Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

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JD
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Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JD »

So I figured maybe we should have a thread for learning languages.

I see people recommend Duolinguo; I've downloaded the mobile app but haven't actually tried it yet.

My girlfriend was actually the one who got me started on learning Spanish, but now she's annoyed that I've advanced faster than her, and is thinking of Russian instead. I told her good luck with that; Russian is hard.
I sort of feel like a sucker about aspiring to be intellectually rigorous when I could just go on twitter and say capitalism causes space herpes and no one will challenge me on it. - Hugh Akston
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JasonL
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JasonL »

I used duo for a while, then bailed, now it stares at me reproachfully from the home screen of my phone.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jadagul »

It's hard to find a good service for learning Romanian. There's allegedly a Duolinguo project in the works, but it has an "estimated completion date" of 2027. In fairness, I expect that to go down when they start actually working on it. But still unhelpful right now.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JasonL »

Yeah I doubt there is anything good. Hungarian has the same problem. Wife says both are crazy hard for different reasons.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by thoreau »

I would have thought that Romanian would be easy to learn, since it's derived from Latin.

Hungarian is probably hard, because it is not in the Indo-European family and has basically nothing in common with English, Latin, Greek, German, or any other language that contributed significant roots to English.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

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JasonL wrote:I used duo for a while, then bailed, now it stares at me reproachfully from the home screen of my phone.
I did this as well, but have gone back. The nice thing about duo is that it estimates how far back you should start based upon how much time has passed since your last session.

Rosetta Stone is probably good too, I'm just cautious given the high cost and the overly-aggressive marketing.

I can say with certainty that working around a lot of native spanish speakers has given me the opportunity to reinforce the little I've learned...
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

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---Double post deleted---
Last edited by Taktix® on 21 Jul 2014, 14:51, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

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thoreau wrote:I would have thought that Romanian would be easy to learn, since it's derived from Latin.

Hungarian is probably hard, because it is not in the Indo-European family and has basically nothing in common with English, Latin, Greek, German, or any other language that contributed significant roots to English.
Yeah the problem is it starts out with roots in Latin and has theoretically the most in common with Italian, but then you throw in that something like 25% of vocabulary came in through slavic channels and several key features are more balkan than latin - as I understand it.

Yes Hungarian is an almost unique nightmare according to the wife (who spent a semester studying in budapest).
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jadagul »

JasonL wrote:
thoreau wrote:I would have thought that Romanian would be easy to learn, since it's derived from Latin.

Hungarian is probably hard, because it is not in the Indo-European family and has basically nothing in common with English, Latin, Greek, German, or any other language that contributed significant roots to English.
Yeah the problem is it starts out with roots in Latin and has theoretically the most in common with Italian, but then you throw in that something like 25% of vocabulary came in through slavic channels and several key features are more balkan than latin - as I understand it.

Yes Hungarian is an almost unique nightmare according to the wife (who spent a semester studying in budapest).
About a quarter of short written Romanian sentences seem completely clear to me (recall that the other language I can actually read reasonably is Latin; their conjugation of "to be" is almost identical). But since Romania is neither wealthy nor particularly large, I imagine the demand for learning it is not terribly high.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JasonL »

My wife is fluent in Spanish and has the experience of being able to read 80% of a newspaper in Portuguese, but she almost murdered the duo lingo owl when trying to do portuguese on the app. She has no communicative ability at all because of radical pronunciation differences and key twists on structure at key moments where she thinks she knows what to say and it's all a trick.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Highway »

I'm closing in on 3 years working on Japanese, and there are times I'm surprised by how much I can get, and times I'm frustrated that I'm not further along, especially with understanding spoken Japanese. I'm actually about 30 days from finishing my first run through of my 8100 sentence SRS card pack (8100 flash cards total, 10 new ones per day, 75 reviews of old ones per day, works out to about 45 minutes to an hour), which is a pretty big milestone, but there's still a lot of it I don't know.

One thing that's been really frustrating to me is the lack of ebooks that I want to read available for sale. I know that a lot of my lack of progress is because I don't really push myself more to read things. But a lot of that is fostered by there being no really good way to actually read things. Sitting at my computer to read a book is not something that interests me. I would rather read on my kindle, and that would be fine if it was an ebook, but not if it's a bunch of scanned pages. I could also try to watch shows and other things without subtitles, and I keep saying that I'll do that, then I pick something that's way out of my league and give up immediately.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by D.A. Ridgely »

Other people need to learn English. Americans learning foreign languages except maybe Spanish and Chinese only postpones this.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by pistoffnick »

" I speak jive {Barry White voice}the language of love{/Barry White voice}."
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Aresen »

D.A. Ridgely wrote:Other people need to learn English. Americans learning foreign languages except maybe Spanish and Chinese only postpones this.
English speakers tend to have a lot of trouble with other languages due to the fact that we retain only traces of verb conjugation and have only the nominative and possessive noun cases. We retain the objective case only in a few pronouns, and even there it is vanishing.* It is mainly the result of having a highly positional language.

*People who worry about "who vs whom" deserve to be universally unfriended.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by thoreau »

Yeah, English grammar is, in many ways, way easier than other languages. When my cow-orkers start getting cardiac hemorrhages over the misfortune of our ESL students, I point out that (1) English grammar is easier than most languages and (2) we have faculty teaching in their 3rd language, and somehow their hearts aren't bleeding as much as the native English speakers' hearts.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by D.A. Ridgely »

Aresen wrote:
D.A. Ridgely wrote:Other people need to learn English. Americans learning foreign languages except maybe Spanish and Chinese only postpones this.
English speakers tend to have a lot of trouble with other languages due to the fact that we retain only traces of verb conjugation and have only the nominative and possessive noun cases. We retain the objective case only in a few pronouns, and even there it is vanishing.* It is mainly the result of having a highly positional language.

*People who worry about "who vs whom" deserve to be universally unfriended.
Whom in particular did you have in mind?
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

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D.A. Ridgely wrote:
Aresen wrote:
D.A. Ridgely wrote:Other people need to learn English. Americans learning foreign languages except maybe Spanish and Chinese only postpones this.
English speakers tend to have a lot of trouble with other languages due to the fact that we retain only traces of verb conjugation and have only the nominative and possessive noun cases. We retain the objective case only in a few pronouns, and even there it is vanishing.* It is mainly the result of having a highly positional language.

*People who worry about "who vs whom" deserve to be universally unfriended.
Whom in particular did you have in mind?
It is not the usage, proper or improper, which bothers me. It is the compulsion to correct the usage.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by D.A. Ridgely »

Aresen wrote:
D.A. Ridgely wrote:
Aresen wrote:
D.A. Ridgely wrote:Other people need to learn English. Americans learning foreign languages except maybe Spanish and Chinese only postpones this.
English speakers tend to have a lot of trouble with other languages due to the fact that we retain only traces of verb conjugation and have only the nominative and possessive noun cases. We retain the objective case only in a few pronouns, and even there it is vanishing.* It is mainly the result of having a highly positional language.

*People who worry about "who vs whom" deserve to be universally unfriended.
Whom in particular did you have in mind?
It is not the usage, proper or improper, which bothers me. It is the compulsion to correct the usage.
Shouldn't that be "that bothers me"?
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Aresen »

:lol: Image:lol: Image :lol: Image :lol: Image :lol: Image :lol: Image :lol: Image :lol: Image :lol: Image :lol: Image :lol: Image :lol: Image :lol: Image :lol:
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

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Aresen wrote:English speakers tend to have a lot of trouble with other languages due to the fact that we retain only traces of verb conjugation and have only the nominative and possessive noun cases. We retain the objective case only in a few pronouns, and even there it is vanishing.* It is mainly the result of having a highly positional language.
I don't know that I'd say we "retain only traces" of verb conjugation. It's true that our system is relatively simple, but it's not like Chinese with (AFAIK) no verb conjugation. As for foreigners learning ESL, I always felt like the simplicity of English in some aspects was probably well-made-up-for by others, like our no-rules-anything-goes pronunciation and spelling. And our usage is kind of strange and complex, IMO. Most languages don't seem to use auxiliary verbs as much, or in the same ways as English, and when you combine that with the rules about word order, you can see why foreigners tend to have trouble with stuff like
"He eats dinner" -> "Does he eat dinner?", which is infinitely simpler in Spanish.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

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JD wrote:
Aresen wrote:English speakers tend to have a lot of trouble with other languages due to the fact that we retain only traces of verb conjugation and have only the nominative and possessive noun cases. We retain the objective case only in a few pronouns, and even there it is vanishing.* It is mainly the result of having a highly positional language.
I don't know that I'd say we "retain only traces" of verb conjugation. It's true that our system is relatively simple, but it's not like Chinese with (AFAIK) no verb conjugation. As for foreigners learning ESL, I always felt like the simplicity of English in some aspects was probably well-made-up-for by others, like our no-rules-anything-goes pronunciation and spelling. And our usage is kind of strange and complex, IMO. Most languages don't seem to use auxiliary verbs as much, or in the same ways as English, and when you combine that with the rules about word order, you can see why foreigners tend to have trouble with stuff like
"He eats dinner" -> "Does he eat dinner?", which is infinitely simpler in Spanish.
English orthography and idioms are very difficult, especially as so many of the latter are dependent on knowledge of cultural referents. ("a shylock". a "fagin")

For the most part, however, English is highly positional. 'subject, verb, object'. It is very easy to determine who is doing what to whom. There is little possibility of confusing the subject and object because the nouns have been improperly declined.

Because of the simplicity of its grammar, English is one of the easiest languages to make yourself understood in. Because of its horrible orthography, huge and nuanced vocabulary and many idioms, English is almost impossible to speak perfectly.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JasonL »

duolingo spanish idiom lessons kick my ass.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jadagul »

Aresen wrote:
JD wrote:
Aresen wrote:English speakers tend to have a lot of trouble with other languages due to the fact that we retain only traces of verb conjugation and have only the nominative and possessive noun cases. We retain the objective case only in a few pronouns, and even there it is vanishing.* It is mainly the result of having a highly positional language.
I don't know that I'd say we "retain only traces" of verb conjugation. It's true that our system is relatively simple, but it's not like Chinese with (AFAIK) no verb conjugation. As for foreigners learning ESL, I always felt like the simplicity of English in some aspects was probably well-made-up-for by others, like our no-rules-anything-goes pronunciation and spelling. And our usage is kind of strange and complex, IMO. Most languages don't seem to use auxiliary verbs as much, or in the same ways as English, and when you combine that with the rules about word order, you can see why foreigners tend to have trouble with stuff like
"He eats dinner" -> "Does he eat dinner?", which is infinitely simpler in Spanish.
English orthography and idioms are very difficult, especially as so many of the latter are dependent on knowledge of cultural referents. ("a shylock". a "fagin")

For the most part, however, English is highly positional. 'subject, verb, object'. It is very easy to determine who is doing what to whom. There is little possibility of confusing the subject and object because the nouns have been improperly declined.

Because of the simplicity of its grammar, English is one of the easiest languages to make yourself understood in. Because of its horrible orthography, huge and nuanced vocabulary and many idioms, English is almost impossible to speak perfectly.
This sounds actually pretty reasonable to me. One surprising thing I noticed while studying Latin and Greek is that, while the classical versions of both have very complex and inflected grammar, as time went on and the languages became common languages spoken across Europe, the grammar got closer and closer to modern English grammar--the Greek of the Bible uses essentially English word order, and if you know what each individual word means you can just read off the sentence, in a way that is distinctly untrue of say Herodotus or Euripides. The same is true of Medieval Church Latin as compared with Cicero or Virgil or someone.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JD »

Random thoughts:

So far the Duolingo exercises have been pretty easy. Of course, I'm all of something like four lessons in. (Also, I keep wanting to call it "Duolinguo", possibly as a fossil of studying Esperanto years ago.)

I read a couple interesting things that said that one of the hard things about English was our heavy use of phrasal verbs, which I hadn't really thought about before. For example, knowing the verb "to throw" tells you nothing about what "throw up", "throw out" or "overthrow" mean; knowing the verb "to break" doesn't tell you what "break in", "break out", "break up", "break down", or "break out in" mean, etc. I wonder how much other languages use those; I know German does to some extent, but I'm not really fluent in it enough to say.

And here's an interesting article on the experience of trying to return to your mother tongue after not speaking it for a long time.
http://www.theatlantic.com/internationa ... ge/374906/
Last edited by JD on 24 Jul 2014, 14:31, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

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JD wrote:Random thoughts:

So far the Duolingo exercises have been pretty easy. Of course, I'm all of something like four lessons in. (Also, I keep wanting to call it "Duolinguo", possibly as a fossil of studying Esperanto years ago.)

I read a couple interesting things that said that one of the hard things about English was our heavy use of phrasal verbs, which I hadn't really thought about before. For example, knowing the verb "to throw" tells you nothing about what "throw up", "throw out" or "overthrow" mean; knowing the verb "to break" doesn't tell you what "break in", "break out", "break up", "break down", or "break out in" mean, etc. I wonder how much other languages use those; I know German does to some extent, but I'm not really fluent in it enough to say.

And here's an interesting article on the experience of trying to return to your mother tongue after not speaking it for a long time.
http://www.theatlantic.com/education/ar ... ov/374932/
Latin and Greek use that sort of construction a lot, but usually the meaning is at least semi-derivable from the component words.
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