Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

How many words to speak?

 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
309 messages over 39 pages: << Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 36 ... 38 39 Next >>
s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3825 days ago

2704 posts - 5424 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 281 of 309
23 September 2014 at 5:33pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
...
s_allard wrote:
This is not to say take the first 300 words from French film subtitle frequency list. Heavens no.
That would not
definitely not work. Instead, let's take four conversations that give us a unique word count of 300 and see what
we can do with that. We know we can at least have four conversations.

I'm happy to try this experiment. Here's what we would need to get started:

A. Eight conversations selected from the France Bienvenue website, in text format, covering a variety of easy
topics.
B. Before doing anything else, I will look at the eight conversations and tell you whether or not I consider them to
"cover a variety of topics."

An experiment with a fun bet

Here's the methodology we'll use:

1. I'll randomly pick four conversations to use as my training
set
and four to use as my test set.
2. I'll generate a vocabulary list containing all the unique words in the training set.
3. I'll generate a second vocabulary list containing the same number of words pulled from the top of Lexique 3's
'freqfilms2' data.
4. Both vocabulary lists will be applied to the test set using my "vocabulaire" tool (as demonstrated in this
thread), and I'll post the results online.

Without having seen the data, I'll make a prediction: If the conversations chosen from France Bienvenue
cover a range of easy subjects, then the vocabulary list generated in step (3) will give better coverage than
the vocabulary list generated in step (2).

Just to make this a bit more interesting, I'll make an amusing wager: If my prediction is wrong, I'll post a sound
file of me reading Raymond Devos's classic Parler pour ne rien dire (v=Td4pqnCCo0M">video, text). This is a
brilliant stand-up speaking routine using 461 words, of which 135 are unique, and all but 2 or 3 of which would
be understandable to an English speaker who only knew the top 1000 words from a frequency list. But this
speech shows an incontestable mastery of idiomatic French that would stomp any C2 speaking exam into
oblivion if delivered spontaneously.

Are you game? Pick 8 conversations, save them as text, and PM me to get an email address.

I like wagers myself, but I don't see the point here. If we want to see what can be done with a set of words, the
way to prove that is to have people use the set. Isn't what this is all about? And we already have a number of
conversations.

I don't see what looking at word coverage brings to the table. We have seen already that 5000 words from French
film subtitles are not enough to cover the words of a 130 word conversation here.

Why make things so complicated? One test would be to take a set of 300 words built from four conversations
here and ask two native speakers to have a conversation using only these words.

And also ask two native speakers to have a conversation using the first 300 words from the French film subtitle
dataset. Actually, it probably could be done.

Since so many people are skeptical about what can be done with a few words, I'll give an example. Here are the
first lines of a conversation from France Bienvenue and Google translation:

L : Alors Joran, j’ai entendu (1) que tu faisais de la musculation.
J: Oui, c’est ça, donc ça fait trois ans maintenant que j’ai commencé la musculation.
L : Oui.
J : J’avais dix-sept ans.
L : Ah, quand même jeune !
J : Oui, oui, on peut dire ça comme ça, oui. Et donc j’ai commencé donc à en faire dans une salle à côté de chez
moi.
L : Tu habites où ?
J : J’habite à côté du centre commercial "Grand Littoral".

L: So Joran, I heard that (1) you were doing weight training.
J: Yes, that's right, so it's been three years now since I started bodybuilding.
L: Yes.
J: I was seventeen years old.
L: Ah, still young!
J: Yes, we can say it like that, yes. And so I started to do so in a room next door to me.
L: Where do you live?
J: I live next to the shopping center "Grand Littoral."

This is very simple French but there is a ton of grammar details in there. The subject is musculation or
bodybuilding. Maybe you're not interested in musculation. So, substitute the topic you're interested in and
continue on. Or change something else. What we have here is a set of micro-structures that allow you to use the
language in different ways. You don't learn these by heart, You learn how they work. Everything is not bound to
musculation. You can use the same words and even the same phrases to talk about another topic with minimal
changes.

1 person has voted this message useful



Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 4992 days ago

9753 posts - 15777 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 
 Message 282 of 309
23 September 2014 at 6:01pm | IP Logged 
Your method/model is overfitting for teaching English/French in Canada ;)
1 person has voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3927 days ago

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

 
 Message 283 of 309
23 September 2014 at 6:07pm | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
The tests can be found here: http://www.itt-leipzig.de/static/startseiteeng.html

That was a fun test! I only took the passive test, and I had to stop a few minutes early for a plumber, so I couldn't go back and check my answers. But aside from some weird mistakes in the 2,000 band, I did OK:



I liked this test because it really tried to measure what I think of as "automatic" or "consolidated" vocabulary. It didn't just test me on vaguely understanding the words in context. Instead, it felt almost like a crossword: I had to match up clues with words, and some of them were a little tricky. Oh, and it felt like whoever designed the test made an effort to defeat English users who were relying heavily on cognates.

Unfortunately, I'm still scoring 29/30, 30/30 and 29/30 in the top three bands, so I can't estimate my passive vocabulary size with any accuracy. It's another ceiling effect, just like with Milton's vocabulary studies.

Serpent wrote:
monolingual Russian:

Quote:
adaptation, association, centrer, chômage, diminuer, gestion, handicaper, insertion, intégration, liguer, mobiliser, polémiquer, préjuger, slogan

handicap is pretty uncommon in Russian, it's mostly used in the context of some sports and betting. also, it's spelt as "gandikap", so not everyone will even think of the word at once. If the Russian word happens to be relevant to your interests, you may be able to figure it out. Also, "integratsija" and "polemika" probably sound like modern buzzwords to many, although there are definitely plenty of educated people who know them. And the latter is a noun, whereas the verb is "polemizirovat'", I think. It's probably heard less commonly by those to whom it's a buzzword anyway.

Serpent, you rule. I think we've established the DELF B1 reading samples are too hard for people who lack the Romance cognates.

Serpent wrote:
Now, emk'll correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sure he was glad to be asked about that sci-fi book in the bakery. Maybe even delighted :-)

To be honest, it was a little bit awkward. I would have loved to have had that conversation in French, but:

1. There was a line of 4 people standing behind me waiting to be served.
2. My listening comprehension is still pretty shaky for native-speed, informal Quebec French.
3. My opinions about Werber's science fiction are… complicated, and require upper-level vocab.
4. I'd previously overheard the same bakery employee speaking native-level English.

So in reality, as much as I would have loved to talk about science fiction, I wasn't going to hold up the whole line of customers. Maybe someday, when I can understand native-level, full-speed Quebec French without problems? Oh, and when I can reply fast enough that I don't feel like I'm being a jerk by using French with somebody who obviously speaks English as well as I do?

Montreal is glorious city for somebody with good French and English. But you need to be a little bit sensible about which language you use when. There are customs and social conventions for that stuff, and everybody is so terribly polite about it that I always want to respond with equal politeness.
2 persons have voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3927 days ago

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

 
 Message 284 of 309
23 September 2014 at 7:23pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
Instead, let's take four conversations that give us a unique word count of 300 and see what we can do with that.

emk wrote:
Are you game? Pick 8 conversations, save them as text, and PM me to get an email address.

s_allard wrote:
I like wagers myself, but I don't see the point here.

Well, that rather spoils the fun. :-/
6 persons have voted this message useful



rdearman
Senior Member
United Kingdom
rdearman.orgRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3631 days ago

881 posts - 1812 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, French, Mandarin

 
 Message 285 of 309
23 September 2014 at 8:31pm | IP Logged 
Ages ago... in a time far in the distant past back when this horse may or maynot have been freshly killed. I said you only need one or two words to be able to speak at someone. Hello in English, Bonjour in French, 你好 in Mandarin, etc.

So s_allard has now said his point was that you only need a few words to start speaking. Can we now all concede he is correct; you need less than 300 words to start a conversation.

Let's put away the flogs and whips and leave this particular equine corpse in peace.
2 persons have voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3927 days ago

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

 
 Message 286 of 309
23 September 2014 at 8:40pm | IP Logged 
rdearman wrote:
Let's put away the flogs and whips and leave this particular equine corpse in peace.

But I have a new woodchipper and I didn't get to try it yet! :-)

No? A bad idea. OK, I suppose. *sobs quietly in the corner*

One of my favorite conversational activities is the flogging of of conversational dead horses. It's fun to make charts and graphs and stuff. :-)

(Edited for clarity for non-native English speakers.)

Edited by emk on 23 September 2014 at 8:52pm

3 persons have voted this message useful



s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3825 days ago

2704 posts - 5424 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 287 of 309
23 September 2014 at 8:41pm | IP Logged 
Now that I've finished knocking some sense into the heads of the poor students, I can look at the issue of how to
estimate speaking performance with small vocabularies. As iversen pointed out, he felt extremely constrained
with a small vocabulary in Swahili. That's normal because he doesn't know much Swahili. Someone who knew
Swahili well could do a lot with 300 words.

Here the problem how to prove that a set of 300 words is enough to debate a given topic at a high level of
proficiency. Something like "Is the Ebola virus a threat to western society?" in 300 words of C2 level French or
less. I don't see that a problem if I can choose my words freely. If I'm given a set of words such as those from
four conversations of France Bienvenue, it's certainly more challenging. It may be a bit awkward because the
words for virus, epidemic, quarantine, etc. are not there. In which case I'll just have to add them. I'll still use less
than 300 words but I'll have to substitute some of the previous words with more topic-specific words. So now the
total pool may stretch to 320.

The other side of the equation is how to construct C2-level French given the raw materials that I have. I think it
would be a piece of cake but I may not be a fair judge because I am a native French speaker and I debate in
French very often. On the other hand, doing this in Spanish would be definitely more challenging. I would really
have to think about some of the technical vocabulary and how to construct the arguments.

How do I come out of the starting gate with a high enough level of Spanish to wow the examiners and put them
in a good mood? This is going to be difficult. But I've written a paper in Spanish on Alzheimer's disease so, I
decide to cannibalize that. That would give me some of the medical jargon that I could transfer to this subject.
Then there would be the question of the grammatical construction and the delivery. Not easy.
1 person has voted this message useful



Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 4992 days ago

9753 posts - 15777 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 
 Message 288 of 309
23 September 2014 at 10:24pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
To be honest, it was a little bit awkward. I would have loved to have had that conversation in French, but:

1. There was a line of 4 people standing behind me waiting to be served.
2. My listening comprehension is still pretty shaky for native-speed, informal Quebec French.
3. My opinions about Werber's science fiction are… complicated, and require upper-level vocab.
4. I'd previously overheard the same bakery employee speaking native-level English

Ah I see, I somehow missed the fact that this was in Montreal too. Which brings us back to the original point that Montreal is different :-)


1 person has voted this message useful



This discussion contains 309 messages over 39 pages: << Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39  Next >>


Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page was generated in 0.3438 seconds.


DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2020 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.