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Tarvos - TAC 2015 Pushkin/Scan

 Language Learning Forum : Language Learning Log Post Reply
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Solfrid Cristin
Heptaglot
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 3494 days ago

4143 posts - 8862 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 1345 of 1511
29 January 2015 at 4:57pm | IP Logged 
Have a fantastic trip! I know that you'll do amazing. Big hug from Cristina! And keep up posted. Perhaps you
will be the one to give me the final push to start learning Mandarin :-)
1 person has voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2867 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 1346 of 1511
30 January 2015 at 6:36pm | IP Logged 
This message brought to you by Tarvos Inc.
Startus update: alive but a bit groggy.
Chinese skills terrible. But I can manage the
basics.
2 persons have voted this message useful



ellasevia
Decaglot
Winner TAC 2011
Senior Member
Japan
Joined 4302 days ago

2150 posts - 3229 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Croatian, Greek, Japanese, Turkish, Italian
Studies: Mandarin, Persian, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 1347 of 1511
30 January 2015 at 8:13pm | IP Logged 
你的航班過得怎麼樣?我還沒去過亞洲,可是 我想像那麼長的航班可以讓人發瘋。你現在住 在哪一個城市?

而且,你看得懂繁體字嗎?因為你在中國,你 大概學了簡體字。如果你繁體字看不懂的話, 我可以用簡體字寫字。

(Edit: Ugh, I can't stand how the forum automatically inserts spaces between some characters.)

Edited by ellasevia on 31 January 2015 at 12:36am

1 person has voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2867 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 1348 of 1511
31 January 2015 at 6:25am | IP Logged 
I can't read any kind of Hanzi for crap - my Hanzi skills are limited to about the
simplest 100 characters or so. When people send me personal messages I can figure stuff
out with a bit of help.

The flight was looong (with a layover at Istanbul) but that's pretty much okay.

I am in Beijing.
1 person has voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2867 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 1349 of 1511
02 February 2015 at 12:04pm | IP Logged 
Even on my first day at Mandarin school, I found out that there was a group of CCTV
people (Chinese television) tracking one of our students and filming at the school. So
what happened is that they ended up coming into classrooms and asking other students
questions - they even filmed us doing Chinese Whispers in Chinese.

So now I have spoken Chinese on camera (yes, on camera) and they apparently didn't
think it was half bad because they said "ni shuo de bu cuo!" (the rest of you can
figure out the meaning of that sentence). My Mandarin is progressing after a couple
days already - I understand more Mandarin than before. If someone speaks to me slowly,
commands something, or if there's enough context I get what people say and can
formulate some sort of response - sometimes my tones are a little off, or I use the
wrong construction - but it's possible for everyone to understand me (and given they
adapt) for me them. Shops is still a nuisance because my Hanzi are so terrible, but
that's what my stay in China is for.

To everyone learning Mandarin here I have to say the following: Mandarin itself isn't
the beast people make it out to be. Concentrate on the tones first, and then on the
hanzi, because you'll pick up the grammar fast (no morphology to speak of and the word
order is quite similar to IE languages, but with some hitches). The biggest problem is
the cultural differences between your culture and the Chinese. Overcome that barrier,
and you'll be fluent in no time.

Please go and study Mandarin (or Russian, Arabic, Japanese, Pashto...) they're not
demons. They're languages spoken by human beings. If I can manage with my shitty
improper Mandarin, so can the rest of you.
9 persons have voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2867 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 1350 of 1511
03 February 2015 at 12:43am | IP Logged 
A Logical Approach to Language Learning: How to tackle Grammar
How the engineering mentality helps you to build a language framework through which
to attack foreign language learning


This post is about how you can logically approach grammar learning. I know that many
people dislike grammar because they see it as dusty rules in a book and tables that
have to be memorized. Now some things do have to simply be committed to memory and you
will not get around that, but by and large grammar is a logical exercise with some
limits (namely where common usage trumps grammar logic, and in the case of idioms).
Note that this post does not show you how to learn French grammar - it's an approach,
and it's an approach that needs to be MODIFIED ON DETAILS every time you learn a new
or different language, and it's also very dependent on your mother tongue and other
given languages you are good at.

The way I see grammar is as a framework that holds together correct utterances a
certain language. In principle, the defining factor is not grammar itself but actual
common usage (sorry prescriptivists, I will not hold with grammar perfection when it's
not what anybody says. I don't find that suitable for language learning at all).
However grammar provides a sort of code with which you can to a very large degree
internalize patterns of usage, and they are mostly consistent across a language (or a
certain variant of it should a language have a lot of dialects).

The problem is not that you do not have any grammar - you always have grammar because
you've learned the grammar of your native tongue. The problem when learning a foreign
language is that the framework of reference of a native speaker of foreign language X
does not coincide with yours. To speak foreign language you have to mentally be
100% A-OK with the fact that your system is inferior to theirs when you are speaking
their language.
Your system does not count. Theirs counts, and theirs is the one
you want to re-create and build from your own framework.

The question is how explicitly you know this. I find knowing grammar explicitly is
very good theoretically for understanding how a language works, but in practice a lot
of it should be implicity or else your framework machinery is way too slow (this is
what happens when you translate). Instead, you should copy the relevant bits of any
original frameworks you may have and assess whether they need to be modified to suit
the environment (usually a related language) or whether you need to completely
reassess how to build something (a language strucuturally divergent from your own).
Sometimes languages randomly have very similar builds even though they're genetically
unrelated - Hebrew is fairly analytic and doesn't have cases, and the adjustments you
have to make coming from IE languages reside mostly in the fact that you have to learn
the system of roots (most other things work in a familiar way, although you put
adjectives after the noun).

Some bits of your framework may be redundant. If your native tongue has loads of weird
morphology but you're learning Mandarin, you can simply ditch any plural stuff. You
don't need it so don't keep it intact. Accept that Mandarin conveys this information
through context unless you're talking about people and you'll live with that knowledge
just fine.

How to build a grammar framework

First, you need to check what you already know and how far your target language is
from what you already have. If you're building two variants on the same theme (say
Dutch/German) then if you come from Dutch there's not much framework building you have
to do. You have to intensify the complexity of some of your machinery morphologically
speaking (you make the three gender system explicit, expand your plurals, change the
verb system a tiny bit and of course add cases) but those are all relatively minor
tweaks to your initial system. The only really big thing coming from Dutch is adding
those cases, and if you're a bit well versed in Dutch history you will know how the
system works anyways (there are remnants in the language).

You don't have to change much else. There's some vocabulary switching going on and you
have to pronounce German differently, but that's all minor and something that takes a
bit of effort to learn but nothing you couldn't do in a couple weeks with your mind
focused on the task. Nothing horrid going on.

Ok, that's a very simple example. Framework B (German) is simply a modified variant of
Framework A (Dutch). Yeah, you have to build in some extra features and then patchfix
vocab/pronunciation but you should get it to function easily.

Let's take two very different languages: French and Korean. Let's say you're a
practically monolingual French speaker (you may have studied English or German at
school, but you weren't top of the class).

Here the game suddenly changes. Korean's got a very different system and this means
that French speakers have to re-do a lot of their system.

Example: Verbs do conjugate, but they don't conjugate for person or number. As a
French person you thus have to get rid of that from the very start. They do conjugate
for tense (a-ha!). But do French tenses correspond to Korean ones? No, so you have to
entirely rebuild the tense system in order to get it to work. This is going to take a
longer time and practice and you have to keep fixing it to get it right. (That's why
it takes longer - not just the vocab is different, but the structural things going on
have to be modified and as a French person you have to be willing to see this
difference).

Another example: pronouns. French cannot drop pronouns, but Korean can and does so
when the actor is clear from context. Whaaaaaat? A French person scratches their head
in confusion. This is a mental barrier that you need to overcome. Accept that Korean
lets this be driven by context and modify your thought pattern accordingly - "do I
need to say this or is it clear to the interlocutor that it was Kim Hwang-Soo doing
it?". Practice this contextual aspect and fix it.

And you can do this for more examples. In Koreans the boundaries between word
categories are way more fluid - accept that Korean morphology does not always accept
the same distinctions as French does, or that they may choose a very different way of
ordering a phrase, and let go of the idea that the French system is the correct one.
The French system works only if you're speaking French, not Korean. And so on and so
forth. There are way more structural modifications to make here, but if you want to
make a Hyundai out of a Peugeot, that's what you have to do.


Where does this approach fail?

Idiomatics. Some things are grammatically wrong but it's how people say them. Okay,
when you encounter this build in an exception that says "if XYZ then I just have to
say this phrase because that's what people do." If there's logic behind it, build that
in, but often there isn't so don't bother. Just do what you have to.

Furthermore grammar can change between registers. For these registers you need to
build in the required shortcuts in your system. If you're speaking French orally on a
daily basis, you don't need the "ne" part of a negation. Drop it! It's not good in
formal speech or writing but in common colloquial usage everyone does it, and so
should you! You are one of them now. In spoken Russian, the genitive чего often
replaces the accusative (identical to the nominative) of the interrogative pronoun
что. You may even hear чё. So adapt to that. Learn the contextual rules and build this
in! It's not wrong if you use it in the proper context.

Conclusion

There's a lot of logic to grammar. Learning declension tables by heart is useless, but
knowing how to use declension tables in context is the key to improving your grammar
(if a language has them). Or word order. Or other really funny stuff. Just accept that
language A is not language B, and mentally put yourself over the barrier that what
language B does is funny and sounds really weird or off. It's their language and they
are right and not you. Then modify your brain mentality to incorporate the new rule
when you're speaking language B. You'll find grammar easier to internalize that way
and you won't have to remember all those pesky tables - you'll understand why they say
the things the way they do and you'll accept that theirs is just a different machine.

After all languages are just vehicles for communication, just like cars are vehicles
for transport. A BMW doesn't quite drive like a Volvo, but they're both cars and they
both get you from A to B. The same way when talking about Hindi and Russian.
6 persons have voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2867 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 1351 of 1511
07 February 2015 at 3:03am | IP Logged 
So I have now survived shitfaced taxi rides at ungodly hours in Mandarin, and kept up my
end of a conversation entirely in Swedish while completely plastered.

My Swedish is getting somewhere.
1 person has voted this message useful



Straya
Diglot
Groupie
Australia
Joined 1777 days ago

57 posts - 73 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchA2
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 1352 of 1511
09 February 2015 at 5:16am | IP Logged 
Sounds like you're living a good life mate.

Im interested to know how exactly you go about learning while immersed in the local
language? I know a lot comes from the constant interaction but do you do a lot of work in
textbooks at home too?

Keep enjoying your time in China :)


1 person has voted this message useful



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