Sunday, August 12, 2007

Swede Update

Ok - going back two posts, I was curious as to whether BYKI could teach a whole language. The answer on this is simple: NO. While it does teach a few phrases, on the whole it's a word-based flashcard system, and you get no Grammar. So I needed something more. I got on super-sale the Teach-Yourself Swedish book and CDs. These are from England, and have dozens of languages, and other subjects as well.

See, even though Swedish is relatively easy, you still need to know the rules, and you still need to hear sentences spoken. And THIS is an area where Swedish is tricky: SK and ST can sound like predicted before an A, O, Å, or U, but sound like "SH" in front of E, I, ü, ö, ä, or y. Final "G"s and "T"s are usually dropped. Thus, you read "Det är" for "it is" (or "there is" in a non-locative sense), but you say "dayr"

This is why people say written and spoken Swedish are so different. And they ARE, but once you internalize the rules, it's not so bad... I think.

Another thing I'm realizing as I make my way through more languages: It's VERY important to be able to parse sentences and understand the concepts of direct (accusative) and indirect (dative) objects, possessives (genitive), verb tenses (the perfects and imperfects), conditionals, and subjunctives. Russian is particularly punishing to those who want to think that cases are something that happen to other people, but knowing how it works also helps with German, and the formation of pronouns and adjective endings in many other languages. So as I've been speaking and writing these days, I've been doing more sentence parsing... in English...

It's strange that even while taking Russian, I had never internalized these concepts and tried to see how my everyday language was parsed. I think this is a skill I can perhaps work on for myself, and try to give to my kids....

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