Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

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Jadagul
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jadagul » 02 May 2017, 16:31

Jennifer wrote:
Jadagul wrote:My understanding is that the duolingo people don't think they've come up with a good way to handle the family of writing systems that includes Chinese and Japanese. At least that was the explanation last time I tried to do that.
Something I've long been mildly curious about: what do such non-alphabetic written languages do for handling organization and filing, since "alphabetical order" isn't an option?
There are apparently a bunch of approaches. The one I'm familiar with is organization by "radical" (roughly speaking, the primary subcharacter) and sometimes by number of strokes.

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Mo
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Mo » 02 May 2017, 17:07

Also, sometimes by pinyin (basically the Romanization)
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Mo » 02 May 2017, 17:09

Jadagul wrote:
Jennifer wrote:
Jadagul wrote:My understanding is that the duolingo people don't think they've come up with a good way to handle the family of writing systems that includes Chinese and Japanese. At least that was the explanation last time I tried to do that.
Something I've long been mildly curious about: what do such non-alphabetic written languages do for handling organization and filing, since "alphabetical order" isn't an option?
There are apparently a bunch of approaches. The one I'm familiar with is organization by "radical" (roughly speaking, the primary subcharacter) and sometimes by number of strokes.
That's interesting, but it seems like a dictionary is quite possibly the worst place to organize words semantically. Like, I have no fucking clue what this means, is it about plants or about animals?
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Highway » 02 May 2017, 18:28

Japanese orders either by starting syllable (based on a grid, such as seen here or the older iroha system) or by radical and number of strokes.

Semantic dictionaries seem to be an old thing that is rarely used anymore.
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Jadagul
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jadagul » 02 May 2017, 19:21

At a guess, semantic dictionaries make more sense when (1) they're short, and (2) you're using them to compose rather than to look up. "Shit, what was the character for 'swan' again?"

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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Sandy » 02 May 2017, 22:28

Jadagul wrote:At a guess, semantic dictionaries make more sense when (1) they're short, and (2) you're using them to compose rather than to look up. "Shit, what was the character for 'swan' again?"
From what I understand, this is still kind of common. It's hard to memorize all the pictographs unless you practice them every day, so I've had Japanese friends tell me, for example, that they frequently forget the Kanji and end up spelling things phonetically. So a common use case may be looking up the word you know but forgot how to write.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JD » 01 Oct 2017, 15:06

English learners often seem to be confused by the verb to get, and I think I've realized why - it has a huge number of uses. Just off the top of my head...

To become: "He gets mad when you say that."

To obtain or fetch: "Can I get you anything from the store?"

To begin: "Let's get moving."
but only with verbs of motion! "Get moving" sounds fine; "get doing your homework" sounds really strange.

To arrive: "I will telephone you when I get there."

And sometimes as a more general verb of motion, particularly when paired with a preposition: "Get over to the dock", or "It is time for us to get up", or "I could not get into the locked briefcase."

No wonder learners so often get confused and use it wrong.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JD » 05 Nov 2017, 22:27

Duolingo still does not have Mandarin or Finnish, but it does have Welsh and Turkish. I might try Turkish or Korean after I finish up French; I'm interested in learning a language that is very different from any Western European one. There is apparently a community that keeps clamoring for Finnish, so I hope it comes around soon.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Fin Fang Foom » 11 Nov 2017, 11:46

JD wrote:
05 Nov 2017, 22:27
Duolingo still does not have Mandarin or Finnish, but it does have Welsh and Turkish. I might try Turkish or Korean after I finish up French; I'm interested in learning a language that is very different from any Western European one. There is apparently a community that keeps clamoring for Finnish, so I hope it comes around soon.
Per the incubator page, Mandarin is coming, probably soon, maybe before the end of the year.

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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Fin Fang Foom » 24 Nov 2017, 22:10

JD wrote:
05 Nov 2017, 22:27
Duolingo still does not have Mandarin or Finnish, but it does have Welsh and Turkish. I might try Turkish or Korean after I finish up French; I'm interested in learning a language that is very different from any Western European one. There is apparently a community that keeps clamoring for Finnish, so I hope it comes around soon.
Chinese has gone live.

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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JD » 24 Jul 2018, 08:29

I've noticed something about English's use of tenses in one particular case. Consider this sentence: We will eat when they get here. That seems perfectly natural to us, but a question that seems to come up over and over again from learners is: "Why isn't it 'We will eat when they will get here'? After all, aren't both eating and them getting here in the future?"

The only real answer seems to be "Because that's not how English uses tenses", but it seems like there are languages in which the "when they will get here" construction is how you would phrase that sentence.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jadagul » 24 Jul 2018, 13:46

I suspect this is somewhat related to the fact that English doesn't, technically, have a future tense. "Will" is a modal auxiliary that takes the same grammatical role as words like "might" or "would", and can in fact represent action in the present time (Language log gives the example of "That will be the doctor".

And conversely, "We eat when they get here" is a perfectly reasonable sentence.

Would write more but have to go. But I'm mostly summarizing the link.

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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer » 24 Jul 2018, 14:36

JD wrote:
24 Jul 2018, 08:29
I've noticed something about English's use of tenses in one particular case. Consider this sentence: We will eat when they get here. That seems perfectly natural to us, but a question that seems to come up over and over again from learners is: "Why isn't it 'We will eat when they will get here'? After all, aren't both eating and them getting here in the future?"

The only real answer seems to be "Because that's not how English uses tenses", but it seems like there are languages in which the "when they will get here" construction is how you would phrase that sentence.
English is a pain in the ass for foreigners to learn -- even with the grammar rules that I never, ever break, in many cases it's more that I have a "feel" for them than that I actually "know" (as in, I can recognize "This is wrong," and fix it to make it right, without necessarily pinpointing why the first was wrong and the second was right, without checking a grammar guide first).

But -- trying to think of a way to explain this to someone who does not have a native's "feel" for the language -- regarding such sentences as "We will eat when they get here," I think this might work: in such contexts, "will" refers to the plans or intentions of the subject, rather than the object, of the sentence or phrase. I'll replace pronouns with names to make it (hopefully) less confusing: "JD will eat when Jennifer gets here." JD is the subject of the sentence. What plans or intentions does he have? To eat when Jennifer arrives. Rewrite it from Jennifer's perspective -- making Jennifer the subject of the sentence -- and you have "Jennifer will get here, then we eat," but you could also say "Jennifer will get here, then we will eat." (What does Jennifer intend to do? Get here. What do "we" intend to do afterwards? Eat. "We" are not the subject of the sentence, but "we" are the subject of that second clause.)

Of course I am not yet fully caffeinated as I write this, so I fear I am overlooking some stupidly obvious example of why this explanation will NOT help your students at all. (What plans or expectations does the explanation have? To NOT help JD's students at all....) You won't say "We will eat when they will get here," but you COULD say "They will get here, then we will eat.")
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by nicole » 24 Jul 2018, 15:57

Personally, I think a helpful way to think of it is not so much that "English tenses don't work that way" as "that's not how 'when' works." It's typical of conjunctions to license particular verb forms. For example, "lest" licenses the subjunctive.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JD » 11 Aug 2018, 17:11

So far I can say that Korean is definitely tougher than Spanish or French. I haven't really gotten into much of the grammar, but the phonology is just very different from English. The romanization is kind of iffy because of that. Something written like "jjeu" ends up being pronounced more like "dzuh" because there are "tense" consonants as well as "lax" ones, and it's kind of hard to represent the difference because we don't really think about it in English.

I don't really like the voice in the Duolingo Korean course - it's a woman who speaks in a pretty fast, clipped manner - but LingoDeer is also pretty good, and the voice there is much slower and clearer.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JasonL » 02 Oct 2018, 14:51

My wife, who is super into language acquisition and is pretty good at it overall, has been experimenting with Pimsleur, and she thinks they are more onto something than any other modern method she has used, which is a lot of them.

https://www.pimsleur.com/the-pimsleur-method

It's a lot about optimizing contextual memorization ( you are given vocabulary at targeted frequencies based on what they think optimizes migration into long term memory) and kind of shortcutting your tendencies to use your native language as a crutch. For example, they will at intervals start asking questions in the language you are learning - without warning and sometimes for only a few questions at a time. Eventually it becomes all questions in the language in question.

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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JD » 15 Oct 2018, 15:24

At a store the other day, I approached the counter, and realized the two men behind it were speaking Korean. I only caught a tiny fragment, but I was pleased I was able to understand anything at all. The man who was talking was holding a thing like a leather punch, and he ended a sentence with "...까" just as I walked up, and I said, "Ah, he's asking a question about something", and then he said "이 것은 (something something)" so I knew he was talking about the thing he was holding. So that was pretty cool, because it was my first experience actually hearing any Korean at all and understanding it outside of a lesson.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by nicole » 15 Oct 2018, 17:15

Nice!
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JD » 24 Oct 2018, 13:54

I ran into one of the slightly trickier parts of Korean. Not only are there different words for older brother and older sister vs younger brother and younger sister, there are different words for older brother and older sister depending on whether the speaker is male or female. So instead of our two words, they have six. At least father/mother/grandfather/grandmother are straightforward; haven't gotten into aunt/uncle/cousin yet.

Also, counting and dates seems nice and simple so far. January is literally "one-month", February is "two-month", and so on, and something like "April 5th" is literally just "four-month five-day"; a number like "43" is just "four tens three".
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Mo » 25 Oct 2018, 04:42

Arabic has different words for aunt and uncle depending on if they are paternal or maternal aunts and uncles. Also, Arabic is a one, two, many language.
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jake » 25 Oct 2018, 10:35

Mo wrote:
25 Oct 2018, 04:42
Arabic has different words for aunt and uncle depending on if they are paternal or maternal aunts and uncles. Also, Arabic is a one, two, many language.
And it's also a one dude, one lady, two dudes or one dude and a lady, two ladies, many dudes or one or more dudes and many ladies, many ladies language.

(I just finished two years of Arabic, and I still don't understand why it be how it is.)
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JD » 25 Oct 2018, 12:21

Mo wrote:
25 Oct 2018, 04:42
Arabic has different words for aunt and uncle depending on if they are paternal or maternal aunts and uncles. Also, Arabic is a one, two, many language.
Korean does not really have plurals as we know them, which is nice. There is a plural marker that can be attached, so you can distinguish between "the man is speaking Korean" and "the men are speaking Korean to each other", for instance, but it tends to be omitted unless it's absolutely necessary for understanding.

But Korean is a here/there/over-there language (for example: i geoseun/ku geoseun/jeo geoseun = this thing/that thing/that other thing, and yeogi/keogi/jeogi = here/there/over there), like Japanese (kono/sono/ano) or even kind of like Spanish (esto/eso/aquello, although it's not exactly the same thing), and unlike English (this/that, here/there) or German (hier/da) or French (ici/là). Does Arabic make that kind of three-kind distinction there, or a two-kind distinction like English?
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JD » 02 Nov 2018, 15:32

They just released Navajo in beta on Duolingo!
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Kolohe » 03 Nov 2018, 14:57

Great, now we're going to lose the war.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by lunchstealer » 03 Nov 2018, 21:17

It was crazy learning about the code talkers in a Burger King in Kayenta. You really don't expect to learn literally anything but the fastest way to the bathroom in a Burger King.
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