Monday, January 7, 2013

A new year with a fast start

The first week of a new year was very good as regards learning languages. I started off with a fast pace which I'm afraid will not be easy to maintain. I returned to Modern Standard Arabic (not abandoning Egyptian dialect though) and Hindi (from which I took a two years' break). New year gave me new energy. I hope I won't lose it soon. Here’s what I’ve done during the first week od 2013.

Arabic (MSA) - عربي
*FSI Modern Written Arabic Volume I, lessons 1-4
In fact they contain material I’ve already learnt some time ago. But I think it’s still better to master it through extensive drills in this book. I read all the four chapters and did them using Listening-Repeating method.
*Watching: Al Jazeera
I watched news broadcast not understanding much, well, sincerely speaking I was able to catch only some words. I was able also to read some words appearing on screen. But I think it’s really important to get early to listening.
*“A New  Arabic Grammar” (Haywood, Nahmad)
Chapter 1: Orthography. Phonetics. Punctuation. Indeed a review of some basic information about the language.

First week brought the first matter to be cleared. When some time ago I started to learn MSA (but then stopped after a few units), I studied from “Teach Yourself Arabic” (by J. Smart and F. Altorfer). They say that the Classical Arabic had a set of three case endings for the nouns, but nowadays they are largely ignored. Only so-called indefinite accusative (called accusative marker) is used because this shows in the script.
It’s an alif attached to the end of the noun or adjective. Technically it’s accompanied by two slashes above the preceding consonant but in practice they are usually omitted.
كتاب, كتابا (kitaab, kitaaban)
But the FSI course uses the other cases too. I asked on this forum (in the section “Questions about your target languages) and have gotten one answer, not from a native, but that doesn’t mean that less reliable. Here’s a part of this answer:
The cases are used all the time in media. They are an important part of the language. (…) Like the Arabic word for "Also" أيضا. It is always pronounced in the accusative AjDhan, never AyDh or ayDha in MSA.”
That’s not exactly the answer. I’m aware that some words or whole phrases go always in accusative, e.g. “ahlan wa sahlan”.

Another matter is so-called “nunation”. “TY” book doesn’t mention it at all. FSI – does. Here’s the answer I’ve gotten to my question:
“The nunations (…) hand is not heard as often, mostly in certain words that always carries them. (…) Certain reporters use more nunations than others, but it is never used like in books. The ending vowels are just not as important to pronounce.

Does anybody have more info on this. Do TV news presenters really use nunation and cases. I don’t know the language that well yet to be able to differentiate.

*FSI Course, unit 15
This unit contains plenty of exercises (which I love) and a new material, inter alia on verbs like mettre (admettre, commetre, émettre, omettre, permettre, prmettre, remettre, sommettre, transmettre) and Future tense (Futur).
*Watching: France 24

Hindi - हिंदी
*"Teach Yourself", unit 1
Basic info on nouns, adjectives, verbs
*"Teach Yourself", units 1-4
Listening to audio recordings, listening-repeating
This is in fact a review. I studied some Hindi before, but as I had two years’ break I really need to refresh it thoroughly. I hope at the beginning it won’t cause me any difficulties and I will review basics quickly.

*Watching: Rai News
*“Better Reading Italian”, chapter “Bel paese: Torino”
Simple things for the beginning and review how to create diminutives, augmentatives and pejoratives.
New interesting phrases learnt:
fare il muso = to pout
“Tutte le volte che papà parla di fare una gita in mongatna, mia sorella si mette a fare il muso.
fare il verso a qualcuno = to mock someone’s manner of speaking, to imitate someone’s voice
Mia cugina Giulia non apre la bocca senza piangucolare e lamentarsi e i suoi fratelli, che sono, dispettosi, non perdono mai un’occasione per farile il verso.

*Reading: „Putin concede la cittadinanza russa a Depardieu” (Il Giornale, 3.01.2013)
Interesting text saying that the French actor Gérard Depardieu is looking for a new country to settle in because of the recent attempts of President Hollande to introduce 75% income tax for the most rich people in France. Text says that President Putin of Russia don’t see any problem in receving the French actor as a Russian citizen. Indeed an appropriate institution issued already a Russian passport for Depardieu.
Some useful phrases come with this text:
andare a tutta birra = go at full speed
fare ponti d’oro a qualcuno = offer big advantages to someone

*Assimil, lessons 22-28
Reviewing Past tense, some irregular verbs, pronouns.
*Watching: RTP Internacional: Jornal da tarde and Telejornal
As a new year began, they were talking much about e.g. “orçamento” = budget, which can be “demulgado” (declared publicly), or “entra em vigor” or someone can “pôr” it “em vigor”.  There was much talking also about “défice orçamental”. And of coure of many more things…

*FSI Basic Course, units 41-43
*”Swahili Learners’ Reference Grammar”
Some important grammatical issues like Subjunctive and static extention

Subjunctive: verbs ending in -a change it to -e; others keep the final vowel
tunakula – tule / we eat, we are eating, that we ate, that we eat, that we should eat
tunanunua – tununue
tunaishi – tuishi, tunajaribu – tujaribu

Used in subordinate clausesand some structures, like: (ni) lazima (it’s necessary, must), tafadhali (please), afadhali (it’s better), itabidi (it’s necessary, should), e.g.
ni lazima tule = it’s necessary that we eat, we must eat
ni lazima tujaribu = it’s necessary that we try, we must try
ni lazima twende =it’s necessary that we go, we must go
unataka waende? = do you want them to go

ijapokuwa = even if, although
Ijapokuwa nitakaa nyumbani peke yangu, sitakwenda mahali popote siku ya leo.
= Even if I'm going to stay at home by myself, I won't go any place at all today.
It seems that „ijapokuwa” is used rather in written Swahili, while “ingawa” is more frecuently used in spoken language. You can also use “hata kama”.

peke y- = by oneself
peke yangu
peke yako
peke yake
peke yetu
peke yenu
peke yao

-o -ote = at all; any
mahali po pote = anywhere at all
kitu cho chote = anything at all
mtu ye yote = anyone at all
[special concord for singular animate nouns is ye]
Yeye hana nyumba yo yote. = He doesn’t have any house.
Sitaki ndizi zo zote. = I don’t want any bananas at all.

Stative (neutral) extension – Ik (ik, ek, k) saying that the subject has gotten into some state, without saying anything about the means or agent of the action, example:
Maji yamemwagika = Water has been / is spilled.
Baiskeli imeharibika = Bicycle has been / is broken.

*FSI Course: unit 36 – grammar, vocabulary; units 36-38 audio
Some useful words and phrases. The most important structure “-(a, ı) r … + ma + z” = as soon as, immediately upon; examples:
Eve gider gitmez telefon ederim. – I will call as soon as I go home.
Kitabı okur okumaz sana veririm. – As soon as I read the book I will give it to you.
Another structure: -(y)arak = as (being), by
Böyle koşarak nereye gidiyorsun? = Where are you going running like this?
Göçmen olarak Türkiye’ye gelmişler. = They came to Turkey as immigrants (reportedly).


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