The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Gymfan15 » May 30, 2017 6:10 pm

It's hard for me to say what materials have been most helpful in my core Chinese learning because I've had private tutors and a lot of them made their own lessons, but I can tell you what standardized materials I have used and what I thought:

Practical Audio-Visual Chinese: This is a series of textbooks that is extremely popular among Chinese learners; I think it's the most common language learning resource here. It's a textbook with a DVD attached with video demonstrations of the dialogues, but you can actually find those videos online. Personally I haven't found the book that helpful but I think if you were learning Chinese on your own and needed dialogue examples, it would be useful. I guess it's popular for a reason? ;)

Memrise: This is a flashcard website that is used for language learning (I'm sure a lot of you know about it) and I've recently started using it for Chinese vocab...it's been SUPER helpful. I've been going through the TOCFL Vocab banks (TOCFL is the name of the proficiency test I took a few weeks ago) and it was invaluable in helping me read and recognize more characters. Nice mix of listening, reading and definitions.

HelloChinese: iOS app that I LOVE. It's free and I like it because it teaches you a lot of grammar and sentences as well as vocab. More like a "game" but it has been extremely helpful for me. You can do it with pinyin or without, if you really want to practice your reading more.

StickyStudy: iOS flashcard app that I bought because of the TOCFL vocab word banks; it's really just a basic flashcard app but it had the Chinese already plugged in and it has a nice format. Good if you want to just drill vocab.

Pleco: This is a Chinese dictionary app that is SUPER helpful if you need to look up words on the go. Probably not the best for non-immersion learning but helpful if you are out and about and you see some Chinese on a sign that you want to translate. This is probably my most-used app but again I live in Taiwan so I'm actually having to look up words on a frequent basis to use. :p

Helpful tip; add the Chinese handwriting keyboard to your phone! I can't write at ALL but it's really helpful for when I see a character and want to translate it but I can't remember the word. I'll just copy the character on my phone and viola! Translation. Google Translate will also translate characters by pointing your phone's camera at it but that's cheating sometimes. ;)

For Youtube channels, I like ChinesePod (https://www.youtube.com/user/ChinesePodTV) and Learn Chinese Now (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtjhXz ... txa7kkAH5Q).
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Varnafinde » Jun 01, 2017 3:55 pm

The Rose-Tree Dryad wrote:
Varnafinde wrote:Some linguists say that Swedish, Norwegian and Danish aren't really separate languages. If we went by the language definitions we use elsewhere in the world, they would be seen as dialects of one language.


Oooh. That sounds like a three-for-one deal to me. :D Among those three languages, is there one that seems like more of a middle point than the others, or are they all equally different? (Trying to figure out which one would offer me the most of an edge over the other remaining two, should I decide to learn one at some point!)


Norwegian would be the middle language there. Both Swedes and Danes tend to understand Norwegian better than the third language. Norway is geographically in the middle, too - this may be some of the reason.
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby hmj97 » Jun 04, 2017 2:52 pm

what resources are you using to learn Chinese, hmj97?

I've only ever used Duolingo and Memrise for languages. I'm surprised there's no Chinese course on Duolingo yet, but there's quite a few on Memrise. I'll have to give some of those language-specific apps a try!
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jun 04, 2017 5:55 pm

Varnafinde wrote:Norwegian would be the middle language there. Both Swedes and Danes tend to understand Norwegian better than the third language. Norway is geographically in the middle, too - this may be some of the reason.


I'd love to be able to hear Norwegian and Danish spoken, as distinct from just reading it. :) I'd like to work out for myself just how close both Norwegian and Danish are to English, especially how it is spoken, say, in America, Scotland or Yorkshire. There are basically two main varieties of the many variations of English pronunciation and usage world-wide, and Northern England, especially around Yorkshire, Scotland, Ireland and North American English, as a whole, tends to be rhotic (a Greek-based term for heavy pronunciation of "R" sounds), as opposed to the non-rhotic English that is often spoken elsewhere. If I was on a podcast you would hear the difference, I am sure of it. :D

Where I worked we once had a truck manual for Volvo trucks in Swedish, which had to be updated every so often - in Swedish. And it was a nightmare thing to do given that nobody understood any Swedish. Very likely, it is the least like English of any Scandinavian (Nordic) language. Also, the diacritics can be somewhat offputting. I think these are the sorts of things I've been seeing: ð, å, Ǿ. Apart from the dot on the top of an i we don't have any diacritics in English.

But unfortunately there isn't much demand for either books or CD's here, for any Scandinavian country when I visit our big bookstores. We can get these so-called "earworms" musical brain trainers in popular languages to learn which include French, German, Japanese and maybe Chinese, but not any of the Scandinavian languages. Nor some of the languages commonly spoken here, in particular, Vietnamese. /:)
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Jul 29, 2017 9:11 pm

*revives thread she has so woefully neglected*

Lady Arwen wrote:One of my coworkers taught herself Korean, and is now largely fluent. If you're looking at learning that, Rosie, I can bug her and see if she can resource share--although she did start learning about ten years ago, so some of her sources might be outdated.


Ooh, I may ask you to do that! It looks like Duolingo is finally getting their act together and has a projected launch date for the Korean course in beta (or should I say βήτα? :P) in the middle of next month, but if they postpone it yet again, I may poke you about poking your friend. ;))

Lady Arwen wrote:One of the things I find fascinating about Greek is that, unlike most other languages, it is both a parent language to so many other languages, and a living language. So many other languages fall into one category or the other, but Greek is just hanging out, chilling with both crowds. I suppose nowadays you could say the same about Hebrew, but that one took quite a lot of work to revive, and I don't think it has had as much of an impact on the development of other languages as Greek has.


That's a great point! A lot of the time I feel sort of like I'm time traveling when I'm studying Greek, or participating in ancient history somehow. It's a very cool feeling.

(Duolingo also has a Hebrew course.... :D Not sure when I might get started on that since Korean and Russian are next on the list, but I'd love to learn to at least read a bit of Hebrew at some point.)

Thank you so much for that breakdown on the resources you used during your journey with learning Chinese, Gymmie! :ymapplause: Especially the apps and the YouTube channels. Speaking of YouTube channels, I've been enjoying Wikitongues. It's really neat to listen to the different native speakers, especially for some of the more obscure/dying languages.

In other lingiustic news, I hit the 250th day of my Greek streak on Duolingo today, though not without the help of a lot of Streak Freezes. ;)) I'm through about 60% of the modules, and I'm hoping to have finished all of them by the one year mark of beginning the course. (That'll be on October 17th, I think.) Just completing all of the quizzes shouldn't be that difficult to do, but it becomes harder if I'm actually trying to retain some of what I'm learning and not just get through the quizzes as quick as I can. :P I don't really want to move on to other languages until I have a firm grasp of Greek, after all.

I've found that regularly doing the "strengthen skills" quiz helps a lot with retention of what I've learned... I sort of swing back and forth between intensively studying a new quiz set and doing a bunch of the all-around skill strengthening quizzes found on the course's homepage. Plus, the variety you get with doing the all-around quiz helps keep my brain from getting bored. ;))

One of my favorite Greek words that I've learned recently is παραμύθι, or paramýthi. It means fairy tale. :D
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby shastastwin » Jul 31, 2017 6:04 am

Rose's post reminded me that I downloaded Duolingo a while back, but never used it. Inspired, I redownloaded it and then started learning Welsh (and refreshing my Spanish). We'll see how this goes.
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby SummerSnow » Aug 06, 2017 2:19 pm

I like a lot of different languages. Unfortunately, I seem to like learning them a little less.
Right now, I'm trying to learn Spanish. I learned it in school and thus, it seems like a natural thing to pursue, since I already have started. Unfortunately, I don't find that I love the language, and beyond the fact that it would be practical to know, I'm having a hard time finding a reason to learn it.
I also studied Swedish in school, but I had no particular desire to learn it. I'm debating whether I ought to try learning it now. It's pretty much in the same boat as Spanish. I already know a bit, and it would be neat to know it, but I don't have a particular desire to learn it.

So, beyond that, there's Czech. It's a language that it was never convenient to learn, but I've been thinking about picking it up. I admit I was going to wait until it came to Duolingo (because it's very simple to start out at), but it just keeps on getting pushed back. I have Mango Languages through my school, though. I'm not the hugest fan of it (it is very repetitive, which is good for language learning....but sometimes a bit boring), but it has so many languages. Czech being one of them, and I just had to try it out. I haven't really done much. I'm still debating whether I want to try to focus on that or not.

I'm really interested in Japanese. Unfortunately, I've struggled to pronounce the most basic of words, so it's a bit up in the air right now. To be quite honest, pronunciation is one of the things I most struggle with though, regardless of the language, so I'm not sure why I'm so nervous about that. =P

I've dabbled in various other languages, and I'm definitely interested in many more, but those ones are the main ones I've been thinking about lately.
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Lady Arwen » Aug 09, 2017 6:18 pm

I just recently discovered that Duolingo lets you bet on your streaks with lingots, and I've become much more serious about logging in every day. ;)) I guess it helps that I really like winning. :P Also, if anyone is interested in being "friends" on the site, my handle is RiverWrenSong.

I hadn't noticed the Hebrew course on Duolingo before, Rose, but I may consider checking it out. It would be nice to start differentiating between Yiddish and Hebrew :P Otherwise, I've always thought Hebrew to be a beautiful language, mainly because it moves from right to left, and how cool is that for those of us who struggled through not smearing pencil led for our teachers in grade school???

I'm also curious how Duolingo chooses what languages to develop next. While I'm not surprised to see "made up" languages on the list at all (but not one type of Elvish! tsk tsk), I am a bit surprised to see a lack of "major" languages like Chinese, Arabic, and Hindi (although they're now developing Hindi, so maybe the other two will show up soon).

Summer, I hope you find one you're passionate about soon! It never hurts to work on a language through more than one program, too, so even if Mango might be annoying, it might not hurt using it. Still, with languages, if you can't find a reason to do it regularly, it becomes a bit useless, so best of luck on that one. :)
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Gymfan15 » Aug 22, 2017 3:32 pm

I don't know much about Duolingo, because I haven't used them, but I feel like their format might not be very conducive to languages like Chinese, because it requires so much reading and writing? Typing characters is NOT easy...sure, you can learn the pinyin, but you've still got to remember what character means the one you want, and then you have to make sure you spelled the pinyin right because one letter off will get you lost completely.

But yeah, I'd love if there was Duolingo for Chinese, mostly because I'm still very serious about getting more fluent in Chinese and I keep hearing this website as being the best for language learning. Sigh, oh well!
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby SummerSnow » Oct 07, 2017 8:35 pm

I found the daily lingots to be helpful as well, Lady Arwen. I'm not really on Duolingo much right now, but I went ahead and added you! So, maybe I'll feel more motivated to do it now. I think the choice of languages might be based on the contributors, but I don't know. It is curious, though, that they don't have some major languages, like you mentioned.

Thank you! They just added Czech on Duolingo, which is super exciting for me! I just am still considering which language I want to pursue right now...which means I have just been not attempting any of them, which is probably not very good. At this point, I might just need to try a language and just treat it like it's fun, instead of trying to pursue it as the language I'm going to learn. At this point, it might be better just to have a fun language and be no worse off than if I hadn't tried to learn it in the first place.


Gymfan15 , I think you're right. They would probably have to get rather creative to work around that problem. Are you using any other programs? Duolingo is really good for basics, and I really like it for casual learning, but it does have a lot of limitations. It is definitely sad when they don't have the languages you want to learn!
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby the4signs[repeat] » Oct 21, 2017 7:38 pm

Hello everyone, what a fun thread idea! ;;)
One of my dreams is when I retire to spend months each year living at language schools in different countries around the world. Or if I become suddenly independently wealthy I will move the timetable up by 20 or 30 years. B-)
In the meantime I have been studying Mandarin by means of Rosetta Stone. What a beautiful language. I am learning it for the perhaps silly reason of wanting to understand Chinese language films without the subtitles. It has been fun though, a few weeks ago I was attending a seminar with some visitors from China. I plucked up the courage to say “hello” in Mandarin and welcome them, -which was quite a rewarding experience. How interesting that Cantonese is so different from Mandarin. I watched a Netflix show called “My Family Doctor” in Cantonese and I understood nary a word!
I studied Spanish in college and visited Mexico several times. I have a basic proficiency (such as asking for the restroom) but I want to take my understanding to the next level. So I hope to start the Rosetta Stone for that language soon as well.
Other languages on my “to learn” wish list:
Icelandic (to read the sagas, visit the country, and it just sounds cool!)
Latin (finish what I started in high school, and read Cicero and Virgil)
German (to honor my ancestry and it would be a handy at work).
Also Gaelic, Hebrew, Old English, French, Greek… the list goes on! :)
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Nov 01, 2017 9:15 pm

Well, I lost my Greek streak on Duolingo last week. I've been so distracted lately, I wasn't very surprised that it slipped through my fingers. I got up to 307 days! The many times that I used Streak Freezes, however, take away some of the sparkle from that number. :P I'm up to Level 24 now. I think I've read that Level 25 is as high as they go, which is a little puzzling to me because they're only based on how many quizzes you've done, not proficiency with the language.

It's looking like I'll be finished with the course by the end of the year, so that will be great. My current plans are to give Chinese a try after that, provided that it the Beta is fully "hatched" by then. It's at 40% now and has an estimated launch of... 11/16/17? :-? Er, something tells me that's a wee bit optimistic. Last time I checked it said December and I thought that might be pushing it a little. :P Fingers crossed anyway, Gymfan. ;))

In the meantime, I've been trying to pick up the Korean alphabet in between Greek quizzes, which is very cool and such a pretty written language. If there are further delays with the Chinese course, I'll probably continue with Korean after finishing Greek.

Lady Arwen wrote:I just recently discovered that Duolingo lets you bet on your streaks with lingots, and I've become much more serious about logging in every day. ;)) I guess it helps that I really like winning. :P


;)) I also like the timed practice option. I think you can enable that in Settings, if my memory serves me correctly? If you finish a strengthening quiz under a time limit, you get extra points.

SummerSnow wrote:I'm really interested in Japanese. Unfortunately, I've struggled to pronounce the most basic of words, so it's a bit up in the air right now. To be quite honest, pronunciation is one of the things I most struggle with though, regardless of the language, so I'm not sure why I'm so nervous about that. =P


I actually got an email a week ago that Duolingo has Japanese available on its apps and website now, so you might want to check that out! Czech is in Beta now, too. :)

Welcome to the languages thread, the4signs[repeat]! :-h

the4signs[repeat] wrote:In the meantime I have been studying Mandarin by means of Rosetta Stone. What a beautiful language. I am learning it for the perhaps silly reason of wanting to understand Chinese language films without the subtitles.


Not silly at all! I'm a bit envious, actually, because I bet you already had a feel for the language because you had already heard quite a bit of spoken Chinese. I'd be interested if you have any recommendations for Chinese film!

I love the idea of learning Latin at some point as well... Duolingo should get on that. :D
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Nov 02, 2017 3:05 pm

Latin is a relatively easy language to learn, but you won't get to practise speaking it much. It is still useful as a liturgical language, and much in the English language is based on Latin, especially medical, legal and scientific terminology. But when I learned it in high school I was told repeatedly that continuing it, as I did, until the Leaving Certificate, as our final secondary school qualification was called then, was a waste of time and effort, since by 1964, Latin was considered a dead language by most people here. /:) But at least I can still translate the state motto. (Orta recens quam pura nites - Newly arisen, how brightly it shines)

I'm not so sure about the uselessness of learning Latin, as it is the foundation of several other languages, such as Romanian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, as opposed to English or German. Successful completion of Latin, in particular, as one of my school subjects, allowed me to progress to equally successful completion of an undergraduate Bachelor of Arts Degree, at the very least, as well as being useful in my choice of occupation and a lifelong passion for history. "Veni, vidi, vici", Julius Caesar would have said. (I came, I saw, I conquered).

Have fun, if you decide to learn Latin. ;)
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Wunderkind_Lucy » Oct 16, 2019 6:02 pm

It's really awesome that so many of you all are learning other languages! :ymhug:

I'm bilingual myself: I grew up speaking Korean and English since my mom's Korean and my dad's American. I didn't officially learn how to read and write in Korean until I was a little older, but it was easy to pick up because I already understood it and the Korean alphabet is syllabic making it easier to learn how to read. Two help sites for learning Korean are the King Sejong Institute and Talk to Me in Korean. I don't particularly recommend Rosetta Stone for Korean, because when I tried it, they had you learning the prepositions at the beginning. It really didn't make sense to start with prepositions. I would have though you would start with the alphabet and other basic conversational stuff. *shrugs*

I wouldn't say I'm fluent or multilingual in any other languages, but I took two years of French in middle school (for fun), two years of Spanish in high school (a requirement) along with a semester in college, and two semesters of Latin. I also know a bit of Japanese and know some Chinese characters (can't read or speak it though).

waggawerewolf27 wrote:Latin is a relatively easy language to learn, but you won't get to practise speaking it much. It is still useful as a liturgical language, and much in the English language is based on Latin, especially medical, legal and scientific terminology.


Having had to learn Latin prefixes, suffixes, and roots as part of the English curriculum in high school, I can definitely say that a knowledge of at least those things can help you to understand some words without having to go to the dictionary.

My interest in Latin, though, stems from its use in classical music because of the influence of the Catholic church. I really enjoyed singing "Dies Irae" and "Panis Angelicus" when I was Symphonic Choir and Ladies' Chorus in college. Speaking of singing in other languages, I've sung in Italian, French, and Mongolian as well! :p ;))

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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Courtenay » Oct 17, 2019 9:33 am

Hi everyone,

This is fantastic, that there are plenty of other language fans here and such a diversity of languages that you know or are learning! :)

I'm only fluent in English; I learned Japanese to Year 12 (end of high school) level, mainly because it was the language on offer at my schools, but I haven't really used it since. At university I did two semesters of Biblical Hebrew and three of New Testament Greek — fascinating and very useful for Bible studies, but I can't speak either of those languages in their modern form.

Now that I'm living long term in the UK (I'm an Aussie), I would love to learn at least one of the other more widely spoken European languages, especially for the usefulness of it when travelling — I can piece together a few words in French, Spanish and German, but can't say I have any level of real fluency or understanding. I also have a personal connection with Polish, as it's my mum's native language (she grew up bilingual in Australia), but my generation of the family never spoke it and I've never felt driven to learn it so far. Maybe one day...

One thing I've been very interested in for years, though, is the effort to save the endangered languages of the world — many of them dying out at an alarming rate, as you're probably all aware. I'd thought for a while how cool it would be to learn an endangered language and help to keep it going. But I didn't find one that I felt specially drawn to until I moved to Britain about 8 years ago and learned about the Cornish language, one of the indigenous British languages, which I'd always been told was extinct. In fact it started to be revived over 100 years ago and while it isn't used in any permanently settled communities as a day-to-day language (yet?), there are several hundred fluent speakers (500 is the usual estimate) and many others with at least some ability in it, and the numbers are growing.

I have Cornish ancestry on my dad's side — traceable back to the 1500s in an area that was largely Cornish-speaking at that time — and from the first time I visited Cornwall, I fell in love with the place. So I felt I just had to become a Cornish speaker too! I've been learning for about three years now and have started taking the Cornish Language Board's official exams — my second grade ones will hopefully be mid next year.

I'm posting about the Cornish language in particular here because, as I was saying in another thread, my now-no-longer-secret ambition is to translate the Chronicles of Narnia into Cornish. All seven of them. There's a growing demand for children's literature in the Cornish language; these are my favourite children's books in the world (and the ones that have had the biggest impact on my life, faith-wise); there's definitely a small but substantial Cornish-speaking Christian community out there who'd welcome them as well... ytho, prag na (so, why not)??? :D

I'm not at the level of fluency to be able to translate a whole book yet, but that will come (and in the higher levels of language classes, we study the medieval Cornish plays based on the creation of the world, the Passion and Resurrection, and lives of the Cornish saints, so that should be helpful in its own way). In the meantime, here are the titles of the seven Chronicles in Cornish (in Lewis's original publication order, which I prefer), as far as I can render them...

An Lew, an Wragh ha'n Dhilasva
Pennsevik Caspian
Viaj ??? an Bora
(still not sure which word to use for "Treader"!!)
An Gador Arghansek
An Margh ha'y Vaw
Noy an Huder
An Diwettha Batel


As they say, watch this space... ;)
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby King_Erlian » Oct 18, 2019 1:21 am

The mention of New Testament Greek reminded me of a friend at university who did a course in New Testament Greek and tried to use it on holiday in Greece. He wanted to hire a boat, and his request to the boatman made the latter collapse with laughter. It came out as something like: "Hail, mariner! Would that we could hire thy quinquireme, for to fly across the ocean!"
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