Saturday, June 28, 2008

Getting Back to Work

The other day, I mentioned that I'd sort of stalled on my Breton sans peine and needed to get back to it. The challenge is that I'd been hitting some passages where Breton really thinks things through differently from English - sentences like this:

Hag ur wech erruet en e gampr,
And one time arrived in his room,
e salaou gant dudi
listens (to) with pleasure
ar pennadoĆ¹ bet enrollet gantaƱ
the conversations been recorded with him
war seizenn e vagnetofon.
on tape (of) his recorder.

Once he's back in his room, he listens with pleasure to the conversations he's recorded on the tape in his recorder.

Of course we string together long sentences in English too, but we have a different notion of how the pieces fit together. Breton loves to use "conjugated prepositions" - prepositions marked for person, number and (for 3rd person singular) gender - to link up bit of sentences, for example.

Given time, of course, one can not only break down individual sentences but also develop an eye (and maybe one day an ear!) for relating the elements more automatically. The hard part is getting through to that stage. Looking for some way to keep myself moving through the readings while getting something from it, I started thinking about Professor Arguelles' Scriptorium. Says the good professor:
The whole purpose of this exercise is to force yourself to slow down and pay attention to detail. This is the stage at which you should check all unknowns in grammars or dictionaries...
This is exactly what I needed - to slow myself down and think through what I was reading without descending into grammar-translation.

Professor Arguelles' exercise, of course, is for regular use in language learning, and if you've the time and patience I commend his advice to you for broader application. That said, I think this works even for specific passages because it gets you more wholly involved in working with the language - physically manifesting it almost - so that you don't just keep skimming over bits you don't quite get until you suddenly realize you're not quite getting any of it.

One other thing: This exercise, and indeed numerous other exercises, may not be for you when you're stalled. What's important is that somewhere out there, there probably is something that will work for you, or at least that can be modified for you. So check out the links on this site, and on all the other sites, and keep in mind what you're reading. As long as you keep working with the language and keep building on what you're learning you will progress, whatever the tools you use.

So if you're here to kill some time after doing your lessons, take a little time to visit Professor Arguelles's site and see if there's something else you might want to make use of in your learning. But if you're here because you wanted to do something language related but just don't have the heart to crack open your book or listen to your CDs right now, make an extra special point of looking at the Scriptorium and Shadowing technique and maybe at a few other sites till you find something you haven't tried before, or haven't tried in a while. And then, get back to work.

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Anonymous mawkernewek said...

My a wra dyski Kernewek. Kernewek yw pur haval orth Bretonek.

The Cornish language stopped being spoken around 200 years ago, but is now being revived. It is very similar to Breton and possibly almost mutally intelligible.

3:31 AM  
Blogger gbarto said...

My Breton is just about enough to work through children's stories or to read poetry with a facing translation to help me along. So I've a ways to go before using my Breton to read Cornish the way I use my French and Spanish to read Portuguese. But I've checked into some online courses and been pleasantly surprised at how much of the basic vocabulary looks familiar.

2:40 PM  

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