Archive for the ‘Lithuanian’ Category

Lithuanian Dipthongs

February 3, 2007

I came across something very peculiar in Colloquial Lithuanian the other day.   In  the book’s pronunciation section,  while discussing dipthongs, they included “al el il ul ar er ir ur am em im um an en in un” as dipthongs.

I’ve never seen this phenomenon before, and it really puzzles me.  I know that many languages look at nasal sounds in different ways (different from what a native English speaker, for example, would look at).    And I know that “l” and “r” are not phonemic (ie, they are interchangable) in some languages.  But I can’t figure out why they would be considered part of a dipthong.  The book says “Dipthongs are sequences of two vowels which function as if they were one.”  Fair enough a definition, I suppose.  But it appears that the Lithuanian language considers l, r, m, and n to be consonants, with their sound similar to corresponding English sounds.

In addition to being puzzled over the l, r, m, and n included here . . .  I am also curious about the choice of vowels which are included.  Lithuanian has 12 vowels, four of them which are nasal.   Wouldn’t any vowel placed before “n” or “m” become nasal?   Why these four and none of the others?  And what about “o” – there is only one “o” – when there are two “a”s and two “i”s, and three “e”s and three “u”s?

Maybe I will figure these out as  I continue flirting with this strange language.  I poked around a little on google trying to find something, but I did not find anywhere else that addressed the issue.  If anyone has any answers on this, I’d love to hear them!

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Language Weekends

January 5, 2007

I was contemplating how much I could get done in the span of a weekend, with no distractions and a lot of hard study. If I spent Friday after work until Sunday evening with no obligations other than improving my target language, I feel like I could get alot accomplished.

I was thinking about this, largely in response to listening to German Pimsleur lessons at work today. (I work in a factory, and I have a lot of time where my hands are working but my mind is free – which is why I often have time to listen/think at work.) I took a year of German when I was in high school (12 or 13 years ago), and although I remember a few things, most of it is gone. I think I would be able to pick it up very easily if I had the time to spend on it – alot of the vocabulary and basic grammar is somewhere in the back of my head, and it’s just a matter of getting back into it. If I had a weekend that I could completely devote to it, I think I would be beginner-intermediate level very quickly.

I think I might be able to get rid of my kids next weekend. (I use that term lovingly – my babysitter would love to keep them over the weekend, and the kids would have a lot of fun, too.) I may decide to try it out. If I make 20-30 hours of hard study throughout the weekend, I could get a lot accomplished.

If this works as well as I think it could, I might make a habit of doing it once a month (if my babysitter is willing, anyways!), and change up the language each time. It would also be a good way to get better acquainted with Lithuanian, and get alot further with Spanish. Has anyone tried anything like this, kind of a mini-immersion program with self-teaching? I’d be curious to see what kind of results others would have with a similar plan, and how specifically you would go about doing something like this.

Thoughts on Lithuanian and Japanese

January 2, 2007

After some thought, and alot of playing around with languages and setting myself up for success yesterday, I have decided to put my “vocabulary list” with Lithuanian on hold for the time being.

I was getting materials set up yesterday so I would not have to actively look for vocabulary lists in my target languages (textbooks, vocabulary list books, websites, etc), and it dawned on me that I do not know enough about the Lithuanian language – more specifically about the alphabet and how the writing is pronounced – that I should be learning words yet.  (Kind of the “doh” factor, you know?)

In any case, I’ve decided to put the Lithuanian list on hold for now, until I have time to work my way through the pronunciation section of my “Colloquial Lithuanian” book and the corresponding audio, and I have a firmer grasp on the sound of the language.  I will probably make audio files of the material I have from Transparant Language (101 World Languages), and listen to those, and Pimsleur, when I’m at work.  This will enable me to get more comfortable with the sounds of the language.

I also am thinking it would be wiser not to set myself up the same way with Japanese.  I am currently working with the hiragana and katakana syllabaries, and I think my Japanese time will be focused more on that.  I will continue with Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone, however, and I’m sure I’ll be picking up limited vocabulary from those.

New Year’s Language Resolutions

December 30, 2006

I hadn’t realized it’s been so long since I’ve posted.    Life has been busy, the Christmas season is finally over, and the New Year is nearly upon us.

I recently decided that it was a mistake trying to learn Italian, before I had mastered Spanish.  I was having a lot of trouble remembering Italian vocabulary without constantly comparing to Spanish, and the Spanish would continually pop into my head before the Italian would.  It’s been about 10 years since I’ve studied my Spanish in any depth, and it has fallen into disuse.  I had thought it would be smarter to gear away from the Spanish because of how much I did not remember, but I realized awhile ago that this is not really the case.

So I have decided to go back to my Spanish, to review and improve that before I move onto any other languages.  That being said, I also do not want to get bored with it (and I know I will), so I have decided on Japanese as a secondary language.  I spent alot of time debating between Chinese and Japanese, but I think Japanese is more doable at this point.    Perhaps choosing to spread myself between two languages is a mistake, but I think it will help fill those points where you don’t feel like you’re advancing in the language you are focusing on.

I don’t like making specific goals, since I have no idea how much time I will have to devote to my language learning, nor how quickly I will progress with what time I do have.  So to make it simple:

1.  Spanish:  My goal will be to learn 15 new words per day.  That should give me a (new) vocabulary of about 5500 words at the end of the year.  I will continue to listen to radio, podcasts, watch movies, and work through grammar and reading books, but those are things that are much harder to quantify.  I’d like to be back to intermediate/advanced speaking proficiency by the end of 2007.

2.  Japanese:  My reading/writing goal will be to learn the 2 kana syllabaries, and begin learning the kanji, well enough to read through some basic Japanese texts.  Three words per day for vocabulary, and working through grammar as time permits.

3.  Other:  I’ve kind of become fascinated with Lithuanian, and have a few books (with audio) on it.  I also feel that I could learn a fair amount of another language or two (I’m thinking Russian and German, two languages completely different from the others I am focusing on) over time, if I commit myself to learning 3 words a day in each of them.

I think the important thing, dealing with the “other” languages, that if I decide to do that, I’m ONLY learning vocabulary.    The only reason I would do this would be so that when I decide to focus on these languages, I will already have amassed a decent amount of vocabulary and it will (hopefully) be quite a bit easier to get further faster.

It seems like alot of words, all in all, but if I decide it’s too much, I may decide to forgo the German and Russian.  With Spanish, that is my primary learning objective, to gain vocabulary. so I don’t think it’s really that big of a task.  We shall see.