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

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vonPeterhof
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 Message 129 of 158
14 January 2015 at 10:35pm | IP Logged 
Thanks, yuhakko, likewise!

Until I started writing that third part I was actually planning to give Nozaki-kun the first place instead, but as I was writing up my thoughts on Silver Spoon I reconsidered. Nozaki-kun may have absolutely excelled at what it set out to do (get laughs by toying with manga tropes), but Barakamon was such a unique experience in pretty much all aspects.

And of course, the dialect was a major plus for me. I had watched shows featuring various Kyushu dialects before, but back then I couldn't understand it without subs and therefore couldn't really let their features sink in. I got particularly curious about the -か adjectives and how their origins differed from the -か adjectives in the standard language. I can also sympathize with the girls in this cartoon now - 強か is such an uncommon word that it's really hard not to read it as つよか :)
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yuhakko
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 Message 130 of 158
14 January 2015 at 11:48pm | IP Logged 
Haha, well it appears you got even more out of it than me! I'm now able to get a feel of the
nuances and differences of dialect but could definitely not point out exactly a specificity
from any other dialect than the Kyoto one.

Quite a funny cartoon as well. I definitely would have read those with the original kanji
reading. :)
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vonPeterhof
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 Message 131 of 158
01 February 2015 at 2:00pm | IP Logged 
I guess it's time for some sort of summary of the first month (and a half) of the Turkic challenge. So far the thought that keeps occurring to me most often is "I really should have studied some Arabic and/or Persian before doing this". When it comes to Azerbaijani vocabulary the words that just don't stick in my memory seem mostly to be Arabic and Persian loanwords that I hadn't encountered before via Kazakh. This problem is at its worst with nouns ending in -ət: müraciət, mülkiyyət, xüsusiyyət, istirahət, etc. Even if I do passively recognize some of those words, it's hard to actively reproduce them from memory, since they tend not to obey vowel harmony rules very strictly and I get confused which vowels are the "odd one out", if any (xüsusiyyət? xusüsiyyət? xüsüsiyyət?). I also keep discovering words that I do know from Kazakh, but previously had no idea about their Perso-Arabic origins, due to their pronunciations getting altered to fit Kazakh vowel harmony. This seems to happen a lot less frequently in Turkish and Azerbaijani.

However, my familiarity with Kazakh does give me a great boost. Normally I wouldn't even think about reading news articles in a language I had only been studying for a month, but with Azerbaijani I can get the gist of most articles I come across. Listening comprehension is a bit harder, but I have been listening to Azadlyq Radiosu to notice that they keep reusing certain programmes - one about the history of programming, one about Ismail Gaspirali (Gasprinski) and one about conspiracy theories, to name a few. And the other night I tuned in to İTV's live TV streaming service and saw that they were showing a voiced-over version of The Butterfly Effect, which used to be my favourite movie for some time. I haven't re-watched it in like seven years, so I don't remember every line by heart any more, and I only tuned into the stream about halfway through the film, but I could remember enough to follow what was going on most of the time. I think I only managed to pick up one new word (İlahi, which was the default translation for "Oh my God"), while also confirming a couple of words I knew from Kazakh (diary - gündəlik/күнделік; help - kömək/көмек).

My studies of other languages have gone on steadily as well, except I didn't manage to get through 風立ちぬ by the end of January. There's still a quarter of the book left, but I should be able to finish it within a month this time. I'm reading this book and Dostoyevsky's Demons now, and about two weeks ago I decided to increase the frequency of my reading of both books from once a week to every day, alternating the books between each other. This was especially necessary for Demons, since not only was I moving through it as a snail's pace before, I also had great trouble remembering who the characters were. Since 風立ちぬ only has two central characters it's easier to keep track of them, but it's still hard to remember what had happened if I just read one short passage per week.

Given the problems I mentioned above with Arabic vocabulary in Azerbaijani, I think I've decided on what I will do once the Turkic challenge is over. I've actually been planning this for quite some time, but kept getting distracted by other languages. I want to seriously concentrate on the internationally influential classical languages. I've already dabbled in Latin and Ancient Greek, and I'm doing Classical Chinese now. I'm gonna need to restart the former two, while also adding Arabic and Sanskrit later on. Maybe I could add a few others, like Persian, Biblical Hebrew or Old Church Slavonic. That should make vocabulary acquisition in many other languages easier, while also satisfying my curiosity for historical linguistics.

That's all hypothetical for now though. Right now I have to concentrate on the more immediate future. The date for my parting of ways with my current employer has been set, and it's coming in less than two months now. So right now I should be concentrating on finding a new place of work. I've actually had a job interview over Skype with a company in Japan, but they promised to get back with an answer in January and I've yet to hear from them. It doesn't look likely that I'll get hired there though, since they honestly told me that the fact that I've never even been to Japan was concerning for them. The industry they work in depends pretty heavily on familiarity with the local corporate culture, and while they could tell that I was well informed, hearing and reading about it isn't the same as experiencing it first hand. They suggested I come to Japan for some studying or part-time employment to improve my chances.

There are actually a few opportunities for that, since the JET Programme has some Russian-speaking ALT vacancies this year. Since they'll probably focusing primarily on applicants with teaching training or experience I doubt that I'll make it, but it might be worth a try. If not, I could use my severance pay to take a business Japanese course at a language school in Japan that offers career assistance (assuming that the rouble doesn't pull a Zimbabwe on us in the meantime).

My father, who works at the same company as I do and apparently isn't getting laid off for now, actually approached his boss asking "Would you happen to have an opening for an economist with knowledge of Japanese... English, German, Norwegian and Kazakh?" The boss was apparently impressed and asked how much I was being paid now. After hearing how low that was he said something to the effect of "Well, if we don't have an opening we'll just have to make one!" While I appreciate my father's concern about my future employment, I couldn't help but feel that this was all designed to push my impostor syndrome to its limits :)
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vonPeterhof
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 Message 132 of 158
09 March 2015 at 12:48am | IP Logged 
Wow, has it really been that long since I updated? I mean, I don't recall having posted anything here during "the week that wasn't", so I have to assume that it really has been more than a month. The main reason for that, especially in the last two-three weeks, was that I was busy working on my ALT application - filling out forms, collecting documents, getting letters of reference, that kind of stuff. The last one was a particularly interesting challenge, since it involved me getting in touch with the teacher from last year's lectures. I actually got to put my business email writing skills to practice, and apparently I wasn't too disrespectful. Anyway, I've handed in the documents, so now I have to wait to find out if I've made it to the interviews in April. Don't wanna sing my own praises too hard, but considering that the materials say that additional consideration will be given to candidates with high level of Japanese ability and teaching experience and/or qualifications, I think my chances of making it to the interview stage are pretty good. Not confident at all as to what will happen after that though...

As for my language learning activities, while I've tried not to let the application process interfere with them I haven't succeeded at that consistently. I've done the majority of level 1 Azerbaijani GLOSS lessons, when I decided to focus exclusively on the Structural competence lessons. I've done all of those in levels 1 and 1+ by now, so I'm moving on to level 2 next. After finishing reading the Ilya Frank Azerbaijani folk tales book I tried to read the Azerbaijani translation of Orwell's 1984. Unfortunately, the vocabulary proved way too demanding for me right now, and even having the original text at hand didn't make it exactly effortless. I've decided to stick to learning text on azeri.org.

I guess all that Arabic vocabulary finally pushed me to my limits that I could no longer resist dabbling in Arabic. The Arabic script copybook I started working on a while ago has several example sentences at the end, and I started slowly adding them to Anki. I doubt I'll take it far beyond that in the foreseeable future, but I did need that outlet for my wanderlust. Well, this one and hundreds of others: re-listening to Croatian and Indonesian basic Pimsleur courses, following new Twitter accounts in several languages I have limited passive understanding of (Yiddish, Czech, SLovak, Polish, Macedonian and Rusyn for now), visiting a bookstore to buy a book on teaching Russian as a foreign language in preparation for the ALT interview and ending up buying Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in Karachay-Balkar, a book of poetry including translations of Russian classics and song lyrics into Hebrew and a grammar of written Manchu - that sort of thing :)

As for my Japanese, aside from the aforementioned experience in email writing, I've had another first - nitpicking a translation of a phrase into Japanese (I had nitpicked translations from Japanese lots of times before, but not the other way). Oh, and I did finally finish reading 風立ちぬ. For my next book I decided to step back from "grown up literature" and go for the light novel 傷物語 (Kizumonogatari) by 西尾維新 (NisiOisiN). It's part of a massive franchise known as the Monogatari series, much of which has been adapted into a popular TV anime. This particular novel is chronologically a prequel to the first novel, and plans to adapt it separately as a movie were announced back in 2010. Since that hasn't happened yet, might as well read it. While the subject matter should be easier to get into than in the "adult" novels I've tried to read so far, the series is pretty heavy on soliloquies, wordplay and unconventional vocabulary choices, so it's not without challenges.
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vonPeterhof
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Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 133 of 158
22 March 2015 at 6:42pm | IP Logged 
I've heard back from the Japanese embassy, and, just as I predicted, I've made it to the job interview stage. Now I need to hear from the consulate in Saint Petersburg in order to specify the date. Now I guess the difficult part begins. In order to prepare for the interview I've temporarily suspended most of my activities in Korean, French, Turkish, Kazakh and German so that I can focus on reading the teaching methods book. I'll also probably need to keep up working on the email writing practice, re-read my notes from last year's teaching lectures and re-start reading editorials, especially from Hokkaido-based papers. I have next to no idea of what to expect, but hopefully I can present myself well. Just gotta remember not to utter the word "anime" ;)

Also, in order to get into a Hokkaido mood I've started dabbling in Ainu using the UniLang beginner course and the corresponding STVradio lectures, although I'm thinking of switching to a different series of lectures for which the Japanese textbook is available online. The phonology appears extremely similar to Japanese, the most striking difference being the syllable-final -r, while the use of personal prefixes on verbs and (inalienably possessed) nouns reminds me of Abkhaz. This is very interesting so far, but I wonder if it's possible to find any more advanced resources for this language.

As for the Turkic challenge, I'm proceeding with Azerbaijani and am now near the end of GLOSS's level 2 structural lessons. I've also tried writing a Lang-8 entry about myself and why I started studying Azerbaijani. I had to look up a lot of words and it took almost a week for someone to correct the entry, but apparently there weren't as many mistakes as I expected. Additionally, I've started a preliminary exploration of Turkmen via David Gray's Short Descriptive Grammar. While the letters that are absent in both Turkish and Azeri alphabets aren't too hard to get used to, the fact that the non-trivial vowel length distinction is almost completely absent from the orthography, as well as that the rounded-unrounded vowel harmony isn't as straightforward as in the other two Oghuz languages, is a bit worrying. I am already looking forward to sinking my teeth into it though.

Edited by vonPeterhof on 23 March 2015 at 8:08pm

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kraemder
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 Message 134 of 158
22 March 2015 at 8:29pm | IP Logged 
I can't help thinking you're a shoo-in for the Jet program. I can't imagine very many applicants have N2
certificates let alone N1 certificates. Just don't come across like you hate teaching in the interview and your'e
good.. (btw what's wrong with anime?)
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vonPeterhof
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Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 135 of 158
23 March 2015 at 7:09am | IP Logged 
The N1 certificate is a plus, but an N2 certificate with some actual teaching experience is probably a stronger combination. And I have no idea if my age and work experience in a completely unrelated field speak in my favour or against me. As for anime, it might not be a good idea to set off any otaku/weeaboo alarms. Although I guess I can mention it as part of my progress to my current level of Japanese, since that seems likely to come up.
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espejismo
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 Message 136 of 158
23 March 2015 at 12:48pm | IP Logged 
Congratulations! I hope everything works out for you.

vonPeterhof wrote:
... I've started dabbling in Ainu ...


I loved how you put that so matter-of-factly. :)


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