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VonPeterhof’s log - 旅立ち’14, Yürükler’15+

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vonPeterhof
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Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 121 of 158
07 December 2014 at 11:52pm | IP Logged 
Another two weeks have passed without an update, so here's one. Last weekend I attended J-Fest, an annual 2-day festival of traditional and modern Japanese culture held in Moscow. This was my second time there, so this time I was hoping to get a bit more Japanese conversational practice than last year. The only person I got to interact in Japanese that time was the guest of honour, the Russophile singer and voice actress Sumire Uesaka, with whom I exchanged a few lines as I was getting her autograph. I remember that last year in addition to the participants, organizers and Japanese exchange students there was a large group of her fans who came over from Japan just to attend her concert. I never quite worked up the courage to talk to any of them. This year's special guest, singer Eir Aoi, didn't have an army of Russophile groupies with her, but I did get to talk to her (asking her to sign a map of her home island of Hokkaido worked at getting her to say more than a "hello" and "thank you"), as well as the teacher from the lectures I attended earlier this year and one of the regular attendants of the MSU meetups (speaking of which, only today did it occur to me that I should probably check the date of the this month's meetup - it turned out to have been December 5; oh well, I guess there's next year). Since I was a bit busy with other things I couldn't attend many events, but I did get to watch an interesting movie - a musical called 舞妓はレディ. Inspired by "My Fair Lady", it's a story of a girl who comes to Kyoto with the dream of becoming a geisha. Due to family circumstances she grew up speaking two of the most notoriously impenetrable Japanese dialects, those of Tsugaru and Kagoshima, so before she can be accepted as an apprentice she has to master the Kyoto dialect. Overall it's a pretty silly movie, but with interesting commentary on the changing role of the geisha in modern Kyoto, and of course some fascinating Japanese dialectology.

Speaking of which, on that same day I discovered this series of ads from Shiseido, showcasing confessions of love in the dialects of all 47 prefectures. I think this is a great idea that needs to be realized in more countries. I was especially interested in hearing the Okinawan version, since it's classified as a separate language more often than not. I was a bit disappointed when I heard that the first sentence sounded like straight up standard Japanese with a weird intonation. The second one sounded more like the full-on Okinawan you hear in songs from there, but the actual "I love you" bit sounded much less "foreign" than the Kagoshima one. I would have appreciated an extra video with the four other languages of Okinawa prefecture.

As for my studies, everything is going in order. My Anki reviews have stabilized somewhat with Korean now averaging about 50 cards per day, and the other languages adding up to a similar number. I was a bit too busy to write another practice email last week, but I wrote one this week - one inquiring about whether or not a certain delivery deadline can be met. I guess next time I should make it clearer what the task in the book says when writing it out on Lang-8. In both of the tasks I've done the email was written to a counterpart in another company with whom I'm supposed to have interacted on a regular basis for a while. The majority of corrections I get are either making my message more polite or more informative, possibly under the assumption that I'm writing to that person for the first time or that it's someone I don't interact with that often.
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vonPeterhof
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 Message 122 of 158
14 December 2014 at 10:47pm | IP Logged 
Looks like people have started summarizing this year’s challenge. Seeing as how I have some time to spare on the train ride back from Saint Petersburg where I just celebrated my 25th birthday, I should probably also give it a try (although with the poor signal on this train I will probably actually post this once I get home). The two goals I set for myself in Japanese were a) to pass JLPT N1, and b) to reach C1 level in all skills. While the first one has been reached pretty unequivocally, it’s harder to tell with the second one. My current level seems to fit most of the requirements for C1 to an extent, with the most doubtful being “Can express ideas fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions”. What I can definitely say about my progress is that at the beginning of the year I had big doubts as to whether or not Japanese belongs in my “speaks” category. Now, after a series of lectures and practice sessions, I can say with confidence: I speak Japanese. I may not always think of the right word for the concept I’m thinking of, and I may accidentally slip between politeness level, but most of the time I can produce utterances that convey my meaning accurately.

While I originally planned to stave off wanderlust as much as possible, I’m not really regretting all those times I gave in. I’m probably not going to try to reach the level of my Japanese in Greek (Modern and Ancient), French, Korean, Kazakh, Turkish or any of the other languages I’ve distracted myself with. Still, it has been pretty fun and informative to go off on these tangents. I guess I’m just not the kind of language learner who can focus 100% on one language. And I’m afraid I’m going to add a couple more distractions before the end of the year. In addition to the Turkic challenge (more about this below), I guess I can no longer resist getting a taste of Classical Chinese. When my colleagues approached me asking what I would like as a birthday present from them, I couldn’t resist asking that hanmun textbook I mentioned in an earlier post.

As for the Turkic challenge, following the discussion in its thread about the inclusion of Turkish and the option to take it up in place of the originally planned Azerbaijani, I’ve considered it and decided against it. Well, it’s not that I’ll drop Turkish completely. I’ve finished the Pimsleur course this week, and now instead of continuing to study Turkish from a textbook or a more comprehensive course, I bought an Ilya Frank book of short stories about Nasreddin Hoja in order to focus on reading only. I hope that if I do Turkish in a passive-only mode it won’t interfere too hard with Azerbaijani and the others.
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vonPeterhof
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 Message 123 of 158
03 January 2015 at 12:37am | IP Logged 
皆さん、明けましておめでとうございます! 今年もよろしくお願いします。 Happy belated New Year, everyone! It has been very interesting to share experiences in learning Japanese with the others in Team 旅立ち. Since I'm now learning Japanese, Korean and Classical Chinese while doing retention Anki reviews of Vietnamese, it would seem like Team 東亜 would be the perfect fit for me. However, I'm afraid I'm going to refrain from entering that team since I can't really come up with any specific goals in any of these languages other than "keep doing what I'm doing and see what happens". Right now my main challenge is the Turkic challenge, thus making me a member of Team Yürükler.

As I've mentioned in the team thread, I intend to take up all the listed languages in their designated periods, except for Kazakh which I'll continue doing non-stop, with its spot in the schedule taken by Uyghur. Thus my personal preliminary schedule is going to look something like this:

Dec. 15, 2014 to Mar. 31, 2015: Azerbaijani
Mar. 15 to Jun. 30: Turkmen
Jun. 15 to Sep. 30: Uzbek
Sep. 15 to Dec. 31: Uyghur
Dec. 15, 2015 to Feb. 29, 2016: Kyrgyz
Feb. 15 to Mar. 31: Tuvan
Mar. 15 to Jun. 30: Tatar
Jun. 15 to Sep. 30: Bashkir
Sep. 15 to Oct. 31: Crimean Tatar
Oct. 15 to Nov. 30: Chuvash

While the specifics will likely differ between languages, especially with those that have fewer resources and therefore have less time allotted to them, the general pattern I intend to follow with most of those languages is read up on the phonology, complete an introductory course, go through some sort of reader, listen to lots of internet radio or music, and perhaps write a simple passage on Lang-8 in languages supported by it (I'm surprised and a bit annoyed that while Kyrgyz and Turkmen are available, there are apparently still no native speakers of Kazakh in the Lang-8 userbase).

Before I get into my plans and current practices in specific languages I'll bring up a little change I've made into my Anki routine - I have decided to delete my Anki decks in languages I understand well enough to support exposure via independent extensive (and, whenever I feel like it, intensive) reading and watching of native materials. For now those languages are German, French, Kazakh, Norwegian, Ukrainian and Belarusian. Combined with slowed down new card additions in Korean and Turkish this gives me a bit more Anki-free time. While I was already getting more or less regular native material reading in all of the languages listed above, now I have to make sure it's completely regular. Now for the specific languages.

Azerbaijani
The current language in the spotlight for the challenge. By the end of this week I'll be done with the Peace Corps course, after which I intend to go through the Ilya Frank Azerbaijani folktales reader. I've also been playing Azadlıq Radiosu and İTV internet radio in the background.

Hanmun/Classical Chinese
A project that I'm just as hyped up about as the Turkic challenge. For a few days after I got the textbook its (rather long) preface was the only thing I would read. Before moving on to the actual lessons I spent a lot of time thinking about how to organize the Anki cards and what information to include. After experimenting with adding readings in Vietnamese, various modern Chinese varieties and reconstructed Middle Chinese I gradually removed all but the Korean ones from the textbook, due to not being able to easily locate some of the readings for the less common characters. Mandarin and Japanese readings were easy to locate for all the characters, but I eventually decided against including the former and never wanted to use the latter. The former because I eventually plan on taking up modern standard Chinese and while Classical Chinese should provide some discount it's probably better to keep them separate. The latter because nobody in Japan reads Classical Chinese by simply vocalizing the Sino-Japanese readings - Sinologists use modern Mandarin readings while Japanologists read the texts out as Classical Japanese. Since my Classical Japanese is still pretty basic at first I thought that adding the Classical Japanese translations would be too much work. But then, just for the heck of it, I tried to find a Classical Japanese translation of one of the example sentences from Confucius' Analects and came across this website with side-by-side Classical Chinese texts and Classical Japanese translations. Since the grammatical patterns in the early units are still pretty basic it actually turned out pretty easy to extrapolate from those translations and make them on my own for example sentences not from texts available on that site (whenever I'm not sure about the correct Classical Japanese word I look up the Chinese characters on this archaism dictionary). So now all the cards in the deck have the Chinese sentence on the front, with the Classical Japanese translation and Sino-Korean readings on the back. I might have to switch to Russian translations when the sentences get too advanced - translating from a language with too little grammar into a language with too much of it is a very creative task.

Turkish
While I'm continuing it as planned, I've decided to reduce the frequency of my reading of the Nasreddin stories from one per day to one per week, in order to give more focus to Azerbaijani.

Korean
I guess with two new crushes my second honeymoon with Korean comes to an end. However, I really don't want to drop it completely this time, so I'm just reducing the frequency of TTMIK lessons to one per week, like with Turkish.

Kazakh
No changes here, other than quitting the Anki reviews. Still doing one lesson from the textbook per week. I've recently reached the part of the book that deals with the more advanced grammar that I don't remember from school, so I have been tempted to make a new deck and add new sentences to solidify those grammar points, but eventually decided to persevere with the reading approach.

French
Continuing to read the French translation of the visual novel Katawa Shoujo. I'll probably do Assimil Advanced French after I'm done with TTMIK for Korean... which should take me about 120 weeks at the current pace.

German, Norwegian, Ukrainian and Belarusian
With these languages I'm just reading at least one news article or editorial per week. This is meant to be the absolute minimum and not a limit - I'll read any article in those four languages that looks interesting.

Japanese, Classical Japanese
So where does this leave my greatest love of them all, Japanese? Well, it's already too big a part of my life to just let go of. My otaku-ism hasn't diminished in the past year (look forward to my top 10 anime series of 2014 Lang-8 post!), and now my interactions with Japanese speakers are no longer confined to the online realm. So I'll keep on watching anime, reading manga and novels (gonna be done with 風立ちぬ some time this month), listening to music, attending meetups and slowly making my way through Syromyatnikov's Classical Japanese book and the 百人一首 poem collection.


Welp, that's the game plan for the year - no big goals, no specific targets, just some leisurely studying at my own pace :)

Edited by vonPeterhof on 15 January 2015 at 9:18pm

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kraemder
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 Message 124 of 158
03 January 2015 at 2:17am | IP Logged 
Sorry to see you won't be on the team 東亜 but I get that having passed the N1 you are at a loss for goals in
Japanese. Most of the time when I see someone studying many many languages at once I start hoping they'll
narrow it down and just focus on one language but you're one of the exceptions. I wish I were as talented.
Good luck on all your studying this year.
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vonPeterhof
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Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 125 of 158
10 January 2015 at 6:42pm | IP Logged 
@kraemder, a bit belatedly, but thank you for the kind words. Personally I don't really consider myself that talented. I guess I just happened to be extremely motivated to learn English and Japanese, and I actually doubt if I'll ever be able to sustain that much motivation in any other language for a sufficient amount of time. İ guess this is why something like Chung's Turkic challenge appealed to me, since with it I can prioritize quantity over quality and move on to the next language by the time I get bored with it.

After having finished the Peace Corps course I decided to check out the GLOSS modules, and I think that's exactly what I need for this challenge. It looks like there are enough modules in there to last me for the rest of the Azerbaijani period. It's a great way to pick up vocabulary from various contexts and reinforce grammar points. Thanks to those modules my daily number of Azerbaijani Anki reviews has surpassed that of Korean (I'm actually tempted to start doing their North Korean modules on the side..). The only problem is that the site occasionally suffers from technical problems and goes down. This has happened twice this week (though, thankfully, never while I was in the middle of studying a module), and in those two days I filled my Azerbaijani quota by reading from the Ilya Frank reader instead.

My activities in other languages have also proceeded according to schedule. I've written two parts of my Top 10 anime of 2014 list, and will try to complete the final part tomorrow (which might not work out, since most of tomorrow will be taken up by my road trip back to Moscow). In Korean I've completed the level 4 lessons and will move on to level 5 next week. The Classical Chinese unit for this week was a pretty straightforward introduction to the numeral system, much of which I'm already familiar with through Japanese and Korean.

Additionally, in my free time I watched a film that I got almost three years ago and have been meaning to watch all this time. It's a Kazakhstani Russian-language drama film from 2010 called Сказ о розовом зайце (The Tale of the Pink Hare). It takes place in modern Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, and tells the story of a student from out of town trying to make ends meet, befriending representatives of the city's gilded youth and getting caught up in a web of intrigue, corruption and crimes of varying severity. The thing that particularly struck me is that it's probably the first time I've heard dialogue in a Russian-language film that almost perfectly matches the ideolect spoken by my peers from where and when I was growing up. The fact that rules against swearing in movies are apparently less strict in Kazakhstan than in Russia certainly helps add realism to the characters' speech, but even beyond that the slang, specific turns of phrases and even the intonation all felt very familiar and real to me. That's not to say that the film is free from clichéd dialogue, or that all the words were exactly the same as what my friends and I used back when I lived there. The biggest offender was the use of the word мобила - for as long as I can remember the default slang term for a mobile phone in Kazakhstan has been сотка. My use of that word occasionally resulted in confusion after I moved to Russia ("Can I see your сотка?" "What, you've never seen a 100 rouble note before?"). But then, I haven't been back to Kazakhstan since 2006, so for all I know the slang could have changed since then.
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Serpent
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 Message 126 of 158
11 January 2015 at 3:40am | IP Logged 
Interesting about the movie :) To me сотка can also be a kind of фишка that was used in some playground games. I've never played them though. (And interesting how playground here conveys best what I would call во дворе)

And wow, GLOSS having technical problems? Never seen that :O The lessons can be downloaded to study offline btw, so you may want to get some spare ones. But really, :OOOOOOOOOOO

Edited by Serpent on 11 January 2015 at 3:57am

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vonPeterhof
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715 posts - 1527 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 127 of 158
11 January 2015 at 10:14pm | IP Logged 
It's back up now, but I have downloaded a few lessons just in case. Thanks for the suggestion! I'm now also considering doing at least one module of German per week as well, just to give myself a bigger challenge than "read one random article per week". Too bad that there's no Norwegian.

I've completed the top 10 anime list. I should really think of more creative ways of saying what I like about a particular anime than just listing the things I like separated by commas. Better than bulletpoints, but still..
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yuhakko
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 Message 128 of 158
12 January 2015 at 6:12pm | IP Logged 
I've watched barakamon and I have to agree what you wrote. It has a very different feel
compared to many other animes coming out. Hearing the dialect, the topic of calligraphy,
and some other aspects of it made me appreciate it much more compared to the more
"classic" animes that keep coming out.

Anyway, good luck for this year!


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