Reflections on learning a language

What did you say? And what did you mean by it?

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: Reflections on learning a language

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:03 pm

duszek wrote:I imagine that it must be a terrible nuisance when a native speaker listens to all the mistakes a non-native speaker makes when trying to say something in his language.

Perhaps a wearable could listen to the speech of a struggling foreigner and suggest corrections on the way.
I mean something comparable to the programme that suggests correct spelling when one is typing.

A wearable coach, a robot doing an ugly job without getting irritated or impatient.
What's a "wearable"?

Skip
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Re: Reflections on learning a language

Post by Skip » Wed Jul 27, 2016 12:52 am

duszek wrote:
Is it good or bad to use rare words that actually do exist in a language ?
That depends on what they're being used for. I did a rewrite of a medieval story recently and had to look up a whole slew of relevant nomenclature and contemporary usage, as well as rearrange some sentence construction to reflect the period.
Everybody needs a thesaurus, because very often, the most appropriate word is "like that, but not exactly". It's when you find the more precise, more apt, synonym that you expand your vocabulary.

Skip
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Re: Reflections on learning a language

Post by Skip » Wed Jul 27, 2016 1:03 am

sthitapragya wrote:
Hobbes' Choice wrote: Your English is perfect. I rarely see an error that any English person might well have made themselves.
If you want more flourish, then keep reading the Classics; you'll absorb the flow and timbre.

How are you on Shakespeare? Most natives find it difficult.
Oh man, I get a headache reading Shakespeare. :D
Try watching a movie. Drama, like Hamlet or Macbeth, with a clear, straight story-line, not a comedy, because they sometimes become completely inexplicable. As an entry-level play before tackling the bard, I could recommend http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100519/ which is very funny, as well as erudite.
But you don't really need that to improve your contemporary English: it's fine. Just keep saying what you mean, and don't worry about the fancy footwork of less honest writers.

sthitapragya
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Re: Reflections on learning a language

Post by sthitapragya » Wed Jul 27, 2016 3:53 am

Skip wrote:
sthitapragya wrote:
Hobbes' Choice wrote: Your English is perfect. I rarely see an error that any English person might well have made themselves.
If you want more flourish, then keep reading the Classics; you'll absorb the flow and timbre.

How are you on Shakespeare? Most natives find it difficult.
Oh man, I get a headache reading Shakespeare. :D
Try watching a movie. Drama, like Hamlet or Macbeth, with a clear, straight story-line, not a comedy, because they sometimes become completely inexplicable. As an entry-level play before tackling the bard, I could recommend http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100519/ which is very funny, as well as erudite.
But you don't really need that to improve your contemporary English: it's fine. Just keep saying what you mean, and don't worry about the fancy footwork of less honest writers.
When I was a theist, I wrote two small books too, one combining karma and the power of reason and the other explaining what the "brahman" (the hindu version of the transcendent God) was for my father who was struggling to understand the concept. The second book was very well received by my father and his friends who showered me with praises on my understanding of what is considered to be a concept very few can grasp. However, my daughter is a writer and I forced her to give me her opinion of my writing. She gently pointed out to me that though I could get the point across, my writing was not gripping and had grammatical mistakes, specially in punctuation which I never could get the hang of, and that it lacked a flow. I did give up on any fledgling writing ambitions I developed due to those two books, chiefly because I have nothing left to write about, but it left me with a deep appreciation of good writing. And though I have done nothing to try and improve it, it still remains an ambition.

I do, however, believe that writing should be simple and to the point and since most people don't have large vocabularies, I dislike the use of fancy words because it forces people to stop reading and look for the meaning of the word, which is distracting. So I focus on the flow.

But I will look up this movie you suggested. Thank you.

Skip
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Re: Reflections on learning a language

Post by Skip » Wed Jul 27, 2016 4:30 am

Have some fun! Language isn't just for conveying serious information; it's also for jokes, songs, puns, poetry, seduction, rebellion and .... fun. Once you make friends with it, everything gets easier.

sthitapragya
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Re: Reflections on learning a language

Post by sthitapragya » Wed Jul 27, 2016 9:11 am

Skip wrote:Have some fun! Language isn't just for conveying serious information; it's also for jokes, songs, puns, poetry, seduction, rebellion and .... fun. Once you make friends with it, everything gets easier.
That's the thing. I have a great sense of humor. My daughter says if we just recorded one of our conversations and put it on youtube it would go viral. I know I am funny because I can make people cry with laughter when I get going. My daughter suggested to me that I should write about the funny stuff I come up with. But when I sit down to write, everything just disappears. What comes out is crappy. I don't even show it to my daughter because I know myself it is crappy. I am impromptu. It just happens then and there. Give me something to write and it all goes away.

Skip
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Re: Reflections on learning a language

Post by Skip » Thu Jul 28, 2016 1:24 am

Yes, some humour is intimate, performance humour. I doubt Robin Williams would have been funny on paper. That doesn't matter. If you have a strong sense of humour, it's because you have an unusual way of looking at things. Written humour takes that unusual perspective, but it also requires an ability to cool and distill and organize that vision, which performance comedy or conversational wit don't. If you try to write humour, you probably pressure yourself into seriousness. So don't try to write humour. Just write your different vision without self-censorship. It'll work.

sthitapragya
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Re: Reflections on learning a language

Post by sthitapragya » Thu Jul 28, 2016 3:50 am

Skip wrote:Yes, some humour is intimate, performance humour. I doubt Robin Williams would have been funny on paper. That doesn't matter. If you have a strong sense of humour, it's because you have an unusual way of looking at things. Written humour takes that unusual perspective, but it also requires an ability to cool and distill and organize that vision, which performance comedy or conversational wit don't. If you try to write humour, you probably pressure yourself into seriousness. So don't try to write humour. Just write your different vision without self-censorship. It'll work.
Thanks for the encouragement, Skip. I will consider what you said and try again.

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