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!

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