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emk
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 Message 825 of 1317
17 December 2013 at 3:42am | IP Logged 
Castle was pretty amusing this evening, but the dubbing seemed a bit looser than usual.

I had a really fun talk with tastyonions on Skype! His progress is really impressive, to say the least. My French today was about average—not noticeably broken, not easy and fluid the way it occasionally is.

Expugnator wrote:
It's nice to see that you have a similar opinion when it comes to native materials too early, emk. Looking up 2 out of 3 words just seems like an unnecessary waste of time that could be better employed at studying other aspects. That's why I also tend to stick to translation and even Assimil's literal translation until they become obvious.

I think the language makes a really big difference, too. When I look at books in Spanish and in Middle Egyptian, it's clear that Egyptian would require much more drastic measures. Spanish, well, I could probably make some noticeable progress with Listening/Reading and subs2srs. A lot of these techniques really start to work around 80% comprehension, when I can mentally align the text and narrow down the possibilities.

Watching small children learn, it looks like they have no special way around these problems. They hear a few million words and they start by extracting just a handful, and building from there. There are definitely tricks which allow an adult to bypass much of this process, given the right resources.
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emk
Diglot
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 Message 826 of 1317
18 December 2013 at 4:09am | IP Logged 
How to read the Manuel de codage syntax used for writing Egyptian:

- A hyphen "-" is a horizontal separator. Space works too.
- A colon ":" means stack two signs on top of each other.
- An asterix "*" means group signs horizontally inside a vertical stack.
- An ampersand "&" means choose an appropriate custom layout based on the two signs.
- Letters are phonetic readings of common signs. "A", "S", "T", "D", "H", etc., are phonemes that aren't in normal fonts.
- Capital letters followed by numbers are sign codes from the Gardiner catalog.

So if you squint a bit, you should be able to map signs to letters below.

Quote:
Now run along, and don't get into mischief. I am going out.

A-s-V2:D54-i-r:f-t:n:1*1*1-m-ir-Dw-w&t-wr
nb:t-m-a:k-w-B1-r-pr:r-t:D54


Lines 1 & 2

As irf tn m ir Dw.t nb.t
hurry / ??? / you(pl) / not / do / bad / every

mk wi r pri.t
(verily) / I / in / to go out
"I'm going out."

A nice short page today, and it makes considerably more sense than the last one. Even though I know this is an inefficient use of my time, I can't quite resist doing another little piece. :-) Today I learned how positive and negative imperatives work. I really out to put these pages into Anki, though, because the new words are disappearing after a day or two.

I enjoy looking for patterns. I don't need to understand everything, but it's nice to find a piece here and there that looks familiar, or which teaches me something new. And playing with hieroglyphs is always fun.

French

Today, I asked HTLAL for ideas on how to improve my speaking. Lots of good advice there.

Of course, sometimes the simple things work remarkably well: I got some sleep last night, and left the TV on for most of the day, and my speaking is considerably better today.

My wife is watching Le plus beau pays du monde right now. It's a spectacular nature documentary.

Edited by emk on 18 December 2013 at 12:43pm

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emk
Diglot
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 Message 827 of 1317
18 December 2013 at 12:38pm | IP Logged 
Since I've been seeing such impressive results with my own weird MCD variants, I decided to buy Khatzumoto's "MCD Revolution Kit" last night. As usually, I got a completely unwanted AJATT+ subscription (which gives me access to 2 or 3 highly useful posts per year for the low, low price of $30/month—let me go cancel it). And the kit was, well, rather light for the price, at least for customers who don't plan to use the Japanese sentence packs he bundled.

But as usual, Khatzumoto has some very clever ideas:

- MCDs consist of largish snippets of interesting L2 text, and a single, tiny blank to fill in.

- Beginner cards have a full translation on the front. In general, Khatzumoto loves hints and easy cards.

- To make the card as passed, all you need to do is fill in the blank. Reading or even understanding anything else is optional. You can work with texts where you can only pick out scattered words.

- Typing cards is strongly discouraged. Digital sources all the way.

- Susuru (Khatz's SRS) will cloze every match of given text snippet. So if you cloze "une", you'll cloze every feminine indefinite article on the card. If you cloze "é", you'll get all the masculine passé composé endings, and everything else that matches, too. Remember, the idea is to make things easy.

- The current recommendation is to make no more than 3 cards from a given chunk of text.

- For languages with non-Roman writing systems, Khatzumoto strongly encourages memorizing the character set before doing anything else. (I'm glad I did this for Egyptian.)

Essentially, at the beginner level, MCD cards require you to reproduce specific details of grammar quite precisely while saying "this text in your L2 means such-and-such in your L1." There's no real attempt to provide detailed inter-lineal translations—just massive exposure with the equivalent meanings, and massive fill-in-the-blank practice.

I could actually see this working fairly well with Egyptian, given enough time for data entry. I'd just need to go through a book like Peter Rabbit every few days, and also use some other sources with transliterations.
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emk
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 Message 828 of 1317
18 December 2013 at 2:13pm | IP Logged 
I'm fooling around with the Anki "Image Occlusion" plugin to see if I can find an agreeable workflow.

Here's an Assimil lesson somewhere in the high 20s, as seen by a camera. I've been reviewing this text as a sentence card for about a year now. It's not a very nice card—it's the only example in my deck of "ir" and "nn n(y)", which makes it hard to read, and there's some other vocabulary that's low-priority at my level, such as "fields."

I'm trying to cloze 3 interesting details here:




Some things I can see:

- This card is much easier than my existing sentence card, because I only need to supply "ir", and I'm given lots of hints. For my old sentence card, I actually needed to read and understand everything, which is frankly a lot of depressing work.

- This card is much harder in one specific area: I actually need to actively produce ir. I know from my recent experiences in French that this will massively improve my recall for little extra effort, especially for marginal words that don't appear often enough in my reading.

- I have a moderately interesting context that I can read or ignore as I wish. Well, OK, I would consider this context to be lethally boring in French, but in Egyptian (a) I get cute little pictures, and (b) I'm not going to get anything better. Don't study Egyptian if you don't want agriculture and royal propaganda.

I can already see that this would be a great strategy for learning Egyptian: chew through Assimil normally, make about 10 MCD cards per lesson, and maybe fool around with Peter Rabbit now and then. With MCDs, I'd be able to get more out of very limited source material. (Khatzumoto originally refined MCDs when learning Cantonese for much the same reasons.) With Assimil, I'd get easy bilingual texts. And reviewing the MCD cards would be both easier and more productive than my current sentence cards.

All that hype on the AJATT site about "10,000 sentences is dead" and "the MCD revolution"? It's not just Khatz being Khatz. There are some very clever ideas here.

One of the nice things about having already learned French is that I know what I want to get out of a given chunk of text. And if I'm not getting it, I can adjust my methods until I'm back where I want to be.

But it's hard to give people advice like this in the Advice Center. Iguanamon has been saying beginners should use native materials in parallel with courses, and he's got an excellent point: look how tastyonions kicked my ass getting to B1, in part thanks to mixing Assimil and native materials (well, I also suspect tastyonions is a better language learner than I am, but don't tell him I said that!). But as you can see from the way I'm banging my head against Peter Rabbit, it's one thing to use native materials to learn your second Romance language, but it's a whole different challenge to use them from early on with a language like Egyptian. And I'm not sure if the average first-time language learner is going to have much luck with a direct frontal approach—I imagine that, lacking experience about how things should work, they'll disappear down some side trail because they can't recognize and fix problems easily. (Look at all the people who made soul-killing messes out of "10,000 sentences" back in the day.) Giving advice is hard.

Edited by emk on 18 December 2013 at 8:16pm

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iguanamon
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Virgin Islands
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 Message 829 of 1317
18 December 2013 at 5:08pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
But it's hard to give people advice like this in the Advice Center. Iguanamon has been saying beginners should use native materials in parallel with courses, and he's got an excellent point: look how tastyonions kicked my ass getting to B1, in part thanks to mixing Assimil and native materials (well, I also suspect tastyonions is a better language learner than I am, but don't tell him I said that!). But as you can see from the way I'm banging my head against Peter Rabbit, it's one thing to use native materials to learn your second Romance language, but it's a whole different challenge to use them from early on with a language like Egyptian. And I'm not sure if the average first-time language learner is going to have much luck with a direct frontal approach—I imagine that, lacking experience about how things should work, they'll disappear down some side trail because they can't recognize and fix problems easily. (Look at all the people who mad(e) soul-killing messes out of "10,000 sentences" back in the day.) Giving advice is hard.


Point taken. In my defense, the man who wrote the book with the namesake title of this forum, advocates the same method. Also there is a huge difference in trying to decipher Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Spanish or French, for an English-speaker. I doubt if there are any cognates at all. It took Egyptologists a heck of a lot of work to figure it out. Spanish, French and Portuguese are a bit easier to make clear for English-speakers.

You're right. Giving advice is hard and there are so many contingencies and possibilities to take into account that to caveat every advice post advocating my method would require something quite long, almost book length. So, for 2014, I'm backing off. The last thing I want to do is to harm newcomers with my advice.
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geoffw
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Studies: Modern Hebrew, French, Dutch, Italian, Russian

 
 Message 830 of 1317
18 December 2013 at 5:18pm | IP Logged 
iguanamon wrote:

Point taken. In my defense, the man who wrote the book with the namesake title of this
forum, advocates the same method. Also there is a huge difference in trying to decipher
Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Spanish or French, for an English-speaker. I doubt
if there are any cognates at all.


I actually just mentioned the Barry Farber method in my log, noting how I failed to get
very far in Russian with it because it was too frustrating to keep up. In retrospect, I
got pretty far considering how much time I spent and that I had no guidance (HTLAL was
only available in book form then, AFAIK), and a similar approach has worked quite well
in French, Italian and Dutch, precisely because there are so many cognates that I
didn't get frustrated.

So now that I know so much better, I'm going back to tackle Russian...doing pretty much
the same thing as before. We'll see how that works. I'll either be another success
story or another cautionary tale, I suppose.
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emk
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 Message 831 of 1317
18 December 2013 at 7:19pm | IP Logged 
iguanamon wrote:
Giving advice is hard and there are so many contingencies and possibilities to take into account that to caveat every advice post advocating my method would require something quite long, almost book length. So, for 2014, I'm backing off. The last thing I want to do is to harm newcomers with my advice.

The thing is, I think your advice is excellent. And I certainly don't want you to stop giving advice! In fact, going forward, I'm going to be changing my future suggestions for curious beginners based on your remarks, because you're right.

I think that most people learning a language using Assimil (or another course) should absolutely follow Khatzumoto's slightly frustrated advice to whatever extent their life permits:

Quote:
Living in Japan? Feeling repentant? Wanna learn Japanese? Here you go, the 2-step magic formula:

Turn on the TV at 9am next Monday morning.
Turn it off 2 years later.

But certain languages can be an utterly forbidding brick wall for the first month or two, and not just Egyptian. Even among the Romance languages, French orthography and French liaison can be really rough on beginners for a few weeks. (I know I crashed and burned on 3 separate courses before trying Assimil and getting the basics down. I was in no shape for lyricstraining, believe me.)

And tons of intelligent beginners are also out-of-control perfectionists. For example, do you remember those early AJATT "victims" who picked up the nearest grammar book and who copied 10,000 random sentences into their SRS software? Good grief, doing that to yourself should be banned under the Geneva Convention. Giving advice to perfectionists is tricky, because you never know what strange thing they'll latch onto and execute to horrifying perfection. I much prefer giving advice to lazy-but-reasonably-persistent slobs like myself. :-)

So if I were going to try to combine your advice and my advice into a reasonably safe package, it might go something like:

- Before doing anything else, go turn on your TV and set it to a TL language channel.
- Here's an Assimil course. Do at least 5 lessons per week and don't stop.
- If each lesson takes more than an hour, please tell us what on earth you're doing.
- Here are the Assimil Dutch instructions if you absolutely insist on detailed steps.
- [Here's a copy of Anki, and a good MCD tutorial (which doesn't exist yet, but hey).]
- [Here's a list of ways to wreck your life with Anki. Avoid them.]
- If Assimil and Anki are total buzzkills, we have alternatives! Just ask.
- Once you can pick up some text in the TL and understand 75% of the words, it's time to start supplementing with native media in earnest. Just try not to stress, OK? This is supposed to be fun, and you won't understand everything.

I still don't know whether to include the bits about Anki. But overall, I would happily offer this approach to most beginners. After all, if they stick with it, there's a pretty good chance they'll be able to productively play around with native materials within a few months at most, assuming they choose a semi-easy language. And of course, if they don't like this advice, there are lots of other good ways to start.

iguanamon wrote:
Also there is a huge difference in trying to decipher Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Spanish or French, for an English-speaker. I doubt if there are any cognates at all. It took Egyptologists a heck of a lot of work to figure it out.

I know of one real cognate ("Pharaoh", which comes from the Egyptian pr aA "big house" via Greek) and one amusing coincidence ("desert" and dSr.t). But there are are also the names of pharaohs and a bunch of specialized Egyptological terminology.

Champollion is totally one of my heros, but not even he could tackle Egyptian totally raw. He used the Greek names of pharaohs to assign phonetic values to common hieroglyphs. And he already read Coptic, so he had thousands of cognates. In fact, check out his study schedule:

Quote:
À neuf heures, je suis le cours de persan de M. de Sacy, jusqu’à dix. En sortant du cours de persan, comme celui d’hébreu, de syriaque et de chaldéen se fait à midi, je vais de suite chez M. Audran, qui m’a proposé de me garder chez lui les lundis, mercredis et vendredis, depuis dix heures jusqu’à midi. Il reste dans l’intérieur du Collège de France. Nous passons ces deux heures à causer langues orientales, à traduire de l’hébreu, du syriaque, du chaldéen ou de l’arabe. Nous consacrons toujours une demi-heure à travailler à sa « Grammaire chaldéenne et syriaque ». À midi, nous descendons et il fait son cours d’hébreu. Il m’appelle le « patriarche de la classe », parce que je suis le plus fort. En sortant de ce cours, à une heure, je traverse tout Paris, et je vais à l’École spéciale suivre à deux heures le cours de M. Langlès, qui me donne des soins particuliers. Le mardi je vais au cours de M. de Sacy à une heure à l’École spéciale. Le mercredi je vais au Collège de France à neuf heures. À dix heures je monte chez M. Audran. À midi, je vais à son cours. À une heure, je vais à l’École spéciale pour (deux heures) le cours de M. Langlès ; et le soir, à cinq heures je suis celui de Dom Raphaël, qui nous fait traduire les fables de La Fontaine en arabe. Le jeudi à une heure, le cours de M. de Sacy. Le vendredi je vais comme le lundi au Collège de France, et chez M. Audran. Le samedi, chez M. Langlès à deux heures. Je voulais aussi suivre le cours de turc chez M. Jaubert qui est excellent ; mais comme cela me fatiguait trop de courir tant, j’ai remis cette fatigue à l’année prochaine.

We're clearly looking a world-class polyglot here, somebody who cracked a language that had defeated curious linguists for almost 1,500 years.

Anyway, like I said, I think your advice is good. I just wanted to defend the pro-Assmil camp a bit after your original post. :-) And along the way, I came up with some strategies for taking Egyptian out of deep freeze, so I thank you.

geoffw wrote:
…and a similar approach has worked quite well
in French, Italian and Dutch, precisely because there are so many cognates that I
didn't get frustrated.

So now that I know so much better, I'm going back to tackle Russian...doing pretty much
the same thing as before. We'll see how that works. I'll either be another success
story or another cautionary tale, I suppose.

I think media immersion, Anki and clever card formats can do a lot to get a handle on a hard language. At some point, there are only two fundamental problems: (a) convincing our brains to output weird grammar structures naturally, and (b) learning the 10,000-odd words that show up reasonably often. [EDIT: Three problems: (c) decoding speech in real time.] Of course, that leaves the eternal question: Is the price worth paying? And how good do you want to be?

Edited by emk on 18 December 2013 at 7:26pm

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emk
Diglot
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United States
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 Message 832 of 1317
19 December 2013 at 12:18am | IP Logged 
The best scene in the Stargate movie.

Quote:
“Who the hell translated this? It’s completely wrong. They must have used Budge; I don’t know why they keep reprinting his books!” - Daniel Jackson, from the movie, “Stargate”

Note that I do not necessarily endorse any of the translations mentioned as alternatives. There are a lot of eccentric translations out there, and I'm not qualified to judge them by any means.


Edited by emk on 19 December 2013 at 12:20am



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