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Kató Lomb (1909 - 2003)

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CaitO'Ceallaigh
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 Message 1 of 25
22 June 2006 at 11:42am | IP Logged 
After reading the entirety of the thread regarding IQ, gender and hyperglottery, I did some Interet surfing and found myself fascinated by Kat� Lomb from Hungary, "one of the first simultaneous interpreters of the world," according to Wikipedia.

There's an external link at the bottom of this entry to a discussion of a book that she wrote called "How I Learn Languages". You've GOT to read this.

Edited by Fasulye on 19 December 2010 at 5:50pm

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lady_skywalker
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 Message 2 of 25
22 June 2006 at 11:47am | IP Logged 
I think this is the second thread today about a Hungarian polyglot. This and that list of polyglots over at Wikipedia really reinforces my theory that Hungary has (or had) the highest number of polyglots in the world!

I wonder why they're so gifted with languages. I want to be born there in my next life. :P
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frenkeld
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 Message 3 of 25
23 June 2006 at 10:55am | IP Logged 
CaitO'Ceallaigh wrote:
... Kat Lomb from Hungary, "one of the first simultaneous interpreters of the world," according to Wikipedia.


Thanks for the link! The Wikipedia article has a link to a (very slow, but working) site which has a Russian translation of her book.

I am particularly interested in reading about her approach to learning languages because, at least at first sight, some of it sounds very similar to my notion that gobbling up a lot of untranslated literature from very early on in one's studies can be very helpful.

Of course, according to the Wikipedia article she would even attack a totally unknown language in that fashion. It'll be interesting to read about it in more detail.


Edited by frenkeld on 23 June 2006 at 12:55pm

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Iversen
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 Message 4 of 25
19 March 2007 at 1:24pm | IP Logged 
I was reading through some of the older posts of this forum when I stumbled on this thread about Kato Lomb. I had the impression from most references to her that she was the prime example of a person who learnt her many languages through reading books, absorbing the words and structure of the language along the way. Now, we have had a heated discussion about the role of dictionaries in several other threads. So when I read the following excerpt from the link provided by CaitO'Ceallaigh I almost fell down from my chair:

Quote:

Learning "Azilian" [a fictional language]
(from Chapter 20 of This Is How I Learn Languages, 4th ed. [1995] by Dr. Kató Lomb. Translation by Kornelia DeKorne. Note: Heads have been inserted into the text for clarity.)

Using dictionaries
First of all, I try to get my hands on a thick Azilian dictionary. Owing to my optimistic outlook I never buy small dictionaries; I go on the assumption that I would fathom them too quickly and then the money I invested in them would end up being wasted. If an Azilian-Hungarian dictionary does not happen to be available, then I try to get hold of an Azilian-English, Azilian-Russian, etc., dictionary.

a)     In the beginning, I use this dictionary as my textbook. I learn the rules of reading from it. Every language—and consequently every dictionary—contains a lot of international expressions. The bigger the dictionary, the more such expressions there are in it.

b)    The words for nations, countries and cities (especially names for smaller places that are not in danger of distortion through frequent use) and the scientific vocabulary that ‘transcends language’ reveal to me the relationships between letter-characters and phonemes in the Azilian language. I remember that the first thing I looked up in the Russian-English dictionary I bought in 1941 was my own name: E________1.

c)     I do not memorize the words; I just scan and study them as though they were some crossword puzzle to be solved. By the time I glean the rules of reading from the above-cited vocabularies, my dictionary will have revealed a lot of other things, too, about the Azilian language. I can see how it morphs the parts of speech into one another: how it nominalizes verbs, how it forms adjectives from nouns and adverbs from adjectives.

This is just a first taste of the language. I am sampling it, making friends with it."

Notes
Lomb’s strategy of using a L2–L1 dictionary as a beginning text for learning a language is unique; there is no extant research on it. In terms of general dictionary use, her use of bilingual dictionaries when beginning to learn a language is strongly supported by SLA research. Rossner (1985), Underhill (1985), Gethin and Gunnemark (1996), and Harmer (2001) all endorse the use of bilingual dictionaries over learner’s monolingual dictionaries by learners at the beginning stages of foreign language learning ....


Well, no mention of word lists or flash cards here, but even without those I find it interesting that precisely Kato Lomb has used dictionaries as described above when dealing with new languages.

Howeevr in all fairness I have to add that she warns against memorizing words without context, which probably would comprise my word lists, but it just goes to show that you can't agree with everybody on everything...


Edited by Iversen on 19 March 2007 at 1:39pm

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frenkeld
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 Message 5 of 25
19 March 2007 at 5:49pm | IP Logged 
Iversen,

The section quoted is from the chapter named like the book itself, "How I study languages". She does have strong views on certain things, but she isn't totally single-minded, so she considers a range of options elsewhere in the book.

Here is a quote that may be relevant to your way of doing things:

"The other method can be called a "dictionary" method. Its adherents come from a wide range of personalities. We are talking about learning words directly from a dictionary. Modern dictionaries supply words in their relations with the main lexical groups of meanings. Perhaps, this explains the fact that although the "dictionary" method contradicts the most fundamental notions of teaching foreign languages, it nevertheless works well in practice. I've been looking for a long time for an explanation of its effectiveness.

I asked one of my acquaintances, a high school student, who has done great communicating during a tourist trip to Germany, having perviously thoroughly "ploughed" through a pocket dictionary. He said that as the basis of associations he used the initial letters of the words; he memorized the words in all their meanings
- by a "cluster" method, and the phrases [literally: "word combinations"] opened up for him the inner logic of the language."


Edited by frenkeld on 20 March 2007 at 12:37pm

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Iversen
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 Message 6 of 25
20 March 2007 at 4:16am | IP Logged 
Thanks, - I feel vindicated.
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Linguamor
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 Message 7 of 25
20 March 2007 at 6:57am | IP Logged 
My understanding is that she uses the dictionary to decode the relationship between graphemes and phonemes, and while doing so she learns facts about derivational morphology. She does not memorize words.


Quote:

"a)     In the beginning, I use this dictionary as my textbook. I learn the rules of reading from it. Every language—and consequently every dictionary—contains a lot of international expressions. The bigger the dictionary, the more such expressions there are in it.

b)    The words for nations, countries and cities (especially names for smaller places that are not in danger of distortion through frequent use) and the scientific vocabulary that ‘transcends language’ reveal to me the relationships between letter-characters and phonemes in the Azilian language. I remember that the first thing I looked up in the Russian-English dictionary I bought in 1941 was my own name: E________1.

c)     I do not memorize the words; I just scan and study them as though they were some crossword puzzle to be solved. By the time I glean the rules of reading from the above-cited vocabularies, my dictionary will have revealed a lot of other things, too, about the Azilian language. I can see how it morphs the parts of speech into one another: how it nominalizes verbs, how it forms adjectives from nouns and adverbs from adjectives."





Edited by Linguamor on 20 March 2007 at 7:16am

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Journeyer
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 Message 8 of 25
20 March 2007 at 10:26am | IP Logged 
No memorization of words whatsoever? Even though I've read this thread, and I've also read the internet page where that quote is from, I still don't understand how she used dictionaries. Obviously, as mentioned above, she does learn words from context. When I try to do that in German, though, I find I'm often wrong. I think I'm understanding it when really it's saying something fairly different.

I would be quite happy to find out a better method then of learning vocabulary. I love reading, so I'm doing more of that, but it's slow work. Flashcards I really dislike, and vocabulary lists are better, but not much more fun, for me.

Edited by Journeyer on 20 March 2007 at 10:27am



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