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emk
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Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 833 of 1317
19 December 2013 at 12:23am | IP Logged 
The Egyptian Challenge: Finishing Assimil in 45 Minutes per Week

The background: Egyptian is my "experimental" language. I've already used it to try a bunch of techniques: Learning a character set with Anki before beginning a language, SRSing Assimil heavily, and putting a language on hold for over a year with nothing but SRS reviews.

The goal: Finish Assimil's L'Égyptien hiéroglyphique by the end of May 2015, spending less than 45 minutes per lesson, using Assimil and MCDs.

I want to trying learning a language ridiculously slowly, up to a low but useful reading level, with only a few minutes here and there. I don't know whether this is possible. But if I can do this, it seems like the results would be worth sharing.

The rules:

- 1 lesson per week.
- At least 7 MCD cards added to Anki.
- I can change the rules, but must do so a week in advance. See the bit about Beeminder below.

Materials:

- Assimil's L'Égyptien hiéroglyphique, 101 lessons.
- Anki and AnkiDroid.
- Beeminder: Goal tracking with a sting. If I fall behind twice, I have to pay up. They're nice folks who think a lot about long-term goals, and Beeminder's a lot better suited to this project than my usual techniques of Seinfeld calendars or just plain obsessing.

Things to amuse me, native and otherwise:

- The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Egyptian translation.
- The Story of Sinuhe.
- The Book of Going Forth by Day, or maybe the Coffin Texts. Whatever looks fun and is actually written in Middle Egyptian. And can anyone recommend a non-Budge transliteration?

Reference works:

- hierogl.ch, for all my dictionary needs.
- Loprieno's Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction. Technical but awesome.
- Allen's Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. A gentler overview.
- Collier, et al.'s How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs. For specialized tomb inscriptions.

Edited by emk on 19 December 2013 at 12:26am

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tarvos
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 Message 834 of 1317
19 December 2013 at 11:51am | IP Logged 
Hey EMK. I've been toying with buying the Egyptian Hieroglyphics course, I've got one
question though - are the audio cd's worth it? Since it's so reconstructed and
inaccurate, would it be worth skipping the audio discs?
1 person has voted this message useful





emk
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 Message 835 of 1317
19 December 2013 at 1:14pm | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:
Hey EMK. I've been toying with buying the Egyptian Hieroglyphics course, I've got one question though - are the audio cd's worth it? Since it's so reconstructed and inaccurate, would it be worth skipping the audio discs?

The audio CDs are absolutely useful, at least for me. Egyptian is language made up of non-cognate words, and those words are largely made up of strange guttural consonants. My brain sometimes refuses to believe it's an actual language, which louses up my natural language acquisition.

Actually hearing Egyptian spoken turns some of those consonant strings back into actual words. This, in turn, is easier than doing raw mnemonic drills on consonants, which is what happens when my brain refuses to believe that iw ppy Hr pgA mDA.t is actual human speech.

Of course, this may just be a personal thing. But if the CDs aren't prohibitively expensive, and if you tend to rely on your ear to a certain extent, then they might be worth picking up. The pronunciation on the CDs is the standard pronunciation used by French Egyptologists, except that the various consonants are more clearly distinguished.

Egyptian is a very nice language in a lot of ways, but I find it hard to link sound and sense and symbol. Like French, the orthography is a bit tough at first, but once you get over that hump, things get easier. The grammar is alien, but not gratuitously messy. And the Egyptian verb is almost worth the price of admission by itself, because while it's quite logical in its own way, it tends to smash preconceived notions about how verbs should work.

Egyptian also a great language for doing experiments. It's gloriously useless (except in museums), so there's no pressure. But as Teango writes:

Teango wrote:
And by the way, I completely relate to Middle Egyptian being an experimental language. So far it's chased off most of my tried and tested learning strategies like a disgruntled mummy who didn't quite realise the extent of his siesta, and this makes the challenge of decoding the language all the more interesting.

So that's Egyptian for you: Our oldest written language, our longest continually-recorded language, and a window into a culture that was already ancient when the Old Testament was being written. Egyptian is hard enough to be a good challenge, which forces me to refine my techniques. But at the same time, the verb conjugation tables are mercifully short. Similarly, the writing system is complex enough to be a nice challenge, but with only 200-odd essential signs, a strong phonetic component, and those lovely little determinatives, it's still way easier than learning the kanji and their readings.
2 persons have voted this message useful



tarvos
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 Message 836 of 1317
19 December 2013 at 1:31pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

The audio CDs are absolutely useful, at least for me. Egyptian is language made up of
non-cognate words, and those words are largely made up of strange guttural consonants.
My brain sometimes refuses to believe it's an actual language, which louses up my
natural language acquisition.


Reminds me of Hebrew and Arabic (keep in mind I have some experience with Hebrew).
Guttural sounds are fine with me.

Quote:
Actually hearing Egyptian spoken turns some of those consonant strings back into
actual words. This, in turn, is easier than doing raw mnemonic drills on consonants,
which is what happens when my brain refuses to believe that iw ppy Hr pgA mDA.t
is actual human speech.


The thing that bothers me is that that isn't exactly how it's spoken anyway. Even for
Latin, which I studied, there are acceptable pronunciations which are used somewhere
(even though I don't use ecclesiastical pronunciation when speaking Latin).

Quote:
Of course, this may just be a personal thing. But if the CDs aren't
prohibitively expensive, and if you tend to rely on your ear to a certain extent, then
they might be worth picking up. The pronunciation on the CDs is the standard
pronunciation used by French Egyptologists, except that the various consonants are more
clearly distinguished.


It triples the Assimil package price if you buy the CDs, and they don't come in .mp3
format, so I'd have to rip them all which would cost a lot of time. So unless I could
find an online package somewhere for free legally, I wouldn't really care that much.

Quote:
Egyptian is a very nice language in a lot of ways, but I find it hard to link
sound and sense and symbol. Like French, the orthography is a bit tough at first, but
once you get over that hump, things get easier. The grammar is alien, but not
gratuitously messy. And the Egyptian verb is almost worth the price of admission by
itself, because while it's quite logical in its own way, it tends to smash preconceived
notions about how verbs should work.


I love the way those triliteral root verbs work, from what you said it works like in
Hebrew when you conjugate and add the vowels in between? That part doesn't hugely
bother me, haha...


Edited by tarvos on 19 December 2013 at 1:33pm

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emk
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2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 837 of 1317
19 December 2013 at 2:22pm | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:
Reminds me of Hebrew and Arabic (keep in mind I have some experience with Hebrew).
Guttural sounds are fine with me.

Yup, Egyptian used the same triliteral root system and general phonetic inventory, except that sometimes there were actually two or four letters in the roots. And the vowels have largely been lost, so everybody just reads the consonants.

If your brain is already convinced that things like km.t are actual words, you may not need the CDs as much. And I think there are actually some distant cognates, though they may be hard to recognize.

tarvos wrote:
I love the way those triliteral root verbs work, from what you said it works like in Hebrew when you conjugate and add the vowels in between? That part doesn't hugely bother me, haha...

More or less, except without the vowels. :-) But the Egyptian verb is apparently a bit odd even by Afro-Asiatic standards, and linguists have spent the last 60 years trying to come up with a tidy model that explains some of things it gets up to.
1 person has voted this message useful



tarvos
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 Message 838 of 1317
19 December 2013 at 2:26pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:



More or less, except without the vowels. :-) But the Egyptian verb is apparently a bit
odd even by Afro-Asiatic standards, and linguists have spent the last 60 years trying to
come up with a tidy model that explains some of things it gets up to.


In Hebrew you have some consonants that double as vowels. In other cases, they aren't
written out at all (except in religious texts which write out the niqqud), or in cases
where it's so ambiguous you have to put the niqqud in order to make sense of it.


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akkadboy
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France
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Speaks: French*, English, Yiddish
Studies: Latin, Ancient Egyptian, Welsh

 
 Message 839 of 1317
20 December 2013 at 3:37pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
- The Book of Going Forth by Day, or maybe the Coffin Texts. Whatever looks fun and is actually written in Middle Egyptian. And can anyone recommend a non-Budge transliteration?


If it can help you to decide, I think the Book of Going Forth by Day is easier to read. The standard edition for the Coffin Texts by de Buck can be found here.
3 persons have voted this message useful





emk
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United States
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2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 840 of 1317
22 December 2013 at 5:14pm | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:
In Hebrew you have some consonants that double as vowels. In other cases, they aren't
written out at all (except in religious texts which write out the niqqud), or in cases
where it's so ambiguous you have to put the niqqud in order to make sense of it.

In practice, Egyptologists don't care about the vowels very much, unless that's their research specialty, or if it clarifies a tricky bit of grammar. As I understand it, this is partly because Middle Egyptian was, for most of its existence, a standardized written language much like Latin was in the middle ages. The actual underlying vernacular languages were apparently at least as diverse as the modern Scandinavian languages, and a great many people throughout history learned Middle Egyptian as an L2. So in a real sense, there's no "correct" way to pronounce the vowels, given all the historical and regional variation, and the differences between the written and the spoken language.

The best introduction to the Egyptian vowels I've read so far is in the Lorprieno book I mentioned.

akkadboy wrote:
If it can help you to decide, I think the Book of Going Forth by Day is easier to read. The standard edition for the Coffin Texts by de Buck can be found here.

Oh, very nice! Thank you.

Is there a nice, modern edition of The Book of Going Forth By Day with creditable inter-linear transliterations? I'd prefer an ebook for ease of making SRS cards, but I would definitely consider a gorgeous paper edition, too. :-)

French

I really liked Khatzumoto's recent How To Compete Against Yourself: Don’t Do Your Best, Do Better Than Your Personal Average. I'm quite laid back about reading and listening, and I've seen steady progress over the last year and a half since my B2 exam. But even though my spoken vocabulary has improved immensely, along with my accent, I still have plenty of days when I'm not as fluent as I'd like to be. Fatigue and being forced to restart my French quickly are major culprits. This annoys me, because on my best days (which I can often induce artificially by binging on French), I can get along quite well.

But Khatzumoto's idea seems very tempting: Instead of trying to spend more time speaking like I do on my best days, try to merely do a bit better on my average days.

Things I need to write up for HTLAL

Pieces of these can be found throughout my log, but I've never summarized them tidily in one place:

- The "Freezing Assimil with Anki" experiment.
- My experiences with SRS Collector, and the rapid vocab gains I saw despite already having 99.5% reading comprehension in several recent adult novels.
- Why I now suspect Khatzumoto is right about MCDs vs sentence cards. And my personal "half-word cloze" experiments, which I'm loving.

I love finding little tricks that help with some aspect of language learning.


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