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!