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sans-serif
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Finland
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298 posts - 470 votes 
Speaks: Finnish*, English, German, Swedish
Studies: Danish

 
 Message 721 of 1317
09 October 2013 at 8:48am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
I figure that the occasional use of Anki could shave millions of words of extensive reading off the tail of the vocabulary acquisition curve. But I'm a big believer in not typing sentences if at all possible.

I've actually arrived at a slightly different solution: I mostly read paper books, so when I come across an intresting word, I make a little pencil mark next to the line it appears on. This is even less frustrating for me than copy-pasting words into a text file, since it allows me to go on reading with almost no interruption. The hard part is actually making the Anki cards, which I'm admittedly rather bad about. But even I can set aside an hour or two every now and then to make a hundred or more cards in one go, which usually last me a decent while. In fact, I often divide even this task into sentence gathering and dictionary work because it helps me to work more efficiently.

Edited by sans-serif on 09 October 2013 at 1:36pm

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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
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 Message 722 of 1317
09 October 2013 at 5:28pm | IP Logged 
sans-serif wrote:
I've actually arrived at a slightly different solution: I mostly read paper books, so when I come across an intresting word, I make a little pencil mark next to the line it appears on.

This is definitely an efficient system, particularly if you want to make L1<->L2 cards for single words. I've also used little Post-It arrows to avoid writing in books, which is only slightly more cumbersome in practice.

But my current system works quite well: press a word to see the definition. If the word seems important, drag the selection to include the sentence. Press "highlight". When I'm done with the book, I can easily email myself all my highlighted sentences with a few clicks. I'll probably make a tool so I can import them easily into Anki, though even copy & paste would be quick enough.

Reading

Le Pont de la rivière Kwaï is done! I recommend it highly. It's a pretty gripping story, but ultimately it's about human pride and the costs of war. Afterwards, I wanted something light, so I read the first 11% of Le Père porcher, a translation of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather.

Catching up after a break

I took a break of about 7 weeks from French (except for speaking with my family). Before that, I was watching a fair bit of French TV. When I got back:

- My reading was a little less fluent than before, but it came back within 30 pages or so.

- My listening comprehension may still be a little weaker, especially in the fine details, but it's hard to be sure. And there's no reason to think a half-dozen TV episodes won't fix it.

- I had an Anki backlog of a couple hundred reviews. (I had already stopped adding cards a while back.) I cleared most of the French stuff yesterday and this morning, but Egyptian will probably take me almost a week, since I'm limiting myself to 30 cards a day.

- As usual, my speaking is all over the map. Sometimes I'm quick, sometimes I struggle to marshal my vocabulary in real time, and sometimes intelligent discourse just ain't happening without a fight.

As for Egyptian, I could probably resume study at lesson 31, but I'd want a few hours of review and things would be rough for a couple of days. Still, not bad—it's been almost a year since I went into review mode, relying almost exclusively on Anki. And my cards were not well-designed, so overall, I'm pretty happy about the results.

Super Challenge: Watching 100%, Reading 83%

I finished the TV/movie portion of the challenge in time for the half-way mark, and I've just caught up on (most of) my data entry for the last few months. This puts me at 8,322 pages, with 1,678 left to read by the end of December. That works out to a hair over 20 pages per day. My ereader is currently estimating almost 40 pages/hour, which seems a bit high, but who knows? My record was ~1100 pages in just over half a month, but that was investing every free minute.

This is definitely doable, but to pull it off, I will once again need to devote some real time to reading French. This means I won't be able to resume French TV in a big way for a while yet. I suppose I can always leave LCP, LCI or BFM running in the background, even though this eventually makes me want to throw shoes at French pundits, too.

EDIT: I found a stack of BDs that hadn't been entered, and removed some doubly-counted pages in a Vargas novel. I now stand at 8,456 pages read. Let's finish this thing.

Edited by emk on 09 October 2013 at 7:46pm

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Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3016 days ago

2151 posts - 3960 votes 
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 Message 723 of 1317
10 October 2013 at 7:56am | IP Logged 
Can I ask how many pages you count for BDs? I was put off reading my BDs for the challenge by the "rules", which made it inefficient to read BDs (when talking of time/pages read).
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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
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 Message 724 of 1317
10 October 2013 at 12:47pm | IP Logged 
Jeffers wrote:
Can I ask how many pages you count for BDs? I was put off reading my BDs for the challenge by the "rules", which made it inefficient to read BDs (when talking of time/pages read).

I posted this in the Super Challenge thread last year, IIRC, and nobody objected, so take it for whatever it might be worth.

I pulled a couple of BDs off my shelf, and counted words per page. I found that many French BDs had a surprising amount of text: 150 words per page, or more. Remember, BDs are physically quite large. Then I pulled a couple of paperbacks, and did the same. I found that lots of French paperbacks had 250 to 350 words per page. (The average US paperback thriller novel has 271 words per page, according to somebody who crunched the numbers on Yahoo answers.) This means that many French BDs have 40% to 60% of the text per page as actual books.

Not being able to read Japanese, I don't own a lot of managas. But I grabbed my only English language manga (printed with Japanese panel and page ordering!), and counted again. Mangas tend to be only slightly larger than paperbacks, and not the giant format used by French BDs, and they tend to have a lower ratio of text to illustrations. At the time, I think the Super Challenge rules said that 5 manga pages counted as one book page, and this seems about right. There was nothing in the rules about BDs.

But given the oversized pages and the actual word counts that I made, BDs are not "French mangas." I decided to make a personal BD rule based on the word count. Since the standard French BD has 48 pages, and 40% of 48 is roughly 20, I decided to count most BDs as 20 "pages" each. Now, in reality, some of the denser Tintins are more like 30 pages, and some of the illustration-heavy BDs are maybe only 15. But 20 is a nice round number, and I use it unless I decide a book is so far off that it's worth doing a manual count again.

Then there are things like La trilogie Nikopol, which veers between ultra-dense pages (full of fine newspaper print) and almost pure illustration pages, with everything in between. At that point I just throw up my hands and say, "20? 20's good." Besides, my copy had a bonus insert consisting of several large fake newspaper pages, which I didn't count separately.

In any case, it's a bit of a moot point. To log up 1,000 Super Challenge pages of BDs under this rule, you'd still need to read 50 BDs. Unless you have access to a French library or you use Izneo, you're still looking at almost $1 per Super Challenge "page." So even with my BD collection and my wife's Tintins, I still need to do well over 90% of my reading in actual books.

Anyway, I hope this helps. And anybody who thinks my numbers are too far off is absolutely welcome to ignore my Super Challenge numbers. I see this as a personal challenge, not a competition, and I have no problem with people discounting my numbers if they wish.
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Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
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Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
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 Message 725 of 1317
10 October 2013 at 1:06pm | IP Logged 
I posted already a separate thread but I immediately remembered you when I found deastore.com, so I'll tell you about my lucky discovery here as well :-)

They have books in French and free shipping anywhere. And quite a wide selection. No idea about the French BDs but they have Italian ones so there is no reason to why they shouldn't have the French ones as well. Actually, they have much better selection of French books than amazon.es or amazon.it despite being and Italian shop.
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montmorency
Diglot
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United Kingdom
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 Message 726 of 1317
10 October 2013 at 6:10pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

So in 30 pages of an adult book, I ran into about 10 puzzling words. Most of them made
sense in context, so it wasn't like I needed to know the definitions. If I encountered
them on any kind of regular basis, I'd learn them without any trouble. All in all, I'm
pretty pleased with how my vocabulary is doing, and I won't even necessarily add all
these words to Anki.


That's really impressive. Somewhere I think you say the average French paperback has
about 250-350 words per page? If we call it 300 for simplicity, that's 9000 words, and
only 10 unknowns, that's better than a 99% comprehension rate, which is also evidenced
by your ability to work them out from context, and also that you might not bother to
add them to Anki. In Arguellian terms, you would easily pass the "airplane test"!



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sctroyenne
Diglot
Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3498 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 
 Message 727 of 1317
10 October 2013 at 7:14pm | IP Logged 
SWEET!!! There's also free shipping on DVDs! Well, now I know what I'm asking for for
Christmas this year!

Speaking of DVDs, remember that just because you're ordering an Italian version doesn't
mean you're limited to just Italian - different Region 2 countries will include
different collections of audio tracks. For example, I discovered thanks to
IE
Languages
that some Italian and Spanish versions of Dora the Explorer have Irish
language tracks! It looks like the Deastore page doesn't list it, but it is listed on
the Amazon page and there's a picture of the back of the DVD, so sometimes you have to
do some hunting but the language you want could be there!

Cavesa wrote:
I posted already a separate thread but I immediately remembered you when
I found deastore.com, so I'll tell you about my lucky discovery here as well :-)

They have books in French and free shipping anywhere. And quite a wide selection. No
idea about the French BDs but they have Italian ones so there is no reason to why they
shouldn't have the French ones as well. Actually, they have much better selection of
French books than amazon.es or amazon.it despite being and Italian shop.

1 person has voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3639 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 728 of 1317
10 October 2013 at 7:28pm | IP Logged 
montmorency wrote:
That's really impressive. Somewhere I think you say the average French paperback has about 250-350 words per page? If we call it 300 for simplicity, that's 9000 words, and only 10 unknowns, that's better than a 99% comprehension rate, which is also evidenced by your ability to work them out from context, and also that you might not bother to add them to Anki. In Arguellian terms, you would easily pass the "airplane test"!

Thank you for kind words!

I had to look up the airplane test:

Quote:
A meaningful standard of fluency for me is the ability to read an artistic work of literature such as a novel by a difficult author like William Faulkner or James Joyce. How many native English speakers can do this? How many do do this? I call it "the airplane test": take a 400-page novel of this type on an intercontinental flight and read it cover to cover by the time you land. If you remained engrossed and enthralled the entire time, you really know the language.

I'm not sure I can pass this test in English! My intercontinental flights run about 6 hours, and I'm not sure I can chew through 400 pages of James Joyce in that time. And I certainly doubt I would remain "engrossed." It's not that I have anything against Joyce, but he's not my idea of light airplane reading. Can I maybe have a Dresden Files novel instead, please?

In French, I can maybe stretch to about 40 pages per hour in relatively easy material. So the upper limit on an intercontinental flight would be about 240 pages, if the book were reasonably easy and engrossing. And sure enough, I did once read a French translation of Gaiman's Graveyard Book in a day, which was about that size—around 80,000 words. So it's not impossible, particularly if the flight's a bit longer than 6 hours.

"Puzzling" versus "unknown" words

But this brings us to the other wrinkle: I wrote "puzzling" words, not "unknown" words.

Since learning French, I've realized that "knowing" a word isn't a "yes or no" kind of question. For example, I just picked up an English copy of Bujold's The Hallowed Hunt, and I found the following phrase on the second page I scanned (emphasis added):

Quote:
Ingrey was relieved to see that the hallow king had not been dragged from his sickbed and propped in some sedan chair or litter to attend his son's funeral. It would have been too much like one bier following another.

What does hallowed actually mean? I would guess "holy", because I know the phrases "Hallowed be Thy name", "hallowed ground" and other similar collocations. But I can't give you a rigorous definition. The same with bier—I'm guessing it means "place where you put a dead body (somewhat archaic and formal)", but again, I'm guessing.

I have a lot of these words in French: Words which I expect to see in a given context, but which I can't define with precision. There's also lots of words whose meaning seems obvious, thanks to cognates, other French roots, and context. Unless I force myself to pay attention, I don't even necessarily notice such words. Is there anything surprising about finding a dead prince on a bier, after all? That's where you always find them in novels, right?

So the words I pulled from Le Pont de la rivière Kwaï were those that actually puzzled me, and which obviously impeded my understanding in some way. And this is also influenced by the fact that Kwaï is a lot easier reading than you might guess from the first few pages, and by the fact I've already read a Tardi BD and a couple of military sci-fi novels, so I have some rudimentary military vocab.

The Hardy Boys Test

So let me propose a slightly less ambitious test, based on my old childhood reading: Given a day off, can you finish the equivalent of two Hardy Boys novels for the sheer pleasure of it? These are mystery stories aimed at children age 10 and up, and they run about 40,000 words per book. You could substitute Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High or perhaps Neil Gaiman's Stardust and Coraline for a bit of a challenge, depending on your taste.

So you're looking at roughly 80,000 words of fiction, aimed at 10-to-12-year-old native speakers. It's OK to ignore unknown words, but preferably the way a child would: The words shouldn't be enough to throw you out of the story.

Anyway, that's enough digression. :-) In response to your original message, yes, I can actually find an occasional real, adult French classic which has a "puzzling" word every other page. This works out to something like 99.8% "non-puzzling" words, which is an admittedly subjective standard! And of course other books beat me up a lot more. Still, this is enough to make me continue with extensive methods.

Edited by emk on 10 October 2013 at 7:31pm



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