Monday, December 19, 2011

Odds and ends...

This will probably be my last post for 2011, although I don't promise anything.

Now that "Yıllar Sonra" has ended, I've been looking for more things to watch on Turkish TV. It's a shame that the program ended. It was a great show.

Anyway, I've been tuning into "Yabancı Damat" on Kanal D. It's an older soap that ran in the mid-2000s. Kanal D is currently playing reruns almost nightly, so it's easy to catch. The acting is somewhat hokey, but it's still entertaining enough to hold my interest. I'm also watching another soap rerun from Kanal D, called "Asi" from the late 2000s. This soap runs almost as often as Yabancı Damat so it's been easy to catch up on the story line. I really like the story line of this show. Those two shows have kept me pretty busy, but I've also managed to fit another daily Kanal D morning show called "Günaydın". It runs every morning at 7 am Turkish time (11 pm my time), so I usually catch it before I go to bed. It comes across as really sensationalistic, but it's got one thing that I like about it - nearly every interview of every victim of every tragedy is subtitled in Turkish, so it's easy to check my comprehension level against the various accents I'm hearing. It's a marked contrast to CNNTürk's "Güne Merhaba", which I also try to catch.

I was recently reminded of the various CEFR levels on a thread over on How-to-learn-any-language. A site was mentioned that had some practice tests for a few languages, and Turkish happened to be one of the practice exam languages offered. The site is located here. I downloaded the practice exams for levels A1, A2 and B1. I easily got through levels A1 and A2. Level B1 was doable, but it was much more difficult than I had originally thought it would be. Would I be able to pass a B1 exam if I sat one today? I would probably need to do some concentrated study beforehand, but I think I could. The exam looks pretty tough. I've only ever taken CEFR exams for Spanish (C2) and Italian (C2), and I didn't do either exam until over a decade of speaking both languages. So I was pretty surprised at how advanced the lower level exams could be.

In any case, I'm setting my sights on a B2 level in Turkish for next year. I'm not a big fan of taking these types of exams, but it's a good way to objectively measure my progress.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Winding down 2011

With the year winding down, I'm taking a final look at my progress throughout this year. I'm also finalizing my plans for 2012 language learning.

On the Norwegian front, I can say that I have reached a C1 level, albeit a low C1. That was my original goal, too. Looking back, I don't think I could have gotten to a C1 level without the exposure I've had this year. I had the privilege of meeting and becoming good friends with two Norwegians this year. This has given me so much practice and insight that I would otherwise have missed. I should also make note that the relationship was pretty solidly formed in Norwegian from the start. This made a huge difference.

Aside from my daily speaking, I was exposed to a lot of Norwegian cinema. This year alone I've watched a good 20 Norwegian films, from comedy to romance to horror (and let me tell you, Norwegians know how to do horror!) I've also expanded my Norwegian music knowledge a bit too. I've amassed quite a collection over this past year.

I will, of course, continue to maintain my Norwegian. I've grown quite fond of the language and my friends.

Polish has largely been a disappointment. I never got beyond an A2 level. For a variety of reasons, it was impossible for me to find a conversation partner, and this - probably more than anything else - hindered any real progress.

I also had a hard time finding decent TV and movies to watch. I don't understand why Polish TV is so under-represented on the internet, but it was very hard for me to find anything worthwhile. And movies - Every Polish movie I could find (admittedly not many, but I managed to find a few) had a really annoying tendency to keep the original language volume raised, so it ended up being very mixed into the dubbed Polish. Music, on the other hand, was quite easy to come by, and I expanded my collection by a fair bit. Polish pop is pretty easy to follow, and I enjoy a lot of it.

That said, I probably will not continue Polish studies in 2012. The frustrations were just too many, and I'm not in the right place for it right now. Maybe I'll come back to it another year, though. It's a very pretty language, and I can certainly appreciate the history and culture that goes with the language.

Finally, Turkish has sort of become my new love of the year. I've probably spent the most time on this language - more than any other language I've looked at since Italian (another great love of mine.) I've reached a B1 level, which was my goal. When I'm not working or out and about, I have something Turkish playing/going on in the background. I completed three full courses, then later in the year went back and reviewed them again. I've discovered a huge amount of music. Turkish TV has thankfully been very easy to come by on the internet. I watch two programs every single night - Burada Laf Çok and the news on CnnTürk. And I've gotten into a soap on Kanal D called Yıllar Sonra.

I also got a regular conversation partner around the middle of the year. We started out talking 2-3 times a week for very short periods of about 10 minutes and have gradually upped the time to 45 minutes to an hour each time. That has helped tremendously. Over the last half of this year the conversations have gone from me asking quite basic things to being able to have a fairly unscripted conversation. I say "fairly unscripted" because we still try to have a topic in mind beforehand, but other than the topic, it's free-flowing for the most part.

I will definitely continue my Turkish studies in 2012. I hope to get to an upper B2 level by the end of the year.

And now on to 2012.

I won't be actively studying three languages like I tried this year. I think three was too much. Two, however, is doable. So in trying to choose another language to accompany Turkish, I decided I'd try and stay within the Anatolian region, looking at the languages that border Turkey. So that gave me Greek, Bulgarian, Georgian, Armenian, Persian or some form of Arabic. Quite a diverse choice, no?

In the end I chose Georgian. My little diversion this last year to learn the Georgian alphabet was a lot of fun and really piqued my interest in not just the language, but in Georgian history. I don't plan on getting to a very high level with the language - A2, perhaps, but not higher than that. This is partly due to the amount of learning materials I can find for the language, but mainly because I really want to concentrate on getting Turkish to a higher level.

To track what I'll be doing in Georgian, I'm going to be using a goal-tracking website that I learned about on Lifehacker called I've already set up my basic goals here, although they're not scheduled to be locked into place until January 1, 2012. The list of goals is currently set at 28 and includes three courses to complete, as well as tasking me with finding music and movies. I decided to try to use the site to track my goals because it offers some social interaction, and even challenges that other users can suggest and/or join in.

So that's what my 2012 looks like.

It's been a great year overall for me, and I'm looking forward to 2012!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pimsleur (and some new found respect)

A couple weeks ago I was going through all the language learning materials I've been using this past year while clearing out some of my files on my laptop - I had recently bought a new one because my previous laptop had died. It wasn't and expense I was glad to have, but when my old laptop wouldn't even power on, well, I had no choice.

Anyway, the very first piece of learning material I used for Turkish was "Pimsleur Turkish I" with 30 half-hour lessons. I bought it because I usually try and start any language study with audio - only audio if possible, then move on to other materials once I've got a handle on the basics of pronunciation.

So when I came upon the folder trying to decide whether to restore it or not, I thought I might want to give it a quick review first. I ended up replaying all 30 lessons over the course of 5 days, just letting it play in the background while I did other things.

I've got to say, the makers of this course had thought things out really well, particularly for beginners. While it's true that most Pimsleur courses tend to regurgitate the same content in every one of their packages, they managed to handle some of the peculiarities that Turkish has.

Turkish has what is called an Aorist tense - or more commonly referred to as Wide tense that gets used in all sorts of different situations. It can be used in some cases to note a future action. It can be used in some cases conditionally. It can be and is very often used to describe the Simple Present tense. But it's a tense that has no exact equivalent in English.

So listening to Pimsleur Turkish, I was struck by their rather elegant use of the tense. Right from lesson one they introduce you to a conditional use of the Wide tense. They then move fairly quick to a Simple Present tense usage. And finally toward the end of the course, there are examples of future use. All of this was done with no explanation, as is handled in all Pimsleur courses.

Now, when I first went through the course, I didn't understand these concepts. I'd never studied a language with this tense before. I just repeated what I was listening to and soaked it all in as I went along, not really knowing what exactly it was that I was soaking in. After having gone through a couple other courses that do explain the tense, listening to Pimsleur Turkish again has earned them a newly found respect from me.

So it's a keeper, even though I may not listen to it all that often. It'll stay on my hard drive just for occasional listening and reference.

On a completely unrelated note, I've totally gotten into the Turkish soap "Yıllar Sonra". There have only been three episodes so far, but it's shaping up to be everything a good soap should be: murder, wealth, wild kid vs. responsible siblings, illegitimate kid, etc. It's Dallas set in Istanbul! But with real estate instead of oil. I'm hooked!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An overdue update...

It's been a couple months since my last update.

But with Fall in full swing - ending even - I'm getting close to the end of my 2011 language learning goals, I'm assessing my progress, as well as beginning to think about what I'm going to do next year with my language learning.

As for my progress in Norwegian, it's gone quite well. Probably a little better than I had hoped. I have the chance to speak it every single day with native speakers. My original goal was to reach a C1 level, and I think I will do that. I'd like to say I've already reached that goal, but truthfully, I'm hesitant to overstate my abilities. I've worked on expanding my vocabulary by watching a ton of movies and listening to music, I've improved my writing using Lang-8. My speech has become more fluid. I've also worked on my accent.

When thinking about what languages to learn, I've kept in mind that I may someday want to use them to expand my freelance translation business. While I've thought about adding Norwegian to my roster of working languages for translation, I won't be adding it any time soon. Why? Before I started working with Spanish and Italian, I spoke both languages for well over a decade. The comfort level is just so different. And I've specialized somewhat with the types of documents I translate, namely business and legal. I do not yet have that specialized vocabulary for Norwegian, although I can readily talk about business and legal things in general. With time, I could acquire that vocabulary, but it's not there yet.

Polish has been pretty weak all year long. I've listened to plenty of music and watched plenty of movies, but almost everything has been passive. I have gained some passive vocabulary, as well as some more advanced grammar, but passive learning can only take you so far. I've not had the chance to speak it much. Early on I made an attempt at finding a language partner to practice with, but for whatever reason, the couple responses I got didn't work out. My goal was to reach a B2 level. That's not going to happen. I see no way of it happening without active practice. I will probably get no further than an A2 level. But I'm OK with that. For anything I feel I've failed at with Polish, I've more than made up for it in Turkish.

I've made no secret throughout any of my posts that I've fallen in love with Turkish. It has consumed a lot of my life these last 10-11 months. When I'm not doing my job, I have something Turkish in my ear or in front of my eyes. I've worked hard at exposing myself to as much Turkish as I possibly can, and it's paying off. Even while I'm working, I usually have something Turkish going on in the background, whether it's radio or TV. I've been extremely consistent at watching specific programs every single day. I've mentioned Burada Laf Çok a couple times already in previous posts, and I can't say enough about the program. Why? It has the same host every day, so I was able to get very familiar with one person's accent. Not just his accent, but his idioms - he has several that he uses regularly. Combining his familiar speech with three different guests (usually) every night gives me a real opportunity to compare accents and vocabulary. I've heard everything from the standard Istanbul accent to Van to various foreign accents. While Kavak Yelleri was still showing, I would watch that. Now that that show has ended I'm starting to get into Yillar Sonra.

And of course, I can't forget about my conversation partner. We speak often (now three times a week for an hour). I have learned a lot from these conversations, and I'm able to ask questions about some of the things I see on TV. I get immediate feedback.

My goal for Turkish was to reach a B1 level, and I think I'll achieve that. And I already know that Turkish will one of the languages I maintain for the rest of my life - it's enriched my life immeasurably.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Turkish TV

I've been watching a lot of Turkish TV lately. A lot. There's so much available and freely streamable out on the internet.

I've gotten into a daily routine of watching Burada Laf Çok. followed by the news every evening on CNNTürk's live TV. I also try to catch Kral Çıplak on Kanal D when I can. Speaking of Kanal D, I've been tuning in to that more often. I took a cue from a guest post on Aaron's Everyday Language Learner blog, talking about using soap operas for learning purposes. I'm not a huge soap opera watcher, but decided to hunt around for something interesting. I found it in the serial Kavak Yelleri (Poplar Winds/Daydreaming). It's pretty standard fare for soap operas - mostly better looking people than you living mostly better lives than you in mostly better settings with the same petty problems. In fact, it was the stunning scenery that got me watching the show. Kanal D airs new episodes of the show on Tuesdays, as well as repeating them at other times during the week. I've only seen two episodes so far, but I'm pretty happy with my comprehension level, so I'll keep watching it.

I'm really very surprised at the amount of Turkish programming I can find online. There's so much more variety than I could ever find for Polish. I should point out that even watching commercials has been beneficial to me. With Ramazan currently being celebrated, most of the commercials have a marketing slant towards what to eat at Iftar, although there are also many other furniture and kitchen appliance commercials too, all with specials going on during Ramazan. I have to wonder if Turks get as sick of all the commercialism as we do during the Christmas season. I have that damn Coke-a-Cola song running through my head (in fact, it reminds me of a commercial that runs in Spain during the Christmas season for "El Almendro" - same nostalgic, feel-good, catchy tune.)

As for music, I learned of another artist named Cem Adrian on Kral Çıplak, so I'll probably use one of his songs to learn next, although I haven't decided which one yet. I'm impressed by the variety of his music. He reminds me a lot of Miguel Bosé (from Spain) in the 1990s. Very sublime lyrics and music.

All in all, I've been using Turkish TV much the same as I would any other programming. I leave it on throughout the day, and when something piques my interest, I'll pay attention, otherwise it's background noise, just as American programming is to me.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Getting more use out of all the media available to me.

It's been a little over a month since my last post, so I should recap what's been going on.

In addition to the daily Turkish news reading I've been doing (and learning anywhere from 100-120 or so words a week), I've been concentrating on music and video.

I've taken in and learned about a song a week with pretty good results. I've tried to vary the types of music I'm listening to and learning, but frankly, I have much better luck with standard pop/pop rock music with catchy hooks and fairly concise lyrics. They're not all current hits, but they have been at some point, so they're all pretty well known songs. First up was Teoman's Sus Konuşma. The next week I went on to Serdar Ortaç's Haksızlık. I also learned the lyrics to Candan Erçetin's Hazırım. I followed that with Ferhat Göçer's Bu Şarkı Bizim Olsun (a truly beautiful song that was well worth learning). And this week I'm learning Feridun Düzağaç's Döneceksin Diye Söz Ver.

Speaking of Feridun Düzağaç, I learned of him on a program on CNN Turkish Live called Kral Çıplak. It's a program featuring interviews with different artists and it's pretty entertaining. I've been taking advantage of the live streaming video I've found. A couple other good stations I've been watching are YOL TV and Kanal Avrupa, both based out of Germany.

I'm at a point now where I can really concentrate on all that's available to me and not have to worry about why some grammatical structure is constructed the way it is.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Growing my Turkish vocabulary...

So last week I set a goal for myself to increase my vocabulary by 350 or so words in a month. It's going well just after one week. If I continue at the rate I am I should have closer to 500 words by the end of July, but I need to make sure that I'm retaining these new words and reinforcing their use.

I'm currently using three news outlets to find new vocabulary - Hürriyet, BBC Türkçe and CNNTurk. I have twitter following these three for news stories and can quickly scan for new things. I'm using an application on Linux called Hotot for twitter. I highly recommend it for Linux users. It has an extension that does translation, so if I run across any words I don't know, I can highlight them and translate them in-application.

Following news twitters is great, because I can get small chunks of relevant information, and if I'm interested in the article, I can click through to the full article in my browser. And I get the reinforcement and repetition I need by going through all three news sources. Another added benefit of going through three different sources to get the same news story is that the articles between each source will be slightly different and each will have a different perspective.

With these three news sources alone, I've picked up about 150-160 words this last week. I'm pretty happy with that number. It's a fair amount, but not so much as to overwhelm me.

I've also decided to to something else which may or may not increase my vocabulary, but it's certainly fun: I'm thoroughly learning one Turkish pop song per week. This week's pick is Mustafa Sandal's "Karizma". Yeah, it's trite pop music, but what can I say? It's got a good beat. And it's memorable.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Setting a specific goal for Turkish for the month of July

I've been thinking a lot about my progress in Turkish the last few days.

I have reached a point that the grammar is no longer a problem for me, at least in everyday conversations and situations. It's an incredibly good feeling, and I remember reaching it when I was living in Mexico with Spanish, then later when I was studying Italian. I can't really say it feels like a weight has been lifted. But things seem much easier. I no longer wonder why something is expressed the way it is. I just learn it, then move on.

I've got the foundation now to concentrate on other things, namely increasing my vocabulary. To be sure, I'll continue to review and solidify even more my grammar points, particularly lesser known tenses and other things found mostly in literature, but that won't be my primary focus, at least for the next month.

I currently estimate my vocabulary in Turkish to be a little bit over 2000 words, but I can't be completely sure. I've never actually measured it. But during the month of July, I have a plan to increase my vocabulary by 60-75 words a week. So that would give me an extra 250-300 words in four weeks. It doesn't seem like much, but these will be new words. On top of what I already have. These could also be idioms or everyday proverbs or sayings. If the plan goes as well as I hope, I'll continue on with it the rest of the year.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Needs and necessity

This one's pretty straightforward, but it never hurts to reinforce it.

There are several ways in Turkish to state a need or an obligation to do something. It can be done with simple words tacked on to the end of a sentence following a verb (usually in infinitive form), such as "lazım", "gerek" or "mecbur". This is probably the easiest for a beginning student to use. An example would be: "Bugün çalışmak lazım", or "Today one must work/Today working is necessary". "Lazım" could easily be replaced with "gerek" and it would invoke the same meaning. "Mecbur" is a bit stronger, in that it conveys an absolute necessity, or obligation. "Lazım", in particular, seems to be very much in use in Pop music. Tarkan uses it a lot in his songs. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that half of his songs that I've heard use the word.

But the same thing can be said using and actual verb conjugation. I could also say "Çalişmam gerekiyor" to mean "I need to work". Here we're actually conjugating "gerekmek" ("to be necessary/to be needed") and changing the infinitive of "
çalışmak" to "çalışmam", or "my working", so it literally is "Working my is necessary".

Finally, there is another, perhaps more sophisticated way to specify need, and that's with the Necessitative Mood, which can be used in both simple present and past tenses. This also is very easy to do: we use "meli/mali" as part of the verb conjugation. So, for a "meli/-mek" example verb, "Girmeliyim" is simply "I must enter". An example of a "mali/-mak" verb would be "B
akmalıyım" ("I must look at").

Changing these to the past tense is also simple: "Girmeliydim" ("I must have gone into/entered") and "Bakmalıydım" ("I must have looked at").

Monday, June 6, 2011

Using "-ken" to form adverbial clauses

This is a difficult one for me, and it'll take some time for it to sink in. It doesn't follow vowel harmony rules, nor does it change with different conjugations. I'm talking about forming a sentence that starts with "While I was..."

In theory, it sounds simple enough: you add -ken to a verb base, then continue on with the rest of the sentence as normal. But when dealing with different persons, such as "While I... you were", the personal pronouns must always be specified. As an example, "While I was working, they were sleeping." The Turkish sentence would be "Ben çalışıyorken, onlar uyuyordu." (Literally, it means "I, working while, they slept/were sleeping"). The word "çalışıyorken" (working while) - does not change according to the person. It stays the same, whether talking about I, you, we, or whoever else. This is why the personal pronouns need to be specified when talking about two different people doing different things. If talking about the same person for both actions, the personal pronouns don't need to be specified, other than the one person being referenced, either by name or by pronoun.

"tam... -ken" can be used to mean "just as, at the moment that". The example I'll use is "Just as I was leaving the house, it started to rain." The Turkish sentence would be "Ben tam evden çıkarken, yağmur yağmağa başladı." (Literally "I, house from just as I was leaving, rain raining it started.")

There's another use for the "-ken" suffix that uses the future tense. This is probably the most difficult one for me to wrap my head around, but it's really useful, so I need to make a point of learning it. When "-ken" is attached to a future tense, it takes on the meaning of "instead of (do)-ing" something. For example: "Instead of staying in Spain, I went to Turkey." In Turkish, it would be "İspanya'da kalacakken, Türkiye'ye gittim." (Literally, "Spain in, will stay instead of, Turkey to I went.")

So that's what I need to work on the next few days. There are actually more uses for "-ken", but I'm just going to concentrate on these three until I get them down pat.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Swapping duties

I've not written anything about my Norwegian or Polish lately. Needless to say, I've been doing the usual with both languages - watching Norwegian movies, speaking with a couple local Norwegians regularly and reading a Polish SciFi novel.

The movie I watched this week was another Varg Veum film: "Svarte Får" ("Black Sheep"). It was better than the other Varg Veum film I've seen. Stunning Bergen and surrounding scenery, as usual.

I've watched a Norwegian movie every week for the last 5 months or so. During these last few months, I've become somewhat knowledgeable on Norwegian films, from the 1960s to the present. I'm thinking it's time to switch things up a bit. So, beginning next week, I'll be watching Polish films and reading Norwegian novels. I'd like to become as knowledgeable in Polish film as I've become with Norwegian film.

I'm almost finished with "Czarne Oceany" - another two to three days and I'll have finished reading it. I already have a Polish movie lined up to watch, called "To nie tak tak myślisz kotku" (English title is "Grand Hotel"). It's a light comedy that hasn't gotten great reviews, but I figured it would be a good start.

Another reason I wanted to switch resources is because I've discovered a Norwegian author that I want to read: Jo Nesbø. I got his novel "Hodejegerne" ("Headhunters"). Nesbø's known for a series of crime novels featuring the character Harry Hole. This novel is rumored to be the start of a new series of thrillers from Nesbø, so I'm excited to get started with it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

-ing adjectives and gerunds

After the last couple weeks of looking at conditional tenses and subjunctive moods, I need to revisit what would be the English "-ing" equivalent of an adjective and a gerund in Turkish. I'm confusing the two in conversation, and I need to get it sorted out.

Both of these things were covered fairly thoroughly in the Teach Yourself Turkish book, so I'm referencing that again.

In a nutshell, an "-ing" adjective in Turkish is "-en/-an" formation of the verb by adding it to the verb stem.

For example, "Istanbul'a giden tren" is "The train going to Istanbul" The "-en" is added to "gid", the root stem of "gitmek" (to go). For an "-an" example, "Koşan adam", or "the man who's running". "-an" is added to "koş", the root stem of "koşmak" (to run). For these adjectives, it helps for me to look at the word order in Turkish to reinforce the fact that they're adjectives. Instead of translating "the train going to Istanbul", the natural Turkish order of "Istanbul to going train" helps me to see that the adjective is for train, and not functioning as a gerund.

To form a gerund, "-erek/-arak" is added to the root stem of a verb. This creates the form by...(verb)-ing. For example, "Yürüyerek geldim" is "I came on foot", or literally, "I came by walking". The literal translation is a much more useful way for me to look at it. For an "-arak" example, "Bakarak buldum" - "I found it by looking".

There is also a special case for use with the verb "olmak" that doesn't really conform to these rules, but that hasn't caused me any trouble, as its use is so widespread it's already sort of ingrained.

So that's my reinforcement work for this week - the difference between "-ing" adjectives and gerunds. As I've been doing pretty successfully lately, I'll take long walks and drill it into my head, using the vocabulary I already know.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Subjunctive mood in Turkish

This last week I've been drilling the past conditional tense into my head. I've been doing this by going on fairly long walks and trying to combine different sentences together, improvising with the vocabulary that I already have. This has worked out pretty well. Most Turkish verbs are quite regular in their conjugations, so once I learned the endings for -mak and -mek verbs, it's been a consistent exercise. This week I'm going to concentrate on the past subjunctive.

Take the verbs yapmak (to do/make) and beklemek (to wait).

Yapmak is a really useful word to know. It's used in all sorts of things in which we wouldn't normally use it in English, such as shopping. Instead of saying "I should have gone shopping", in Turkish it would be "I should have done/made shopping". In Turkish - "Alişveriş yapaydım". Since Turkish is so regular in its verb conjugations, I can carry that over to all the different persons - "yapaydın", "yapaydı", yapaydık", "yapaydınız" "yapaydılar" ("you should have done", "he/she should have done", "we should have done", "you pl. should have done", "they should have done").

The same process happens with beklemek. "I should have waited" would be "Bekleyeydim".

The difference between the past conditional and the past subjunctive is subtle, and in many cases can be used interchangeably, but not always.

So that's my task for this week. I need to solidify the past subjunctive.

I think I'll go for a walk.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Keşke bilseydim!

If only I knew!

Actually, I do know. The problem is putting it into practice.

So I've been tackling some of the conditional tenses. The sentence "Keşke bilseydim!" would be along the lines of "I wish I knew!", but in typical Turkish fashion, things are folded into verbs. Looking at the verb "bilmek", I can absolutely recognize that it's past tense. But the simple past tense would be "bildim", "I knew". That "sey" stuck in the middle is what tells the verb it's an "if/wish" verb.

So my problem currently is putting this into practice. When I read it, I have no trouble understanding it. My problem comes when I try to actually use it myself. English, of course, doesn't fold these concepts into verbs at all, so I struggle, and blurt something like "E
ğer bildim" out, which my Skype partner says is understandable and actually a common mistake for non-natives to make. "Eğer" is the literal word "if", and I suppose it's good to know that people will still understand me if I use it that way.

But it's frustrating when you know how something should come out, but in the heat of the moment you produce something else.

The "
Keşke" is a reinforcer for 'if only"or "would that", by the way.

Keşke bilseydim, indeed.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Six Month Check-in

It's been a little more than two weeks since my last update. I've been pretty busy, either at the cabin or, in the case of this last week, a long out-of-town interpreting gig.

Since I started tracking my progress in November of last year, it's now been about six months. It's time I check to see where I'm at, overall.

First up, Norwegian. I hadn't really planned on my active skills being where they are right now, but I've had ample opportunity to use the language actively. While at the cabin, I've been able to speak almost daily. That's brought my level up faster than I had anticipated. The conversations I've had have mostly been due to two friendships with longtime immigrants I've formed in Northern Wisconsin. I've watched a fair amount of Norwegian film - enough to become somewhat knowledgeable in the genre. And the films I've watched have served as a springboard for conversations with my two friends.

All said, I could probably bump up my level from a B1 to a B2.

As for Polish, it's gone much slower than I had expected. I have not had any active use of the language at all so far for 2011. I'm a little disappointed that I haven't progressed any with speaking, but passively I think I've gained some. I've gone through a couple good novels. They were difficult, but held my interest. I learned a good deal of new vocabulary.

So, while I still see my speaking ability at an A2 level, I see my reading ability at a B1 level.

I've made the most progress in Turkish. I've not just concentrated on this language in general, I've made sure to push both my passive and active skills. In the last six months, I've gone through one complete audio course (Pimsleur Turkish), as well as two combination audio/text courses (Teach Yourself Turkish and Türkçe Öğreniyoruz - this last course completely in Turkish). I've discovered a huge amount of Turkish pop music, both "classic" and current, that has helped me with some idiomatic expressions, as well as given me some cultural insight. And finally, I've been using Skype with a language partner for a while now. This has, by far, taken my active use to a level that I really had no intention of reaching at this stage. But again, the opportunity presented itself, and I couldn't let it pass by.

Because of this, I would place my speaking ability at A2, and my reading ability at B1. That's the same level my Polish currently is at - a language I've been studying for quite a bit longer. I also think that I've progressed further with Turkish because there's a passion for it that isn't present with the other languages. That passion that's slowly grown over the last few months was also unexpected. And truthfully, I don't know where it came from. Whatever the reason, I'm glad I found this passion. It's taken me and will take me further than I had planned.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Using what I can get my hands on

This week, the Norwegian movie of choice was Varg Veum, Bitre Blomster (Bitter Flowers). It's based on a series of detective novels by author Gunnar Staalesen. It was an excellent movie. I like crime stories and the Bergen scenery was stunning. I'd not heard of the author before, but because of this movie I'll now be on the lookout for his novels. And I guess there are plans for more movie adaptations of the Varg Veum series, too.

Being in Northwestern Wisconsin for the last couple months has also given me the opportunity to actually speak Norwegian to a couple people in the area. That's been an unexpected bonus that I'm glad presented itself.

I'm continuing with Czarne Oceany. And I've been listening to Polish radio online, as well as my Polish music collection. Right now I have no local opportunity to speak Polish. I could go the Skype route, but I'm already doing that with Turkish. I generally don't like doing the same thing for more than one language, so I won't be doing Skype for a while for Polish. It is about time I start writing entries in Polish on Lang-8 though. So that's next on my list.

I've now started with the 4th Türkçe Öğreniyoruz course. It's the last in the series that I have, although the series runs through 6 courses. The last two courses are readers, from what I understand, so I'm not sure I'll even bother to hunt those down. I have plenty of other reading material available to me. As a matter of fact, I'm now able to get through a lot of the daily news. I've been using Hürriyet. My vocabulary is increasing fairly rapidly with it and I don't have many problems with grammar. This is helping with my Turkish Skype conversations. We now have a much broader assortment of things to talk about. And speaking of Skype, we've upped the amount of time for each conversation (still twice a week) to 20 minutes.

All in all, I'm much farther along with Turkish than I had planned to be by this time in the year and less than where I had planned to be with Polish. I'm about where I want to be with Norwegian - that is, able to communicate on most any subject that comes up, even if my vocabulary isn't the most elegant.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April Diversion

I'm still doing my regular routine with Norwegian, Polish and Turkish, with the exception of no Norwegian movie this week.

But, like last month's little detour to take a look at Anishinaabemowin, I've decided to take a couple days this last week and look at something completely foreign to me. This was really fueled by my interest in Turkish. I started looking at Turkey's surrounding countries and their languages.

So, this week's post is going to be all about Georgian!

Georgian, or Kartuli, is a South Caucasian language spoken by about 4.5 million people, mostly within Georgia. It's writing system is unique and has changed significantly over the centuries. The name of the modern alphabet in use is called mkhedruli, meaning cavalry or military. It's phonetic and has 33 characters consisting of 5 vowels and 28 consonants. I took some time to learn the alphabet. It was much easier that I thought it would be. Total time to actually learn the alphabet was probably two hours or so, drilling included. For kicks, I left it for a couple days, then came back to it to see how much I had retained. I'd remembered all of it. This gives me hope for learning any other different written system in the future - something I'd feared before.

Here is the complete mkhedruli alphabet:

The vowels: ა ე ი ო უ

The consonants: ბ გ დ ვ ზ თ კ ლ მ ნ პ ჟ რ ს ტ ფ ქ ღ ყ შ ჩ ც ძ წ ჭ ხ ჯ ჰ

Consonants are often clustered, with seemingly difficult pronunciation, but with very little practice I was able to reproduce all sounds with ease with the exception of one: , which is a q sound with a very sharp glottal stop. There are a few of these sharp glottal stopped consonants, which almost give the language a click-like characteristic to it. It's very interesting to listen to.

Georgian has remained stable grammatically for centuries. It's not unusual for a middle school-aged child to be able to read 12th century literature.

It is an agglutinative language. Like many agglutinative languages, it has post-positions instead of prepositions. It's syntax is largely Subject-Verb-Object, but it's not strict. Subject-Object-Verb syntax is also used. It has vowel syncope, much like I discovered in certain dialects of Anishinaabemowin. Stress is very light and usually on the first syllable.

There is little in the way of Georgian self-study material. There is a decent course with audio called "Beginner's Georgian", written by Dodona Kiziria. There are two decent grammar-based courses, one by Hewitt and another by Aronson. There also appears to be a "TalkNow" computer-based course. Aside from that, there really isn't much else out there. There seems to be a couple of in-country study programs in Tbilisi too.

It's been an interesting couple of days looking at the language. Would I take the time to study it in depth? Probably not. But it's opened up a path to learning a language with another writing system - something I'd considered too difficult before.

I'm kind of liking the idea of taking these short language excursions every now and then. I don't know that I'll do it monthly, but it's something that I'll at least occasionally do. It helps keep my sanity in check with my current language goals.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Same old, same old...

Really nothing new this week. Just a continuation of what I normally do every week.

This week's Norwegian movie was "Sønner" (Sons). It's a really disturbing movie about pedophilia. But it won all sorts of awards, so I had to see it. I swear I'm going to be an expert on Norwegian cinema by the year's end.

I'm continuing on with Czarne Oceany. I'm absolutely digging the novel. I'm only averaging about a chapter a week right now, but that's OK. There's really no rush. If I have any regrets about my progress with Polish, it's that I'm not speaking it. It's purely passive right now. Again, that's OK. When it comes time to use the language, I'll be ready enough. Really, I can already have conversations in Polish, but outside of Skype or Lang-8, there just isn't much (read "any") in-person opportunity here in Northern Wisconsin (where I currently am).

I'm back on my regular schedule with my Skype partner. He's returned from his vacation. I've been at Turkish now for about four months, and I really believe that I've advanced quickly. These Skype sessions have helped immensely. But the self-teaching courses I've completed leading up to Skype use really prepared me, from Pimsleur to Teach Yourself (really a very complete course, considering the series) to Türkçe Öğreniyoruz. They've all provided a very solid foundation on which to grow. Overall, I'm quite proud of my progress. I don't plan on going to Turkey until the beginning of 2012, but I truly believe that if I were plopped down somewhere in Istanbul today, I'd have no trouble surviving and I'd even be able to make some friends.

One other thing I want to mention, again not directly related to my goals, but it makes me happy: My other blog Indoojibwem! is getting hits from Indian reservations in both Minnesota and Wisconsin according to my logs. I'm glad that it's of some use to other people besides me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A look to the past and a little SciFi

This week's Norwegian movie was Max Manus. It was a very well done war period piece. Lots of German, but I didn't want to use the subtitles, so I just struggled through the German bits. I guess I vaguely knew of Max Manus, having heard of him when I was in Spain. He spent the last part of his life there, along with his wife, also portayed in the movie. But I didn't know how important he actually was to the Norwegian resistance. So I learned a lot from the movie historically as well.

For Polish, I've begun reading Czarne Oceany, a novel by Jacek Dukaj. It's a bit tougher read than I had expected, but I'm enjoying it. Lots of compound words that aren't found in any dictionary, so I'm forced to think pretty hard about what I'm reading. Old-school SciFi at its best!

This week, my Skype partner for Turkish conversation is on vacation, so we haven't talked at all this week. He'll be back next week. In the meantime, I've been getting into some older Turkish pop music, namely Bariş Manço. I discovered him maybe a month ago. Quite amazing for his time. And he had a very long, successful career. I highly recommend a listen!

I'm also continuing on with Türkçe Öğreniyoruz. I'm guessing another week and a half to two weeks and I'll be able to start on the forth course.

I'll mention this once again, but it's not part of my goal this year: I'm slowly going through an Ojibwe course and am documenting it at Indoojibwem! I'm not counting this as part of my goal because I have no immediate plans to use it, other than passively. That may come later, but right now, it's a purely passive thing. I'm finding the number of similarities between Turkish and Ojibwe incredibly interesting.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A relaxing week...

While last week was a busy one for language learning, this week was nice and relaxing. I'm chalking it up to the spring-like weather and my cabin fever getting the best of me. I still managed to get some things accomplished, though.

This week's Norwegian film was actually completely in Saami: Veiviseren, or Pathfinder. I obviously needed the subtitles for this - Norwegian-only. It was a good film, set in Arctic Norway a thousand years ago.

I also started to watch another Norwegian horror film - Hora - and never made it past the opening scene, which was extremely brutal. Maybe another time, but I just wasn't up for the sadistic gore.

I'm almost finished with Legendy Warszawskie. It's been a fun and easy read. My next book, which I'll have started by my next post is going to be Czarne Oceany. It's an original Polish Sci-Fi novel - a genre I like in any language. The language seems pretty approachable from the glance I gave it, so I'm looking forward to it.

I'm still going through the third course in the
Türkçe Öğreniyoruz series. The Skype sessions are continuing nicely.

I have started to rely on both a website and a downloadable program from the site - Verbix - for Turkish verb conjugations. It's pretty useful, and quick. To tell the truth, I don't remember how long ago I found the site, or even how found it. But it's useful.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A busy week for languages

It's been a busy week for my language learning/enjoyment.

This last week I watched two more Norwegian films. The first was pulp horror film Død Snø (Dead Snow). Absolutely nothing redeeming about the film. Just slasher, horror movie fun. Well, Ok. The scenery was nice. The second film was really a good film and based on a true story: Kautokeino Opprøret (The Kautokeino Rebellion). A lot of the movie was spoken in Saami, so I turned on Norwegian subtitles. The Norwegian-spoken bits were heavily accented, but it didn't take long to adjust to the pronunciation differences.

I'm about half way through the Legendy Warszawskie book I bought last week. It's been an easy read and a lot of fun. Legends and superstition have always interested me. They're a nice window into the culture.

I'm slowly going through the third Türkçe Öğreniyoruz course. And of course, I'm continuing with my twice-weekly Skype sessions with my language parter. We talked a little bit about something I had happened upon when I was looking at the Anishinaabe language out of curiosity: the number of similarities between it and Turkish. It was a difficult, halting, stuttering conversation - I had to look up a lot of words due to the complexity of the subject. I learned a lot, though. But I found out through the conversation that many Turks not only consider the languages as related, but they consider the people as related. It makes sense, considering the widely-held belief that Native Americans came to this continent by way of the Bering Strait and originated from Central Asia. Anyway, all it takes is a quick google for "Turk" and "Native American" to realize that it's something that's been considered and studied for a while now.

Because of this recent fascination with Anishinaabemowin, I'm going to try and study it in more depth, but at a very relaxed pace. It will not be part of my year-end goal, so to speak, but I'll document it separately. I have no immediate goal as to how far I want to go with the language at this point. That'll come later.

I've created a separate blog at that will have anything relevant to the language. I was initially excited to find so many links to online Anishinaabe language resources, That excitement faded as I kept getting "404 Not Found" errors. So that blog will be where I either include good links or directly document what I find.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ojibwe, a little detour

I'm not going to write about anything Norwegian, Polish or Turkish in this post. I'm going to spend a little time documenting what started as a curiosity - Ojibwe.

Near my family cabin in NW Wisconsin, there are a couple Indian Reservations. One of them - Lac Courte Oreilles - has a WPR station that occasionally broadcasts in their "native" Ojibwemowin, or Anishinaabemowin. I put "native" in quotes, because there aren't that many left that can claim this language as their first, native language. The particular dialect in this region is estimated at around 1000 first-language speakers. The two reservations near me, St. Croix and Lac Courte Oreilles, only have 25 and 10 first-language speakers, respectively. Fortunately, Ojibwe is now being taught in school to children, although they have yet to reach the fluency levels of a first-language speaker. But the younger generation is learning, so that's encouraging.

So with this interest, I set out to see what actual learning I could do online. The amount of resources certainly isn't anything like other, more well-known minor languages, but there are indeed quite a few places to get started on learning the language. I should note that I won't be actually learning the language for now, but my interest is piqued and it will definitely be a language I learn in the future.

One of the learning resources I found (surprisingly) was a Pimsleur comprehensive course of 30 lessons. They offer the first lesson free, so I took a half hour and listened to it. In that half hour, I learned quite a bit. Right off the bat, I found many, many similarities with Turkish, which I'm currently learning.

Ojibwe is agglutinative, for starters. Possessives are formed with either a prefix and/or a suffix and Ojibwe has what's called a preterite noun - meaning something an either living or deceased person once had, with a suffix added, much like Turkish does away with the verb "to have". Ojibwe also has what is called "vowel rounding" - something very similar to Turkish's vowel harmony, although a bit more subtle. Questions are formed by adding a simple question marker "na", and it can appear either mid-sentence or at the ending, depending on what's being stressed, much like Turkish.

These similarities, among others, made it non-threatening, for lack of a better word, in learning the language mechanics.

There are some notable concepts that are new to me too which are interesting. Ojibwe has gender, but gender is defined as either animate or inanimate - in other words, it has a spirit or it doesn't. And I find it interesting that different dialects consider the same object as either having a spirit or not. For example, in SW Ojibwe dialect, "bread" is animate, while in Ottawa dialect it is not. Another new concept for me is the third person obviative. For example, take the sentence "John and Jim were there, and I introduced him to him". That sentence doesn't sound correct in English, but is perfectly acceptable in Ojibwe. Ojibwe differentiates between him (John) and him (Jim), even though they're both third person.

There are many other language points I could consider here, but suffice it to say that Ojibwe is something I'll be taking up in the future. It's a very pretty language. And I'm finding that there is actually a decent amount if Ojibwe literature that's been transcribed from oral tradition.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A little bit of everything.

As I do every week, I watched another Norwegian film. Well, I should be more specific and say that I watched a Norwegian film with a lot of Albanian thrown in. The film's title is Blodsbånd. A somewhat disturbing movie about a boy that leaves Kosovo in search of his father in Oslo. He ends up back in Kosovo after some very unfortunate events. The movie got me thinking about how many people leave their homeland in search of a better life, only to return after not finding it. Anyway, that's neither here nor there. Because there was so much Albanian spoken in the movie, I had Norwegian subtitles on throughout. When Norwegian was spoken, it was with a very heavy accent, so that was a listening plus for me.

I've put in a couple more journal entries on Lang-8 too.

I finally bought a few ebooks from Of course, I bought another Chmielewska novel - I really do like her writing style - and a Jacek Dkuaj novel. But I also got a short, 100 page book called Legendy Warszawskie which I'll read first. I'm familiar with a couple of the Warsaw Legends, such as Wars i Sawa and the Mermaid, but the book includes a few more that I'm not familiar with, so that'll be a good read.

I've completed the second Türkçe Öğreniyoruz course and have started the third. The first two courses were largely refresh/reinforce courses for me, since most of it had been covered in other materials I'd used. And, of course, I'm continuing with the Skype sessions. Those are helping me immensely.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More movies.

I watched two Norwegian movies this week. The first is Svidd Neger (Burnt Negro). While I had no trouble understanding any of the dialog (except the Sami portions, which were subtitled in Norwegian), I really went into the film unprepared mentally. Had I read this comment from IMDB.COM, I would have been much better prepared: "If you like mind-twisting avant-garde trash, you shouldn't miss this movie!" Instead, what I read beforehand was this: "The main character is a young black man (a Negro) who wants to be a Sami." In any case, it was a very surreal film.

The second film I watched was Ti Kniver i Hjertet (Cross My Heart and Hope to Die). I had a lot of trouble understanding the dialog in this film. If it wasn't the low volume, it was the mumbling. So I turned on the subtitles in Norwegian to help. It was a bit different than other subtitling I'd seen in Norwegian. I thought it may have been Nynorsk, but when i asked other Norwegians, the answer i got was that it probably was something called "Radikalt Bokmål". I had known about spelling inconsistencies in Norwegian due to dialects, but had never heard this term before. I had written a very short post on about the movie, and within a correction there was a note about Radikalt being a written form based on many different dialects, invented by Ivar Aasen. So I'm now investigating this more. I find it interesting!

No news on the Polish front. I'm still on the hunt for another novel. I did discover though. I'm going through the HUGE amount of choice of what to buy.

I'm continuing on with Türkçe Öğreniyoruz. I'm really glad that I've found a Skype partner to start speaking. I'm still at the stage where I say a lot of "Bu ne demek? / O ne demek?", but it's really helping a lot. We've agreed to twice weekly video or audio chats of at least 10 minutes and not more than 20. But we're augmenting the video/audio with text chat within Skype too. Let me be the first to say, ten minutes is a long time when your vocabulary is limited!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Music, music.

Music is primarily on my mind, but I'll document what else I've done this week, too. I get all excited about music in general in February because of an Italian music festival - Festival della canzone italiana di San Remo. I can't help it. It was the first and only European music festival I had the privilege of attending. How my friend scored tickets to it is beyond me, but I'm glad he did. Anyway, this is the oldest festival of its kind in Europe. And it's a precursor to Eurovision. There are similar song festivals throughout Europe.

On to Norwegian, I watched the Norwegian film Bare Skyer Beveger Stjernene (Only Clouds Move the Stars). It's a good family film that deals with family loss. And the girl that plays Maria - Thea Sofie Rusten - is fantastic in her role. My next movie for the week is Svidd Neger, which looks like a really interesting story. I'll recap in my next post.

Since I've been spending a good portion of my winter either in the Twin Cities or in Northwestern Wisconsin, I'm sort of in the heart of Norwegian immigrant territory. I've been able to speak the language more than I would have thought before coming up here, even if the people I talk to speak a somewhat archaic Norwegian.

Since I finished the Chmielewska novel I've been looking for something else to read, preferably another one of her books. No such luck in finding anything. I have a substantial Polish pop music collection, so I've been listening a lot to that. And it fits in with my music obsession this week.

The Türkçe Öğreniyoruz series of language courses I picked up are really good. Very different accents on the audio, and as I mentioned last post, everything is in Turkish. I'm cruising though the second course, since most of the contents of the first course I've already learned elsewhere. I also managed to find a Skype partner for Turkish, so I can practice not just writing, but speaking. We've agreed to chat twice a week, and already I'm feeling more confident. I also discovered another Turkish singer - Gökhan Özen. I'm listening to him as I write this post, as a matter of fact. I'm enjoying his high-energy music.

On a final note, I have to giggle a little at the Norwegian, Polish and Turkish top 20 charts. Bruno Mars in on all of them. I know I'm an old coot, but what's up with that?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Not wanting to write.

I'll just get this out of the way, right out of the gate: I have not been in any kind of mood whatsoever to write. At all. In any language.

But that's OK. I've been doing what I've set out to do, and that's progress with my languages.

In the last couple weeks I've seen two Norwegian films: En Ganske Snill Mann (A Somewhate Gentle Man), starring Stellan Skarsgård (very funny!) and Salmer fra Kjøkkenet (Kitchen Stories). Salmer fra Kjøkkenet was interesting to me - I've always been interested in the friction between Sweden and Norway (or between Sweden and any other Scandinavian country, for that matter) and this movie handles the subject in any interesting way. I also got a hold of Sønner, but frankly, I've not had any desire to watch a film dealing with pedophilia. Maybe next week.

I'm now on the last chapter of Rzeź bezkręgowców. I feel so much more at ease reading now, compared to when I started this novel. I now only need to look up one or two words a page. And I really like Chmielewska's writing style. Once I'm done with this novel I'll have to see if I can find any other novels written by her.

I finished the Teach Yourself Turkish course. And with perfect timing, I found a set of Turkish courses written completely in Turkish! It's called Türkçe Öğreniyoruz. The course is old enough that the accompanying audio is on cassette. No matter - I've already plugged the output of an old cassette deck into the Audio In of my PC and converted it to MP3. I bought the four-volume set at a used bookstore. I understand that the entire series consists of six volumes, so at some point I'm going to have to hunt down the last two volumes.

Since I've not been in the mood to write lately, I've also not done anything on Lang-8. I will get back to writing there.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A milestone...

I'm going to change up the order I describe my week.

First up is Turkish. I hit a milestone with the language: I dreamt in Turkish for the first time this week. Every time this has happened in the past with other languages, it's marked a turning point in my learning. It was a complete dream that dealt with home matters (really, the dream was about fixing up the bunkhouse at my cabin and everything that entails). So that was exciting for me.

On the Teach Yourself Turkish front, I'll be finishing it within two weeks. I'd like to find a course that's completely in Turkish, similar to, say, "Stein på stein" in Norwegian. I thought that was an excellent course that brought me up a solid level all around: in vocabulary, comprehension and confidence in speaking. But I'm not aware of any Turkish equivalent, so I'm on the hunt for something along that line.

I'm continuing with the Polish novel Rzeź bezkręgowców. I've gone through two more chapters and am feeling comfortable with my reading level.

I'm continuing to watch Norwegian film. The film I saw this week was a horror film - something I normally don't watch - called Villmark. But I enjoyed it, if nothing else for the variety of accents in the film. There were two very different accents throughout the film. I still have a few more films to get through, but I'm going to need to head back to Norwegian-friendly video store territory for more within a couple weeks, I think.

On an unrelated note, I've decided to stay on at the cabin for the remainder of the winter. Am I crazy? A little, I suppose. But I've gone through the worst weather by now and it's only going to get better. Also, I really want to be around when the ice on the lake breaks up and melts. Everybody tells me that it's a feast for both the ears and the eyes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


After this last week, I feel like I've gotten a fresh kiss from winter. What was I thinking, coming to the cabin in such cold weather? One night it reached -30 below - real temperature. This is in an uninsulated log cabin.

Anyway, we're back in the 20s and heading to above freezing by the end of the week.

I watched Vinterkyss, a rather sad, but good Norwegian movie that came out in 2005. Surprisingly, there was a substantial portion of the movie that was in English. I didn't mind. It served its purpose in the film.

I also put up a couple more entries on Lang-8. I'm so happy to be using it now. I've already gotten good corrections and learned things from it. And made a couple new friends in the process too! Originally, I was thinking to only write my entries in Norwegian for now, then maybe mid-year start with Polish entries. I may move that up by a couple months and hopefully start with Polish entries by March.

I've gone through another chapter in Rzeź bezkręgowców. That's coming along nicely, even if a bit slower than I'd originally planned.

And I've gone through two more lessons from Teach Yourself Turkish. I'm at the point right now where grammar is really making a difference, and as a result, it's requiring much more attention to detail. I'm happy with my progress, in any case.

Overall, it's been a pretty productive week. I've even had a fair amount of translation work. And I'm kind of amazed I've been able to do all this from the cabin.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A fantastic movie and a bit of reading and writing

I got a chance to watch Elling, an absolutely fantastic Norwegian film the other night. I HIGHLY recommend this film! By far the best Norwegian film I've seen to date. It was also the easiest film to follow the entire dialog that I've watched. I'd like to think that a week away from hearing any Norwegian refreshed my senses and that was the reason I understood so much, but I doubt it. It was just a great movie and kept me interested. There are a couple other movies that are related that I'll have to check out: a prequel and a sequel.

I've also finally begun using lang-8 for writing. We'll see how that goes. There really aren't all that many native Norwegians there, so we'll see how often the corrections come. Because I'm a free account member, I can only list two study languages. It's not a problem for now, since I'm not ready to start writing in Polish, much less in Turkish. Unrelated, by what's up with so many Norwegians studying Japanese? The majority of Norwegian users are Japanese learners.

I'm getting through the Polish novel Rzeź bezkręgowców nicely. I'm pretty happy with that. It's not too difficult for me, and I like the author's writing style. Many of Chmielewska's novels have been translated into English, so I will probably try and read her in English at some point too. Just not this year.

I'm about half way through the Teach Yourself Turkish course. I'm very happy with how that's progressing. I don't know the exact count, but I would guess that my Turkish vocabulary is at about 1200 or so words. Not bad for having studied the language for under three months.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Kind of a rough week

This last week has been austere, as far as language-learning goes.

I decided to come up to the cabin to enjoy some quiet winter time. The trip itself was no problem. Heating up the place was no problem either, despite the thermometer showing 10 degrees fahrenheit indoors when I arrived.

The problem? My AC adapter for my laptop died. That means that when the battery finally died (a mere three hours after firing it up), I lost access to a good deal of my material. And in a very remote part of northwestern Wisconsin at that. Luckily I have neighbors year round here and could at least head down to their place and check my email, etc. I was able to order a replacement charger through, and it finally came today. Yay! I have everything back.

So what have I done these last few days? Well, I have a Nokia internet tablet that I could still use, and luckily, I'd copied a couple things to it. I had copied my Colloquial Norwegian course to it. So for Norwegian, that's what I'd done. There was a decent amount of writing practice, as well as exercises to keep me busy and feel productive.

For Polish, I'd managed to copy Zaczynam Móvić po Polsku. It wasn't the Chmielewska novel I'd started, and the book is substantially easier than I'd wanted, but it was fine in a pinch.

Thankfully, I had also copied over my Teach Yourself Turkish course, so I could continue on with that without any interruption.

Now that I've got everything back, tonight I'll be watching Elling, a Norwegian film. I'm looking forward to that! And after that, well, I've got enough Norwegian films to take me through a couple weeks. Of course, I'll continue watching NRK, especially the news and documentaries available.

But above all, I'm happy that I have solid access to the internet again. I had forgotten how tedious it was to actually use a paper dictionary.

Monday, January 3, 2011

More movies

I've continued with Norwegian cinema. This last week I watched two offbeat movies - just my style. The first was Budbringeren. Overall, easy to understand, and I liked the story, even if it was somewhat depressing. There wasn't a whole lot of dialog, so truth be told, it was really just a normal movie-watching experience. I'd like to say that it's because I'm getting just that comfortable with watching Norwegian movies in general - and maybe I am - but the next movie I watched tells me no. The second movie I watched was Naboen. An equally quirky movie, if not more violent. Where Budbringeren was easy to follow, Naboen was irritatingly difficult to understand at times. Lots of different accents going on. That one I will watch again.

I'm also watching a lot of NRK programming, now that I've found their great plugin for XBMC. In fact, I've been going through a lot of their documentaries. There's a lot of interesting stuff to keep me interested.

I'm also making a concerted effort to improve my writing in Norwegian. A while back, I went through two courses, both completely in Norwegian, the first titled På Vei, which is considered A2 material, and Stein på stein, which supposedly takes the learner up to B2 level. I used both the textbook and the audio, but never went through the workbooks. Well, I got my hands on the workbooks and am now going through the Stein på stein one. It's a nice review, and is really cementing my written Norwegian.

I'm back on track with my reading in Polish too. A friend of mine recommended I check out Joanna Chmielewska. She's primarily a crime/thriller novelist, much in the same vein as Patricia Cornwell, but a generation older. So I found a copy of Rzeź bezkręgowców (Kill all Invertebrates). I haven't really started in other than the first couple pages, but it has much more familiar language than Linia Czasu has. So I'm hopeful. Her writing seems to be very much from a woman's point of view - again, much like Patricia Cornwell - but that's fine. I'm just thrilled I found some original, engaging literature.

I've gone through one more chapter of Teach Yourself Turkish. I'm still very happy with my progress with Turkish. If anything, I wish I had more time to devote to it.