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Germanic language family videos

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
38 messages over 5 pages: 1 2 35  Next >>
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 Message 25 of 38
04 May 2008 at 9:17pm | IP Logged 
Today I added a video for Nynorsk. I do not claim any ability to speak this form of Scandinavian properly, although I know from recent experience that I can still spontaneously fall into relatively protracted, relatively complex conversations with Norwegians. I generally start out blatantly speaking whatever proper Swedish I ever had and still retain, but then, in face to face contact, unconsciously begin to mold my words to match and echo theirs, so that by the end I am probably speaking some sort of Scandinavian mishmash. Most likely it is not very pretty, but it is a perfectly serviceable communicative tool, and, far from finding it objectionable, those whom I have encountered in person this past year or so have initially seemed to be pleasantly surprised to meet an American who could manage this and then simply found it to be normal and natural to continue conversing about whatever topic I have broached to launch into discussion with them.

Perhaps once or twice a year a student will knock on my office door and say “professor, I just heard about language x for the first time. What is it?” In these instances, the most natural response is to take a book off my shelves and show it to him. Thereupon he probably says, “what does it sound like,” whereupon I probably respond, “well, I don’t actually speak it, but it sounds something like this,” and proceed to unselfconsciously read a few lines as best I can, then translate them word for word so he can get an idea of how the language works. Presuming he is still interested, I then give him a few facts about it. Most often that satiates his curiosity, but if it stimulates it instead, then I will let him listen to some recorded material, look over some reference works, and otherwise encourage further exploration. I love doing this and wish I had the opportunity to do it far more often.

This is what I am trying to do this series – provide serious informational content. I am not offering samples of my accent to attest to my mastery of these languages – most of which I have never actually spoken in conversation and which I therefore would never claim to be able to speak – or even to solicit feedback about the quality of my pronunciation, and so I find the fixation on this aspect of the videos to be both tedious and rather sadly disappointing.

From here on out, let us just presume that my readings will always leave something to be desired. Literature and analysis are my focus, not conversation. Because accent is not my focus, it has never been my forte, and furthermore, I am not in form – it has been almost a decade since I regularly spoke most of those European languages that I have actually ever spoken. So there you have it, I am an American armchair academic attempting to share philological and literary knowledge for the benefit of those who do not have it but who would like to have it. May we please save further discussion in this thread for that level of substance?

Edited by ProfArguelles on 05 May 2008 at 7:51am

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 Message 26 of 38
04 May 2008 at 10:42pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for the new video. I find myself looking forward to each new "episode", like a good TV show.

I think the constant analysis about perfect accent and pronunciation is a bit tiresome. As long as one can be understood, I don't see the problem in having an accent. We all have one- even within a given language there are different varieties of accents.

What is being lost here is the truly remarkable ability that you are displaying: the ability to read and understand scores of foreign languages at an advanced level. Perhaps some people don't realize how difficult it is to do this, because they are focused on attaining a basic level of spoken fluency. But how many people can comfortably read a novel in more than two languages? This requires detailed understanding of grammar and massive amounts of vocabulary.

Keep up the good work.
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SwedenRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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 Message 27 of 38
05 May 2008 at 5:23pm | IP Logged 

I just had a look at your clip about Nynorsk, and the other day I listened to your Scandinavian samples on your website. The Swedish sample was the first I listened to, and I think you did a very good job (and it somehow sounded "old", as if you were reading the excerpt at the time it was being written). After having listened to the Nynorsk and Bokmål audio files, I thought about what you in this thread call "Scandinavian mismash", and it is understandable as spoken Swedish and Norwegian have a lot in common. (By the way, your Danish would fool me any day.)

Like Zorillo I am looking forward to each new "episode".
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 Message 28 of 38
19 May 2008 at 8:39am | IP Logged 
I have posted an introductory overview of Danish.

Everything that I wrote about my transfer of abilities to actual conversational communication in Norwegian applies pretty much to Danish as well. However, while it really does seem to me that I understand pretty much everything when in face-to-face contact with Norwegians, there are times when Danish utterances remain unintelligibly slurred and guttural. To keep a friendly exchange going, it is generally best just to smile and nod and keep talking, but if I were involved in any kind of important exchange of information, I would sometimes have to say “I’m sorry, I just can’t understand what you are saying there – could you please write it down, or say it again in some other language?”

Alexander Arguelles
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 Message 29 of 38
01 July 2008 at 11:38pm | IP Logged 
Professor Arguelles,

I just wanted to tell you that your videos are very informative. It is great to be able to have glimpse of languages from someone so knowledgeable as you. I only watched three videos yesterday, in order that you created (German, Dutch and Afrikaans), and I will definitely watch the others this week. I am really excited that you will eventually present some languages about which I didn't even know.

Thanks again !

Edited by karashi on 01 July 2008 at 11:39pm

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Super Polyglot
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 Message 30 of 38
09 July 2008 at 6:46pm | IP Logged 
Your work with these introductions to all kinds of languages is very valuable, and I have had much pleasure to hear what you have to say about even those languages that I already know. It is clear that very few people could undertake such a project, and we cannot but forgive you even small inaccuracies such as the pronunciation of Danish'y'. In the general picture it is very important that the same person goes through all the languages (and does it according to a certain pattern) because exactly this parallel treatment makes it much easier to get a feeling for the differences that isn't coloured by differences in voice, native background, recording gear or other irrelevant factors. I liked the use of an interlaced text in Old High German because it permitted me to skip forwards and backwards in the text while I was listening to your voice - that may not have been your intention, but nevertheless I liked to have the choice. I look forward to the upcoming sessions with more exotic languages.

Edited by Iversen on 14 July 2008 at 7:06am

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 Message 31 of 38
10 July 2008 at 11:35am | IP Logged 
Wright's Grammar and the Middle English Reader presented in the video are available here: mar
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 Message 32 of 38
17 July 2008 at 7:31pm | IP Logged 
I have made and posted an introductory overview of Middle High German.

Mr. Iversen, thank you ever so much for your commentary, which really validates my own reasoning for undertaking this project in the first place. AA

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