Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Feeling about languages

Isn't it interesting how our experiences of things not too connected to languages, influence how we feel about the languages?

I fell in love with a Norwegian guy. I wanted to learn Norwegian. I even developed a Norwegian accent. :-D

He made it clear that he doesn't want to know about me. Now the mere Norwegian accent irks me. Seeing text in Norwegian makes my upper lip curl. Right now I detest Norwegian and Swedish, and practically the whole North European Germanic language group, except Danish, and I'm not too sure about that either.

But this "adventure" enriched my language with a couple of words. Rumpetroll og rasshøl. And I do pronounce them with Norwegian accent.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hello, hello, hello...!

Again. Long time no seen :-)

I stopped the 6 weeks challenge - and I also stopped studying Maltese. Ha. Typical me.

So - the next one starts tomorrow :-D
I suppose I need to start participating.

I'm just very into FarmVille right now - and so is my hubby - and we have only one computer.
Well... there's always the library :-D

Anyway, I need to get better with my French and Italian, as I plan to travel a little next year.
Does anyone know how to get in contact with locals BEFORE a week's vacation, to make some contacts and get something wonderful to do during the vacation?

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Fascinating.
Æsop's Fables, as Romanized by Phædrus

BBC Quick Fix - Maltese 

I need to quit 6 weeks' challenge. I'm too competitive so I start stressing too much and cause myself too much trouble over nothing, and start neglecting important things like housekeeping and friends.
I will be doing the work, though, but I won't be recording my minutes.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How I use flashcards

I am trying to read and understand the first book of Il-Fiddien trilogy.

I type it on LWT one chapter at a time, and translate it into English so that my husband can read it too.

When I'm finished with the translation (my husband is not very patient, and wants to know what happens in the chapter ASAP) I move the vocabulary from LWT on flashcards.

LWT treats every word that looks different as its own word. So qattus, qattusa and qtates are three different words. [Cat (masculine), cat (feminine), cats (plural)]. At this moment I don't care about that, I just copy mechanically the words.

Now, I prefer to have flashcards of basic building blocks - glosses - and have four groups of words: nouns, adjectives, verbs and the rest.

So, I go through the pile of flashcards and
- separate all the forms of one word I recognize
- separate all verbs, nouns and adjectives I recognize
- leave the rest to be (for now.)
I do my be to find the basic form of all these words, remove the suffixes etc.

In a perfect pile of flashcards I'd have
- substantives and adjectives in form like "qattus, qattusa, qtates"- verbs in indicative (if possible) or - with Maltese - conjugated in imperfect tense (used as present/future)

I want to learn the grammar, that is how to modify these words to express the different meaning, apart from the glosses. I write these grammar exercises on separate papers and it is here I use sample sentences.
I don't like learning sentences by heart, except idioms and other such sentences and word combinations that are "building blocks" by themselves (like "good morning" or "s'il vous plaît").

Right now I am not advanced enough to be able to find many basic forms, and I know too little to be able to use the dictionaries in a good way.

I learn the flashcards by heart.
I have a pile of about 50-100 cards, that I go through until I know all of them from L2 to L1.
This is really mechanical this too. I look at one side of the card, try to understand/remember it, and then check on the opposite side what the dictionary definition of the word is. After I have "guessed" right twice, I move the card in pile 2. This means that there is less and less cards in the pile. I usually end up with about 10 words that I simple can't remember. At this point I change my tactics, start using mnemonic tricks or simply turn the cards around and try to remember them from L1 to L2.
Then I go through the pile until I remember them from L1 to L2, the same way. "Spaced repetition". The words I can't remember gets more repetitions than the ones I can. :-)
Then I let the pile rest a couple of days and go through it again. This time I remove the cards I find hard to remember to a new pile, and those I know go to a box. I will go through that box about once every two weeks in the beginning, to be sure I know them, and then I'll just forget the box.
So - it's a bit like how Aaron does it. (or did, in 2012)

Now, this is just learning the vocabulary.
You have still listening, reading, writing, speaking, pronunciation and grammar to go through :-D

P.S: 8 ways to create better flashcards

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Il-Bibbja bil-Malti

I gave in today, and started listening-reading the Bible in Maltese.

I am a Pagan and I have been bashed more than enough by the USonian militant fundamentalist fascist evangelical Christians (I am not talking about all Christians, so if you are not an USonian militant fundamentalist fascist evangelical Christian, I am not talking about you.) to find the whole Bible, especially the Greek scriptures (a.k.a New Testament) slightly repulsive, because of the association. 

But - the book exists translated in several languages on-line
(here's one Maltese version)
Parts of it has been read out aloud in Maltese (L-Evanġelju ta' Sidna Ġesu' Kristu skont San Mattew)


Maltese - learning the language

8 writing activities for the younger students
(about writing in one's mothertongue, but could easily be adjusted to learning foreign languages.)
Copying and dictating are the two basic lesson activities in the natural method.  Just as the child learned to speak by copying your correct speech, so he learns to write by copying fine writing.
- Ruth Beechick, A Strong Start in Language

"copywork" can seem like mindless - and thus useless - copying, but don't underestimate the muscle memory...
In the beginning of language study, copying a sentence over and over again, will help you remember it.

Motti, aforismi e proverbii Maltesi
It uses slightly different letters


Alla fettiħi, u Alla għajjur: Alla nebbihi, u magħ kollħad jdur.


Alla fuq kollox, u fuq kollħad, xemx u xute jibgħat jib kollħad.

Maltese proverbs
Maltese proverbs (only 7 of them, but there is an idiomatic translation and meaning of the saying as well)
Common Maltese proverbs and sayings
Maltese proverbs and riddles


Later you can move on to "dictation" - write the lyrics of a song. Choose first songs that you already have lyrics on, so you have something you can use to check if you got it right.

Learn a language by listening to radio

New study may revolutionize language learning
"Dr Sulzberger has found that the best way to learn a language is through frequent exposure to its sound patterns--even if you haven't a clue what it all means."

Why You Should Keep Listening Even If You Don’t Understand

Use music to learn foreign languages
language is music
6 tips for learning a new language
Use music, TV, movies, radio and the internet to ingrain your target language in your brain

passive and active listening tips

Remember this is not a question of passive listening...


On-line newspapers from Malta
Maltese TV
Maltese radio (I like radio 101, which is a channel with a lot of international popular music, but also some Maltese songs, a lot of talk of different issues, news broadcast and a bit too much politics (but it might be because they seem to be changes going on right now, like an election or something... I find it boring so I go to YouTube and listen to Maltese songs instead. I know, I know, I would learn more if I actually found out what is going on and listened, even if it bores me - but on the other hand, I will learn more by listening to something I am interested in than something that bores me :-D)

Wikipedija
There are 2,803 articles in the Maltese Wikipedia (Wikipedija) and 13,416 pages in all "including both Articles (the official article count of each wiki) and Non-Articles (user pages, images, talk pages, "project" pages, categories, and templates)".

Then a little bit about Maltese culture and celebrations :-)
 

Monday, May 13, 2013

"two different games with a different set of rules"

"...Maltese (is) a language which typologically stands between Semitic and Romance languages, as it is genealogically related to Arabic, on the one hand, and has been in close contact with Italian and Sicilian for about one millennium, on the other. A long history of contact between typologically diverse languages gave rise to two different word formation strategies in modern Maltese, root and pattern morphology and concatenative morphology.
Word formation in Maltese can be compared to a checkerboard on which language users may play chess and draughts, two different games with a different set of rules. For any given lexical item, a speaker of Maltese must know whether it is a piece for chess or a piece for draughts, and play the morphosyntactic game accordingly."

So well said... :-)

This is part of what I have been doing with verbs: try to figure out if they belong to the Semitic part of the language or the Japhetic part of the language.

My language studies are not advancing much at the moment. I am severely depressed and after having had a couple of PMS free months, it's back - and with a vengeance. But I'm hanging on there, doing mechanically the things I need to do, and try to think that as I don't give a crap about anything, I could just as well keep doing what I have done the last days, and it will be good one day.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Maltese is a Semitic language.

I have been watching Maltese language teaching videos etc. on YouTube.

Most of the comments are arguments, in style "This is just shitty Arabic, Maltese in no f-ing language, it's Arabic dialect!" and "Maltese people are lying, claiming they have their own identity and language. They are ashamed of being Arabs, and want to be Europeans." and then we have the Maltese people trying to tell these idiots that they are wrong, and Maltese indeed is a language, not just some Arabic dialect, and Maltese people are their own people with their own culture.

Yeah... One hears the numbers and some greetings, like "good night!" ("Il-lejl it-tajjeb") and because one speaks Arabic and understand every word, one must be hearing Arabic.
Because you believe you are hearing Arabic, you also believe that the people whose language it is, must be Arabs, and they must also be Muslims. And if these people deny any of these claims, they are lying, deceiving themselves and everyone else...

*sigh*

Ok.

1) According to genetic research, most Maltese people are of Sicilian (South Italian) or Phoenician (Canaanite, Lebanese) origin.

2)
We do know, however, that the first inscriptions in Malta were in Punic and that they cover a long period, from the 6th to the 2nd century B.C. Bilingualism was already practiced in Malta when the Phoenicians settled here side by side with the last Bronze Age community which was later absorbed culturally and linguistically.

Apparently, it was Jean Quintin who in 1536 launched the myth that Maltese was a survivor of the ancient, lost, Punic language after observing Punic inscriptions in Malta... ...The connection with a great ancient civilization pleased the locals who could now claim both uniqueness and prestige... ...but in actual fact it was built on vague impressions for Punic script was not deciphered before 1758 and no serious comparative studies were ever made.
Languages in Malta and the Maltese Language
Joseph M. BRINCAT
Education et Sociétés Plurilingues n°20-juin 2006
I do like the myth. Not because I see Arabic as somehow lesser language, but the idea of that Phoenician, Punic, would have been saved in some form, pleases me very much.

3) Malta lies between Italy (Sicilia) and Tunis, and has received influence from both directions, though more from Italy. (For a very long time all broadcasting on the island was Italian.)
The reason of this is not that the Maltese would rather be European than Arabs, but because they are Roman Catholic Christians, as the Italians are. Tunis is mainly Muslim.

4) The rulers of Malta - all influencing the language

~700 bce. Phoenicians
~400 bce. Carthagians (who spoke Punic, a variety of Phoenician)
218 bce. Romans
440 ce Vandals
533 Byzantines
870 Fatimids (from Tunis)
"The most mystifying linguistic aspect of the Maltese language is that there is no perceivable substratum (the old language’s influence on the newly acquired one) – neither Punic, nor Roman nor Greek... ...Al-Himyari... ...describes a violent attack in 870 which left the island in ruins and, after a period of relative neglect, a fresh settlement in 1048-9, composed of Muslims and their more numerous slaves... ...The period of neglect may have witnessed two small communities, the survivors and the conquerors’ garrison, speaking two different languages and perhaps intermingling over 150 years. In 1048-9 the sudden influx of a 5000-strong community of Arabic speakers must have absorbed the few former inhabitants whose language did not leave its mark on the new one."
Languages in Malta and the Maltese Language
Joseph M. BRINCAT
Education et Sociétés Plurilingues n°20-juin 2006
1090 Sicilian Normans
1224 the Swabian Emperor Frederick II expelled the Muslims from Malta. Nevertheless, most chose to convert rather than leave their homes.
1479 Spanish
1530 Knights of Malta (Italian) (In the beginning of 16th century also some Ottoman (Turkish) influence)
1798 French
1800 British
1964 Maltese

What does all of this mean?

Malta is its own country, the Maltese people have their own, individual culture and nature and the Maltese language is an independent, own, separate language.

Also, Malta IS part of Europe. They don't need to "try to be" Europeans. They ARE Europeans and have been for a very, very long time.

P.S. I have found some culprit to the idiocy displayed in YouTube.
Arab Heritage in Malta

P.P.S.T
The historical source of modern Maltese vocabulary is 52% Italian/Sicilian, 32% Siculo-Arabic, and 6% English, with some of the remainder being French. Today, most function words are Semitic. In this way, it is similar to English, which is a Germanic language that had large influence from French — although less so than Maltese. As a result of this, Romance language-speakers may easily be able to comprehend more complex ideas expressed in Maltese, such as "Ġeografikament, l-Ewropa hi parti tas-superkontinent ta' l-Ewrasja" (Geographically, Europe is part of the Supercontinent of Eurasia), while not understanding a single word of a simple sentence such as "Ir-raġel qiegħed fid-dar" (The man is in the house), which would be easily understood by any Arabic speaker.
Romance origin (Italian, Sicilian, French, Spanish) 40-55%
Arabic origin (Sicilo-Arabic, Semitic) 30-40%
English 5-20%