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

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Iversen
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 Message 3433 of 3959
11 November 2013 at 10:58pm | IP Logged 
Another useful detail, which is easily overlooked. I haven't used Dutch actively since before my trip to South Africa, where I wanted to concentrate on getting a feeling for Afrikaans. Now it is time to get Dutch back into shape, so I have been reading Colloquial, made a couple of wordlists and today I have also retranslated the beginning of an article about the Rijksmuseum after its reopening. Besides I have made one more wordcount - of Dutch of course, using the same fat Gyldendal as in 2009. My estimate of the total number of head words is lower, maybe in part because I have excluded proper names, but this can't explain all of the difference. However here in 2013 I estimate the number of words by counting the words on the pages I use, which at least garantee that the percentages are made on a relevant basis.

Over 8 pages out of 1094 with around 40.000 words I got 20000 known (50%) and 3000 guessable (8%) - not bad, but of course only a pointer to my passive level.


Edited by Iversen on 11 November 2013 at 11:19pm

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montmorency
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 Message 3434 of 3959
12 November 2013 at 1:31am | IP Logged 
Iversen,

Have you ever thought of attempting to use one of these dictionary checks to estimate
your active vocabulary?

(or found any alternative method?).

I'm not sure how it could be done, but, say:

Going to the Danish part of the dictionary, and for as many pages as you want to use,
see how many of those words you can form a meaningful sentence with, in the target
language?

I guess it would take quite a bit longer than what you presently do for passive
vocabulary. Perhaps doing it over fewer pages would make it more feasible, if less
statistically significant.


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Iversen
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 Message 3435 of 3959
12 November 2013 at 10:05am | IP Logged 
It would certainly be nice to have a trustworthy test for the size of a person's active vocabulary, but it is far more difficult. You can in principle count all words used by a certain person, and scholars with a burning interest for one author (and presumably a fixed salary) have done that for people like Shakespeare and Strindberg. With modern computer technology this should be possible to do even for less illustrious authors - but probably only for the written language and only for published materials. My own contribution to this kind of research was a word count for all English words used by myself during a 3 month period in the early days of my HTLAL membership - the result was as far as I remember 2400 headwords (i.e. excluding uncomplicated derivations or proper names). And of course I could have used a lot more words if a relevant topic had occurred.

I can get a very loose estimate of my active vocabulary simply by asking myself which percentage of my known words I could see myself retrieve and use in a proper situation, and I have already done that - but because of the extremely subjective character of the data I haven't published them. However one trend has appeared, namely that the better I know a language the higher the percentage of the words I know are also words I could retrieve fast enough to use them in a conversation. For instance I have consistently got very high figures for my passive vocabulary in most of my Romance languages, but I am definitely more fluent in German than in Catalan. And besides, as I have demonstrated with Dutch, Latin and Polish above, I can make atrocious errors with words I know passively and which I actually am able to retrieve.

Would your idea about making sentences with the words function? I don't think so - the bulk of the words in a dictionary are actually quite easy to put in a wellformed sentence. The problems occur with a small number of very common words and with the implementation of certain grammatical patterns which are common to a lot of words (like the dative used in conjunction with a number of Latin verbs) - and these problems occur with words I demonstrably have been able to recall, but didn't use correctly.

A test on passively known idioms and fixed word combinations might be more informative, and I actually included such calculations in a series of word counts in 2012. But I found that the dictionaries vary so much in the way they treat different kinds of word combinations that it was impossible to use the figures obtained across languages and even dictionaries for a single language.

So in essence I have chosen just to count the one thing that is easily countable, but it might be feasible to separate the known words into those I know so well that I already have used them or might use them and those which I definitely have seen and know, but wouldn't be able to retrieve if awoken in the middle of the night and asked to say something sensible.

Edited by Iversen on 12 November 2013 at 10:15am

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Iversen
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 Message 3436 of 3959
14 November 2013 at 2:19pm | IP Logged 
I have updated the list on p. 248 with two new vocabulary counts (this activity is really addictive!): Dutch and Afrikaans. In Dutch I used a Prisma Dutch<->German dictionary, which I rarely open because it is written with an absolutely minuscule font which I have trouble reading. I got 52 % known words, which is rougly at the level of my counts using my Dutch-Danish Gyldendal, which is big and clumsy, but legible.

My figures with Afrikaans are lower, but given that I hardly had tried to learn it in 2009 it is at first glance strange that the percentage still is roughly the same here in 2013, where I actually have stayed two weeks in South Africa and read a lot of texts in Afrikaans. Some of the explanation can be found in the 8% guessable words which presumably were counted as known in 2009 (even a basic knowledge of Dutch helps a lot!). But even more words with the known words here in 2013 must have switched from just being guessable in 2009 to be truly known words now.

Results:

Dutch (with Prisma): 15000 known out of 29000 words in total (52%) + 6% guessable words

Afrikaans (with Pharos School*): 13000 known words out of approx. 41000 (33%) + 8% guessable

* I now also own a smaller Afrikaans <->Engels dictionary from Pharos, which I bought during my recent trip down there.

Apart from that I have read a fair number of lessons in Colloquial Dutch, and I have studied a couple of paragraphs from a text about Afrikaans in Bahasa Indonesia.

Edited by Iversen on 14 November 2013 at 2:30pm

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Iversen
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 Message 3437 of 3959
15 November 2013 at 8:08am | IP Logged 
Yesterday I worked until late so there wasn't time for much study afterwards - and then History Channel realised that somebody out there needed to listen to some Russian and showed a long program about a ultra-brave and ultra-eager female soldier/nurse called Katjusja, who became so famous that there even was written a song about her. But after the war she chose to become virtually invisible and she was only 'rediscovered' in the 60s. But she seemed happy enough to tell about her war experiences, which included no end of blood and gore, but also some funny details. As like when a fleet commander in Baku refused to accept her on his ships, but then she wrote a letter to nice friendly uncle Stalin and within a week she could walk aboard. And the funny thing is that right now History has started another program in Russian about the battle of Stalingrad. I'm normally not too keen on war documentaries, but if I always had access to a source of Russian speech with subtitles I'm sure I would be able to understand Russian fluently. But alas, this is probably the first time this year I have listen to more than one hour of Russian in a row.

After that I chose to study a snippet of text in Bahasa Indonesian about trains, and right now I'm going to scan Ivar Aasens Danish-New Norwegian dictionary, which I have borrowed from the library. I doubt that it is possible to get it through the book stores, and it has probable survived many years in the archives before returning to the surface of the earth.




Edited by Iversen on 28 November 2013 at 9:01pm

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Iversen
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 Message 3438 of 3959
17 November 2013 at 9:11am | IP Logged 
DA: I tråden om sätningsklövninger brugte jeg en mulig afrejse til Stockholm den fölgende dag som grammatisk eksempel ("Det er morgen jeg flyver til Stockholm, ikke i dag"). Og som sagt, så gjort - nu sidder jeg ved den fri computer i lobbyen på mit hotel, og om lidt futter jeg uden i staden for at se på museer.

SW: Svenska er ju inte et språk jag har mycket på här på HTLAL, ock även om jag har listad svenska som "prater" till vänster har jag inte pratad särskilt mycket på detta språk. I Malmö ock även Göteborg var danska inte totalt okändt, ock jag pratade därför l-å-n-g-s-a-m-t danska, ock dom förstod det (eller låtsades som om dom förstod det). Det var fel, jag fekk inta alls tränat mit svenska. Här i Stockholm får the native speakers inte ens chancen att förstå mitt danska - jag pråtar enbart (dåligt) svenska. Men jag er endast här på helget, ock mycket tid går med att se museer. Mitt Stockholmskort (för två dagar) kostade 650 SEK (kring 70 euro) så det måsta brukas, ock i går besökte jag 9 museer från 10.00 till 17.30, ock jag hade inte ens tid för lunsj! I dag ser vi om jag kan upprepa succéen - men Skansen står på mitt program i dag, ock det är ett stort ställe så jag når troligtvis inte 9 muséer igen.

And for ye Anglophones: three days ago I wrote in the thread about cleft sentences that I would fly til Stockholm the day after, not the same day. And that's excatly what I did. Now I'm here, and I have bought an expensive Stockholm card so now the deal is to use the bloody thing until it screams! Yesterday I visited 9 museums, and in a flash I'll leave this hotel computer to see how much I can get through today - though one of the elements today is supposed to be an enormous openair museum called Skansen so I probably won't clock 9 museums again. See ya.


Edited by Iversen on 17 November 2013 at 9:15am

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Iversen
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 Message 3439 of 3959
19 November 2013 at 1:40pm | IP Logged 
SW: "Fjäril vingad syns på Haga" (Bellman). ja, det kan jag bevittne att de gör - åtminstons i Fjärilnhuset på Haga, som är en trevlig liten inomhus djurpark med fisk ock fjäriln og och sköldpaddor och papegojor. De saknar bara en pryl för att värma glasögon och kameralinser så att de inte immar upp. Så med detta hus og Haga museet indledte jag dagens program, ock darefter åkte jag till Stadsmuseet og därifrån till Djurgården, sedan till Djurgården, där jag såg alla sevärdheter från Skansen till ock med Nordiska museet.

Måndag åkte jag med X2000 hurtigtåg till Köpenhamn på 5½ timma, og jag pratede mer end två timmar med en dam om språkindläring og om Nordens äldra historie från Folkvandringstiden til Kalmarunionen. På svensk, förstås. Ock folk ser så roliga ut i huvudet när jag visar vad jag har i min väska.

I detta fall hade jag min resplan till Sydafrika, en samling texter om "snowball Eqarth" hypotesen på katalanska, italienska, portugisiska, spanska ock ryska, några blandada texter på rumänska med rysk översättning, en samling texter om Harrius Potter på latinska ock isländska, en text på isländska om Tolkien ock hans liv, en tvåspråkig polska-danska samling inklusive en text kallat "Polski NIE jest jedym z najtruniejszych języków na świecie" (ock det hoppas jag heller inte), några nyhetstexter fra Sydafrika på Afrikaans, "Gísla saga Súrssoner" på isländska (tyvärr inte på fornnordiska), en grammatisk artikel om "The Noun (an tAinmfhocal)" på engelska, men omhandlanda irska språket, artikeln från Wikipedia om "Irish initial mutations", några texter om indonesiska djurpark på bahasa Indonesia, en lista med påstådda lingvistika universalier vidrörande ordföljd, en rysk artikel om valensgrammatik ock aktanter, en annan om indlärandet af uttål (även på ryska), något om Oprah Winfrey på rumänska, något om upphörandet av de polska radioutsändningar på esperanto på esperanto, en lista med krav till "Dianchúsa ullmhúcháin d'agallamh Gaeilge an Ardteastais san Oideachas (Nua)" (dvs. krav vidröranda "högra diplom i undervisning" på irländska) ock äntlikan en list med ryska idiom. Min väska er liten, men mangfoldig. Ock så glömta jag enddå Pons' Polske "kurz und bündig" grammatik, Munksgaards pyttelilla Danska<->Russiska ordbok från 1947 ock Colloquial Dutch av Bruce Donaldsson (den vara härmed rekommanderad!).



Edited by Iversen on 22 November 2013 at 1:30pm

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Iversen
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 Message 3440 of 3959
22 November 2013 at 1:28pm | IP Logged 
I came back from Sweden with several hundred photos, and it took a couple of evenings to write a travelogue/diary and organize about half of the photos on my computer. So I did study, but not much, and I did watch TV, but mostly the usual stuff. Only one thing deserves a special mention, namely a zoo program from Wilhelma in Stuttgart, where German is spoken without final n's.

Yesterday I started out making a word count for French, and then one more, and then in Catalan and finally one in Bahasa Indonesia. Apart from the last one the routine is that I fill out one half A4 sheet with words from a dictionary - and sometimes this just amounts to 5 pages, sometimes there is space for 9 or 10 - depending on the number of words I know or class as guessable.

With French I first used Gyldendals fat Franch-Danish dictionary from somewhere around 1998. In 2009 I found somewhe that it should contain 45.000 words. But my own estimate this time said 35.000, and the reason is probably that the 45.000 include wod combinations - which are both common and important in French, but I didn't count them. In a German Gyldendal of the same size I estimated a total of 61.000 words in 2012 - and the reason? Well, the German ue compound words where the French use word combinations as you do in English. After that I made a count using an old Micro Robert.

FR: Et les résultats? Eh bien, avec Gyldendal 21.000 mots connus (60%) et 4000 'devinables' (11%) sur 35.000 en tout (sauf combinaisions de mots et mots propres). Avec Micro Robert 15.000 mots connus (62%) et 2000 mots à deviner (9%) sur 24.000. Comme toujours les pourcentages sont plus révélateurs que les chiffres absolus - il est quand-même logique qu'on obtienne moins de mots si le nombre total de mots est plus petit. Et un peu plus de 60% n'est pas surprenant si on regarde mes pourcentages antérieurs et considère que les mots 'devinables' en 2009 étaient inclus dans le cadre des mots connus. Ce qui est drôle ce que mes chiffres en français - où j'ai un diplôme universitaire - généralement sont moint élévées que mes chiffres dans les autres langues romanes (sauf le roumain). L'explication pourrait être que je n'ai pas fait des listes de mots-à-trois-colonnes avec le français parce que je me suis senti si à l'aise dans cette langue. Ou en d'autres mots: l'apprentissage systématique de mots est plus éficace que l'absorption désordonnée des sources. Mais on peut se sentir plus à l'aise dans une langue où on sait moins de mots - en tour case si nous parlons tde languagess avec plus de 20.000 mots connus.

The two previous estimates of my Catalan vocabulary were both based on the practical two-way Larousse dictionary which I found in a bookstore in Valencia. But I also have an academy thing in two volumes (CAT->ENG, ENG->CAT) which I bought in Girona, and with this one my scores went down to something more realistic: 22000 known words (55%) and 3000 guessable (8%) out of 39.000. The Larousse had less than 20.000 words, so maybe it had a higher percentage of common words than the more comprehensive Academy thing. But even then I found it surprising that I should know proportionally more words in Catalan than in Spanish.

CAT: Una pregunta que sorgeix com idiomes com el català, ón jo ja no tenen una llar canal català i tan sols tinc a poques vegades l'ocasió d'utilitzar-les és si hauria de categoritzar més paraules com a 'conjecturables'. Però poso només paraules aquí de les quals jo puc endevinar el significat, però ón estic també bastant segur que mai les hagi vist. I això, per descomptat, és impossible de corroborar. El fet és que he llegit molts textos en català i he fet un munt de listes de vocabulari, i per tant crec que els 55% paraules conegudes contra només 8% conjecturables sigui una distribució realista.

And finally the Indonesian count. Oh my, that's more like a joke at this stage. My only dictionary is the fairly small, but otherwise excellent Tuttle with an estimated total of 12.000 words. And the result: 2700 known words (22%) and some 500 guessable (3%) - although 'guessable' in this case is a fluid notion because Indonesian is a language which literally is built on derivational mechanisms. And it is hard to decide that I never have seen a combination of a known radical and a wellknown and logical derivation using a standard prefix. Those 22% are of course one of the lowest percentages I have had yet, but it is probably realistic at this stage.

The logical continuation of the evening was of course to do some intensive study of Indonesian to get out of this misery, and I found an article from the Indonesian Readers Digest (!) about historical trains in Indonesia. I'll switch to Indonesian below (using my trusty Tuttle and the internet), but first I would like to mention just one word combination which I first misread: "Hindia Belanda". No, it is not India. "Belanda" means the Netherlands (or Dutch as an adjective), and "Hindia belanda" was apparently the name for Indonesia under Dutch rule. Actually I thought is was Batavia, but this was just the former name of Jakarta. And surprise, surprise: also the Latin name of the Netherlands, according to Wikipedia. And one more: a train is still called "kereta api" in Indonesian - literally 'waggon fire'.

BA I: "Readers Digest" adalah salah satu diterbitkan dalam banyak tanah, termasuk Denmark, tapi awalnya dimulaikan pada tahun 1922 oleh deWitt Wallace di Amerika Serikat. Setiap bulan itu banyak artikel pendek dan satu novel yang dipersingkat dengan cara yang brutal. Jadi saya cukup terkejut menemukan sebuah artikel dari edisi Indonesia dari majalah tua ini tentang sesuatu yang relevan: jalur-jalur kereta api museum. Aku hanya perjalan di kereta api sekali di Indonesia: dari Surabaya ke Yogyakarta. Itu adalah kereta api yang mewah dan itu penyiksaan yang mengerikan karena video lama tentang keji penyanyi Amerika Natalie Cole. Bahkan saat ini saya mendapatkan sakit perut hanya oleh kenangan!


Edited by Iversen on 22 November 2013 at 1:58pm



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