Archive for the 'About Learning a Foreign Language' Category

schedules – timing – postponing

to postpone- moving something planned to a later date. Is there a conflict in schedules?  maybe we – or they – or you or I – are not ready, won’t be ready, won’t have met all the conditions for what was planned…

The interview was postponed … the meeting was postponed … the game was called off.

Sorry, I won’t be able to make it then … How about a rain check?

The Smithsonian Folkways Collection

Real voices of real people with real emotion. Much of the collection is freely available and downloadable on iTunesU. As Pete Seeger said … “If you’re ever feeling a little down … listen to what these people have to say!” Music from the heart and soul. And what music! Enjoy.

The Smithsonian Folkways Collection

And what about my accent?

In “My Fair Lady,” Higgins says: The French don’t care what they do actually, as long as they pronounce it properly. ….

We are sensitive to accents … sensitive to voices …. sensitive to pronunciation … Does anyone speak accentless? I suppose robots do … and then what have you got? A ro–bo–toc–voi–c-e … thank you very much …. ! We’re so much better off with a Southern accent, a NY accent, a French accent, a Scottish accent … and all of these are generally not served alone: there is always a specific vocabulary, often a specific grammar that goes with them.

To Savannah folk: Be on your guard to keep and cultivate your beautiful accents. A lot of people around the world (even in towns beginning with the letter “A” are … so jealous of your voices!

My advice? Be yourself. Use your own voice. Speak clearly … not too fast, please … Express yourself with your personality!

This being said, your accent is secondary to your pronunciation.  The English and Americans tend to like the novelty and sonority of a French accent in English … and vice-versa: Most French like you to keep your charming American or British accent …. if you manage to pronounce fauteuil (armchair) or champignons (mushrooms)  or ratatouille or Limoges correctly … or at least make a sincere effort to do so!

But, mesdames, messieurs, mes amis français, mes amies françaises, j’ai ceci à vous dire: vos voix, vos accents,  sont tellement agréables à l’oreille anglophone, tellement séduisants … You must  be carefulSO, only if you prefer NOT to be SO charming, then work on a perfect Oxford or Cambridge or London accent or a perfect ‘New York’ voice … or a delicious, mint-julep, Vivian Leigh southern drawl … so … whether you are from Paris or Montpellier or Neuilly or Asnières or Vincennes or Chantilly … please don’t trade your own accent for another … just pronounce the “s” at the end of plurals and at the third person and we will love you for that … too.

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Be careful.

On the other hand … pronounce the “S” please !!!

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Do you know what I’m saying?

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Newsletter: 15 October 2010

How’s your memory doing these days?

What a question! And an easy question it is. “Forgetting is a temporary loss of consciousness.” But what are the sorts of things we forget?

One of the most obvious is the answer to the question … Where?

Where did I put my … keys? glasses? watch? wallet?

The generally accepted solution to this problem is retracing your steps. Where did you have it last? Where did you see it last? Follow your footsteps backward.

How can we improve our memories?

By using them! That sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? Here’s an exercise you can try at any given point in the day. I use it as a technique in language learning and in speech training but its use is effective in our native languages as well: Stop whatever you’re doing and think about where you are, what you’re doing, who you’re with. Now think back to what you were doing just before the “now”… and before that .. and before that … until you get to some point such as waking up in the morning.

Remembering has to do with the past.

Being conscious of the past … is a real memory trainer.

Try reviewing your day before you fall asleep! Backwards. You’ll be amazed at how extraordinarily rich it was. If there was a particular moment you want to recall, think of the environment, the colors, the scents, the details and the overall picture. We perceive SO much!! Unconsciously. Bringing it up front, so to speak, shows us how much we really did observe.

The incredible side effect of this exercise is that, by reviewing events, we put words and images together. And we improve our vocabularies by activating passive, latent knowledge.

There’s another wonderful advantage to being conscious of everything that’s happened: Not only can we learn from … our mistakes, the human mind is perfectly capable of … a selective memory. We can choose to forget! What in computer lingo is called “deleting” … or what used to be called “erasing.”

Have a wonderful weekend … and may it be a happily memorable one!

Maybe with … A glass of wine …

And thanks for reading The Paris Savannah Connection.

Mark

round numbers and generalties

What do round numbers and generalties have in common?

They’re always false!

And while I’m tempted to say that ‘down’ here in  Savannah everyone’s so nice … it’s probably because we just haven’t encountered the other kind! But kind they are.  And while that may be just the generality we want to avoid … the folk I’ve been meeting are hard-working, upstanding friendly souls … the kind Woody Guthrie could have sung about.

Yesterday, I met Lem for the first time. He comes from Darlington, South Carolina. A fine man, finer you’d probably not find: Stephanie said she didn’t take the first one that came along, and not the second or third either…. She waited for the best.  And they make a mighty fine couple.

Lem says there are about 6500 people in Darlington and that they’re good folk.

France, too, has lots and lots of real good folk.  Just got to get to know ’em.

Sit down to table. Share a few dozen oysters with a Muscadet or a “pot au feu” and a simple red wine and you’ll … start to get to know each other. Not just the appearances but what you’ve got in common … rather than what separates you.

And that involves one of the best qualites we can have:  knowin’ how to listen … and knowin’ when to talk.

And that ain’t no generality.  Just the plain simple truth.

The Interpreter

The movie “The Interpreter” is one I highly recommend.

A word on “translation” and “interpretation”

When you’re not involved in these worlds of multilingual communication, these words seem to be synonomous because they have something important in common: rendering meanings from one language to another.

What’s the difference then?

Interpreters speak. Translators write.

And that’s where it begins!

Choosing a translator or an interpreter is not as simple as opening up your ibrowser. Here are just a few of the vital basics:

The original: Provide a quality original. Many translations appear to be poor translations … only because the original is not up to standard.

Language pairs: The translator or interpreter goes from a foreign language to his/her native language. He is writing or speaking to others who understand his native language.

Competence: He/She must know the subject matter in depth. Don’t expect a generalist to translate or interpret a legal contract or a manual on using agricultural machinery.

Experience: It takes many years to provide quality at an acceptable speed. A professional translator translates about 10 full pages/day in his speciality.

Think ahead: Most reputable professionals are in high demand…and are under high pressure. Don’t expect them to be available at the last minute. Reserve their time in advance.

Proofreading: Nobody’s perfect. It’s best to plan on your own proofreader who can work with the translator.

Proofreading 2: How many people will read what’s printed? That should be a determining factor in how many proofreads are necessary. Your audience will spot ANY errors. If your document is important enough to be shared, try to get it … right! If it’s going to be distributed to 50 people, you have 50 potential error-spotting critics … How much more if you have 500, 5 000 or 50 000 potential readers??

Costs: You get what you pay for!

In this field, remember the golden rule: No guessing.

Punctuation. Intonation. Meaning.

Take just about any word or group of words and test them: What does “you” mean? In fact, it all depends on the intonation, doesn’t it? Intonation is in the voice;  punctuation is in writing. We “hear” punctuation when we read…don’t we?

I do.

You do?

You!

There are full stops. Also know in the USA as periods.

There are question marks, too, aren’t there?

Exclamation marks, too!

And of course, commas, so that we can breathe easier.

and “quotation marks,” traditonal and modern.

Until words are punctuated, they can’t really mean anything … For instance … what sense can you give these words in this order?

Woman without her man is nothing

?? !! “.” , : ;  (and there are more on your keyboard … I wonder where they came from!)

Enjoy! More to come …

sense – common sense – sensible … & sensitive

Sense and Sensible :  something dear to the Cartesian mind: reason.

Not to be confused with Sensitive: Feeling.

Use your sense : Use your brain. Use reason – not passion! In this … sense … (meaning) sense means taking the various factors of a situation into consideration … BEFORE acting … My grandmother’s expression for this was … Use your noggin (contrary = that’s meshuganah!)

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“Common sense isn’t so common,” she used to say. Common sense. What we all (should) know by now!

What are the contraries to “sense” ? How about these two?

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and doesn’t senseless lead us to the idea of something … crazy … mad … insane … > a real absence of reason?

and what about this one … which is a little more fun, isn’t it?

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Now who hasn’t been guilty of these … at some point?

Be sensible! Do what reason tells you … you ought to do … (even if it is emotional intelligence …)

Not to be confused with sensitive

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as in “touchy” “high strung” or people very easily hurt or offended,

often unintentionally.

I say: If being “sensible” is reasonable, then being “sensitive” is feeling.

Be both! Sensitive and Sensible. Of course, it’s taken me quite a few years to come to that conclusion …

Next week, I promise you something on the plural of this: senses. As in 5 … or maybe , in fact, 6 or more …

PS/ (My thanks to François and Fred L.  for this subject … as well as dinner chez Matsuri and an artistic evening the other night!)

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