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Started by arbitrary on Jan 7, 2021 9:56:40 PM
Adventures in learning another language.

I've decided to take advantage of the latest lockdown by learning a foreign language. I've chosen Greek largely on the basis that they'd probably let me in despite our recent unfortunate departure from the EU. So far the phrases suggested by the app on my phone have left me questioning the wisdom of the whole exercise:

Whose bear is this?

How many xylophones do you have?

The pink carrot.

I'm not sure how far that would get me in downtown Athens...

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cozzer - 07 Jan 2021 22:34:35 (#1 of 197)

Duolingo? The phrases may sound odd, but you learn the structures in a memorable way.

(I have learnt ‘the elephant stands on the table‘ and ‘this peacock drinks tea’, which are not objectively useful phrases, but I find myself referring to them a lot when coming up with other sentences to get word order etc right)

Delighted_User - 07 Jan 2021 22:35:40 (#2 of 197)

They have pink carrots in Greece? Or is that a euphemism?

frantastic - 07 Jan 2021 22:43:24 (#3 of 197)

Kalispera.

Dayraven - 07 Jan 2021 22:51:42 (#4 of 197)

Duolingo? The phrases may sound odd, but you learn the structures in a memorable way.

I use Japanese Duolingo, and the large majority of the phrases there are sensible (plus some memes and similar references). May vary in other languages, I think the phrases are unique to each language set.

Even the silly ones, there’s a point in making sure that you can do them, and aren’t just thinking in set phrases, though.

JennyRad - 07 Jan 2021 23:09:03 (#5 of 197)

I use Japanese Duolingo, and the large majority of the phrases there are sensible (plus some memes and similar references). May vary in other languages, I think the phrases are unique to each language set. Even the silly ones, there’s a point in making sure that you can do them, and aren’t just thinking in set phrases, though.



Very much agreed - there is a lot more silliness in Dutch Duolingo[1] than in Japanese, but then, the Dutch is so close to the English that the utterly silly sentences are useful in making you think about word-order. Whereas Japanese is so very alien that you have to use a different method.

[1] Among my favourites: "That is a fast cow." "The woman of the resistance said it only once." "The empire is building a weapon that looks like a moon." "My cat has no faith in people." "I will tell the press about your fascination with death." "I am decreasing the distance between my mouth and the cheese." "I am sending the galaxy by mail." I could continue; I have at least a dozen more ridiculous, but useful, sentences.

cozzer - 07 Jan 2021 23:15:38 (#6 of 197)

I think the phrases are unique to each language set.

Yes, this is obviously true. But Ive heard of examples in numerous languages that are silly, so I think there’s some sort of feature that they try to incorporate silly phrases, presumably to aid memory.

Zugunruhe1 - 07 Jan 2021 23:18:15 (#7 of 197)

I've chosen Greek largely on the basis that they'd probably let me in despite our recent unfortunate departure from the EU.



Arbitrary, this BBC programme from the 1980s got me into learning Greek. IICR it's mainly tourist stuff, but it's a good starting point.

https://bit.ly/3noIpR5

DonkeyOT - 07 Jan 2021 23:23:14 (#8 of 197)

To attain a reasonable level of fluency in any foreign language requires massive commitment and perseverance. Much more than most people imagine.

Zugunruhe1 - 07 Jan 2021 23:31:33 (#9 of 197)

Just aim to get by in your chosen foreign language and take it from there. Greetings, ordering food, asking for the bill, booking a hotel room, pleasantries and good manners. Aiming too high is why most people give up after no time at all.

JohnIlly - 07 Jan 2021 23:36:35 (#10 of 197)

Speaking a foreign language is a lot easier than understanding what native speakers say.

Delighted_User - 08 Jan 2021 01:01:19 (#11 of 197)

Yes, it would be so much easier if they stuck to the sentences in the book as well.

DonkeyOT - 08 Jan 2021 10:49:58 (#12 of 197)

Foreigners are really stupid, you make an effort to learn a bit of their language and then when you address them in it the soft buggers don't understand. What sillies they are.

When I first went to Lloret in 1970 we shared a hotel dining table with two Manchester bobbies, one of them said we Brits are rude, we expect everybody to understand English. I was affronted by this so in the October I commenced Radio Four's imaginatively titled "Starting Spanish" and regularly revised.

After a couple of holidays in that neck of the woods I was baffled that I couldn't follow their conversations.

They were speaking Catalán.



In 1978 I wed una señorita I'd met on Sitges beach. Learning to talk foreign may have unforeseen consequences.

TauCeti - 08 Jan 2021 10:58:33 (#13 of 197)

I had a stint of teaching foreign languages - Italian and Portuguese - lasted 3 years PT job, was interesting, but the most noticeable thing was that while the class started with 20 adults, within 3-4 weeks they had dropped to five. And I taught them from the basics too, not just 'que horas sao?' kind of thing.

was good but stressful.

JohnIlly - 08 Jan 2021 11:09:34 (#14 of 197)

I find that the French understand me but are so appalled that what I am doing to their language that they tend to reply in English. I think they appreciate the effort, though.

browserbutton - 08 Jan 2021 11:13:00 (#15 of 197)

For educated Europeans, English has prestige value -- the problem is when trying to speak to the peasantry, they often have no English to help you.

DonkeyOT - 08 Jan 2021 11:15:07 (#16 of 197)

For some reason the PO sorting office started offering their staff leisure courses and asked me to do a ten week "Holiday Spanish" starter course.

Fuckin' never, ever again. not one them did any studying at all from one week to the next. I'd try to go through the pronunciation of the letters and none of them would even attempt to copy me. When trying to teach the Spanish 'J' sound (= 'ch' in the Scottish loch) two of them rebelled and refused to even attempt it. I'd rather sit at home and stick needles in my eyeballs before I'd go through it again.

TauCeti - 08 Jan 2021 11:16:24 (#17 of 197)

Yes I had a couple of 'students' who challenged some pronunciation without knowing the language; they didn't last long.

wickeltisch - 08 Jan 2021 11:19:42 (#18 of 197)

#15 But isn't it generally believed you just have to shout at them slowly and

THEY. WILL. UNDERSTAND.

ATtcha - 08 Jan 2021 11:20:47 (#19 of 197)

The language booklets of yore used to reflect the culture in the chosen sentences, I recall a german book praising punctuality, a sexist italian one, etc...

mingmong - 08 Jan 2021 11:20:57 (#20 of 197)

I use SaySomethingInWelsh.com (other languages are also available). I find it well-designed and easy to use. You learn phrases, and it then gets you to slot words into the phrase you have learnt before, thereby reinforcing previous learning

I also watch Welsh language stuff on SC4, with or without subtitles (quiz shows and cartoons are particularly good for learners).

No substitute for actual Welsh conversation with Welsh speakers, but I feel better set up for that now when the opportunity next arrives.

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