limited so it it wouldn't be a bad idea to give that aspect of the language extra focus.
Last edited by Saim on 2019-05-11, 21:37, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-05-11, 11:18

Pitch accent

Perception

I've made a breakthrough! Yesterday I was listening to N1's Belgrade news stream and heard the word pravda at the end of a sentence. And I was like: "what's this? Why didn't the intonation go up?" :shock: ... "Oh, it's a falling accent". I quite excitedly jumped over to the Hrvatski jezični portal, and sure enough, the standard pronunciation is with a falling tone: prȃvda.

It seems that in Serbian at least once you have no trouble locating the stress the most important thing is to be able to reliably notice the falling accent, since there are only two accents[1] and the rising accent is much more common (in the standard language the falling accent can only occur in words that are stressed on the first syllable). In fact my sense is that the way I generally pronounce Serbian is to put the rising accent pretty much everywhere (or if I get really nervous or rusty, to pronounce things "flat"!). I'm going to keep listening to N1's news stream almost every day and make sure to keep my ears attuned to any falling accents.

[1] I've talked about this before; because of the way Serbian pitch accent is generally described for natives ("Serbian has four accents, long falling, short falling, long rising and short rising") and the the weird notation system they use, it took me a while to realise that tone contour (falling vs. rising) has nothing to do with vowel length (long vs. short). Although of course the actual concrete realisation of the tone can be influenced by the length of the syllable that carries it, the only phonemic distinction is one of contour.

Production

Now that I'm getting OK at perceiving pitch accent, how do I incorporate it into my speech? I think the only way to do it is "chorusing", a form of intense shadowing recommended by the Swedish (another language with pitch accent) linguist and pedagog Olle Kjellin.

What I'll do is listen to N1 Dnevnik, and if any particular sentence jumps out at me, I'll record it in Audacity. Then I'll transcribe the sentence, including marking the standard pitch for all accented words. This will be my chorusing material. I'll try and do this for hundreds of different sentences, but at one sentence at a time and doing as many repetitions as I need to master a given sentence. I'll also record myself and compare myself to the original recording to notice any fossilised errors.

I might do some chorusing for Polish as well because I still have trouble reliably pronouncing words with several different sibilants (zziębnięty is one example of a word I learned recently that I have this problem with, but it's also a problem with some words/expressions that I've known forever like cieszę się or wyćwiczyć).

I think I'll start doing this in late June or early July, once I've finished all my exams.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby voron » 2019-05-11, 19:26

It's cool that you have progress with the Serbian pitch accent, and that you have enough motivation to improve it in your speech.

As we all know, it's especially hard to make progress at higher levels of language proficiency, for example moving from C1 to C2, because it requires a tremendous effort with a seemingly little gain.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-05-13, 17:35

Pitch accent (Perception)

I've realised that there's an even better source of material to practice perception: dubbed children's cartoons! Voice actors tend to speak in a very theatrical, exaggerated way, emphasising the prosody a lot, which makes it much easier to notice the differences in tone. In "normal" speech these differences can be quite subtle. I still make mistakes but when I relisten to any word that I got the tone wrong on, the correct pronunciation is immediately obvious to me, which isn't necessarily guaranteed in other materials.

I wouldn't necessarily try and imitate this way of speaking (because it's not particularly natural), but for perception it's great!

voron wrote:It's cool that you have progress with the Serbian pitch accent, and that you have enough motivation to improve it in your speech.

As we all know, it's especially hard to make progress at higher levels of language proficiency, for example moving from C1 to C2, because it requires a tremendous effort with a seemingly little gain.


Yeah, it can be a bit of a slog. I think lately sentence mining and monolingual flashcards have been kind of motivating; it might be more effective on the whole to do 3 hours of extensive reading every day, but in practice it's easier for me to read and listen to whatever I feel like and then make sure to take 20 minutes to go back over some text and look up words and make monolingual cards for Anki.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-05-14, 2:40

Isn't Bosnian supposed to preserve the pitch accent distinction particularly well or something? I remember reading Ronelle Alexander saying something to that effect.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-05-14, 9:42

vijayjohn wrote:Isn't Bosnian supposed to preserve the pitch accent distinction particularly well or something? I remember reading Ronelle Alexander saying something to that effect.


Are you talking about Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian – A Grammar with Sociolinguistic Commentary? Do have it on you, by any chance? The Wikipedia article on Serbo-Croatian phonology cites it as saying that "Most speakers from Serbia and Croatia do not distinguish between short rising and short falling tones", but since both in Serbia and Croatia there are all sorts of different varieties I'm not sure what that means (Zagreb and Niš don't have phonemic tone at all, whereas some Čakavian dialects have three tones), exactly. I'd like to know what he said specifically.

As far as I know in vojvođansko-sumadijski (Vojvodina, Belgrade) the fundamental rising/falling opposition seems to be pretty much alive, even if people don't pronounce every word with specifically the standard tone. The main difference in pronunciation to istočnohervogački (quite widespread in Bosnia and the main basis of all four BCHS standards) is the way vowel length is treated (vojvođansko-šumadijski doesn't have unstressed long vowels).


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