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Iversen’s Multiconfused Log (see p.1!)

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Iversen
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 Message 3873 of 3959
06 May 2015 at 10:54pm | IP Logged 
Sunday started with a lesson in Greek.
GR: Daniela Carcani διδάξα για τη γλώσσα με παραδείγματα, αλλά προσπάθησε επίσης να μάθουμε μερικές απλές φράσεις. Η μέθοδος έμοιαζε στη μέθοδο πραγματικότητα Mello, αλλά χωρίς τη συνεχή βομβαρδισμό. Ήταν μια εμπειρία πολύ πιο ξεκούραστη.

After that I 'lost' one lecture because I continued to discuss with Daniela, so my next lecture was "How bilingualism changes the brain" with Helen Geyer. And no, we didn't really learn how bilingualism changes the brain, but it would also have been a little hazardous to expect a definite answer. The same think happened last year (with another lecturer). And btw. there has been very little research done to find out whether polyglots are different from (native) bilinguals. Cutting up E.Krebs' brain into thin slices doesn't really cut the mark in this respect.

IT: Poi una lettura sulla sinestesia e la linguistica, ma non sono sinesteta e e non ho imparato molto circa il modo in cui la condizione viene vissuta da coloro che lo sono.


I spent the lunch break on a visit to the Museum of Natural History and on preparing for my Catalan lecture about wordlists.

CAT: No em vaig adonar durant el discurs català sobre llistes de paraulles que potser no hi havia una càmera (una càmera es va trencar, va dir algú), però si la meva conferència en català no es va registrar, seria com fer una carrera de marató i no pas aconseguir el títol final. He pensat en fer una gravació de vídeo a mi mateix en el tema, però, en principi, he deixat de fer vídeos. Primer jo vaig dir que les llistes de paraules resulten no en paraules actives, però en paraules passives. Però són extremement eficaços per a memoritzar paraules passives, i després l'ús pràctic es necesari per a activar aquestes paraules. Llavors jo vaig descriure com la corba de oblidar d'Ebbinghaus no només és vàlid per als períodes de temps més llargs, però també per períodes curts. I no cal aturar la repetició ininterrompuda, ho que és la raó per la qual jo aconsello memoritzar blocs d'aprenentatge de 5-7 paraules o expressions (curtes). Durant el discurs vaig utilitzar paraules i expressions Albanesos d'una guia Assimil comprada dos dies abans.

FR: Et après cela je'ai appris comment devenir un polyglotte des langues romanes de Christian Koch.


The description of the lectures from the last day will come as soon as possible.


Edited by Iversen on 28 May 2015 at 1:03pm

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Iversen
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 Message 3874 of 3959
10 May 2015 at 10:13pm | IP Logged 
And "soon as possible" means now.

The last day of the gathering had two lectures by Adriano Murelli in the morning. First he taught us that the most effective way to finding the most effective wqay to learn languages is to follow the old Greek adage "γνῶθι σεαυτόν" (know yourself - and according to Wikipedia it was NOT invented by Socrates, but apparently it WAS written in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo in Delphoi, and maybe it is even older). After that he taught us about his one native dialect Milanese - which actually wasn't a dialect of Italian, although it has now almost been gobbled up by that language. It was part of a Gallo-Romance dialect continuum with stronger ties to Southern France than to the more Southerly Italian dialects. E naturalmente ha detto tutto ciò in Italiano (by the way, did you know that 'Italian' in Polish is "włoski"?).

And then I had my lecture in English .. for a small, but determined crowd of maybe twenty listeners. First I divided the subordinate clauses into those with an antecedent in the main phrase and those without, and the latter group could be subdivided into those which were used as statements and those that weren't (like those in English that use the combined conjunction-pronouns "who(m)ever, where and when). And then I proceeded to comment on all the strange phenomena that takes place in the grey zone between these groups - including some cases in Danish where a conjunctional "at" (similar to English) suddenly pops up in something that is supposed to be a relative clause. Grammar teachers hate those constructions and grammar books ignore them, but they are actually not particularly rare in the spoken language. To the credit of the audience only two fled the scene. But the topic was probably more suited to an audience of nerdy linguists than to practical language learners.

Afterwards I then went to a very entertaining introduction to Indonesian by Maria Weidner - who looks every bit as European as her name suggests, but once she gets into Indonesian clothes and starts speaking you see and hear little blackeyed and blackhaired Indonesian women running around and not a long blonde Westernese lady. Jika dia berbicara Klingon, Anda masih akan berpikir itu adalah bahasa Indonesia - dan dengan demikian ia dicontohkan saran V.Skultety untuk mereka yang ingin berbicara seperti penutur asli: itu tidak cukup untuk berbicara bahasanya , Anda juga harus berperilaku seperti penduduk setempat.. And btw., this phrase probably exemplifies the kind of Indonesian which ISN'T spoken when two local speakers meet, but it is the only one I know. Unlike Maria Weidner.

Dans après-midi, j'ai d'abord écouté Philippe Gagneur et Daniel Krasa parler des livres de Assimil - surtout les manuels en français, allemand et d'autres langues. Quant à moi je ai acheté un seul Manuel (celui de l'Occitan), mais je possède pas mal de leurs petits guides. And after that I listened with glee to the lecture of Ed Robertson aboot the Etruscan and ither "Trümmersprachen". Ah did think like maist peeple that little wis known aboot it ('cep that it wis halins isolated) an that little had survived, but no, Robertson coud tell us that most inscriptions now can be read, an that it even had two relatives. But ye shoudnae believe awthing ye see on the internet. There are some reel cranks oot thare.

And at the end of the day I went to C.S.Scherping's lecture about the dialect or language spoken on the Swedish Island of Gotland - although only 500 or so from the Island still master the old speech. Men kanske det har fått fler fans nu efter en lokal gutnisk folkmusikgrupp har låtit kor falla från himlen...

As I have mentioned earlier I dropped my last night in Berlin. Maybe it would have been possible to leave by train even Tuesday, but I didn't want to take chances. Not with those train drivers banging the drums of war.


Edited by Iversen on 11 May 2015 at 10:32pm

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Iversen
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 Message 3875 of 3959
11 May 2015 at 10:49pm | IP Logged 
My studies have become less multifacetted the last couple of days as I have tried to nail down the Polish language which surrounds me here (but only until tomorrow morning). I have done some word lists based on a smal Polish-Angielsko dictionary, and I have studied an old trilingual printout in Polish, Russian and Danish, using articles from the Polish Wikipedia about famous Russian and Polish composers. And one thing that has struck me is that both Polish and Russian have lots of Western loanwords, but rarely the same. And once in a while I stumble over a gem which might be used in a lecture about the weird behavious of gogle translate. For instance the word "uwertura" appeared in the Polish text, and for once Russian has borrowed the same word and writes it as "увертюра". But Danish, that saucy little thing, has got "tilnærmelser" - which in a sense are overtures, but of the kind ugly randy men do to poor unsuspecting female victims. I doubt you can eradicate such errors from a translator program based on statistics, but you might expect it to conserve all the words. For instance in an article about Dargomyszki the sentence "Dargomyżski rozpoczął naukę gry na fortepianie i skrzypcach, śpiewu i teorii muzycznej w domu rodzinnym" becomes "Dargomyżski began playing the piano and violin, singing and music theory at the family home" in English, and the loss of "naukę" carries logically on into the Russian and the Danish translation: "Dargomyżski начал играть на фортепиано и скрипке, пение и теория музыки в семейном доме" resp. "Dargomyżski begyndte at spille klaver og violin, sang og musikteori ved familiens hjem" ("ved" here is obviously an error - poor little Alexander didn't stand outside the family home playing the violin). Strangely enough "nauke" is conserved in a later article about Glinka so it is not like Google doesn't know the word. I can't explain this However I'm still happy that there is such a thing as Google translate - it saves me a lot of dictionary look-ups during my intensive text studies.

Edited by Iversen on 11 May 2015 at 10:54pm

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Iversen
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 Message 3876 of 3959
18 May 2015 at 12:05am | IP Logged 
I have just arrived home after 17 days abroad, and my first task has been to deal with my holiday photos. But after that I have to answer or react to a lot of unread emails within the next couple of days. Plus I'm supposed to be back at my job tomorrow, so there won't be any study reports this time. But I did spend some time on Polish during my trip, and I discovered this this also helped me make sense of some of the messages I have seen in Czech in the past week. As a special task I have to find shelf space for the Assimil books I bought in Berlin (and have been carrying around since then).

OK, I did fill out Portunhol's survey regarding the relevance of languages for my career. And the answer had to be that after 29 years of working with IT the number of times I have used other languages than Danish and English for professional purposes can be counted on one hand. But I retire next year and then the balance shifts from computers to languages (and maybe there also will be time for some of my old desiccated hobbies like music and painting).

Edited by Iversen on 18 May 2015 at 12:42am

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Iversen
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 Message 3877 of 3959
18 May 2015 at 2:47pm | IP Logged 
I have been thinking about ways to structure the phenomena you find in the space between standard relative clauses and standard substantive clauses (those with "that" in English).

The first evidently are based on a situation with two 'deep structure' sentences that share one element. When no. 2 is embedded into no. 1 that element is removed from the embedded clause and (mostly) replaced by a relative pronoun which at the same time functions as a conjunction (which means that it will be placed in an initial position, and that again has consequences for the word order). Or in other words: "I eat a pizza" + "this pizza has anchovies on it" -> "I eat a pizza which has anchovies on it" (there are diffferent cases based on different combinations of known/unknown in the two sentencs, but let's leave that out for now).

At the other end of the scale there are sentences where an embedded sentence is used AS statement: "I say (something)" + "I eat pizza" -> "I say that I eat pizza". Or with a question as sentence2 no. 2 (and a suitable verb in no. 1): "I don't know (something)" + "Do I eat pizza?" --> "I don't know whether I eat pizza", or "I don't know (something)" + "Why do I eat pizza?" -->"I don't know why I eat pizza".

In a sentence with a relative clause there is an antecedent outside the clause, and the relative pronoun refers to that antecedent. In sentences with an embedded (positive or interrogative) statement clause there isn't an antecedent - which is why I have to write "(something)" to mark the space reserved for the clause. And in the clause there is normally a conjunction, which in the case with "wh-" questions at the same time has another function sentence - the same function as in the original question.

Some languages actually have a question-word for yes-no questions (like Esperanto and Danish), but these are not used when the question is embedded: Danish "Jeg ved ikke (...)" + "mon jeg spiser pizza?" --> "Jeg ved ikke om jeg spiser pizza". English "whether" comes from a word meaning "which of two" - it is used as conjunctional/pronoun in clauses representing indirect questions, but for some reason not in questions (even Sheakespeare's famous "Whether 'tis nobler.." stands as an amended quote). And the 'empty' conjunction "that"? Well, as an old demonstrative it may represent a stage where it stood in the main sentences and represented the clause "I say that: I eat pizza" ---many years---> "I say [that I eat pizza]". Well, it's just a guess, but as plausible as any other explanation.

What now if the embeddded clause ISN'T used as a statement? Actually a question is supposed to have an answer, and in some constructions a clause is used instead of the answer: "I am happy (at some point in time)" + "when do I eat pizza?" ---> "I'm happy when I eat pizza". This is normally seen as an adverbial clauses, but we have to remember that substantive and substantive like elements very well can take on the role of adverbial in a sentence. And to me it is obvious that this is exactly the same construction as "I'm happy whenever I eat pizza" and - slightly more complicated because of the word order - "(someone) is happy" + "who(ever) eats pizza" --> "Whoever eats pizza is happy". Or as the french adage says: "Qui dort dîne". Some have spoken about "independent relative clauses" in such cases, but without an antecedent there aint no relative clause.

But such 'independent clause' constructions are being replaced by relative constructions where the antecedent is totally devoid of content, and actually this dummy antecedent is often a demonstrative pronoun: "celui qui dort dîne".

Now what does that demonstrative pronoun refer to? Well, it refers to the clause, which again is used in the same role as the answer to the underlying question would have had in the sentence (in this case: as subject):

"qui dîne?" + "(quelqu'un) dort" ---> "[celui [qui dort]] dîne" (with a relative "qui")
or
"[qui dort] dîne" (with an interrogative "qui").

So where is the happy diner? The answer is defined in the clause: the one (or anyone) who sleeps. The main clause doesn't have a true antecedent, but only a dummy. The connecting link between the upper and lower level is in fact the answer to the question: "qui dort?" "celui qui dine".

Relative clauses in most Indoeuropean languages are supposed to have a combined relative and conjunction, but this is not a given thing. Actually many languages can (or must) have a separate representation of the antecedent in the relative clause - for instance in the form of a personal pronoun. For instance I found this in a Greek textbook:
Η γυναίκα του γιάτρου που τον είχαμε γνωρίζει στο Ρόδο.
* the wife of the doctor that him we had learnt-to-know on Rhodes.

The relative pronoun/conjunction "που" is not inflexed, and as if to compensate for this the Greeks have permitted a personal pronoun "τον" in the clause. In more exotic languages the roles of conjunction and pronoun have never been put on the same word, and there is absolutely no reason to se this as the only possible configuration.

And inversely we may find that the relative pronoun is retained (iin its initial position), but out of nowhere an 'empty' conjunction pops up. As in the Danish constructions I described a while ago in this thread: "manden som at der kommer" (approx. *the man which that who comes'). Here "som" must be the proper relative pronoun of the clause, but "at" is the same conjunction as in "jeg ser at man kommer" (I see that the man comes), and according to the powers that be it has nothing to do here. And "der" could either be a second relative, but maybe it has been inspired by the use of "der" as dummy subject ("der kommer nogen" - *there comes somebody). In any case, these constructions are seen as illegal and frown upon by teachers and linguists alike, but most Danes can't keep from using them once in a while. And why? Well, because they reflect the fundamental fragility of the combined relativepronoun/conjunction.



Edited by Iversen on 18 May 2015 at 4:35pm

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rdearman
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 Message 3878 of 3959
18 May 2015 at 4:01pm | IP Logged 
Interesting as a writer one of the first things I do in any piece of writing is to remove the word "that", if I can't remove it completely (and you can 70% of the time) then I replace it with the word "which".
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Iversen
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 Message 3879 of 3959
21 May 2015 at 8:17pm | IP Logged 
Last evening was the first time since my return from my recent Germany-Poland-Czech Republic-Denmark-and-Sweden trip and therefore also the first time since the end of April where I have had time to sit down in comfy my arm chair and do some good oldfashioned comfy armchair study. I chose to spend most of the time of Russian (somewhat neglected since last year), using some old bilingual printouts - which of course gave me the added opportunity to study the spectacular powers and weaknesses of Google Translate.

RU: Например Спивак пишет эту фразу: "И он тратит свое – буквально золотое – время, чтобы переводить с греческого на латинский сочинение Феофилакта Симокатты под названием…". Какой механизм означает "Google" использовать, чтобы попытаться восстановить первоначальную форму имени первоначальную форму неясного греческого писателя (Θεοφύλακτος Σιμοκάττης), которые вероятно не существует в родительном падеже во многих двуязычных источников? И "Не могу не согласиться с таким мнением": "Ek kan nie saamstem met hierdie mening (nie)" - как возможно, чтобы Google НИКОГДА не узнает, что есть двойные отрицания в Африкаанс? Кстати, был греческий упоминается, потому отлично Польский asgtronom перевод одно из своих сочинений с греческого на латынь. Сколько современные астрономы могли бы сделать это?

FR: Au bus-au-retour-du-boulot j'ai commencé à lire l'Assimil de poche de Talagog - mais je n'ai pas encore mis cette langue sur l'ordre du jour.


Edited by Iversen on 21 May 2015 at 8:23pm

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Iversen
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 Message 3880 of 3959
26 May 2015 at 1:25am | IP Logged 
I have been visiting my family, and visiting family means lost time for studies (but ample time for gardening, smalltalk and visiting places). Besides I have been busy at my job before the Pentecost and expect that to continue into the coming week. I have however been reading some of the small Assimils I bought in Berlin, and it is interesting to see how those languages tick - I just would like to have some more grammar in those books and in some cases also slightly less concessions to the way 'Western' languages are organized. For instance the verbal system is explained using terms that refer to tempus (past, present and future), but the more serious grammars I have consulted for that languages tell me that the forms have more to do with aspect, without being exactly the same thing as in the Slavic languages or the past tenses of the Romance languages.

Edited by Iversen on 26 May 2015 at 9:46am



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