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Tim’s Catalan Book (Team Caesar)

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Meddysong
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 Message 17 of 60
21 January 2015 at 1:08pm | IP Logged 
I've read a further two chapters of my Comprehensive Grammar. Chapter 2 dealt with forming plurals, which seems reasonably predictable. Practice will make perfect there! I never like things such as augmentatives, diminutives and pejoratives. I know how they work but they always seem like a list of words to remember, so I didn't get much from that part of the chapter.

The third one introduced me to articles. Usage seems largely as Spanish (for example, the regular use of indefinite plurals) and I don't think I'll overly struggle. There were a few quirks I picked up. For instance, I earlier wrote about "the French phenomenon of going from one preposition + article if it's a masculine country to changing the preposition and dropping the article if it's a feminine one" and it transpires there's a similar gendered distinction fr places in Catalan too, with most names ending in -a (ie feminine ones) not taking an article whilst others (ie the masculine ones) do.

Most unexpected was the existence of regional forms, the so-called article salat. Blimey. That's quite some jump from el and la to es and sa. Apparently these are localised to the Balearics, where I hope never to holiday, but I suppose I should be aware of them in the event I ever try Catalan literature.

And finally was the concept of adding articles before people's names. It's not the concept itself that caught me out but the fact that there are new articles for it (which vary depending on the region). Again, it will be a case of bearing in mind that en is el and na is la.

******
As regards other languages ... well, really life gets in the way so I still haven't started anything in Italian. I've read a few chapters of the French version of Rebecca, though - I'll get there in the end!



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 Message 18 of 60
21 January 2015 at 8:15pm | IP Logged 
Meddysong wrote:
Apparently these are localised to the Balearics, where I hope never to holiday,

Hehe. Mallorca and Ibiza definitely don't seem to be your style, but Menorca actually seems pretty cool, based on my friend's experience.



Crush
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 Message 19 of 60
22 January 2015 at 5:04am | IP Logged 
While it may seem like quite a jump, there are a few explanations for it though i think the generally accepted opinion is that they stem directly from the Latin articles ipse/ipsa/ipsos/ipsas.
http://www.gereon.es/catal%C3%A0/ling%C3%BC%C3%ADstica/l-art icle-salat/

Interestingly enough, Sardinian also shares this feature, having the articles su/sa/sos/sas. I don't know of any other Romance languages like that, though.

Also, don't worry about the diminutives and all that, i think that stuff's best met in context.
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Meddysong
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 Message 20 of 60
26 January 2015 at 1:27pm | IP Logged 
Clare bought me a copy of Astèrix el Gal for our anniversary last week. I find Asterix to be a very useful way of getting my head around the grammar of a language. That might strike people as very odd, so I'll give some examples of what I think I've discovered about Catalan from the first ten pages or so.

- What I mentioned earlier about using articles in front of people's names is definitely true. It seems to be localised to third-person use, since every instance in which characters are addressing each other (what would be the vocative in Catalan's latinate predecessors) is just the natural form of the name, without an article or case ending. Every third-person case does have an article though: "Mentre en Panoramíx, el nostre druidà, ens preparí la poció, els Romans no poden fer-nos res."

- The example above (el nostre druidà) indicates that possessive adjectives also take an article.

- There seem to be two verbs for "to be", as in Spanish. The pattern seems to be the same, with states taking one form and permanent features, for want of a better expression, taking another. "Tota la Gaŀlia és occupada pels Romans", "Astèrix és l'heroic petit guerrer d'aquestes aventures", Obèlix es l'amic inseparable d'Astérix".

I'm not sure why "Obelix està sempre preparat per deíxar-ho tot i seguir" takes one form whilst "és repectat dels seus homes i temut pels seus enemics", though. They both seem equivalent to me. Maybe that's something which will become apparent over time.

- It seems to be that object pronouns appear in front of conjugated verbs and seem to be inverted: "Em senta una mica feble", "No et donaré la poció magica!" But if it the verb is in its infinitive form, then the pronoun is appended with a hyphen and the infinitive end (assuming there is one) removed: "Tot el que puc dir-te és ..."

- This inversion before a verb seems not to take place when another pronoun is there: "Me 'n dones?" And that other pronoun seems to stand for partitives or phrases which begin with "de": "Si, en bieves", "Què en penses del meu pla?", "No en penso res."

- I'm not yet sure on the placement of pronouns with imperatives. It strikes me that they come after ("Mireu-lo!") but I've found an example "L'agafarem!". Maybe the first-person plural behaves differently ...

- There seems to be an equivalent to the French construction "ne ... pas", in this case "no ... res", as set out above and in "Mentre en Panoramix, el nostre druidà, ens preparí la poció, els Romans no poden fer-nos res."

- The first-person future tense seems to follow the same pattern that Spanish does with "No et donaré la poció magica!" and "No aniré ambs els Gals". I presume the pattern will hold so that we see "donaràs", "donarà".

- The construction for liking or enjoying something is indirect. The conditional mode seems to work the same way as Spanish: "M'agradaria una bona baralla."

- There seems to be a single auxiliary word beginning with h-, which I've seen in several constructions ("Els nostres gals havien estat venguts pels romans", "Ja t'he dit mil vegades que hi haveis caigut a dins quan eres petit"). It doesn't correspond to the verb "have" because of examples such as "Tens raó", "Acqí tenim la poció" indicate that the verb "to hold" has taken on this meaning. It also seems to lend itself to obligation when expressed "h- + de", as in "Haig de entregar molts menhirs" and "No hem de comptar".

I'm finding the book surprisingly easy to read. It certainly helps knowing Asterix very well, of course. I probably read the first 20 pages at the same speed as I would in Italian, but I'm deliberately going back to the beginning rather than aiming to finish because my aim isn't to speed through the book but to use it as a linguistic tool to become familiar with the language.

I finally finished the French version of Rebecca. It was rubbish. The last quarter had the makings of something exciting but it was painful getting there.

Edited by Meddysong on 26 January 2015 at 1:29pm

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Iversen
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 Message 21 of 60
26 January 2015 at 2:59pm | IP Logged 
Excellent summary of the grammar as used in Asterix.

Catalan "en" (or even rarer, feminine "na") before names may behave like an article, but according to www.diccionari.cat it is derived from Latin "domine", which also gave Spanish "Don".

My explanation for the "estar" in "Obelix està sempre preparat per deíxar-ho tot i seguir" is that this is judged from the situation where Obelix actually has the opportunity to show that he is ready to follow along, and there he is deemed to be prepared to leave at a moment's notice. On the other hand the chieftain is permanently "repectat dels seus homes i temut pels seus enemics".

Edited by Iversen on 26 January 2015 at 3:00pm

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Ogrim
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 Message 22 of 60
26 January 2015 at 3:47pm | IP Logged 
Iversen is basically right. One of the pitfalls in Catalan when you already know Spanish is to use ser and estar the same way as in Spanish, I regularly make that kind of mistake myself. However, Ser and Estar are used differently in Catalan, both when used with an adverb to indicate position (being somewhere) and with adjectives. There is quite a good outline of the main differences at the blog El català com cal. By the way, I recommend this site if you want to explore further the finer nuances of difference between Castilian and Catalan. The blog is primarily aimed at native Catalans who let Spanish influence the language, but also very useful for Spanish-speakers who want to learn correct Catalan.

Great log you have, by the way, interesting to read about how you explore grammar using Asterix (I am also a fan of le petit Gaulois).


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Meddysong
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 Message 23 of 60
31 January 2015 at 2:45pm | IP Logged 
Thank you for your words, gentlemen. It's nice to know that people are reading :)

Time for a quick update using Asterix. The format I used above takes a bit too much organizing, so instead I'll read from Asterix and quote what my brain is registering.

- Magnífica victòria per a nosaltres

A-ha. I'd picked up on per being used in the context of purpose (ie for) but also seen it used passively (ie by). It seems that the way to distinguish whether we mean "for us" or "by us" is to go from using "per" on its own to "per a".

- Esperem que en Caligula Minus pugui tornar senceret a contar-nos el que haurà vist!

That i-ending on pugui is interesting to me as is the stem change. I'm anticipating a subjunctive in this sort of structure and my brain believes this to be poder, so I'll be keeping my eyes open to see what that verb looks like in other forms. I've also noticed that the form of the h-verb (I don't know what the infinitive is but would guess haver) has swapped what was a v in other forms for a u in its future form here. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, given that French does the same.

- Hi estaràs segur, només hi ha Gals!

I confess I had to look up the translation of només, since it's appeared a lot up to now. And now the pieces have fallen into place. I've received confirmation in this sentence of what I wrote earlier: 'I presume the pattern will hold so that we see "donaràs", "donarà"' Well, I saw "haurà" above and now have seen "estaràs", so the predicted pattern seems to be the actual one.

It seems that the h-verb plays a "there is/are" role ("ha") and that there's a pronoun ("hi", reminding me of French "y") to indicate location.

- Els hem avisat de la teva visita

More confirmation that h-verb is an auxiliary and that possessive adjectives take an article. I've seen "meva" and now "teva", so the feminine forms have a v where the masculine took, I think, u.

- Hi ha senglar!

More confirmation on what I felt earlier about "hi" and "ha". I love the Gauls' obsession with boars - this one made me smile :)

- Sí, però no el puc revelar - Per què no em pots revelar, el secret?

A-ha! Two forms of poder. Puc (hence the stem pugui that I noticed earlier) and pots. I also get a reminder that pronouns before a verb appear to be inverted.

- Podria [...] tornar al casa meva - Podriem menjar-nos el seu senglar!

More of poder, this time in the conditional. At this rate, it'll be the first verb I learn to conjugate. There's a reminder here of that change from v to u in "meva". I love Obelix here! And I note the use of the reflexive -nos. I'm assuming that this is idiomatic and plays into Obelix being Obelix. He wants that boar!

- Què vols de mi? - Jo, res. [...] El meu amic voldria coneixer el secret de la nostra força.

Some conjugation of, I'm guessing, voler. At this point I'm having second thoughts about what I wrote earlier: 'There seems to be an equivalent to the French construction "ne ... pas", in this case "no ... res"' In this instance, res appears to mean "nothing".

- És un secret que es menja?

A reminder for me that pronouns are inverted before a verb. I've also picked up a construction that in English would be passive (or would use a construction with "people", the general "you", or "one") is a reflexive construction here as, say, in Italian: "Qui si parla Italiano".

- Que comenci la festa!

More reinforcement that (at least) the third-person singular ending in the subjunctive is -i.

- Has estat tu qui ha insistit fins que li n'he donat!

This was a really useful sentence. I know that the second-person singular pronoun is tu, that in these constructions we conjugate to the person (whereas in English we assume third-person, so "I'm the one who tells you ..." etc ), and that there is an indirect pronoun li.

- Tinc el secret - No crec pas que siguis Gal! - Vinc a deslliurar en Panoramix

Lots of verbs have a first-person conjugation ending in -c. I saw this with poder earlier too.

I'm confused now seeing pas in "No crec pas". I'll be keeping my eye out for more examples of this.

- Vaig a buscar - Haig de ...

A reminder that other verbs take -ig in the 1ps.

- Seria terrible per a nosaltres si et perdiem

A-ha, a conditional construction! I can see that the if-clause is introduced by si, plus there are reminders that "for us" and "by us" are distinguished by the presence or absence of "a", and that pronoun inversion occurs.

- a veure si puc trobar on tenen presoner el druida

A nice sentence which introduces me to a new verb (veure).

- Vejam per aqui ...

Asterix is talking to himself here and I'm thinking that he's saying "let's look around here", so the 3p imperative of veure has a stem change. There's a reminder that per fulfills many roles in Catalan.

- Faré que se'l mengin els lleons, a Roma! El Cèsar seré jo!

More future tenses. Mengin is clearly a 3pp in the subjunctive and what was a j in other forms in now a g. I'm confused about the use of "se" before it. I'll have to monitor that.

- No em diu on es troba el druida

The usual reminders about pronouns, plus a new verb.

*****
I still have another 18 pages of the book to go. Writing the notes and then typing them is taking far longer than reading. I'm not the most disciplined person but I shall try to keep it up.

I've started reading La forma dell'acqua by Andrea Camilleri. That's brought me down to Earth with a bang. I don't normally have trouble reading Italian but I'm really struggling with this. At the point when I saw the following sequence:

- Allura?

- Allura nenti.

instead of "Allora niente" I realised that lots of the book is written in nonstandard Italian but it's not just that. The poetic descriptions of the landscape and scenery use vocab that I don't know too.

I'm fortunate that Clare has it in English, so I'm reading initially in Italian to see what I understand, then the same chapter in English to fill in the gaps, before re-reading in Italian. Fortunately the chapters are short, but it's not a fun way to read compared to the usual approach.



Edited by Meddysong on 31 January 2015 at 2:47pm



Serpent
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 Message 24 of 60
31 January 2015 at 11:32pm | IP Logged 
Meddysong wrote:
Thank you for your words, gentlemen. It's nice to know that people are reading :)

IDK if I was even supposed to be included but I am no man :)



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