July 7th, 2010

I’ve been a bad student as of late, having not done a whole lot of language learning and having not posted much about it here.

For German, I’ve been adding vocabulary to Anki; nothing new there. I did another copying session with French with Ease, and today, I did two Assimil lessons, one for Dutch and one for Russian.

For Dutch, it was lesson 24; for Russian, it was lesson 54 of the 1951 Russian without Toil. Not a whole lot to note about either, I’m afraid, except for one thing: in the Russian lesson, the English translation refers to telephonic robots. I have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. All I can think of is something like today’s autodialers which call people for advertising purposes. At any rate, telephonic robots sounds hilarious.

June 30th, 2010


As a review (and for something to do while doing less interesting things, like dishes and laundry), I listened to lessons 8-28 of Russisch ohne Mühe. After listening to it, I’m reminded again of the fact that while I progress more slowly due to the base language being German, I still prefer Russisch ohne Mühe (1971) over Russian without Toil (1951). It seems tighter, and just generally to be of better quality. I suppose that’s logical enough, what with it being the second “try” at a Russian course for Assimil.


While I didn’t do a whole lot of it, I finally got around to copying out some Dutch by hand for some much needed spelling practice. I copied lessons one and two of Dutch with Ease. I’ve already noted a few things I had not noticed previously, despite reading the lessons repeatedly. For example, it’s maakt, not makt (makes, does), and zes, not ses (six). I also listened to around 15 minutes of Dutch radio online, but didn’t really understand a great deal of it. I know that at one point they were talking about Michael Jackson, however…


I added around 40 cards to Anki, mostly from Langenscheidt’s Basic German Vocabulary text. Still plugging vocabulary holes, it seems. A few of them were from a paragraph from the Wikipedia article Chinesisch-Schwedische Expedition; I’m not quite sure what in this article caught my eye, but I found the paragraph stuffed in a Google Documents file with a number of translations already added in at the bottom. The one that I found most interesting was the phrase “vor Ort,” which means “on site, in the field.”

I also listened to an episode of ZeitZeichen. It was about the death of the Aztec leader Moctezuma II (later to be called Montezuma by the Spaniards).


Did I say Danish? Um, yes, yes I did. 😯 You see, I was looking on Abebooks for one thing, and I came across another thing, that thing being an old copy of Teach Yourself Danish. And it was only a dollar! So of course, I had to buy it, just in case. But the book arrived today, and I couldn’t help myself, and so I read the preface and general introduction. Having done nothing more, my only comment is that the book reports that the language shares a huge number of loan words from German, as well as a large number of words sharing the same root as similar English words. Thus, anyone with a knowledge of English and German already has a leg up in learning Danish. Well, isn’t that convenient. 😳

June 29th, 2010

Today was another day of Russian. I started copying out the exercise sentences from lesson 52 of Russian without Toil, but was diverted by other things after four or five of them. Specifically, I copied out the condensed table of Russian noun declensions from Terence Wade’s Comprehensive Russian Grammar onto a sturdy piece of paper (think Iversen green sheets).

After that, I copied out the first four or five sentences from Stranitsy Istorii by Syrov. Thanks to Iversen providing the full publication details at the HTLAL forums, I was able to find the book. It’s a history book designed for learners of Russian with all of the accents marked. Anyway, after copying each sentence, I looked up all of the words and figured out the declensions of things. It was certainly slow going, but it was nice to read the whole paragraph and feel that I actually got most of it (after a fair amount of work). There was one construction I was somewhat baffled by, though:

Советскую страну населяет более сотни различных народов.

As best as I can make out, this comes out something like:

(The) Soviet country [accusative] inhabit more hundreds of various / different peoples.

I get the gist of it, but the usage of более has me a bit puzzled. My dictionary shows it as meaning “more.” However, “more than” seems to be более чем, and so the lonely более evades me somewhat.

Google Translate spits this out for the above sentence:

Soviet country is inhabited by over a hundred different nations.
That’s more or less how I understood it, but I don’t really get how более standing alone comes out to “over.”

June 28th, 2010


This morning, I started out with the New Penguin Russian Course. I worked through some exercises in chapter 12 dealing with verb aspect, and did a short word list with the verbs presented.

In the afternoon, I finished copying lesson 52 of Russian without Toil. I started a list of the new words in the lesson that I need to learn; I still like pulling the words out into a list, so I can look them up and verify they mean exactly what the translation says they do. I also want to know both the imperfective / perfective forms of verbs, and Assimil doesn’t always provide that for all of the verbs.

Finally, I read a few pages from Terence Wade’s Comprehensive Russian Grammar about verb conjugation.

June 22nd, 2010


I copied out / translated lesson 20 of New French with Ease, and then made some notes from lesson 21 about things I had forgotten. One such thing was the fact that if the definite article is added before a day of the week, it means that what’s happening happens on that day of the week repeatedly. An example might help explain that a wee bit better:

Il vient samedi – He’s coming (on) Saturday.
Il vient le samedi – He comes (on) Saturdays [i.e., every Saturday].

I also listened to the first 10 or so lessons of Using French as review.


I listened to some podcasts and read a few articles at Deutsche Welle; nothing earth shaking, I’m afraid.


Read lessons 49, 50 and 51 as review in Russian without Toil.

June 21st, 2010


I listened to around an hour of Manfred Mai’s Deutsche Geschichte in audiobook format. I found it pretty easy to follow along; I’m not sure if he’s using a fairly simple vocabulary, or if it’s because of my background in history.

I also listened to a few podcasts from Deutsche Welle, but don’t remember which ones.

And, as usual, I did my Anki reviews (around 50 cards).

June 20th, 2010

This will be a bit of a messy update, as it covers stuff I’ve been doing since my last update. I’ve written down notes and things as to what I’ve done exactly on which days, but don’t really want to bother hunting it all down. So:


I’ve been adding cards to Anki and reviewing diligently on my iPhone. I’ve also been poking about at Deutsche Welle’s website, and have read a few of the Top Thema mit Vokabeln articles. The last one I read was the most recent one, Die Angst vor der Armut. I also listened to one of the Alltagsdeutsch podcast episodes which I found still hiding on my iPod, Nacht. I need to work through the transcript of it, however, as there’s a fair amount of vocabulary I don’t know.


As review, I listened to lessons 8-20 of Dutch with Ease. In the book, I reread lessons 18 and 19 and started working on lesson 20. I’ve still not copied anything yet, which I need to do.


I copied lessons 18, 19 and 20, or at least partially copied them. I would look at the English, and anything that I was confident about, I would translate to French and write it down. If I were unsure of something, I would read the French and then copy it down.

I also listened to a few episodes of 2000 ans d’histoire, but I’m still not understanding much of it. My vocabulary is still too weak. I wish that particular podcast had transcripts.


I copied lessons 47, 48 and 50 by hand, essentially using Professor Arguelles’s scriptorium method. I’m finding that copying out stuff by hand really helps it stick to my memory, far more than just reading it over and over. In the age of spaced repetition systems, audio-only courses, and other such things, copying out passages by hand seems very old school, but it seems to work, at least for me.

I also listened to those listens many times each, and found that my comprehension of them was a great deal higher after copying them.