Learning languages for fun: my method

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Learning languages for fun: my method

Postby philologue » Mon 18 Jan 2010 6:01 am

There's something I like to do with translations. I get a text in the original language (one I don't know but can read/pronounce, which I enjoy learning to do), and a close translation, and I try to figure out what words mean. It's surprisingly effective, in that you can get a lot of potential definitions, but it's also hard to tell if you're right. So I'm posting some of my attempts at The Poetry of Llywarch Hen, a book I got at the library with Welsh and English side by side. If anyone here knows some Welsh (Simon?) maybe you can help correct me? And anyone's free to join in with their own texts.

Here's my example:

Goreistedd ar fryn a erfyn fy mryd,
A hefyd ni'm cychwyn.
Byr fy nhaith; diffaith fy nhyddyn.

My mind yearns to be sitting on a hill,
And yet it moves me not.
Short is my journey; my dwelling desolate.

fy - my

Llym awel, llwm beuder y biw;
Pan orwisg coed tegliw
Haf, terydd glaf wyf heddiw.

Keen the wind, cow-herds in the open;
When trees dress in crisp summer
Colors, I am extremely ill today.

haf - colors

Nid wyf anhyed, miled ni chadwaf,
Ni allaf ddarymred.
Tra fo da gan gog, caned.

I am not nimble, I hold no host,
Nor can I freely roam.
Let the cuckoo sing as long as it likes.

nid - not
ni - no/nor
wyf - I am
anhyed - nimble

Cog lafar a gân ddydd
Gyfrau eichiog yn nolydd Cuawg;
Gwell corawg no chybydd.

The clamorous cuckoo sings at daybreak
A piercing plaint in the meadows of Cuawg;
Better generous than mean.

Cog (gog) - cuckoo
gan (gân) - sing(s)

Yn Aber Cuawg yd ganant cogau
Ar gangau blodeuawg;
Cog lafar, caned yrhawg.

In Aber Cuawg cuckoos sing
Upon flowering branches;
Clamorous cuckoo, let him sing on a while.

y(n) - in
ganant - sing (3rd person plural)
-au - plural ending
gangau - branches
ar - upon
blodeuawg - flowering
lafar - clamorous
caned - let (3rd person singular) sing

Yn Aber Cuawg yd ganant cogau
Ar gangau blodeuawg;
Gwae glaf a'u clyw yn fodawg.

In Aber Cuawg cuckoos sing
Upon flowering branches.
Woe to the sick one who hears them constantly.

glaf - ill/sick

Yn Aber Cuawg cogau a ganant;
Ys adfant gan fy mryd
A'u cigleu nas clyw hefyd.

In Aber Cuawg are cuckoos singing;
It saddens me
That those who heard them hear them no more.

fy mryd - my mind, me
clyw - hear(s)

And that's page one. Basically, I look for similar words in one language, then try to find corresponding words in the other. The vocabulary builds upon itself.
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Re: Learning languages for fun: my method

Postby kajzeren » Sun 28 Feb 2010 10:43 pm

I do a bit of this, too. It's fun because it's difficult :D

Depending the language you're learning, and the languages you already know, you can add the "sound changer cheat"... it's just make a list with about dozen correlations, apply them and see if you recognize the word. Not only it helps making more vocabulary readly recognizable, but has fun itself.

For this to work, you must know some related language (I'll call "start lang"); closer the langs, fewer correlations. If you use English as start lang, it works wonders with German, so-so with Romance and Latin, and gets annoying with Satem (Russian, Sanskrit, Greek) languages.

With German, for example:
*German word-start Z /ts/ corresponds to English T: zehn>ten, Zeit>time, Zähre>tear;
*German EI /ai/ corresponds to English I /ai/: Zeit>time, reise>rise;
And so goes on. It's like using History to make the hard work for you.
sölvm magnvm homö potest esse quandö rëses nvnqvam prae vïdërunt creat.
(A human being can only be great when creat what was never seen before.)
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Re: Learning languages for fun: my method

Postby Declan » Mon 01 Mar 2010 7:53 pm

kajzeren wrote:reise>rise;

The relationship between reise and rise? I can't connect them anyway.
Native: English
Very good: Irish
Reasonable: German, French
Very basic: Latin.
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Re: Learning languages for fun: my method

Postby linguoboy » Mon 01 Mar 2010 9:59 pm

philologue wrote:Llym awel, llwm beuder y biw;
Pan orwisg coed tegliw
Haf, terydd glaf wyf heddiw.

Keen the wind, cow-herds in the open;
When trees dress in crisp summer
Colors, I am extremely ill today.

haf - colors

Nope, haf is "summer". Welsh NPs are typically head-initial (though compounds are head-final), so tegliw haf is literally "crisp-colour [of] summer".

anhyed - nimble

Can't help you here. Anhyed doesn't exist in the modern language.

gan (gân) - sing(s)

The diacritics are not optional in Welsh; take away the circumflex and you have not "sings" but "by". Moreover, you've stumbled across the joy that is Celtic initial mutation. The base form is actually cân; it appears as gân because the sentence is in "abnormal order", with the verb appearing in second position rather than initially.

ganant - sing (3rd person plural)

See above.

-au - plural ending
gangau - branches

Again, this is a mutated form. Moreover, if you think you can get the singular simply by removing the plural ending, you'll be disappointed. In addition to consonant mutation, Welsh also has vowel mutation (called "umlaut"). The singular of cangau is actually cainc!

glaf - ill/sick

Once again, a mutated form. The citation form is claf. (Any guesses as to the plural?)
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Re: Learning languages for fun: my method

Postby linguoboy » Mon 01 Mar 2010 10:02 pm

kajzeren wrote:With German, for example:
*German word-start Z /ts/ corresponds to English T: zehn>ten, Zeit>time, Zähre>tear;
*German EI /ai/ corresponds to English I /ai/: Zeit>time, reise>rise;
And so goes on. It's like using History to make the hard work for you.

And German /t/ corresponds to English /m/?

Despite the resemblances and the similarity in meaning, Zeit and time go back to different Germanic lexemes. The true English cognate to German Zeit is tide. (Cf. Gezeit "tide".)
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Re: Learning languages for fun: my method

Postby philologue » Fri 05 Mar 2010 12:42 am

Interesting. The reason I gave the two versions for "sings" is because in the previous verse it occurred without the circumflex, and I thought it corresponded to the word in the next verse without the circumflex. And yes, the mutations...I'm learning they're affected by gender, too!
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Re: Learning languages for fun: my method

Postby Nancy05 » Fri 06 Aug 2010 10:10 am

as a language learner i always use different tools to help me.
the one i am using now is english-chinese dictionary
wish it give you a favour!
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