絮言.狂想 #003

The Cantonese podcast for fans of linguistics, language lovers, and Cantonese learners. This language is a language-guessing game, like the Great Language Game, where two of our hosts guess Japanese, Korean, French, German, European Portuguese, Thai, Vietnamese, Swedish, Egyptian Arabic, and Polish. They explain their deductive process using phonological features.

Show notes and links available on the Cantonese page. Transcript below.

This podcast is also available on YouTube. Don’t forget to subscribe!

[Intro]

靳:深喉音啦,我哋啱啱講完內爆音,依家又講深喉音啦,係咪?

以:喂,咪玩嘢啊你,我笑點好低㗎

三:呢個……呢個節目係……合家歡節目嚟㗎呢個,係

[jingle]

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Verb aspects are a thing that annoys many learners of Russian, Polish etc. Most learning resources just told me the basics of what they mean, but not how they function in practice.

This is a series where I, as an intermediate Polish learner, attempt to explain some grammatical features common to most Slavic languages in a simple, jargon-free and applicable way. I will be using Polish as my examples but I hope my notes will help learners of other languages too.

The perfective and imperfective verb-pairs took me a long time to figure out, but here’s what they are, in a nutshell:

The perfective aspect of verbs mean one thing: the thing is DONE. FINISHED. ONE ACTION.

The imperfective aspect of verbs can have two meanings:
1. the PROCESS of the action. Starting to do it, but not finishing it yet.
2. doing a thing REPEATEDLY.

Taking Polish as an example: zrobić – to have done; robić – to be in the process of doing OR to do repeatedly, regularly.

Now when to use which is something you need to get a feel for, but I’ll list some general principles I discovered. (I’ll be leaving the formation of the verb forms for another post.)

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I can’t believe it’s been eight whole months since I took my TISUS test, switched Swedish from “learn” to “improve” mode and picked up the language I’d been intended to try out for a year – Polish. (In fact, my Polish Glossika package had been lying around in my hard drive for quite a long time.) Fast forward to two months ago, I was attempting to test out my Polish skills for the first time with the surprisingly numerous Polish participants at the Polyglot Gathering. And around a month ago, I stepped foot on Polish soil again, spending entire evenings with friends I made in Berlin. Did it work? Yes and no. I think it’s about time I reflected on what I’ve done so far, how far I’ve gone, what I’ve done right or wrong and how I’ll go forward.

A difficult language

I have a confession to make. Why did I start learning Polish? When people ask me this, I usually bullshit things like Chopin. But the real motivation I had was to take on the “most difficult language of the world”. But what makes a language difficult?

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Update: due to the release of Glossika AI, which replaces the now-defunct Glossika packages, this review is now outdated. A review of the new system has just been published.

Well I was preparing to begin writing in my new section on Chinese, but an important incident changed my mind: I’ve just completed the entire Glossika GMS course in Polish, all 3000 of the sentences! So, in addition to sharing my sense of achievement and joy on my blog, I’ve decided to also write a brief review on what I thought about and what I got out of this course, seeing as it isn’t one of the most well-known method out there, and there aren’t that many reviews from people having completed it either. So let’s delve in – and allow me to start by introducing the method, in case you haven’t heard of it.

What is Glossika?

Even though you can get a comprehensive introduction to the product on their site, I’ll briefly summarise it from what I know. Glossika, founded by the amazing polyglot and linguist (read more if you don’t know the difference) Michael Campbell, is based on input – a lot of it. The basic idea is to drill a set of 3000 sentences into your mind, in 3 ‘fluency levels’ from simple to complex, each containing 1000 sentences, and the brain will gradually figure out the language.

I said it’s the ‘basic’ idea because the method does not demand you to follow any strict pathway. On the contrary, it’s probably among the most flexible learning materials out there! When you buy it, you get a ton of files. First is a PDF for each level, complete with translation, romanisation (etc, depending on the language), phonetic transcription (more on that later), a complete index and some additional professional advice. These sentences form the basis of the entire course. I got the English to Polish package, so each sentence comes with the English version, the Polish translation, simplified spelling (to ease certain learners into the scary-looking Polish spelling, I suppose) and IPA, as in the sample below.

En-Pl sample

Sample sentence from Glossika English-Polish, Fluency 3.

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