Re: Language Lessons
|From:||Herman Miller <hmiller@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, August 4, 2001, 1:47|
On Thu, 2 Aug 2001 22:55:59 -0500, Cian Ross <cian@...> wrote:
>On 8/1/01 at 9:52 AM Amanda Babcock wrote:
>>On Tue, Jul 31, 2001 at 10:11:53PM -0400, Herman Miller wrote:
>>I loved that it had grammar. I hate books where you can't find a good
>>table of declensions to save your life.
>You're neither weird (by my lights, anyway) nor alone. My first foreign
>language was Latin--with lots of tables of declensions and conjugations.
>And so it still annoys me to have to infer grammatical patterns rather than
>just being shown them. Among other reasons, there always seems to be
>some picky issue that just doesn't quite generalize in a way that a
>non-native-speaker might expect.
Tables of declensions and conjugations are practically essential in many
languages, but they belong in an appendix where you can easily find them.
My problem with books like Whitney's _Teach Yourself Finnish_ (which
actually doesn't look quite so bad now to me as it did 15 years ago, but
now there are better books for learning Finnish, like Börje Vähämäki's
_Mastering Finnish_) is that the lessons are densely packed with every kind
of rule and exception to the rules that you can imagine. Maybe it gets
better in later chapters, but a long list of 18 different uses of the
partitive case and 19 different ways to form the partitive case isn't
exactly friendly to learners.
Of course, in the case of conlang lessons, it can be assumed that the
reader has some knowledge of and interest in linguistics, and won't be
scared off by things like IPA or grammatical terms. But even so, trying to
make them friendlier to the casual reader is a worthy goal. (The major
obstacle in my case is that following the current style of language
teaching books only makes sense if the language has a culture to go along
with it -- and since Czirehlat is a personal language, it hasn't got its
own conculture. But somehow or other, I think that it's a good enough idea
that I'm going to have to come up with some rationale why a "Teach Yourself
Czirehlat" or "Colloquial Czirehlat" type book would exist.)
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