Archive for the ‘Ancient Egyptian’ Category

Starting a new schedule is one thing; sticking to it is another. My first week went well in this respect, which is reflected in an overall increase in my hours of language study (i.e., 33 hours over the last fortnight, bringing my total so far this year beyond the 150 hour milestone), but I then found lots of good reasons to bunk off my studies and play hooky during the second week. I guess it’ll take time and determination to build up consistency…

Major Language Russian (11.6h)

Considering I didn’t watch any Кухня during the previous fortnight, I’ve more than made up for it since, having completed another блюдо (i.e., the third season), and followed this with a feature film (“Кухня в Париже”) на десерт. With the roller-coaster of ups and downs in the scripts so far, heaven knows what the fourth season will bring!

Minor Language French (7.2h)

Just one more episode of Les Revenants, and a few lessons of French Assimil (lessons 10-12). I did, however, get a short opportunity to practice some French with a tourist from Luxembourg. I was doing fine until asked what I teach at university, to which I responded “J’enseigne les second language studies [in a highly exaggerated French accent]”. On reflection, I could have just worked out another way to say it, but in the moment and under pressure, I ended up sounding more like Inspector Clouseau!

Minor Language German (2.6h)

I’ve completed 5 lessons of Assimil, and watched a couple of episodes of “Stromberg” (a German comedy modelled on the UK tv series “The Office”, but with distinct German characters and office culture). My German’s pretty rusty at the moment, having not really used it properly since I lived in Darmstadt five years ago, but I get most of the dialogue in the series with occasional islands of “..hmm, I have no idea what on earth they just said” every now and again.

Minor Language Hawaiian (12h)

More speeches, more quizzes, and more vocabulary under my belt, which brings me up to the end of lesson 17 in Ka Lei Haʻaheo, with only a quarter of the book left to go. I feel I’ve made a lot of progress so far this year, and can understand so much more. I’m probably just a whisker away from the low intermediate (B1) level now! 🙂

Minor Language Irish (-)

Like a dilapidated donkey cart, my Irish studies have fallen by the wayside, but I’ll make sure it’s fit for travel next fortnight.

Side projects Ancient Egyptian (-)
Side Project: “Paddling down the Nile”

With time a precious commodity, I’m still working hard at fitting in my five other languages each fortnight. However I haven’t forgotten about this little side project with Ancient Egyptian; it’ll just have to take a back seat for a short while until I sort the other languages out and get into some kind of consistent rhythm.

(Total time spent on learning languages over the last fortnight: 33.4 hours)


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The last couple of weeks have been particularly busy workwise, and it looks like the coming fortnight may prove even more of a challenge. This means I’ve let my language learning take a back seat for a short while whilst I answer to other responsibilities and deadlines. All the same, I continue to dabble where I can…

Major Language Russian (1h)

No Кухня this fortnight, which leaves me standing on episode 51 (Season 3). However I did have a very brief chat in Russian with a visiting Ukrainian tourist who mistook me for a Russian teacher *lol* (I wish!).

Minor Language French (5h)

I’ve gathered some more resources for French (not included in my hours), and am up to lesson 9 in Assimil’s “New French with Ease”. Whilst my wife has already eclipsed my petty efforts by finishing lesson 10, and is making really great progress. We’ve changed our strategy now to watching “Les Revenants” without subtitles one day, and then with subtitles the next, and are up to episode 3 (Season 1). And I’ve got to say, it’s good fun studying French together this year!

Minor Language German (20m)

I had a 15 minute conversation with a German tourist the other day, and learned the word “die Flitterwochen” (honeymoon) in the process. I also tried to talk to some members of the university German club whilst buying lunch to support their cause. Sadly they looked like petrified rabbits in the headlights when I leapt into speaking German, so I swiftly took my leave along with a plate of bratwurst, senf, and sauerkraut.

Minor Language Hawaiian (7h)

Our class had a mid-term oral exam last week. This involved learning off a short speech in Hawaiian about one of our classmates, and then presenting it to our kumu (teacher) and the rest of the class. Although most of us were as nervous as a junebug in a henhouse, I quite enjoyed this alternative form of assessment (not being a fan of long written exams 😉 ). We’ll all find out our results after the spring break…

Minor Language Irish (20m)

A few reviews in Duolingo; no big surprises here. However I have a new addition to my little library of Irish fiction: “An Fhondúireacht” (a translation of Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi classic: “Foundation”). I’m really excited about reading this translation once my proficiency in Irish has likewise propelled itself into the future.

Side projects Ancient Egyptian (-)
Side Project: “Paddling down the Nile”

Ok, confession time…I haven’t actually started down this historic river just yet, but I hope to find my paddle soon (for fear of the mummyglot’s curse).

(Total time spent on learning languages over the last fortnight: 13.7 hours)

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I’ve tried out a few things, reformulated my study plan on the basis of how these fared, and am ready to begin my new schedule again. One noticeable addition to the list below is my slow-burning side project in Ancient Egyptian (“Paddling down the Nile”), which is described in more detail towards the end of this post. Hence the change in title to “Five Little Birds + 1”, where the “+1” stands for “one old chick” 😉 Having previously made good progress in “Champollion’s Challenge“, I just had to fit it in somewhere.

Another tweak to the schedule is that I plan to study my key languages for only 4 weeks each month (excluding reviews), and reserve whatever days remain for satisfying recurrent “wanderlust” urges. Hopefully this will keep any distracting language flirtations at bay, as well as provide short breaks on both a weekly (i.e., Sundays) and monthly basis, which will help avoid potential burn-out.

Major Language Russian (3h15m)

I’ve watched 3 more episodes (49-51) of Кухня, studied and reviewed 10 chapters of Russian Assimil, practiced talking to myself in Russian during walks home from work, and submitted some free writing for correction. I only did this halfheartedly over a stretch of 4 days, so it’s not a lot, but it’s a start.

Minor Language French (3h50m)

I found a cool new spooky series called “Les revenants”, and have already watched a couple of episodes with my wife (the context is relatively easy for us both to follow so far). Although we initially intended to start Assimil together last fortnight, my wife and I have rescheduled to start again tomorrow. In the meantime, she’s been reading “Parisienne French” on the bus to work, and I’ve submitted a couple of pieces of free writing for correction, and had a chat with a French taxi driver and a chef at my local organic supermarket.

Minor Language German (1h)

Dipping my toes into the water, I reviewed German Assimil up to lesson 6, and practiced speaking to myself a couple of times by describing the moving landscape and any features in the environment that peaked my interest during transit. My main goal with German is to blow the cobwebs off my vocabulary and get back into using it on a more regular basis. Going through a basic textbook like Assimil is perhaps overkill, but as I’ve never actually completed any course books in German before (I mainly just used native materials whilst living in Germany, and worksheets way back in high school), I might as well try to fill as many gaps in my knowledge as I can.

Minor Language Hawaiian (18h)

Between preparing for quizzes, haʻi ʻōlelo (short oral presentations in class), and other assignments, it’s been a busy fortnight for Hawaiian.  The big highlight, however, was attending a 3-hour theater production of Lāʻieikawai at the University of Hawaiʻi completely in Hawaiian. Although I could only pick out words and short phrases here and there, I could follow most of what was going on, and really enjoyed the show. The actors, singers, musicians, and dancers were all amazing, and the production and set very professional. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more shows like this in the future…

Minor Language Irish (20m)

Just visited Duolingo on a few occasions to keep up reviews.

Side projects Ancient Egyptian (-)
Side Project: “Paddling down the Nile”

After my intrepid 2 week challenge to round off 2014 (Champollion’s Challenge), I admittedly let my paddle drop in the water and didn’t keep up with the ensuing wake of Assimil reviews for lessons 1-38 as planned. So it’s time to get back into the flow and christen my return to rowing with three new goals:

1. The first goal is to catch up with all my Assimil reviews for Ancient Egyptian, and be ready to continue where I left off (i.e., be ready to start from lesson 39). I plan to achieve this by gradually adding all these reviews to my current daily review schedule, one lesson a day, starting from lesson 8 (as I’ve already “assimilated” the first 7 lessons very well by now).

2. The second goal is to complete my initial mission for “Champollion’s Challenge” by reaching the end of lesson 50. I intend to pursue this at a more leisurely pace by studying a new lesson every week on Sunday (when I don’t have any other language study planned; just reviews).

3. The third goal is to complete all 101 lessons in Assimil’s “L’Egyptien Hieroglyphique” and reach my final port of destination charted by this excellent resource. At one new lesson a week, and accounting for all the ongoing reviews and any possible setbacks, this should hopefully take place sometime in 2016 next year.

Other language flirtations Other (Tagalog 10m; Japanese 15m)

Having learned a few simple phrases of Tagalog from people I met in my travels, I’ve been putting them into practice at every possible opportunity recently (e.g., with cashiers at the supermarket, bakery, pancake house, 7-Eleven, and also with taxi drivers). My basic attempts are always warmly welcomed, and I try to learn a new word or phrase each time if I can.

Also, a few more acquisitions for the language bookshelf this fortnight…5 Japanese books! This includes a parallel text  – “The Mouse Bride” – which completes one of my collections, 2 books from the “My Darling is a Foreigner” series (which are hilarious), and a couple of lighthearted reference books on Japanese culture: “Salary Man in Japan” and “Japan at a Glance”.

(Total time spent on learning languages over the last fortnight: 26.8 hours)

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The first week of spring term is always chaotic and abuzz with activity at university. This year proves to be no different in this respect, and so I’ve only studied a modest amount of languages, the main focus of which has been Hawaiian.

Hawaiian (3.5h)

Resuming Hawaiian lessons after a seven week hiatus, I’m currently in catch-up mode. My first major port of call is to review vocabulary from the first half of my course book, which I didn’t quite get around to last week as initially planned.

Irish (0.5h)

A few Duolingo reviews to revive my dying gold medals.

Russian (2h)

Five more episodes of Кухня down the road, and I’m already poised to jump into Season 2. I’ve experienced no major improvements or breakthroughs in listening since last week, but am enjoying the show, and can always turn to my wife to fill me in with the key plot points when completely lost.

Other (Ancient Egyptian: 1h, French: 1h)

My wife and I also re-watched “Guardians of the Galaxy” yesterday, but only on the proviso that we could watch the first hour in French. I was surprised at how much I could understand initially, but this quickly degenerated into unintelligible babble when the “baddies” started speaking in raspy accents, so I added French subtitles to the mix to help me understand everything once again. I noticed, however, that the dialogue and subtitles rarely matched up with each other, so it was more a case of simultaneously listening to two lines of overlapping dialogue (as well as translating into English now and again for the missus).

Finally, I’ve been a bit of a wayward camel and left my Ancient Egyptian reviews to deteriorate beneath the sands of time over the last 2 weeks. So seeking to make amends, I’ve decided it’s as good a time as any to get back to my Assimil. Well…the truth is I was perusing a bizarre book called “Why Cats Paint” on Amazon (oh Internet, the places you lead me!), and the introduction for the book was full of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs!! Immediately, guilt set in over my reviews. 😉

(Total time spent on learning languages this week: 8 hours)

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Today marks the end of my short mission and the beginning of a brand new year. Over the past fortnight, I’ve studied 38 lessons in Assimil’s “L’Egyptien Hieroglyphique” and 5 chapters of James Allen’s “Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs”. During this time, I’ve laid the grammatical foundations and cornerstone of a challenging “new old” language, and learned a great deal more about the customs and people of an ancient civilization and empire that spanned, not several centuries, but several millennia. I didn’t reach my original goal of 50 lessons (50% of the Assimil book) during this time, but I did complete over 75% of that goal. This is good enough for me, particularly given the difficulty of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic, and this mission falling during the Christmas holidays, leading right up to celebrating the New Year. It’s amazing how fast time flew in the final fortnight of 2014, but in taking up this challenge, and sticking with it consistently every day, I now find myself in a much better position to continue with ancient Egyptian, although much less intensely, in 2015. I’ll of course keep up with reviews in the new year, so that I keep all that I’ve learned alive and well, and will aim aim to complete a new lesson every week for fun, with a view to finishing these two great books sometime in mid-2016. Thanks for following my little language mission, and I wish you all a very happy new year, with bags of success in all your own language missions in 2015 and beyond!

End of Project Summary:

Assimil: 38 lessons completed (75% of original goal)
Supplementary: 5 chapters from Allen’s book
Study: 33 hours (approximately 2/3 of my time on the project)
Reviews: 17 hours (approximately 1/3 of my time on the project)
Total: 50 hours (averaging 3.5 hours a day over 14 days)

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Well, those speedy skates never arrived, but I did at least keep up with reviews and maintain some forward momentum in my studies, investing 3 hours altogether today. Grammar sometimes feels a bit like a roller-coaster with its own up and down days. On blue sky days, when things seem to be on the up, all the disparate parts that I didn’t quite understand before, come together somewhere in the recesses of my mind and decide to be the best of friends, bringing the text clearly into focus. On grey foggy days, when I get more of a sinking feeling, it’s often the case of learning something new and trying to integrate it with the rest of what I’ve learned. As this grammatical concept is the new kid in school, and doesn’t fit in right away, both the text and its reader get blurry and uneasy once again. Having completed a 10 page review lesson with a generous helping of grammar tables, today is one of those greyer foggier days.

(35/50 lessons completed, 15 lessons to go)

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Another lesson down (with 2.5 hours split equally between reviews and study), and I’ve moved on from beautiful young women to cheeky monkeys in the text. I’m not sure this is entirely a good omen, but one way or another, I’ve only got 2 days left of this mission, so I’ll need to get my skates on to meet that amended target of 80% (40 lessons) before the sun sets on 2014.

(34/50 lessons completed, 16 lessons to go)

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