verbal pushups for your brain

Discussion in 'Human Potential, Self Discovery' started by Mimsey Borogrove, Oct 10, 2017.

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  1. Mimsey Borogrove

    Mimsey Borogrove Crusader

    I have been learning spanish prior to going to Machu Pichu in Peru. The next two I want to learn are Arabic - I want to see the Egyptian pyramids, and Italian so I can go to Italy and Chao Bella! Eat some wonderful food and see a thrilling country.
    Plus my brain will be tuned up with more grey matter and maybe not make so many foolish posts here.:winner:


  2. tribedole

    tribedole New Member

    I also wanted to learn a new language, maybe i'll start with an easy one like Spanish
  3. RogerB

    RogerB Crusader

    Good plan, Mims!

    What I found in studying a new language is that it works best if one does not get hung up in thinking of the new language word as the translation of our English but instead have a conceptual understanding of the new word as being the thing IT represents . . . as in sol is that big fiery ball in the sky that heats our day . . . it is not our English word sun.

    This way, one does not have to go through any system of mental word translation when speaking in the new language, but instead one is simply fluently relaying one's concepts directly with the words that represent them.
  4. Mimsey Borogrove

    Mimsey Borogrove Crusader

    That still doesn't make it any easier. Things still need to be defined. I am listening to the Plimsleur method cds - which is based on the premise you learned the language you are now speaking by listening to it being spoken. These CD's have a lot of things like ask Jose where the restaurant is or how do you go to Juanita's house on Ave. de la Juarez? which is good in that it gets you to use the language. However when they omit telling you the difference between the way one word is being used in one case and another and expect you to glean it from context - I find my self going on line to try and find out what the hell is going on.

    I agree - you should not be translating it in your head: Yo (I) peudo ( can) beiber ( drink) un (a) cerveza ahora... but still you need to know what they mean to take them from being meaningless sounds to concepts.

    So Rog, what languages can you speak? I think I understand and can speak english but there are times I wonder. I took a smattering of french in high school and am self learning Spanish Oh! I am fluent the dialect of Scientology though am not well versed in the sub dialect - Shermanspeak.

    So said from my front porch on infinity ... :roflmao:

  5. Wilbur

    Wilbur Patron Meritorious

    I think it's definitely true that you should try to mimic the conditions in which you learned English as a child. As a child, you had the opportunity to listen to LOTS of examples of how the language was being spoken. I think that that's key. Yes, you have to look things up in a dictionary, but you also have to subject yourself to LOTS AND LOTS of examples of the language.

    My recommendation is to read lots of books in the target language. If you are a complete beginner, start with children's books. And read LOTS of them, over and over again. When you are bored with one book, it means you've gleaned all you can from it, and move on to another one. From kindergarten books up to 7-8 year olds' books, and on from there. By the time you have read a bunch of those, you will be really familiar with what's possible in the grammar of the language, and have a decent vocabulary also. And you get to have a second childhood. Which is great. OK, you might have more exposure to words like 'witch' and 'spell' etc than you are going to need on your holidays, but you will also begin to understand the grammar properly, in a way that a child picks it up.

    You can't EXACTLY replicate childhood language acquisition, because you don't have a Spanish mother constantly talking to you and repeating things, but I think that books are the next best thing, because your pace is more under your control than if you, say, watch a cartoon. But you do have to balance it with listening, so that you can also learn proper pronunciation. Pronunciation comes from constant listening and saying.

    I think that learning a foreign language's grammar from language textbooks is not necessarily the best way to start, because how can you learn the grammar if you have no words to hang it on? You learn grammar from seeing lots of sentences, and gaining a feel for how words change. You can always then consolidate by reading a grammar once you have a decent corpus of words and sentences that you know.

  6. Wilbur

    Wilbur Patron Meritorious

    Also, it's no use having a FEAR of misunderstood words when you are learning a new language. There will be lots of words that you JUST HAVE to go by without understanding the meaning while you develop your basic vocabulary. You have to have a sense of what's worth looking up, and what isn't. It's not really possible to define every single word you encounter when you are at the beginning stages of learning a foreign language. That's especially true if the language is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from your mother tongue, and even more so if it doesn't even use the Roman alphabet, like Thai, Chinese or Arabic.

  7. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket Gold Meritorious Patron

    That's the best way to do it. Unfortunately, I still tend to do just the opposite -- whatever I hear, I translate to English in my mind, then look at that to know what was just said. I still call communicating in a language other than my native one "translating".

    But there is hope. Sometimes I can't think of the English word off the top of my head, so I'll go with converting the non-English one directly to a concept.

    I've thought that maybe if I do the Super-Lit course in a different language, I'll learn that language real well. After all, Roger, going directly from words to concepts is supposed to be what Super-Lit is all about.

  8. Mimsey Borogrove

    Mimsey Borogrove Crusader

    Oh - Thanks Wilbur - I never thought of kids books. In Spanish they have these endings that do stuff - like indicate if you are doing the action: puedo ( the o on the end indicates me - so puedo means I can) and plural and whether the word is masculine or feminine. My problem is remembering them and putting them into proper use. Like the word go. I will say va ( you go) out of a bad habit instead of voy (I go) It really confuses the spanish speaking people I deal with when I mess up - like if I say: I am going to the store but to them it sounds like: you go to the store.

    Nothing like short term memory loss to screw with your head when trying to learn something.

    When I look up some of these things I gravitate toward definitions or explanations that have sample sentences. So, I appreciate what you are saying. I'll check some out from the library and see. I just hope they don't do stuff like: See Spot run. which has an understood unexpressed subject (you) just to confuse the little tykes. ;p

    Helena - what is your native tongue then?

  9. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket Gold Meritorious Patron

    Sorry, that's a rock-slam secret.

  10. JackStraw

    JackStraw Silver Meritorious Patron

    Re the bold and underlined above: repetition, repetition, repetition and more repetition

    Children's books is another great idea!

    Do you have a Spanish speaking part of town or a place where lots of Spanish is being spoken? Restaurants etc? Can you hang out and hear it IRL?
    Can you interact with it? People tend to being happy to help if you are making an effort, even if in small doses.

  11. Clay Pigeon

    Clay Pigeon Silver Meritorious Patron

    Personally I am fluent in two languages; English and Profanity.
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  12. The_Fixer

    The_Fixer Class Clown

    Yeah me too. I can swear fairly well in about 10 languages.....
    I found music a good source of learning . trying to translate Italian, French, German and Gaelic into English is a real challenge.

    Many words do not translate directly into English. Not only that, sometimes words have a direct literal translation, but the word is used differently which negates that translation. Which only confuses the situation further.

    Some years ago, I had a Mongolian co worker who could speak 3 or 4 languages and English. He was quite fluent in them, but his English was poor despite having lived in NZ and Australia for 40 years. He belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church community and I discovered the only place he spoke English was at work. That explained a lot.

    He told me when he first arrived in NZ about 1960, he went to a tailor and got fitted for a new suit with his first week's wages. when he went back to collect it a couple of weeks later he tried it on and found one of the seams on the shoulder wasn't quite right. He told the lady the there that the seam, he didn't know the English word for it, so he used his native tongue and said the "c#nt" wasn't right. The lady disappeared in a huff and a few minutes later a pair of big coppers turned up and arrested him for offensive language. He had no idea what was going on and was very worried. It was a few hours before they could find someone who could translate Russian and it all ended up in smiles and laughter. He wasn't too happy with the lady concerned though and never collected the suit. It shook him up a bit, as one of the biggest fears of Eastern Bloc peoples was the police. They had no idea the police were a much more civilised species outside of Russia.

    It took me a few weeks to learn his speech and verbal patterns, but I came to understand him and became his unofficial interpreter at work. It wasn't hard, just having a little patience and being prepared to hear him out was all it took to get there, but we did have a few times where he completely flummoxed all of us with what he said, with some things just not really being able to translate into English. But we got around it somehow. He also taught me how to swear in Ukrainian and Russian quite well...

    It was a great thing for me as well, as I got to look in through the window at other cultures and found it is an interesting world out there and there is more than one way to look at people's stories.