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Russian - advancing to reading literature

 Language Learning Forum : Questions About Your Target Languages Post Reply
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Hexaglot
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 Message 9 of 17
23 March 2005 at 10:53pm | IP Logged 
Ardaschir, this is an immensely useful post. I have immediately ordered all Russian-German bilingual books by Reclam from Amazon.de! They cost about 3 Euros a piece and I can deal with the small print they use.

Your advice is very encouraging for me since it points to an already existing path through the thick taiga of Russian litterature. I will try to follow you in that taiga, armed with the confidence that this path has already been walked before!
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ProfArguelles
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 Message 10 of 17
24 March 2005 at 1:11am | IP Logged 
You're welcome, both of you. Heartburn, your question is not at all off the mark. Indeed, using unabridged audiobooks is an important component in this whole process -- so important that I cannot believe I have forgotten it until now. When I have been able to obtain tapes to an accompanying text, I shadow them in exactly the same fashion that I shadow to begin learning a language (i.e., listen through earphones, echoing aloud the second I hear any sound, and reading the text with my eyes at the same time, all the while preferably while walking rather than while sitting down).

With Spanish, you should have an extremely wide range of choices. With Russian, there are fewer, or at least there where when I was there five or six years ago. The situation may have changed, but there were no commercially available audiobooks in the shops there and no one had heard of such a thing, so I almost left without acquiring any. Thankfully, it dawned on me that such audiobooks were originally produced for the blind before they were put on the general market, so I found an association for the blind, and indeed was able to get a good selection--tales of Belkin by Pushkin and the novella Kazaki by Tolstoy among others. I am in my office right now looking at these as I write, but unfortunately they do not have any identifying address that I can pass along.
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administrator
Hexaglot
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FXcuisine.com
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 Message 11 of 17
25 March 2005 at 1:09am | IP Logged 
If you agree we can use the new Audiobooks thread for discussing audio books in General and this thread for Russian litterature and audiobooks.

I found a website that sells many Russian audiobooks off the web in MP3 versions: http://www.priviet.com/

Another site in Finland sells just as many and I ordered a few today from them: http://www.ruslania.com/

Edited by administrator on 25 March 2005 at 8:48am

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Marcus
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 Message 12 of 17
26 March 2005 at 4:57am | IP Logged 
Ardaschir wrote:
I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to avoid using a dictionary until you have gotten past these stages. Doing so harms you more than it helps you, for it slows you down too much and breaks your concentration. I have always found that using a dictionary is only profitable after I have gotten past this fourth step. Again, I generally try to look up only "known unknowns," i.e., words that I have seen often enough to recognize them ("there's that damn word again--what the hell does it mean?") or even better actually remember them and say to myself, not necessarily while reading, but simply while ruminating, "I know that I don't know what X means--it seems like it means such and such, but I wonder..." When I finally look it up, I never forget it, whereas if I use a dictionary too early, I find myself looking up the same word repeatedly.


Wow, I was completely unaware of this technique (less reliance on a dictionary). Come to think of it I probably do rely on wordreference.com a little too much. Thanks Ardaschir, I'm going to this a try.
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ProfArguelles
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 Message 13 of 17
26 March 2005 at 8:53pm | IP Logged 
The biggest mistake I myself made throughout the first decade or so of my language learning life was to think that the dictionary was my friend as I was learning a language. A dictionary is not a learner's tool; a dictionary is a means for clarity and advancement for those who already know a language.
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leosmith
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 Message 14 of 17
09 March 2007 at 2:12pm | IP Logged 
Ardaschir wrote:
The fourth step is what I described in an earlier post, namely using not bilingual texts but an original text and a translation in tandem, reading first a portion of the translation, then the original itself. What portion? If all I can handle is a paragraph or a page at a time, then it is better to keep working with actual bilingual texts. At this stage, as I wrote before,

Does any one happen to know where the earlier post is?
Thanks!
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linguanima
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 Message 15 of 17
10 March 2007 at 7:27pm | IP Logged 
Ardaschir wrote:
You should be able to obtain a good number of Russian-German bilingual texts from Reclam Verlag


Why Russian-German? I'm curious because they tell me that the way Russian words are constructed is similar to the German one. I wonder whether the mastery of German will help. I'm thinking of learning Russian some years later.
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frenkeld
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 Message 16 of 17
10 March 2007 at 9:07pm | IP Logged 
linguanima wrote:
Why Russian-German? I'm curious because they tell me that the way Russian words are constructed is similar to the German one. I wonder whether the mastery of German will help. I'm thinking of learning Russian some years later.


I am still a beginner in German, and Russian is my native language, whose grammar I know intuitively, but which I have not had a chance to analyze. So, while you are waiting for a more qualified answer, perhaps the following comments will serve as a meandering stopgap.

Some months before I took up German, I saw someone's comment on http://lingvoforum.net to the effect that English and French have pretty much left the Indo-European sphere. It got stuck in my head, even though I didn't quite understand what that poster was getting at. After taking up German, I think I do.

Russian does construct a lot of its vocabulary by attaching prefixes and suffixes to roots, not unlike German, although to me the "flavor" does seem to be somewhat different - I don't believe the Russian words get quite as long as they do in German. Russian does have 6 cases, so dealing with 4 German cases will at least get you used to the idea. The verb tense system seems quite different though.

Basically, the languages are fairly different. And yet, there is that funny feeling I've been experiencing while studying German and comparing some of its constructions to Russian, that they really do hearken back to some ancient common source. And this feeling is different from what I would get while studying English or French. It's in some (not all!) aspects of the word order, the way some things are said (there was a thread on "mir ist kalt" in the forum - that's how you say it in Russian too, except "ist" dropped, and an adverb related to the adjective "kalt" is used instead of the corresponding adjective), etc.

I also noticed a couple of claims on the same site that Russians find German easier to learn than French. Given that I've also seen claims that Italian is the easiest West European language for the Russians to learn, it seems a bit dangerous to conclude that the French vs. German comparison, even if it's true, has to do with the Germanic languages being generally somehow closer to Russian than the Romance ones.


Edited by frenkeld on 11 March 2007 at 10:26am



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