Sunday, September 27, 2009


For Latin I've been using Ecce Romani.

It's a pretty fancy looking book in heaps of volumes and judging by the groups on facebook, it's used in many schools in the US. I'd like to critcise it but I won't. I just haven't worked through enough of it. And I think I'm just annoyed by the fact that there's no translation of the reading passage which might be to do with the fact that it's meant to be used in schools. Though I am surprised that with such a popular book, no one's posted translations of the reading passages on the net.

I'm also a bit perplexed about the sentence:

Ego sum laetus quod Rōmam īre volō.

I am happy because I want to go to Rome.

If my translation is correct then to me it seems to be a bit of a non sequitur. And I find that sort of thing really annoying in grammar books. It would be ok if the phrase were translated in the book, but if you have to work it out yourself, you translate it, then think: hmmm, that can't be right, it doesn't really make sense...

Perhaps my understanding of the Latin is wrong? Perhaps the sentence makes sense in context? I just wish I'd picked a different text to use.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Just writing up some more content for my spaced repetition system for Estonian.

I'm using Colloquial Estonian as my source. I also have the tapes. The usual problems with these courses - just the dialogues have audio. Weirdly the Estonian tapes have quite a bit of question/answer stuff that isn't even mentioned in the book, so if you mis-hear that's it. No way of looking it up.

Annoyingly they don't put 'to' in front of the infinitives in the vocab lists. There must be many times where the noun and the verb are the same in English.

Lesson 1 looks pretty straightforward, with a nice dialogue and all the grammar explained.

Good point about the book also is that the dialogues are translated in the book.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


At the moment my learning revolves around New Practical Chinese Reader (新实用汉语课本).

When I was in Peking a couple of years ago I had a look through all the grammar books on offer... and I decided on this one so I bought all 5 volumes. Cd's as well. When I got back to Australia I discovered that it had just been made the new text for my Chinese class at uni.

The audio is very good, but there is heaps wrong with it. I feel that the vocab they introduce is not very topical, the reading passages and dialogues should have translations somewhere and the general content of the dialogues is a bit lame.

There is a Taiwanese series that comes in about 5 volumes with vcd's of the dialogues acted out that is far better... but the text is all traditional Chinese characters. Still, I'd probably start with that one if I were starting all over again.

Having gone through about 3 volumes (New Practical Chinese Reader) I now find that I'm having too much trouble with understanding spoken Chinese so I'm going through the series again but this time I'm entering everything again into my spaced repetition program and making all the questions as just the audio. Being able to recognise spoken Chinese in sentences and also individual words should be a good test and good practice.

Does the problem with Chinese arise because there are so few sounds available? Well, I'm keeping track of what I've entered; it'll be interesting to see how many words are actually homophones and how many of the actual homophones are immediately recognisable as being such and whether the different meanings actually come to mind.


I'll start with Croatian as it's something I'm working on intensively at the moment.

One of the biggest problems with Croatian is that for some inexplicable reason, most books don't indicate which syllable takes the stress!

The first book that I had for so-called Serbo-Croat was from about 40 years ago - Teach yourself Serbo-Croatian. But it was probably more Serbian but at least it did indicate the stressed syllable for all words with more than two syllables. I've got the newer Teach Yourself Croatian and Colloquial Croatian and the accents are missing.

Then I came across 'Dobar Dan' from Max Hueber Verlag. The accents are indicated, even the three tones of Croatian, on each word... but I hate the way the verbs are introduced without indicating whether they are imperfective or perfective.

In any case, it's all irrelevant now that the Living Language series has come out with Spoken World Croatian. It looks pretty good so far. And it comes with audio for the dialogues and even the vocab lists and grammar explanations. Superb!


Well, everyone else is doing it, so so shall I.

I've been working through about 50 different languages so I might as well write up a bit about the courses I've been using... I'm sure it will be of interest to someone.