What are you currently reading? (part 2)

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

Postby linguoboy » 2019-12-23, 15:03

vijayjohn wrote: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.

Yeah, Prichard eschews quotes (although he generally identifies speakers) so it often takes me a moment to figure out that something is direct speech--not helped by the fact that his Welsh makes frequent use of fronting and periphrastic verbs. This means that a sentence will often start out with only verb-nouns (which are non-finite) and only later do you find out the TAM (which is an important indicator whether this is part of the narration or not)[*].

vijayjohn wrote: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.

The characters are identified almost solely by nicknames, which combine extremely abbreviated given names (e.g. "Emrys" > "Em", "Owen" > "Now") with family relationships and professions, yielding forms like "Tad Wil Bach Plisman" ("Father [of] Little Will [the] Policeman"), "Yncl Now Moi" ("Mo[rris]'s Uncle O[wen]"), and "Em Brawd Mawr Now Bach Glo" ("Em[rys] [the] Big Brother [of] Little O[wen] [of the] Coal". They all make sense eventually, but at the beginning they're bewildering and easily confused.

vijayjohn wrote: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).

Prichard is from Bethesda in North-West Wales and uses spellings based inthe local dialect throughout the novel. Many of the conventions are quite transparent (e.g. <e>, <au>, or <ai> in a final syllable almost invariably become <a>) but some are a bit baffling, particularly when initial syllables are dropped or contracted (e.g. efallai "maybe" > falla, cyfarfod "meet" > cwarfod). And the English borrowings can be hard to recongise and false-friendly, e.g. pitcher > pisar, slow > slofi, clean > clên "kindly, pleasant".

[*] Here's a sentence that, while not from Prichard (I don't have my copy handy), illustrates this sort of syntax:

Ac i ti gael dallt, dim ond i'r ysgol sentral aeth Arthur.
and to you get understand, nothing but i the school central went Arthur
"And for you to understand, Arthur only went to central school."

The finite form aeth (3s.PST) is literally the second-to-last word in the sentence.
"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 » 2019-12-26, 16:19

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.


I just finished the novel and decided to not go on through the last 150 pages of ethnographic descriptions. Although I've greatly appreciated the novel which is a deep criticism of capitalism, sexism, speciesism and much more, I've been left scratching my head about the editing of this book. I guess it was supposed to be a literary experiment, but I'm going to be a conservative here and say that it would've been way better as a "cycle" consisting of a novel, (probably) two short story collections (with the ethnography parts recounted as short stories too) and a book of poems. It's very likely that I'll re-read the novel as a stand alone, without being bogged down by all the other stuff.

On a deep level, I'm afraid I cannot help but feel a bit disappointed with the book. Over many years, U. K. Le Guin taught me not to care too much about descriptions and explanations, which is something sci-fi writers and readers can easily get obsessive about. But now I get this thing which is full of explanations and I don't know what to make of it.

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

Postby linguoboy » 2019-12-27, 3:18

Maybe it was something she just needed to get out of her system?

I’m on a reading binge today. I first finished The book thief (entertaining, if problematic) and then read half of Zakes Mda’s Ways of dying before picking up Joan Didion’s The year of magical thinking and reading 60 pages of it.

I’m also a third of the way through the Prichard already. (Thanks for the mnemonics, everyone; they’ve helped.)
"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 » 2019-12-27, 5:02

linguoboy wrote:Maybe it was something she just needed to get out of her system?


Yeah I suppose Occam's razor is the best explanation here.

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

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-12-29, 7:38

Read six chapters each of Mastering Finnish and Teach Yourself Swedish (by Vera Croghan) and almost done reading six of Complete Icelandic by Hildur Jónsdóttir

Also, I haven't mentioned what stories I read in Malayalam for a while, so here they are! (Or at least these are some of them. I'm not sure I should count the biographical accounts about people's illnesses):

പെൺകുട്ടികൾ എഴുതുന്ന കഥ [pɛɳˈguʈigəɭ ɛˈɻʊd̪ʊn̪n̪a kəˈt̪ʰa] 'Story Written by Girls' by Raseena K. P., a college student from Kannur, a short story about a girl who loses her family and tries to find them again

വേരില്ലാകാലത്ത് [ʋeːɾɪlˈlaːgaːlət̪ɯ] 'Age With No Roots' by Labeeba Yusuf M. K., a ninth-grader from Kozhikode, a cute though somewhat disconcerting story about people in a more or less modern setting but with robots and who too easily forget about the simple but important things in life

ഭൂവാസികൾ [bʱuːˈʋaːsigəɭ] 'Earthlings' by C. V. Balakrishnan, a strange story about a burial that I didn't really understand

പുസ്തകപ്പുഴുക്കളെ ആർക്കു വേണം [pʊsˈt̪əgəpʊˈɻʊkəɭe ˈjaːrkɯ ˈʋeːɳəm] 'Who Needs Bookworms' by Sakariya, an essay about the importance of reading (mainly for the purpose/in the context of understanding modern politics)

ശങ്കരമേനോൻ [ɕəŋˈgəɾəmeːˈnoːn] (a personal name: S(h)ankara Menon) by M. Mukundan, a short story about an old man who lives alone, to the chagrin of his daughter

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

Postby linguoboy » 2019-12-29, 14:48

Finished the Didion (amazing) and the Mda (absorbing) and now I’m tackling Isherwood’s A single man purely to pump up my Goodreads stats in the final stretch.
"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 » 2020-01-01, 6:21

Finished chapter six of Complete Icelandic and six chapters of Complete Ukrainian by Olena Bekh and James Dingley

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

Postby Luís » 2020-01-02, 9:47

I'm currently reading The Plot Against America (Philip Roth) and A Short History of Hungary (Ignác Romsics)
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Ciarán12 » 2020-01-05, 15:52

Just finished O Aleph by Paulo Coelho. I've read several of his books and liked them, I got halfway through this one and completely lost interest. I ploughed through the rest of it just to get it done. I regained some interest at certain parts, but on the whole I found the storyline pretty uninteresting (although I like his use of language).
I've left a trail of half-read books in my wake over the last 2 or 3 years, I'm on a mission to go and finish them so I can tick them off my list. Next up - Jogador No. 1 (original title "Ready Player One").

Synalepha

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

Postby Synalepha » 2020-01-05, 17:34

Ciarán12 wrote:Just finished O Aleph by Paulo Coelho.


Did he really have to steal the title of Borges' most famous work? smh

Ciarán12

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

Postby Ciarán12 » 2020-01-05, 17:59

Synalepha wrote:
Ciarán12 wrote:Just finished O Aleph by Paulo Coelho.


Did he really have to steal the title of Borges' most famous work? smh


I had no idea about Borges' book, thanks! The Wikipedia page says the title is 'based on' Borges' book. I guess 'based on' can include literally naming it the exact same thing now. Huh.

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

Postby linguoboy » 2020-01-05, 20:26

I’m starting to pick up speed in the Prichard. I just finished a chapter about a boxing match where the only words I needed to look up were those specific to boxing. That brought me to page 100, which was particularly satisfying.

Then—bam!—a chapter in full-on Literary Welsh. I’m back to looking up every other word again. At least it’s a short chapter. Plus it helps me appreciate his use of dialect everywhere else. It would be difficult to get the same effect in English.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2020-01-05, 20:35

I finished reading six chapters each of Teach Yourself Croatian by David Norris and Learn Romani by Ronald Lee, as well as an autobiographical short story from Mathrubhumi called അപ്പോൾ നമുക്ക് നമ്മെ അറിയാം [əˈpoːɭ n̪əˈmʊkɯ n̪əmˈme jəriˈjaːm] 'Then We Know Ourselves' by K. R. Meera and a travelogue called ശേഷം: ഹംപിയുടെ ജീവിതവും മരണവും [ˈɕeːʃəm | həmˈpijʊɖe ˈd͡ʒiːʋɪd̪əʋʊm məˈɾəɳəʋʊm] by a cinematographer named Shaji N. Karun and a news reporter and short story author named Harikrishnan. The title of the travelogue is a bit hard to translate given the ambiguity of the first word (towards the beginning, the authors contemplate the multiple meanings of this word), but it means something like 'The End: The Life and Death of Hampi'. Meera's story is about various people in her family suffering illnesses but focuses on her mother-in-law (IIUC) and her experience with cancer.

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

Postby linguoboy » 2020-01-23, 17:26

For my trip to Hawai'i, I picked up Rolling the r's by R. Zamora Linmark, a Manila-born American author who grew up in Honolulu. It's an episodic novel with multiple narrators partially written in Hawai'ian Creole English. There's also a chapter in Taglish. I initially read a chapter from it in the anthology Charlie Chan is dead and it stuck with me.

I also brought with me The bone people by Keri Hulme. A friend of mine praised it to the skies and I see why: the writing is excellent. It follows three misfits: an eccentric white woman with Māori ancestry, a working class Māori man, and a mute foundling with obscure origins. I'm still not sure where it's going but I'm loving the journey.

As you might expect, there's plenty of Māori in the book--so much of it that the author provides a glossary. I don't have a Māori dictionary so I've been having fun trying to parse some of it with the help of my Hawai'i one. There are lots of cognates and the correspondences (e.g. Māori t = Hawai'ian k) tend to be quite straightforward.
"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 Luís » 2020-01-28, 9:42

I just finished Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande. I read it in a couple of days, it's a great book that talks about death, illness and aging.

I'm now currently reading A Concise History of Italy, by Cristopher Duggan
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2020-02-06, 2:20

I finally finished reading 吾輩は猫である (I am a Cat), which was quite amusing. It really stretched by Japanese skills, what with the barely modern language it's written in, plus some passages in full blown classical Japanese, plus abundant references to everything under the sun including the Chinese classics. I'm apparently not alone in my struggle though, as the notes section at the back of the book is about 20 pages long.

I also finished 파란하늘 빨간지구 (Blue Sky, Red Earth), which taught me some new things about climate science. Only the end part where the author rants about the shortcomings of South Korea's governmental support for climate science was of little interest to me.

I finished 霧影莊殺人事件 (The Villa of Fog) as well, which was solid as far as mysteries go.

I also read Lifespan: Why We Age—and Why We Don't Have To by David Sinclair. A Harvard geneticist explains the latest research from the field of aging, and why considerable lifespan (and healthspan!) extension is just around the corner.

I'm currently reading part two of the 地球往事 (Remembrance of Earth's Past) series, 黑暗森林 (The Dark Forest) by Liu Cixin, and City of Light: The Making of Modern Paris by Rupert Christiansen.
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 Luís » 2020-02-10, 9:59

I just started reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari and A Little History of Canada by H. V. Nelles
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2020-02-10, 18:09

I finished Bone people. The ending was slightly disappointing, but overall it was a tremendously good read.

I went back to Trois contes, the Flaubert I began reading just before vacation (thus the obscure French vocabulary showing up in the Words You Have Learned thread). At that time, I read "Un cœur simple"; now I'm nearly finished with "La légende de Saint-Julien l'hospitalier". In tandem I'm reading Julian Barnes' Flaubert's parrot, which is an interesting series of meditations on Flaubert, his works, and writing in general, peppered with lively anecdotes and a some fictionalised connective tissue.

I haven't abandoned the Prichard but it's a bit taxing to be reading Welsh while actively learning Hawai'ian, so I'm taking a little break and will start up again around St David's Day.
"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 Naava » 2020-02-26, 17:04

I've just finished Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I love Pratchett's books and I had heard of Good Omens before but for some reason I had never read it. Now that I heard they've even made a TV series of it, I thought it'd be the time to read the book at last. And I really enjoyed it! I wanted it to last as long as possible, but even though I tried to read as slow as I could, it still took me only two days to reach the end because I couldn't put the book down. I'm slightly annoyed by that because it means I've skipped Tuesday and most of Wednesday and I have stuff I should've been doing, but I'm also pleased because it's been ages since I've stayed up well past by bedtime because of a book. (Admittedly, it ruined my sleep schedule that had started to be almost normal for an adult, but I firmly believe it's always worth it if it's a book.) Also, it's strange to be back in my own home again because the last two days I've been living in Tadfield. That's a feeling I haven't had in a while.

It was also bittersweet to recognise Pratchett's style here and there in the book. And nostalgic when I realised it's set somewhere in the 1980s-90s! Although it took me half a book to realise they mention computers but no one has cellphones, and only then I started to wonder what time it was set in and when the book had been published... And I'm still not 100% sure what year it was in the book because my prototypical decades are based on what the life was like in (rural...ish) Finland, and what I've learnt from documentaries, it was a bit different elsewhere.

That said, I don't think it was the best book I've ever read. It was fun and I think I'll eventually reread it. I might even buy it - I'm really terrible at buying books because they cost money and I don't like that - but I think the plot was a bit too short and simple for my taste. Or maybe it's just the ghost of Silmarillion haunting me? It was well written, though, and like I (kinda) said earlier, I love Pratchett's writing style and his sense of humour. Definitely entertaining but probably not in my top 5 books. NB: I don't really have a top 5 list please don't ask me what my favourite books are I don't know!

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

Postby Yasna » 2020-03-30, 4:19

I finished reading City of Light, which had just enough meat on it to keep me engaged. I normally don't read such narrowly focused history books (architectural history of Paris over a couple decades), but it was a gift.

I'm currently reading selected essays of The Federalist by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka


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