Starting a language from scratch in LingQ -some thoughts

Hey rokkvi

I’m not completely educated on how much difference there is between Icelandic and Old Norse, but I hear it’s not that much, certainly in written form. What do you think of the following…

Probably many people who would look into Icelandic are more or less interested in the Old Norse literature. Is there a big problem with just lumping ON in with Ice?

In the Arabic library, besides the main body of MSA material, there are marked courses in various dialects, the dialects being written as they are.

The difference between those and MSA is probably more than what I’m guessing is going on between Ice and ON.

And I think before traditional Chinese was separated into it’s own slot, there was marked traditional material simply within the simplified-dominated Chinese. Effectively also having two different written languages together.

In theory this distorts your word count a bit, because there are really more than one language going on, but to that I say, who cares?

Do you think in a feat of sneaky subversion, you could add, or even just point to text and audio of ON. My guess is, if it is clearly marked as ON, then there shouldn’t be a problem.

I’m sure the Edda and such are available at least in text and maybe audio?
How well do Ice dictionaries and G Translate work on ON?

When I join Lingq 10 years ago, it was really not so easy to learn here a new language from scratch because there were a lot of podcasts for the intermediate level but not enough podcasts for beginners.
There is now a lot of lessons for beginners for the most languages in Lingq, that’s why it isn’t a problem at the moment to learn a new language using only Lingq. But if you add some more materials, for example Assimil for different main languages, it can help you as well.
As a professional language teacher I also tried to contribute writing my lessons firstly for Russian and then together with my native friends for German and English.
But the most difficult problem of many learners is that they try to go ahead too quickly, jumping from one level to another, higher and higher, adding new and new languages - and as a result they are overloaded, lose the motivation and give up their study at all.

I started LingQ from scratch when I began studying Japanese.

LingQ eased me into Japanese by allowing me to quickly look up words and phrases that were 100% foreign to me.

Japanese, as you know, is comes with a completely different writing system. I would have never been able to slog through a textbook at the very beginning, trying to pick apart kanji using a dictionary. Starting with LingQ, the mini-stories were a perfect introduction to the language (there are also hiragana and katakana courses available to learn the basic characters). It wasn’t too long until I was importing my own content. LingQ’s ability to look up words and phrases within seconds, save those words into your vocabulary, and review is what makes the app perfect for beginners in my opinion.

There are things that we’re working on to make it even more beginner friendly.

That is, the ability to easily discover the mini-stories and other beginner content. LingQ may seem beginner unfriendly because beginners don’t know where to start - which is an issue that will be addressed. We’re conditioned from school to think that language learning has a specific starting point, when in reality, it doesn’t. Some choose to start with grammar, some choose to start reading news. That’s the beauty of LingQ, it’s a tool to help language learners learn through content they love, the way they want. This is an issue for some beginners, from what I’ve seen. And as I said, a little extra guidance is necessary to help some move along.

Thanks for the post, I usually share your threads in the LingQ weekly roundup with hundreds of thousands of other LingQ users - because I think the conversation generated from your posts are helpful.

I´m not a linguist by education and I have not really had the opportunity to read much Old Norse. What I´ve seen so far, in original manuscripts (or photographs of them) I had a hard time understanding. Much of the Old Norse texts are also made in a way that saves space, so they have all sorts of ways to shorten words, which you have to get used to. I know Icelandic is much more like Old Norse than Danish, Norwegian or Swedish are. I also suspect Faroese, which is very close to Icelandic, is probably further away from Old Norse than Icelandic is, because Danish seems to have had more influence on Faroese than on Icelandic. You´d really need to ask some qualified linguist of Icelandic and Old Norse about this to get better answers.

Now on including Old Norse texts in Icelandic, this is an interesting topic and it´s a more general dilemma than people might think. All languages evolve over time, so you can just as well ask this question about any language: How far back in time can we go with texts in this language and still say it´s the same language (and import it into that language in LingQ)? The thing is that even today, young adults in Iceland generally don´t even understand a lot of words from my vocabulary (I´m born in 1978 and know more older Icelandic words and ways of speaking than most ppl my age). They would have an even more difficult time understanding a lot of the things my grandmother said in her time and so on. Because of this, I tried to use fairly simple and modern language when I translated the mini-stories, even though the translations wouldn´t exactly make me look like that much of a well spoken person with a good mastery of Icelandic.

Then thing is that there is hardly a clear point where Old Norse becomes Icelandic. From what I understand from what I´ve read, the Icelanders called their language Norse until the 1400s and only started to call it Icelandic when it dawned on them how they couldn´t converse with mainland Nordic people anymore.

Now, looking at project Runeberg and looking up some really old texts (see the links), I can read and understand them quite easily, but I´m not sure whether they are indeed old Norse or whether they have been changed into what I´d call Old Icelandic.

In case of these texts, I´d say it would be ok to import them into LingQ as Icelandic. People just need to be aware that this is not how we speak anymore, unless we want to sound poetic, act in viking films or whatnot.

I am in the process of writing them to ask them about it. One thing I need to know though, is audio material open to anyone on LingQ or just paid members? (I know the texts are available to free members). I´d like to be able to specify that the material would be open to anyone if that´s true.

I think it depends on your goals. Would you like to read high-literature and understand the text like an educated-native speaker? In that case, you must learn the nuances and I can’t think of any other way than reading a reference book in that language, although I am aware that even native speakers would need to spend time in class before they attempt to read goethe/hegel.