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.