I saw a recommendation today of Deutsche Welle (“Germany’s International Broadcaster”) and in particular their Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten (News read slowly). While I don’t really need the slow version, I do like having a transcript of the broadcast while listening (and you can choose which version to listen to from the same page). If I’m feeling enthusiastic, this lets me look up the words I don’t know before, during or after, and even if not, it simply gives my eyes something relevant to be doing while listening. (I’m one of those kinetic learners who does a whole lot better using my hands while listening, or if not, using at least two senses at a time.)
I hadn’t come across Deutsche Welle before, but a quick look around suggests there’s plenty more for the German-learner there as well, which I shall have to investigate. It appears to me to be somewhat equivalent to the BBC World Service, offering news and information on Germany and German perspectives to people around the world in up to 30 languages.
- Deutsche Welle appoints Media Specs to head GCC distribution and marketing (jazarah.net)
- Germany’s top female journalists call for women quotas in media (guardian.co.uk)
- BBC World Service to broadcast morning news conference (nextlevelofnews.com)
- Learning Means Work? (laf.ee)
I had pretty much been thinking that German was going to get worked on pretty much solely as a language for reading for the time being, but then my little brother got engaged and decided his wedding is most likely going to be in Germany. There’s over a year to go, I believe, but presuming we’ll be able to go, both DH and I would want to get our spoken German as good as we can, for use while travelling and with local wedding guests. (From what DH has said, his is probably better than mine, although neither of us has used it regularly in several years.)
Somehow, reviving what feels right now in my nervousness like a fairly pitiful level of spoken German (although I don’t think I’m that bad at reading) is far more scary than starting from scratch with Russian, probably because I feel I should be better at German. I just have to prevent that from holding me back…
After writing yesterday’s post, I remembered four more alphabet systems I half-learned as a child, but have basically forgotten through lack of use. Ogham came up several times in school, as of local and historical interest, and Arthur Ransome‘s Swallows and Amazons series inspired me to want to learn both Semaphore and the nautical flag alphabet. (I can still read mirror writing!) Morse Code may have come up in those too, but if not, it certainly did in other stories I liked. As I said yesterday, with enough motivation for the required application it wouldn’t take more than a couple of days to get to know those better than I ever did as a child, but really I don’t need any of them at the moment.
More of a pity not to have learned more of is Irish Sign Language. Some friends arranged ten weekly lessons for us when we were in school, and although we had a very good teacher and enjoyed the classes, somehow the sessions never got renewed, probably because none of us had the opportunity to use the language with anyone but our teacher. As I was taught in my linguistics degree, sign languages meet all the same criteria as other natural languages, (this is not the fact for manually coded versions of spoken languages) and they aren’t all the same. For that reason, if I were to find an opportunity/motivation/need to learn one now, it would likely be Israeli Sign Language, or whichever one used by my expected interlocuters.
- Learning alphabets (kaetslanguages.wordpress.com)
- Oak tiller bar from Arthur Ransome’s yacht up for auction (guardian.co.uk)
- Send a Message – Morse Code Necklace (inaccessory.com)
- Doing it right with a morse code keyboard (hackaday.com)
- Morse Code Tweeting Device of the Day (geeks.thedailywh.at)
- How-To: Knit a Morse Code Cowl (craftzine.com)
- Now You Can Tweet in Morse Code [Video] (gizmodo.com)
- History: The Ogham Script from LivingDice.com (livingdice.com)
- Two words in Morse code show defiance to Führer: PoW who stitched up Hitler in message that his henchman failed to spot (dailymail.co.uk)
- Where are the sign language interpreter blogs today? (danielgreene.com)
- A Sign of a Good Parenting (memebase.com)
- Why the sign language boom in Japan? (japanexplained.wordpress.com)
As with most things language related, saying precisely how many alphabets I can read and write isn’t easy. I learnt the
Latin alphabet before I remember, by the age of four or five, for English and Irish. That also sufficed, with the addition of a few more accents/diacritics (modern Irish has one, the fada) for French and the ß for German. We got introduced to a few of the Greek letters in studying maths and sciences, but I still haven’t gone through and learned the whole thing properly, although I suppose I should.
Learning the Hebrew alphabet happened in fits and starts over several years. I first tried as a child, from a book that was meant for younger children in a taught class, and wasn’t really very friendly for learning alone, so I only got about half the way through. I really got it as a young adult, when I had more personal motivation, and sat down and just did it over a couple of days. That’s been the strategy which later worked for Braille (BAUK) about three years ago and Cyrillic most recently. I had a go at Cyrillic a few years before, on a two week visit to Bulgaria, but it didn’t stick until I started using it lately. (And yes, Bulgarian Cyrillic is slightly different from Russian Cyrillic, although I don’t at this moment recall exactly how.)
So that’s the strategy I’d suggest: don’t make it a major big deal, but when you are motivated and will get the practice because you’ll be trying to read, and maybe write, regularly, simply take a few days and go over your chosen alphabet, a few letters at a time. Take advantage of the strong similarities in order and beware the sometimes false similarities in shape, and don’t worry if you make mistakes and ‘silly’ mix-ups between letters.
I haven’t yet tried learning a non-alphabetic script. How do those who have find they compare?
- Alphabet Worksheets and Printables (education.com)
- Learn the Russian language (russianreport.wordpress.com)
- The no typeface alphabet (andyhgdes1002.wordpress.com)
- Alphabet Bracelet (rebekahmcgill.wordpress.com)
- What is needed to learn to read any given language? (readingwithphilology.wordpress.com)
- misunderstandings … (nyuwa.wordpress.com)
- Alphabet Tips, Coming Soon (abseize.com)
- Freebie: Animal Alphabet Card Game (schoolmarmohio.com)
- Preschool – Alphabet (parenting-success.com)