What are you currently reading? (part 2)

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2019-12-12, 20:36

Today, as I was walking out the door, I realised that after finishing Hurramabad I no longer had anything in my bag to read. I could've gone downstairs and grabbed one of the other books I'm still working on but I didn't want to disturb the cat so I grabbed whatever was to hand. It turned out to be The book thief by Markus Zusak. I'd tried reading it once before after my stepmom told me it was one of her favourite novels but I found the narrative style off-putting.

He likes short sentences.
Short, dramatic sentences.
I think you know the kind I'm talking about.

So we'll see if I stick with this or put it aside in favour of something else when I get the chance.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-12-14, 23:00

I finished that issue of the Malayalam literary magazine Mathrubhumi I was reading and have been reading a long(ish) article in the Onam double issue I have. I also read Chapter 6 of Teach Yourself Hungarian by Zsuzsa Pontifex and am on the sixth chapter of Oxford Latin Course III.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Aurinĭa » 2019-12-15, 1:16

linguoboy wrote:He likes short sentences.
Short, dramatic sentences.
I think you know the kind I'm talking about.

Usually I prefer long sentences with lots of subclauses and information that may or may not add to the plot (like Tolkien wrote), and just like you I can find short, dramatic sentences off-putting, but I really liked The book thief.

Finished Tove Jansson's Sent i november. It was just as good as I remembered. Now reading Trollvinter.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-12-15, 1:59

I'm reading Everyday Saints by Archimandrite Tikhon. Interesting stories about interesting people the author has known. I knew next to nothing about Eastern Orthodoxy and therefore wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but it really draws you in (and no prior knowledge of Eastern Orthodoxy is required to understand the stories). For a 500-page book it's a surprisingly quick read; I'm well over halfway through and don't want it to end.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-12-20, 17:47

Finished the sixth chapter of Oxford Latin Course III and the article in Mathrubhumi as well as another story in another issue of that magazine and six chapters each of Teach Yourself Afrikaans by H. van Schalkwyk and Teach Yourself Polish by Nigel Gotteri and Joanna Michalak-Gray, quickly reviewed six chapters of Teach Yourself Romanian by Dennis Deletant and Yvonne Alexandrescu, and started Mastering Finnish by Börje Vähämäki

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2019-12-20, 18:17

I'm 70% of the way through The book thief and the end is in sight. It's not as bad as I feared and the simplistic writing style means that I can speedread without missing much. It's engrossing enough that I overshot my el stop last night (something I almost never do) so I can see how it (legitimately) earned NYT bestseller status. But I'm really looking forward to something else.

At the other extreme is Un nos ola leuad. It's a much better book but my progress is s o s l o o o o o w. It is frustrating that I don't have a better handle on the language by now. I really need to commit to reading a bit every day because when I skip several days in a row I find myself looking up basic vocabulary that I really should have a firm grasp of by now.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2019-12-20, 18:28

linguoboy wrote:At the other extreme is Un nos ola leuad. It's a much better book but my progress is s o s l o o o o o w. It is frustrating that I don't have a better handle on the language by now. I really need to commit to reading a bit every day because when I skip several days in a row I find myself looking up basic vocabulary that I really should have a firm grasp of by now.


The short Wikipedia article makes a good pitch for the book.

"This community traditionally portrayed as [-] hard-working, devout, [of] cultured and politically aware quarrymen, belonging to a whole community of like-minded people was a potent myth of the Welsh-Nonconformist-Radical tradition [-] in Prichard's novel the local pub seems more the focus of village life, and in place of the dignity and stoicism portrayed in the Roberts/Rowland Hughes world [-] here people crack and go under with the strain, commit suicide and go insane [-] religion is not an anchor, but an obsession, gossip and superstition, not political ideas are exchanged on the streets."
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2019-12-20, 18:41

Yasna wrote:"This community traditionally portrayed as [-] hard-working, devout, [of] cultured and politically aware quarrymen, belonging to a whole community of like-minded people was a potent myth of the Welsh-Nonconformist-Radical tradition [-] in Prichard's novel the local pub seems more the focus of village life, and in place of the dignity and stoicism portrayed in the Roberts/Rowland Hughes world [-] here people crack and go under with the strain, commit suicide and go insane [-] religion is not an anchor, but an obsession, gossip and superstition, not political ideas are exchanged on the streets."

And you're really thrown in medias res. The narrator is a ten-year old boy, who just starts talking about all the local people as if the listener already knows them and is just fuzzy on some details. That's one reason why I thought it would get easier as I went along and I no longer had to struggle to figure out who everyone was. Just in the first chapter, you have molestation, domestic abuse, an eviction, and sudden tragic death. Currently the village queer has gone off into the hills--presumably to attempt suicide again--and the boys are tagging along behind one of the two search parties formed to go and find him.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Synalepha » 2019-12-20, 20:32

Since reading one book at a time is for uncouth peasants /s, here's my reading list:

- Always Coming Home (U. K. Le Guin): the novel is great, the short stories are ok, the poems and the ethnography part oh dear God kill me please.

- The Compass Rose (U. K. Le Guin): overall a great collection of short stories. I always find Le Guin at her best when writing short stories (although most novels are awesome too) and once again this collection bears out my opinion.

- The Dunwhich Horror (H. P. Lovecraft): it's the latest I've read among his stories. I love Lovecraft's baroque, highfaluting prose and the imagery that he's capable to conjure up. However I can't stand it when he writes dialogues in a non-standard English (I also wonder if there's an element of classism in that, which I'm not picking up on as an L2 speaker).

- Cronaca Familiare (Vasco Pratolini): I picked this book for the shallowest of the reasons, that is I wanted to read something with a hardcover and possibly old-ish (my mother bought it many years ago). Since most of the things I read are on my kindle or paperback, I missed the sensation of holding a hardcover book in my hands. Nonetheless, the story is not for me really. I never fancied novels about families and I'm finishing it just because it's very short. I'm learning many new words though, so at least there's that.

- I Promessi Sposi (Alessandro Manzoni): it's the dread of basically all Italian highschool students, we spend a year studying it in literature classes and I was amongst the 99.99% of students who hated it. After 10 years I can say that I'm loving it. The language he uses is extremely impressive and the deep psychological delineation of the characters is rarely found in other novels.

- L Secret de Briga Andedios (Andrea Robbiani, Marco Scandolaro): I'm reading this just because it's in Ladin, it's a very unimpressive historical fiction novella. It's going to be over in 20 pages.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2019-12-20, 20:59

Synalepha wrote:- Always Coming Home (U. K. Le Guin): the novel is great, the short stories are ok, the poems and the ethnography part oh dear God kill me please.

Yeah, I finally set down to read this a few years ago and bounced off of it. Maybe when I retire.

Synalepha wrote:- The Dunwhich Horror (H. P. Lovecraft): it's the latest I've read among his stories. I love Lovecraft's baroque, highfaluting prose and the imagery that he's capable to conjure up. However I can't stand it when he writes dialogues in a non-standard English (I also wonder if there's an element of classism in that, which I'm not picking up on as an L2 speaker).

Possibly, but it's something that was common to the period. If you pick up any volume of popular fiction from the 20s, you're likely to find a lot of eye-dialect in it.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Synalepha » 2019-12-20, 21:13

linguoboy wrote:Possibly, but it's something that was common to the period. If you pick up any volume of popular fiction from the 20s, you're likely to find a lot of eye-dialect in it.


Same with E. A. Poe (who is not from the 20's but still). The first and so far the last short story I tried reading was so fraught with eye-dialect* dialogues that I couldn't read it. In that case I'm pretty sure there was a huge element of racism too.

*Thanks, didn't know the word

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2019-12-20, 21:45

Synalepha wrote:*Thanks, didn't know the word

"Eye dialect" in the strict sense refers to respellings which represent colloquial pronunciations rather than actual dialect words. For example, "whut" (NAE) and "wot" (BE) are eye-dialect, because these respellings represent the standard pronunciation in their respective dialect areas. ("Wot" in a North American work representing the pronunciation of a BE speaker, however, would be an example of true dialect spelling rather than eye dialect.)

Works of the 20s have a lot of dialect respellings, too. I specifically said "eye dialect" because these are so overused during the period they often feel gratuitous, as if they're simply there to mark a character as lower class or uneducated (which is a common function of eye dialect).

Some of the spellings in Un nos ola leuad could be considered "eye dialect". For instance, the unmarked plural ending -au represents a cover spelling for a morpheme that is pronounced /e/ in the south and northeast and /a/ in the northwest. Since the novel is set in the northwest, the assumption is that all characters pronounce it /a/. Similarly i for the morpheme ei. (The spelling is based on a false etymology involving Latin eius but also helpful distinguishes it from the preposition i.)
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Synalepha » 2019-12-20, 21:52

What is it like reading those as a native speaker? Are they annoying, do they slow down the flow of the text?

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2019-12-20, 21:59

Synalepha wrote:What is it like reading those as a native speaker? Are they annoying, do they slow down the flow of the text?

You get used to them. Trainspotting is notorious for being written in Scottish English and making heavy use of dialect spellings, but friends who have read it say they stopped noticing this after a while. Mark Twain was also noted for his widespread use of dialect spellings when representing speech and I didn't find this interrupted with the flow of the text at all.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2019-12-20, 22:27

linguoboy wrote:Mark Twain was also noted for his widespread use of dialect spellings when representing speech and I didn't find this interrupted with the flow of the text at all.

Twain's use of dialect spellings definitely slows me down. Perhaps being from the Midwest helps with Twain, at least his novels that take place along the Mississippi?
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2019-12-20, 22:35

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Mark Twain was also noted for his widespread use of dialect spellings when representing speech and I didn't find this interrupted with the flow of the text at all.

Twain's use of dialect spellings definitely slows me down. Perhaps being from the Midwest helps with Twain, at least his novels that take place along the Mississippi?

Perhaps? But a lot of the most dialect-heavy parts take place in the South (at least in Huckleberry Finn) or when depicting the speech of African-Americans. Moreover, the speech of these areas has changed. It was more Southern and nonstandard in his day. I used to live an hour from Hannibal and the folks there today don't really speak the same way now as depicted in his books.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-12-20, 23:06

Synalepha wrote:What is it like reading those as a native speaker? Are they annoying, do they slow down the flow of the text?

It depends on what the dialect is; if it's one that I would understand easily if I heard it (and most are), it's not annoying at all. It takes just a little bit of reading to get used to it (a few paragraphs or pages at most - and usually that's because I have to get used to whatever system the author is using to represent the sounds, since it will be a nonstandard spelling system of some sort, though it might be one I'm already familiar with... or not) and then once I've figured that out, I don't think about it much as I get further into the book. So I wouldn't say it slows down the flow of the book, except maybe in the very beginning of the book.
I do remember though that when I was younger and had to read some of Mark Twain's works as required reading for school, I did find it more difficult back then. Not sure if that was because I would have been less familiar with the dialect itself at that time (i.e. in spoken language too) or because the nonstandard spelling was harder for me to sort out as a child. Probably both. Presumably as a child it would have been harder to tell the difference between "a familiar word spelled as it's pronounced in a nonstandard dialect" and "an unfamiliar word I just haven't learned yet" and I think that would make it more difficult; I imagine the same would be true for anyone for whom English is a second language if they don't have an advanced vocabulary yet. (When I've encountered the same sort of thing in other languages, I've had that same experience, too; my first reaction is often to assume I'm seeing words I just haven't learned yet.)

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Synalepha » 2019-12-21, 8:59

Also, I forgot:

- Squaring the Circle - A Pseudotreatise of Urbogony (Gheorghe Săsărman): lately I've been having fun translating some of the short stories in this collection into Ladin because they're very short and not that difficult. It's the kind of book where each story is a description of an invented city. It reminds me of Changing Planes by Le Guin and I've read that it was written around the same time when Italo Calvino was writing Le Città Invisibili which is also about invented cities and which I mean to read soon.

- Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut): I left it halfway through not because I wasn't enjoying it but because something more alluring came on my way, but I mean to get back to it ASAP.

- J. G. Ballard's short stories: I found the book for half its price, at first I was a bit reluctant because I'm not used to reading English-speaking authors in translation anymore, but decided to make an exception because I deemed the volume really worthwhile. So far I've read the first three stories. The most interesting was one set in a sort of ecumenopolis where "free space" is an alien concept to the city dwellers.

Linguaphile wrote:I imagine the same would be true for anyone for whom English is a second language if they don't have an advanced vocabulary yet.


Maybe. But Lovecraft's eye-dialect spelling is so weird that I guess anyone would recognize there's something off about it pretty soon.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby france-eesti » 2019-12-22, 8:19

Hi there!
Yesterday as I was FREE (as my family was stuck on the sofa watching Star Wars) to go to the library, I found a biography of France Gall, who was my favourite singer as a teenager!
My god it totally blows my mind! I never read biographies as I find them boring but yesterday within 2 hours I read 80 pages! :shock: This is so unlike me!
I love her.
And I think true love lasts a lifetime :partyhat:
(fr) Native - (en) Fluentish - (pt) Fluentish when I was younger - (ro) & (mg) Wanderlusting (hu) My current addiction - crazy about it! (nagy függő vagyok!)

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-12-23, 8:03

linguoboy wrote:At the other extreme is Un nos ola leuad. It's a much better book but my progress is s o s l o o o o o w. It is frustrating that I don't have a better handle on the language by now. I really need to commit to reading a bit every day because when I skip several days in a row I find myself looking up basic vocabulary that I really should have a firm grasp of by now.

And you're really thrown in medias res. The narrator is a ten-year old boy, who just starts talking about all the local people as if the listener already knows them and is just fuzzy on some details. That's one reason why I thought it would get easier as I went along and I no longer had to struggle to figure out who everyone was.

This is basically what reading Malayalam literature (especially novels) is like for me. It takes forever, it gets harder the less often I read (it even gets harder to speak Malayalam the less often I read), and it's often difficult to figure out who's who. That last point is also true of older (pre-1980s or maybe even pre-1990s) Malayalam movies, especially since all the men in those movies wear the same clothes and moustaches. Some of the novels I read have dialogues written in some form representing a variety of Malayalam I've had little or no exposure to, so that slows me down a lot. Even English loanwords slow me down especially when they're loanwords I've never seen in a Malayalam text before (frequent issue I encounter with Mathrubhumi).


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