Target Languages

Guys, what about Georgian!!! An absolutely fascinating culture, a gorgeous country, wonderful music and dances, a cuisine that is always praised, at least in Russia (although very non-vegan, so I don’t know what I’d eat), and the famous wines. I also hear it’s a very, very difficult tongue. And have you seen the writing (should I say script)? It’s the beautifulest. And at least up until recently Georgia and Russia had close ties.


Ach! Here I was, laboring away over my one little masterpiece, just to get the Nobel Prize. Another great idea down the drain!

As for L-R. Well, first, I was lucky to find an ebook version of Hunger and to buy an audio version. The audio version comes in snippets five minutes each. I take a chunk of the novel that fits one sound snippet and import it into LingQ. I read the LingQ version with a translation in hand. When I come to an unknown Norwegian word, I check the translation and write in the meaning. The translation is literal enough to accommodate that approach. Rarely can I not figure out the meaning. I read the text to the end of the segment.

Then I import the next segment into LingQ and call it a day for Norwegian.

By the way, the farther I go in the novel, the easier it all gets, because there are fewer and fewer words. But I am still meeting 80 or so new words per segment. I don’t repeat any reading, and I don’t listen to the audio. Though I have been listening to the audio on walks and in the car. I understand less than 1% of the audio, but slowly but surely those odd Norwegian vowel sounds are becoming familiar.

The L-R method is especially useful for Norwegian because the online Norwegian-English dictionary is not very comprehensive. Though a caveat is that according to the editors of the Norwegian text, the spelling is somewhat unorthodox, I think because of the age of the text. So maybe the dictionary works more effectively for more contemporary texts.

When I finish the novel that did not win Hamsun a Nobel Prize, I will move on to a trilogy that did not win Sigrid Undset the Nobel Prize, Kristin Lavransdatter. This is much, much longer than Hunger. By the time I finish, I should have a decent sized Norwegian vocabulary. And if I finish. If Hunger were not so captivating, I would have given up on it. So it is still wait and see for Undset. Your choice of Karenina is good for that reason.

As for Anabasis: Now that I know there is a reading of the Greek, that puts a whole new light on the matter of old Iron Pants. Though I remain unimpressed by the literary value of Anabasis. Would you seriously argue that it is even in the same league as “Anna Karenina” or “King Lear” or “Andromaque” or? Well, enough on that. I wonder what Xenophon’s other works are like. Anyway, I am going to take another shot at Anabasis. No promises that I’ll finish, though.

By the way, I passed a quiz today in Quizlet asking for the Greek for “having upbraided.” λοιδορησαμενης. Easy.

@David: So you’re practically saying that you’ve learned French all by your own? If yes than your lucky. Even though my father came from Syria a lot of years ago in Romania, and after me and my brother were born , he didn’t spoke in Arabic with us :(.

Unfortunately this happens relatively often back here in Romania when Arabs marry Romanian women.The thing is that here in Romania people tend to hate foreigners , especially Arabs , even though these two nations never had any significant relationship . The reason is manly because of the media and what priests say during their sermons .

ad Jorgis: (…) What’s ironic is that my understanding of MSA is much better than that of the Algerian dialect (thankfully there are a lot of French words in North African Arabic). (…)

How did you learn MSA? On your own, through your family, did you take classes?

Do you practise MSA with Arab friends and/or relatives?


@ lovelanguages

No I don’t have the opportunity to practice it, unfortunately.
Very few people I know ‘speak’ MSA or have a deep knowledge of it. I think most North African Arabs don’t master it. The elder ones were educated in French and often speak it very well ; the younger ones end up mastering neither French or MSA - and now they start to learn English too. Almost all have a passive knowledge of MSA, they understand the news, can read, but are unable to speak it and would laugh at you if you did (as if someone spoke to me using French as it was spoken by Molière, with a bad pronunciation on top of that). Better to speak French there if you don’t know the dialect.
As in France most Arabs are from North Africa, they are in the same situation. A lot of my Arab friends don’t even know the Arabic alphabet, yet they’re fluent in their dialect.

I learnt using the FSI courses at first. They’re very good, though very ‘dry’. The first volume is not very interesting but I really liked the second and the third ones, and learnt a lot about the Arab world and the world in general during the Cold War. I’m young and only knew what I had been taught at school about this dense period of history.
I know those courses may not suit everyone but if one is motivated enough I encourage them to use FSI, at least for MSA. They really force you to read without the short vowels, to read texts that gradually get longer and more difficult, to assimilate new words and phrases.

Using FSI along with more ‘user-friendly’ materials might be the solution.

After completing the FSI course I started to fly with my own wings, reading newspapers and watching BBC Arabic and Al-Jazeera. That’s what I should continue doing but I’ve been really busy lately and have other languages to focus on. I think I’ve reached a reasonable level but I need to expand my vocabulary. I know how the language works, have no problem understanding it when it’s spoken, can read fairly quickly but there are still too many words I don’t know when what I read or listen to is not about the UN or economy or a bombing in Irak, which are the subjects discussed in the FSI courses. I think it’s a matter of reading a lot now. If only I had time…

In the future I’d like to be able to read anything, even poetry. I’d also like to tackle Levantine and Egyptian Arabic, and of course the Algerian dialect. A long long way before I’m done with Arabic actually.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to remember how much I love this language. :wink:

I sometimes fantasise about learning the Cairo dialect of Arabic. (I doubt whether I would be clever enough to master the way Arabic verbs work, however…)

@Easy_Rider:‘’(I doubt whether I would be clever enough to master the way Arabic verbs work, however…‘’ If Arabs can master their language (not to mention Chinese, Japanese etc. ) so could others. We all possess the same brain even tough there are some who understand their own capabilities better then others .

Well, I guess I could master them if I were really immersed in the language 24/7 for a long time. :wink:

But it‘s not so easy for a western dude - you really have to reprogram your whole brain! kataba…kitab…okay. But yiktabu? Like, huh?

At least Arabic is one of the most beautiful languages there is .

Well, that´s your opinion…

Of course :slight_smile:

My hit list is Mandarin and Japanese. Japanese is my first love, but I rarely have the opportunity to meet Japanese people in my community; on the other hand, a few Chinese people have moved into my area recently, which is fantastic. For me, language is about relationships. I aim to work with immigrants and refugees in my neck of the woods further down the track.

I’m very casually learning Farsi script.

My dream list is Russian and Egyptian Arabic. Then there’s Dutch, French and German. Maybe Tagalog.

@ Easy Rider

It’s not as hard as one thinks. Well, it would certainly be harder for you than learning Norwegian, but still… You hear so many things about languages such as Arabic or Chinese that are ‘impossible to learn for a westerner’. They sure look scary, the vocabulary is almost 100% new, but once you’re in the right path you realise you CAN do it. That’s at least my experience with Arabic, and it’s much more rewarding than learning an ‘easy language’. As for verbs, Steve would say it’s useless to try to memorise them. :wink:

If you ever want to learn the Cairo dialect, or any other dialect for that matter, I think it’s wise to have a solid base in MSA first. Unless you live in the country of course.

@jorgis - I remember reading debate about that…but on the other hand, Eyptian Arabic, for example, is available in Michel Thomas and Teach Yourself, which is very appealing. I particularly like the way MT gives me an active ability to form my own sentences.

Benny mentioned something about not wanting to speak MSA which sounds like speaking the equivalent of Shakespearean English with the locals. I guess it depends on one’s goals: if spoken communication with people is more appealing, then I’d go for learning the dialect first.

ad Julie: (…) Benny mentioned something about not wanting to speak MSA which sounds like speaking the equivalent of Shakespearean English with the locals. (…)

It is strange that people keep making that comparison between MSA and Shakespearean English. I’m not talking about you Julie, but in general. I hear that all the time, yet I have not heard any news anchor in the UK speak in Shakespearean English nor have I read any newspaper article in Shakespearean English recently :wink:

I don’t think novels or official forms are written in that style either, so I don’t know who first came up with this weird comparison. Yes, natives certainly prefer their local dialect when communicating with each other but to me this seems to be more like what we see with Bavarians, Tyroleans etc. who also prefer their local dialect over Standard German.

I have an Austrian friend who speaks very good MSA and he uses it to converse with people (not only highly educated ones) from various Arab countries - it works just fine.

Yes, for an Algerian it probably would be very strange to use MSA when speaking to another Algerian, just as I would never speak in Standard German with my parents, I always speak in dialect with them. Anything else would feel really strange.

I like the Living Language Courses. Actually, their previous courses were better than the current ones, but even the latter are quite good if you want to get a decent grasp of the language. I use the Complete Edition of Living Language Arabic to study MSA. In addition I have bought a course by a German publishing house (Hueber) which I really like.

In combination with some classes I take online with an Egyptian tutor I really enjoy studying Arabic.

I might also try and study the Egyptian and/or Levantine dialect later on, but for now I try to focus on MSA.

ad Jorgis: You have given a wonderful description of what might motivate people to study a foreign language. I too think that the FSI courses are very good study material. They may be a bit dry, but the authors of these courses obviously knew what they were doing.

I think that especially with languages as different as Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin etc. (from the point of view of someone who speaks an Indoeuropean language) it is important to take things easy. Language learning takes time, but it is time well spent.

ad Julie: As for the recordings, I have never uploaded any audio recordings to any site but I know audacity.

@Robert - now if I could just figure out how to edit with Audacity, I could delete that annoying laugh that makes me cringe at the end of my recording.

Note to self: stop listening to myself :)~

Seriously, I wouldn’t mind learning how to edit purchased sound files, so I could just have dialogue without English.

I’m focusing on English at the moment, then I want to start learning German and French. There are other languages that I’ve been interested in, but I don’t think that I am going to start learning them in the foreseeable future like Polish, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese.

With regard to Arabic, I don’t like when people compare between MSA and Shakespearean English, simply because it makes standard Arabic sound like useless or unused. All books and newspapers are written in standard Arabic. But the thing is there are huge differences between the dialects and the MSA. In terms of vocabulary, I would say (although it’s very hard to pin down) 40% or more of the vocabulary used in the dialects cannot be used in MSA and vise versa. In terms of pronunciation they’re away differnet. Even in terms of Grammar there are differences as well. That makes it difficult to learn Arabic. But I think it’s probably the best to start with MSA, then expose yourself to one or more of the dialects. Of course the vast majority of people understand standard Arabic, and most of them can speak it . But they just feel awkward to speak in this standard way (I’ve never spoken in standard Arabic before, but certainly I can speak it).


Stop! You’re making my want to dabble with Arabic again! :smiley:


I would recommend Wavepad. (I learned to use this on PC - and now I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find a Mac version in Apple’s App store.)

What I like most about Wavepad is how you can clean background noise and reduce empty gaps - this is especially cool with old Linguaphone recordings digitized from cassettes and records.

You can also easily mix in some music at reduced volume - which is great if you like to have some cool jazz playing in the background while listening to your language content.

Apropos Linguaphone…I have their most recent course in MSA and also a 1960s vintage course in Egyptian Arabic…argh…so little time and so many languages…! :-0

Does it do the dishes too?