pauraque_bk: (Default)
I'm afraid I'm still pretty ill and not able to keep up on things as I'd like to, but I had to share a little laugh I had this morning while doing my Norwegian lesson on Duolingo. I've just started and am still struggling with every word, which I think made it even funnier to me when I figured it out.

It... rains... Wait, what? )

♥ to all.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Feel free to comment wherever you're comfortable.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
So, in my 2014 wrap-up post I mentioned that I had resolved to get better at French. I think it's going fairly well, though learning a language is one of those things where the more you know, the more you grow to understand the depth of your ignorance.

French has been a lifelong struggle for me. My mom's parents were immigrants from France, and she was fully bilingual. I learned some French from her talking to me as a kid, but she had estranged herself from the entire rest of her family before I was born, so there were no monolingual relatives around (which is the circumstance under which kids tend to retain heritage languages).

When they started offering languages in school, I picked French over Spanish without hesitation, even though Spanish would obviously have been far more useful in California. I wanted to learn my mom's language. I didn't give it much thought at the time (what can I say, I was twelve) but in hindsight I think I was really hurting for family connections. This was around the same time my mom was pushing away my dad's family as well, for stupid reasons that aren't relevant enough to go into here, and it gave me an isolating feeling of being cut off from my roots.

Anyway, French class. Since I had a slight head start, was highly motivated, and loved the teacher, I did great. Unfortunately, when I moved up to high school, the teacher there was an absolute asshole, so my two years in middle school were the only formal instruction I ever got.

Every once in a while I've tried to pick it up again, but I've never been consistent enough about it, and have felt discouraged with just how little you can say and understand at an "intermediate" level. Which of course has left me stuck at that level. The biggest barrier for me is vocabulary; I think my mistake has been that I tried to learn mostly by reading, but I wasn't stopping to look up words when I could figure them out by context. But being able to get the gist isn't fluency, especially not when it comes to being able to actually talk or write rather than just read.

Fortunately, the internet is full of free tools for this sort of thing. I finished the French Duolingo course pretty quickly and easily, and I still use it to practice a bit. But what I think is starting to make much more of a difference is building up my vocabulary using Anki, a program to make your own flashcards. It keeps track of which cards you get wrong and repeats them more often until you start getting them right, while easy ones get repeated at much longer intervals so you don't forget. (Duolingo's review function doesn't seem to remember which lessons I struggle with, but just gives them at random.) Now instead of skimming over words I don't know, I write them down to add later, and I actually learn them. It's so exciting to be reading a book or playing a game (I switch my games to French for practice) and come across one of the words I put into Anki from another source and realize that YES, I KNOW THAT ONE!!!

So I hope this is going to be the time when I really learn it and don't give up. It feels like it is.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Feel free to comment wherever you're comfortable.
pauraque_bk: (world of warcraft)
This is a WoW post, but it's also interesting.

We just made new characters with a friend of ours. He picked a server semi-randomly (because he liked the name), and there was something very cool about his choice.

WoW has separate clusters of servers for different countries, and of course they speak their national languages there. They recently added three servers for Latin American countries, but since there were only three, they put them in an existing cluster with a bunch of US servers. (They couldn't group them with people from Spain because the physical distance would cause too much lag.)

So when you get into a pickup group, chances are good that some of the members will start speaking Spanish to each other! To me this is awesome, because where I used to live I heard tons of Spanish, and you NEVER hear it in Vermont. My Spanish is rudimentary at best but I understand some -- it just makes me happy to hear/see it.

The reactions of the US players to this development are probably unsurprising. Some people are bigots and blame the Spanish-speaking players for... pretty much everything. It's their fault we're losing. It's their fault we're lagging. They're all bad players. I hate that they don't speak my language. As soon as I see one of Them, I leave the group.

Yet, it seems the quiet majority has simply gotten used to it. They either ignore it or adapt to it, learning a few useful words of gaming-related Spanish and accepting that sometimes communication breaks down. (Well, sometimes you can't get through to English-speaking players either, can you?)

A few people get more elaborate with their attempts to accomodate diversity:



I am pleased and amused.
pauraque_bk: (world of warcraft)
This is a WoW post, but it's also interesting.

We just made new characters with a friend of ours. He picked a server semi-randomly (because he liked the name), and there was something very cool about his choice.

WoW has separate clusters of servers for different countries, and of course they speak their national languages there. They recently added three servers for Latin American countries, but since there were only three, they put them in an existing cluster with a bunch of US servers. (They couldn't group them with people from Spain because the physical distance would cause too much lag.)

So when you get into a pickup group, chances are good that some of the members will start speaking Spanish to each other! To me this is awesome, because where I used to live I heard tons of Spanish, and you NEVER hear it in Vermont. My Spanish is rudimentary at best but I understand some -- it just makes me happy to hear/see it.

The reactions of the US players to this development are probably unsurprising. Some people are bigots and blame the Spanish-speaking players for... pretty much everything. It's their fault we're losing. It's their fault we're lagging. They're all bad players. I hate that they don't speak my language. As soon as I see one of Them, I leave the group.

Yet, it seems the quiet majority has simply gotten used to it. They either ignore it or adapt to it, learning a few useful words of gaming-related Spanish and accepting that sometimes communication breaks down. (Well, sometimes you can't get through to English-speaking players either, can you?)

A few people get more elaborate with their attempts to accomodate diversity:



I am pleased and amused.

book rec

Apr. 8th, 2010 12:38 am
pauraque_bk: (Default)
In 1996, Zompist, whose real name is Mark Rosenfelder, started a web site about constructed languages and various other things. As a 14 year old just starting to check out the internet, I was also interested in making my own codes, ciphers, and perhaps even languages... but where to start? How was one to make a pretend language as realistic as, say, French (which I had just started learning at the time)?

Searching for information on perhaps Lycos or Infoseek, I ran into Zompist and the Language Construction Kit, a primer on basic linguistic principles that was not too hard to understand, yet still accurate and not dumbed-down. I distinctly remember being very excited, thinking this is exactly what I need, and printing it out to read and refer to.

Well, I'm twice as old now (yikes) and I know far more than twice as much about linguistics as I did then. It's amazing and wonderful how much you can learn about something without studying it formally, just via readily available books and academic publications, but what's often missing is the beginning part, the Ling 101 stuff. The internet has become excellent for that, and Zompist was one of the pioneers of it in the linguistic field. He really has done a lot over the years to educate and bring together conlangers and language afficionados, who in past decades would have been left to figure out all this stuff on their own.

My point in bringing this up? Dude has a book!

The Language Construction Kit (book!) is longer and better and stronger and faster than the web version. (Well, it's at least three of those things.) It's still an excellent stepping stone between "I loved Spanish class but I haven't studied linguistics" and being able to tackle academic works. It's still easy to read and sprinkled with Mark's deadpan humor. It's still not dumbed-down. But now it has way, way more detail, topics, and resources. And if you were to buy it or mention it to a language-loving friend, you'd be supporting a pretty cool guy that I've known half my life.

Excuse me while I go feel old now.

book rec

Apr. 8th, 2010 12:38 am
pauraque_bk: (Default)
In 1996, Zompist, whose real name is Mark Rosenfelder, started a web site about constructed languages and various other things. As a 14 year old just starting to check out the internet, I was also interested in making my own codes, ciphers, and perhaps even languages... but where to start? How was one to make a pretend language as realistic as, say, French (which I had just started learning at the time)?

Searching for information on perhaps Lycos or Infoseek, I ran into Zompist and the Language Construction Kit, a primer on basic linguistic principles that was not too hard to understand, yet still accurate and not dumbed-down. I distinctly remember being very excited, thinking this is exactly what I need, and printing it out to read and refer to.

Well, I'm twice as old now (yikes) and I know far more than twice as much about linguistics as I did then. It's amazing and wonderful how much you can learn about something without studying it formally, just via readily available books and academic publications, but what's often missing is the beginning part, the Ling 101 stuff. The internet has become excellent for that, and Zompist was one of the pioneers of it in the linguistic field. He really has done a lot over the years to educate and bring together conlangers and language afficionados, who in past decades would have been left to figure out all this stuff on their own.

My point in bringing this up? Dude has a book!

The Language Construction Kit (book!) is longer and better and stronger and faster than the web version. (Well, it's at least three of those things.) It's still an excellent stepping stone between "I loved Spanish class but I haven't studied linguistics" and being able to tackle academic works. It's still easy to read and sprinkled with Mark's deadpan humor. It's still not dumbed-down. But now it has way, way more detail, topics, and resources. And if you were to buy it or mention it to a language-loving friend, you'd be supporting a pretty cool guy that I've known half my life.

Excuse me while I go feel old now.

om nom nom

Nov. 5th, 2009 04:43 pm
pauraque_bk: (Default)
This is a post about the phrase "om nom nom" and its derived forms such as "nom" meaning "to eat", "noms" meaning "food", "nomlicious" meaning "delicious", etc.

I believe that this is an onomatopoeia, imitating the sound of eating. As I recall, it predates internet-related usages and lolcats-related derivations, but I don't know by how much. (Wiktionary suggests usage in baby talk, which sounds right to me.)

The other day [livejournal.com profile] idlerat suggested a different etymology on Twitter: "I think I have learned the etymology of "nom nom." Jamaican Creole "nyam" = "eat" (from Ewe, a West African language)." I replied that I found this very doubtful, and tried to explain why in 140-character bits, which was hard, so here we are.

Stuff longer than 140 characters. )


Ratty also raised another great question: Why *should* eating sound like "om nom nom"? Why not something else? Why do English roosters go cock-a-doodle-do, but Spanish (or is it French?) roosters go cocorico?

Unfortunately this isn't really possible to answer. Phonologists can identify trends and likelihoods in how languages acquire and use their phonemes, but, you know, why does Latin have centum and Sanskrit have satem? Why didn't they both change the Proto-Indo-European word the same way? Nobody has a good answer yet, and I think for the same reason, we can't really ask "why" a given language invents sound symbolism in the way that it does. Again, there are trends, but no rules that can be used to successfully predict what the language will do.

om nom nom

Nov. 5th, 2009 04:43 pm
pauraque_bk: (Default)
This is a post about the phrase "om nom nom" and its derived forms such as "nom" meaning "to eat", "noms" meaning "food", "nomlicious" meaning "delicious", etc.

I believe that this is an onomatopoeia, imitating the sound of eating. As I recall, it predates internet-related usages and lolcats-related derivations, but I don't know by how much. (Wiktionary suggests usage in baby talk, which sounds right to me.)

The other day [livejournal.com profile] idlerat suggested a different etymology on Twitter: "I think I have learned the etymology of "nom nom." Jamaican Creole "nyam" = "eat" (from Ewe, a West African language)." I replied that I found this very doubtful, and tried to explain why in 140-character bits, which was hard, so here we are.

Stuff longer than 140 characters. )


Ratty also raised another great question: Why *should* eating sound like "om nom nom"? Why not something else? Why do English roosters go cock-a-doodle-do, but Spanish (or is it French?) roosters go cocorico?

Unfortunately this isn't really possible to answer. Phonologists can identify trends and likelihoods in how languages acquire and use their phonemes, but, you know, why does Latin have centum and Sanskrit have satem? Why didn't they both change the Proto-Indo-European word the same way? Nobody has a good answer yet, and I think for the same reason, we can't really ask "why" a given language invents sound symbolism in the way that it does. Again, there are trends, but no rules that can be used to successfully predict what the language will do.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
Likely only of interest to [livejournal.com profile] _hannelore and me: I was in this translation relay dealie, wherein each person translates a text into their assigned language and then passes it to the next person who translates it into theirs, and so on, the purpose being to see how funny the text is at the end. In the case of the team I wasn't on, the answer is: pretty funny!

eodrakken is me, I was translating French to English for the team that got it mostly the same. I did almost all of it without a dictionary, then couldn't find the one idiom I didn't understand in any dictionary even when I looked, so... go me.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
Likely only of interest to [livejournal.com profile] _hannelore and me: I was in this translation relay dealie, wherein each person translates a text into their assigned language and then passes it to the next person who translates it into theirs, and so on, the purpose being to see how funny the text is at the end. In the case of the team I wasn't on, the answer is: pretty funny!

eodrakken is me, I was translating French to English for the team that got it mostly the same. I did almost all of it without a dictionary, then couldn't find the one idiom I didn't understand in any dictionary even when I looked, so... go me.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
Is "sententiae" the correct nominative plural of "sententia"? I don't trust online resources for declensions. Please only answer if you actually know.

(No, it isn't for Harry Potter fic. Broken Latin would be perfectly appropriate for that.)


eta: For short I call my Latin people my Leeps.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
Is "sententiae" the correct nominative plural of "sententia"? I don't trust online resources for declensions. Please only answer if you actually know.

(No, it isn't for Harry Potter fic. Broken Latin would be perfectly appropriate for that.)


eta: For short I call my Latin people my Leeps.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
1) For those of you who have "you guys" for the plural of "you" in your spoken dialect, how do you form the possessive?

-you guys' (same pronunciation as singular)
-you guys's
-your guys's
-(something else?)

I just heard the cashier at the store say "your guys's", which is a formation I enjoy. Language change by analogy is so funny-strange. I probably say "you guys's" most of the time, but "your guys's" also seems natural to me.


2) What helps one stop waking up during the night? This is a new thing for me, and I assume it's stress related since nothing else in my life has changed. I fall asleep fine but wake up several times.
pauraque_bk: (Default)
1) For those of you who have "you guys" for the plural of "you" in your spoken dialect, how do you form the possessive?

-you guys' (same pronunciation as singular)
-you guys's
-your guys's
-(something else?)

I just heard the cashier at the store say "your guys's", which is a formation I enjoy. Language change by analogy is so funny-strange. I probably say "you guys's" most of the time, but "your guys's" also seems natural to me.


2) What helps one stop waking up during the night? This is a new thing for me, and I assume it's stress related since nothing else in my life has changed. I fall asleep fine but wake up several times.

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