Learning a New Language

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Davush
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Learning a New Language

Post by Davush » Mon 02 Oct 2017, 10:23

Hello,

I thought I'd just post about some troubles I am facing learning a new language, and would like to hear other people's experiences and opinions. I have always wanted to learn Japanese, and made a fairly good attempt (10ish years ago), this was after having learnt Chinese to a pretty decent level. However, I didn't end up using either of these languages in any meaningful way and I am unlikely to do so in the future. I decided that if I were to pick one up again, it would be Japanese, but outside perhaps one or two holidays to Japan, Japanese won't be 'useful' for me in terms of daily life or work.

Do any of you find that not being able to use the language regularly with people demotivates you? I would hope to reach a level where I'm able to read novels and maybe watch TV series, although I'd prefer to focus on reading for now, but then I think what would be the point if this is just a personal hobby? Of course, the process of learning itself is enjoyable to an extent, but there are probably more 'useful' things I could do with my time and learning Japanese would take up a lot of my free time if I were to commit to it. I realise this is probably a curse of conlangers... [:D]

Anyway, any stories of how/why you chose to learn languages that you don't actually have much practical use for would be nice to hear. Or how you continued to learn this language despite not 'getting much back'.
Alessio
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Re: Learning a New Language

Post by Alessio » Tue 03 Oct 2017, 09:36

Throughout the past 5 years or so, I've tried to learn a lot of different languages. I have a special interest in writing systems, and since the first one I learnt after Latin was Cyrillic, I thought "why not go and try to learn Russian?".
I've made a lot of progress ever since then, but studying it on my own without ever buying books or going to a dedicated course only brought me up to level A2. I can understand about 75% of texts aimed at an average audience, but only about 30% of Wikipedia articles, for example.
The reason why I keep it up is that Russian is incredibly interesting to me. The thing that has surprised me the most is how many words are, in a way, calques of their Latin-based counterpart. Take the verb "correspond", which comes from Latin "cum" (with) + "respondere" (answer). The Russian word for this is соответствовать, made up of "с(о)" (with) and "ответствовать" (answer). Another example is "coincide", made up of Latin "cum" (once more, "with") + "in" (in) + "cidere", a form of "cadere" (fall). In Russian, the translation would be совпадать, made of "с(о)", "в" (in) and "падать" (fall).
Since my mother tongue is Italian, the Latin origin of words is much more evident to me, and this makes guessing the meaning of many Russian words easy even if they are totally different from their counterpart in my language. It makes learning the language actually fun!
Apart from this, it's very nice when you can read any article you want without people sticking their nose in it. Imagine you're reading an article on how to get a girl. "Ooooh you have some romantic interest for someone, don't you?". Now imagine the article is in Russian and says Как найти девушку своей мечты. Good luck with finding out what I'm reading, you don't even know how to pronounce this thing, let alone guessing the meaning... at first people do ask why you read things in Russian, but after 5 years they're beginning to cope with the fact that I study Russian, so it's totally normal.
So yes, there are always lots of reasons to learn a language, even if you will never actually use it [:)]
:ita: :eng: [:D] | :fra: :esp: [:)] | :rus: :nld: [:|] | :deu: :fin: :ell: [:(] | :con: Hecathver, Hajás

Tin't inameint ca tót a sàm stê żǒv'n e un po' cajoun, mo s't'armâgn cajoun an vǒl ménga dîr t'armâgn anc żǒven...
clawgrip
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Re: Learning a New Language

Post by clawgrip » Wed 04 Oct 2017, 02:20

I normally can't get very far learning language that I have no use for, even if I want to. It's disappointing, really, because those languages are still there waiting for me if only I would keep it up.

Somehow, though, I managed to learn a fair amount of Japanese basics even though I also had no use for that language at the time. Then I moved to Japan and it became a daily language for me, which is really the only way I managed to make as much progress as I have.

So in the end, sadly, I generally can't manage to learn languages with any amount of fluency if I don't "get much back".
Davush
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Re: Learning a New Language

Post by Davush » Wed 04 Oct 2017, 10:28

@Alessio - I wish I could maintain that level of enthusiasm even though I know I won't have much practical use for the language!

@Clawgrip - Yes unfortunately the same happens to me. I have decent passive level but the effort required to really progress seems like too much for too little reward when it is basically just a personal interest (which is a shame but oh well).
LinguoFranco
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Re: Learning a New Language

Post by LinguoFranco » Mon 23 Oct 2017, 15:44

Conlanging has helped me become more familiar with various languages around the world, even if I do not actively study most of them. Chances are I at least know something about the language whether it is its vocabulary or morphology. This wouldn't apply to the more obscure tongues, though.

Like you, OP, I have also attempted to learn Japanese, but it's an on-off thing for me. I have learned hiragana and katakana, but I don't know where to begin for kanji. I know a fair amount of vocabulary and familiar with its syntax and grammar. My main motivation for learning Japanese is that I'm a weeaboo, and I want to be able to consume Japanese media without having to pirate it. Aside from that, I doubt I'd have much of a use for it.

I studied a little bit of Nahuatl as I once was planning a fantasy story with the main country being based on the Aztecs, and I decided I should familiarize myself with their language. Nahuatl is even less useful than Japanese, but it's one I've always been particularly fascinated with.

I also tried learning Swahili for the hell of it, and I found it to be very interesting and unlike any other language I had studied previously.
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LinguistCat
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Re: Learning a New Language

Post by LinguistCat » Mon 23 Oct 2017, 22:44

I've been studying Japanese (off and on like some here but making a more concerted effort recently), as well and am taking a stab at Classical Japanese including anything I can get my hands on of Old Japanese. I'm going to try and derive a related language or at least dialect that cat youkai speak. (I'm debating between also making languages for other youkai, though they won't be as prominent in the story I'm writing where the cats will be.)

But studying older forms of Japanese has given me a good motivation to learn my kanji better, to understand why certain conjugations work the way they do and has generally been interesting to me. It's also been interesting see how sounds have been borrowed as the Japanese phonology itself has changed, like how early on a lot of /h/ sounds were borrowed as /k/.
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GrandPiano
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Re: Learning a New Language

Post by GrandPiano » Fri 27 Oct 2017, 02:17

doomie wrote:It's also been interesting see how sounds have been borrowed as the Japanese phonology itself has changed, like how early on a lot of /h/ sounds were borrowed as /k/.
Are you referring to things like 海 (Mandarin hǎi) being borrowed into Japanese as kai? If so, it’s very likely that the initial consonant in Middle Chinese was actually [x] (as it still is in modern Mandarin).
:eng: - Native
:chn: - B2
:esp: - A2
:jpn: - A2
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OliveAnne
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Re: Learning a New Language

Post by OliveAnne » Mon 04 Dec 2017, 14:33

I'm trying to learn German. My native is Russian and Ukrainian. I have learned English, French and a bit of Czech, but I must say German is the most difficult among these...
Words are capable of making experience more vivid, and also of organizing it. They can scare us, and they can comfort us - Jonathan Safran Foer [tick]
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gestaltist
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Re: Learning a New Language

Post by gestaltist » Mon 04 Dec 2017, 15:16

A trick I used to use in your situation was to have imaginary conversations in my head. I would go on a bus ride and pretend I was talking to someone about what I was seeing outside. Not out loud, obviously...
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