Tag Archives: testing

Test Driving Languages – Welsh

Flag_of_Wales_2.svgIt’s been a while since my last language test drive. This time, we look at Welsh, which is another Celtic language. It’s spoken by only about 20% of the Welsh population, or 562,000 people. I’ve been interested in this language because of its long words and many things I have no idea how to pronounce.

Jay Dee dw i.

— I’m Jay Dee.

Alphabet

This isn’t very difficult. It uses the Roman/Latin alphabet, so it’s familiar. There are some letters with accents, but I haven’t actually used any yet.

Pronunciation

This is kind of difficult. Many of the vowel sounds are different, and there are additional vowels, ‘w’ and ‘y.’ Some of the consonant sounds are a bit different from what I’ve heard, but nothing difficult.

Grammar

I can’t say much about this, as there hasn’t been much in the way of grammar in the course, yet. Just greetings, really. But I suspect that it may be similar to Irish, but I really don’t know. Checking Wikipedia confirms that it is verb-subject-object, like Irish.

Overall Impression

I had an easier time remembering words in Welsh than in Irish. There were some similarities to English, which made it easier. The days of the week had some similarities to the English names of the planets, so I didn’t have any issues there. The things that’s most difficult is the spelling and pronunciation, at least for now. I think it’s going to be an interesting language to learn. At least I’ll know how to pronounce all those difficult town names!

Are you interested in studying Welsh? Can you speak it? Let me know in the comments below.

Test Driving Languages – Polish

320px-Flag_of_Poland.svgMy first Slavic language. Oh boy, what am I getting myself into? This language intimidated me before I even tried attempting to study a bit of it. All those szcz strings and everything else. Unlike many other Slavic languages, I can read it without learning a new alphabet. I went into this believing it was going to be difficult. So, let’s see what I really thought about it.

Ja jestem mężczyzną.

— I am a man.

Alphabet

It’s basically like the Roman alphabet, but with an additional 9 letters, which are basically Roman letters with accents or other things attached to them. I could get used to it.

Pronunciation

I’m lost. Well, not completely, but just six lessons doesn’t really help me figure out what they’re saying. I can’t listen and accurately type the words. This will take a lot of time to get used to. Some of the sounds don’t logically go with the letters I see, from an English centred brain.

Grammar

The good things are that it’s subject-verb-object. Thank you! Also, there are no articles. That’s easy! And that means no gendered nouns. Also, present simple and progressive are the same.

The difficult things are that the verb conjugations are a bit tough to learn. And this language has cases. Seven cases, to be exact. I really have no idea what to expect there. Plural words have different suffixes, so I haven’t been able to figure those out yet.  What am I getting myself into?

Overall Impression

Difficult. Irish was difficult. Turkish was difficult. This is difficult. I don’t recognise a single word. I kept forgetting words. My retention was quite low for this, since I had to keep checking what the words were. I couldn’t remember how to spell the words. I couldn’t even pronounce them if I looked at them. Simply put, this is going to take a huge amount of effort to study.

I still have Ukrainian and Russian to do. They use the Cyrillic alphabet, which I will have to learn before tackling the languages. They’re also Slavic, so I’m thinking they’re even more difficult than Polish!

Do you speak Polish? Are you interested in or are learning Polish? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Test Driving Languages – Turkish

Flag_of_Turkey.svgI’m now moving away from Germanic and Romance languages, and onto something completely different. This time, it’s Turkish. I’m used to the grammar in English, French, and other European languages, but Turkish presents something very different. In some ways, it wasn’t difficult. In others, I had some difficulty.

Ben bir adamım.

— I am a man.

Alphabet

This is pretty simple. It’s basically the same as in English, but has a few added characters with accents and this one: ı. It’s not an i. It’s pronounced like e. There are some others, like ğ, ç, and ş, which have no sound, ch, and sh sounds respectively.

Pronunciation

Apart from a few characters that are modified from the Roman alphabet, it’s very straightforward to pronounce. Just getting used to those other characters will take a little effort, though probably minimal.

Grammar

Germanic and Romance languages use the subject-verb-object form. Turkish uses subject-object-verb, which is actually the same as Japanese. Since I have plenty of experience with Japanese, this word order is familiar to me. Verbs are conjugated according to the pronoun/noun, and are similar to French. The pronoun for he/she/it is O. They’re all the same. There are also no articles, except in some cases when we need an indefinite article. A noun without an article can be translated to a noun using definite, indefinite, or no article in English.

Overall Impression

The alphabet and pronunciation I can get used to. The grammar I can get used to. There are some similarities with other languages. The thing that’s difficult is vocabulary. They words resemble nothing in English. My word retention wasn’t bad, but I had a difficult time with spelling. It wasn’t as difficult as I originally expected, but it’ll still be a challenge.

Have you studied Turkish? Can you speak it? Are you interested in it? Let me know in the comments below.

Test Driving Languages – Danish

Flag_of_Denmark.svgMoving from one Scandinavian language to another, I attempted a bit of Danish. It’s very similar to both Norwegian and Swedish, but my experience was very different from either one. There were some easy aspects, yet other frustrated me. I was surprised.

Jeg er en mand.

— I am a man.

Alphabet

This is pretty easy, like the other Germanic languages. It’s mostly the Roman alphabet with a couple other characters added (æ and ø).

Pronunciation

This frustrated me a bit. The postfixes were difficult to hear, and some words weren’t so easy to pronounce. I would really need to practice both listening and speaking to be able to get this right. Not easy.

Grammar

The good things: You don’t have to conjugate verbs. They are always the same no matter what the pronoun is. The pronouns are also quite straightforward. There are gendered nouns, but not male/female. However…

The bad things: The nouns are either common gender or neuter. These you just need to remember. For the indefinite articles, they are en and et respectively. For the definite articles, they are postfixed to the nouns. And then there’s the plural form. And definite plural form. I just got so confused I couldn’t remember what they were. I would have to really concentrate on this to remember.

Overall Impression

I had difficulty with both pronunciation and articles. However, word retention was very good. There were some similarities with Norwegian and Swedish, and I liked that the verbs don’t conjugate. That is easy. I found it more challenging than Norwegian and Swedish, but that’s just after six lessons. It’ll be a while until I fully tackle this language, though.

Have you studied Danish? Are you interested in it? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Test Driving Languages – Swedish

Flag_of_Sweden.svgAnother Germanic language done. This time, it’s the Scandinavian language of Swedish. It’s said that Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish are all very similar languages. I can see what they mean. Having already looked at Norwegian, I can see a lot of similarities. But does it make it easy to learn?

Jag är en man.

— I am a man.

Alphabet

This is another alphabet, since it’s the Roman alphabet with a handful of accented vowels. It’s not difficult at all.

Pronunciation

This is where it’s getting a bit difficult for me. Words are pronounced differently than I first thought. Some are just confusing me, to be honest. And it’s only a couple pronouns that are tripping me up. Accents also change the pronunciation of vowels, but it’s fairly straightforward.

Grammar

Much like Norwegian, verbs are not conjugated. That’s easy! However, like Norwegian, indefinite articles come before the noun, and definite articles are added as a suffix. Unlike Norwegian, definite and indefinite articles are not spelled and pronounced the same. As for gender, nouns either have gender or are neutral. I think you just have to remember what they are. In general, grammar is fairly straightforward, though.

Overall Impression

Word retention was good, spelling was not always correct. I forgot some spellings, but practice will improve that. I can see how similar it is to Norwegian, so this will give me an advantage in studying. It may also be a disadvantage, because I may get them mixed up. I hope not! But I think I can count this as another language that I look forward to learning. It’s fairly easy from an English speaker’s point of view.

Are you interested in Swedish? Have you studied Swedish? Let me know in the comments below.

Test Driving Languages – Portuguese

320px-Flag_of_Brazil.svgBack to the Romance languages this time, I’ve tested Portuguese. I must make a note that the Portuguese offered on Duolingo is Brazilian Portuguese. Why? Well, there are far more Brazilian Portuguese speakers than any other in the world. It’s that simple. However, considering the origin country of the language, I am including the flags of both Brazil and Portugal.

Flag_of_Portugal.svgWith that said, Portuguese is an interesting language, as it’s very similar to Spanish, but has some differences that are tripping me up a bit. We’ll talk about that below.

Eu sou um homem.

— I am a man.

Alphabet

Similar to Spanish, it has many of the same accents, but the letters are all familiar to speakers of most European languages. There are no difficulties here other than learning which words use which accents.

Pronunciation

This threw me off a little bit, because of how the ‘j‘ is pronounced. It’s not like the Spanish, which is pronounced like the English ‘h.’ It’s more like a soft English ‘j.’ Other than that, I had some problems with the course’s recorded voice. It’s quite obviously a computer voice, more so than the other languages. It’s a little distracting. But other than that, the pronunciation seems straightforward, and looks to follow strict rules, like Spanish.

Grammar

What little grammar I’ve seen is very straightforward. Verb conjugations are a bit easier than Spanish, as they use the same conjugations for you, he, she, and it. Also, you (plural) is the same as they. Less to remember! The articles follow similar patterns as other languages, depending on the gender of the noun. However, what gave me trouble was the definite article, “a.” That’s the feminine definite article, which corresponds to “the” in English. That confused me at first, and I accidentally used the indefinite article in English. Oops. That’ll take a little getting used to.

Overall Impression

Similar to Spanish, but it has its differences. I think this should be easy to learn after Spanish, but there may be some confusion and accidental mixing of languages. I can easily see that happening. But it sounds nice. I think it sounds softer than Spanish. I’m looking forward to studying Portuguese!

Have you studied Portuguese? Are you interested in it? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Test Driving Languages – Dutch

Flag_of_the_Netherlands.svgThe next language to take a look at is one that is probably closest to English than any other language (other than Scots). It’s the native language of The Netherlands, and is also spoken in several other places, such as Belgium, Suriname, Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten, and is also the mother language of Afrikaans, which is spoken in South Africa and Namibia. Considering it’s similar to English, it’s said to be one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn. Let’s find out.

Ik ben een man.

— I am a man.

Alphabet

Basically the same as in English. There are a few accents, though. But quite easy.

Pronunciation

For an English speaker, the pronunciation based on the spelling takes a little getting used to. It’s not as expected. For example, “j” has a “y” sound. The vowels can sound different than expected, as well. It’s not as straightforward as some of the Romance languages, but I think I can get used to it after a short time.

Grammar

Quite similar to English with a few exceptions. Some pronouns have several forms (“zij” and “ze” for “they”, “wij” and “we” for “we”, etc) and nouns have gender. Articles can also be a bit different. “Een” is “a”/”an”, and pronounced similar to “an”. However, the definite article, “the” is either “de” or “het” in Dutch. The rules don’t seem clear for these, so they just have to be remembered. Verb conjugation seems fairly straightforward, though.

Overall Impression

I found it easy to remember the words and grammar, and could translate the very simple introductory sentences into English quite easily. I retained the vocabulary pretty well, and needed little review. I think pronunciation will need the most work. I enjoyed Dutch, and look forward to learning it. I believe I’ll be able to learn it quickly, compared to some other languages.

Have you studied Dutch? Are you interested in it? Let me know in the comments below.