Good point Mycroft. I am not using Lingq for its intended purpose, which seems to be devoted to the metric of amassing lingqs, coins, or learning streaks, which I have always had zero interest in. I wanted to learn French to connect more fully with the great works of French literature that I had only read in translation. Your advice is spot on for those whose goals are to amass words, points, or whatever makes them feel like they have accomplished something. Nothing wrong with that. Lessons and podcasts are a great way to get up to speed, but for me, the content itself isn’t interesting enough to be worth listening to multiple times. It all depends on what your goals are.
“If you point your cart north when you want to go south, how will you arrive?” --Ryōkan
Although I may not be in the majority, I’m sure there are other learners out there who use lingq because they love the language, the literature, the culture, and want to learn the language for personal enrichment, to appreciate the art of great writing as it was intended to be read, in the original. Only a fool goes to a ballet to count the steps, or views a work of art to calculate the cost of the paint. For myself, amassing words is a meaningless exercise, and I can’t force my brain to do it. Although one can get the bare bones of a good story in translation, the deeper art of the thing lies in the original language of its creator.
I originally wanted to start with Balzac (I read all of his works in translation) but Maurice Druon proved easier to acquire in Kindle translations. The French is also more accessible, having been written in the 1950’s, not the 1830’s.
I was overjoyed to find that I could import the Audible version of Le Roi de Fer as read by the amazing Jérémie Covillault, who is a revelation. He has a marvelous voice, and imbues every sentence with meaning, acting out the different characters. His reading provides inflection and nuance to every sentence that would be impossible to infer from the printed page alone, much less from a translation. They aren’t just words to be clocked, they evoke not just the environs of Paris under Philippe le Bel, but also portray the inner thoughts and dialogues of historical characters. That part is imagined, but the facts of the story are historically accurate. We will never know what Jacques de Molay thought in his cell as he awaited being burned at the stake, or what went through Philippe le Bel’s mind, but Maurice Druon imagined it. He sets out what he’s going to do in the prologue, and then jumps right in:
Mais l’idée nationale logeait dans la tête de ce prince calme et cruel pour qui la raison d’Etat dominait toutes les autres. Sous son règne, la France était grande et les Français malheureux.<<
Whisper is not inimical to appreciating literature, its inadequacies actually force one into a deeper appreciation of the text. Last night I came across this amusing mistranslation. Philippe le Bel surprises his adulterous daughters-in-law talking with one of the lovers in the marketplace, and Mes filles, mes filles came out “méfiez, méfiez”. He then asks “Qui est-ce d’un oiseau?” which was translated as “Who’s that of a bird?”. d’un oiseau should have been ce damoiseau, but I would have never dug into the meaning of damoiseau (meaning a young man who is not yet a chevalier, or knight). In modern French, Philippe le Bel would probably say “Qui est ce mec?”
The brain learns from story, from what it finds interesting. Autodidacts are different than most people, and what appeals to us is finding our own way to the center of the meaning of things, not skirting the edges, passing a test, or amassing coins or words. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
I would highly recommend that such people do use the Whisper technology with an Audible work that captivates them, as long as they have a textual version of the original. It is a wonderful way to learn. Whisper’s mistakes hook you into remembering the actual word when you have to do your own research to dig out the true meaning. It’s quite different than having something handed to you on a plate in a literal translation. I’ll never forget the mnemonic of d’oiseau for damoiseau.
By the way, you are dead wrong about it taking years before AI is able to accomplish these things. It’s already happening, just do an Internet search. Whisper and ChatGPT (another indispensable tool for learning) are both from openai, and openai isn’t the only game in town.