July 9th, 2009

misc: 空でさえ越えられる
  • jess

Linguathon 2009

For all who may be interested, the language study challenge linguathon is currently preparing for its 2009 commencement. Our goal is to study a language (or languages), daily, for one month, all the while logging our progress. At the end of the month, we can then look back and see how much we've learned. :) Hope to see you there!

(Please delete if not permitted.)

Beginning Japanese

Could anyone advise me as to the best way of starting Japanese? My fifteen-year-old son's passion for anime has sparked an interest in learning Japanese that seems to be quite genuine.  He has not been the most successful learner of modern foreign languages so far but the difference between his success levels in those he has been exposed to seems to be down to the teaching methods.  He responds better to more formal tuition in grammar  - rather the way I was taught Latin, with verb tables and vocabulary lists - rather than the 'direct method' that is popular with language teachers and is presumably more successful with the natural linguists amongst us.  The which I am not.  His school, despite being a Language College, doesn't teach Japanese.  I'm quite prepared to pay for him to have group or even one-to-one lessons, which seem to cost about the same as the instrument tuition he has recently given up, but I have no way of judging between the various language schools and teachers offering their services in Cambridge.  Some appear to teach Japanese initially in the Roman alphabet, others get started straight away in Kanji (which from my experience of learning Hebrew sounds the better way to go). Any thoughts? And apologies if this is a much-asked question - LJ isn't the easiest place to search.

(Reposted here from my own LJ on alienor77310 's recommendation - thanks!)

Have started by ordering the DS game,  Let's Learn Katakana  & Genki 1 (from the Japan Centre - thank you freecloud13 ) - thanks to everyone for your very informative and enthusiastic responses.


On Italian and cars

American English speaker, here - I have only the barest knowledge of Italian, mostly from having sung in it and partially from one of those "Italian in 10 minutes a day" workbooks, which has not been very helpful. So, I have a few silly questions, mostly regarding how to talk about cars - any help is appreciated.

I'm working on a fic that involves a young Venetian (Edit: exact location is undecided currently, but assume Northern Italy somewhere) man gushing to a close friend about his new car (the conversation is not in Italian, but I want him to slip into it when he gets particularly excited) - so, it's a very informal situation, and slang or expressions that a mid-twenties native speaker might use would be great.

According to my dictionary, the word for "car" is macchina. How general is this term? That is, does it just apply to, say, a sedan, or could one also use it for a pick-up truck, or a van, or something else? Is there a more specific word for a really top-notch sports car?

Can one refer to a car with the female pronoun? I often do this with my car, i.e. "her headlight is out," "she gets very good gas mileage," et cetera - so could/would an Italian use lei to refer to his/her car? Or is this even an issue (since Italian nouns have gender, whereas in English it's only a few inanimate objects - boats, sometimes other vehicles - that have a gender ascribed to them)?

I know that bello/a is beautiful or handsome - can this be used for an inanimate object? Can a car be bella, or would that be strange? I have an Italian dictionary, but I'm wondering what adjectives would be most appropriate for describing a really beautiful sports car, maybe even to the point of being stereotypically associated with that - especially things like a particularly glossy finish, its shape/build, nice leather interior, and whatever else a car aficionado would emphasize. Bonus points for descriptions that would border on ridiculous/obsessive or even amorous for comedic effect, if that's an acceptable thing for the language.

Alright, here is where I'm really worried about knowing so little. Am I correct in assuming that che magnifico is something like "how magnificent!" or "it's magnificent!" or something equivalent? And if I am completely wrong, which seems likely, how would I go about saying that (preferrably in the context of babbling near-incoherently over the telephone without entirely revealing what is so awesome)?

I'm probably not going to end up using all of this, since I definitely don't want there to be too much of a language that I don't know, but do I want to have my bases covered, so anything and everything is appreciated. Anyway, apologies again for my ignorance of the language, and thank you very, very much in advance!
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from a painting

Language-Learning Activities

I'm teaching myself Chinese with the textbooks Integrated Chinese Level 1 Part 2 (3rd edition) and Huanying 2. Being that I don't have a teacher around, what are some activities to put my language into use? What I currently do, mostly, is make up my own sentences in order to practice the language, but that gets tiring and monotonous after a while. A really useful tool to help me learn writing are the little character boxes for practice, which I probably won't get tired of. What are some more interesting ways to practice Chinese?

questions on Dravidian languages

Hi guys, maybe those studying linguistics or simply more knowledgeable about this, will be able to give your feedback on this.

So I should probably know a lot more about the Dravidian family of languages, as my father's from South India, but I guess it's hard to keep up since I don't feel there's as much necessity to know these languages, is that just me/my opinion? (nearly every North/South/East/West Indian knows English!) my friend was asking me the following and regretfully i didn't know the answers. maybe you guys do. =)

1. which Dravidian language is most spoken, or there is more of a need for knowing, in the US? Specifically in major cities: like DC, New York, San Francisco, Seattle.

2. which one is hardest to learn?

3. which one is easiest to learn?

4. if i know one, does it make it easier to learn another?

5. Are there any specific similaries worth noting among any of them? Like for example, I think Malayalam came from Tamil, so I am wondering if these two are really more like dialects or like...very similar in the way Spanish and Portuguese are.

I haven't attempted to learn any other but Tamil, that's what we speak at home. so if anyone has any feedback, thoughts/opinions, would love to hear it!

(no subject)

What is the exact meaning of English "debil"?
My friend, a professional translator told me that it is not the equivalent of the Russian "дебил", but many Russian translators translate debil as дебил so it is a kind of "popular mistake"
What is the meaning of debil? Is it a medical word? Can it be used to offend someone?


Quick question, as I am about to take a French Proficiency Test next week.

Are there any sites out there discussing French grammar in a simple and easily understandable way? I've tried hitting my old books but since the test has been scheduled so soon I fear I might not have the time to pick them apart in depth. (I'm stressed enough by the other exams coming up).

I used to be quite good at French in school but lost my touch due to the lack of conversation partners/pen pals etc. I'd really like to catch up again. (Vocabulary won't be much of a problem since we're allowed to use a dictionary.) But the grammar - which the test focuses on - will be vital.

Any suggestions to hit the net would be greatly appreciated!
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