Serbian log

Discussion in 'Language Learning Logs & Super Challenges' started by pensulo, Mar 12, 2015.

  1. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    So, I have been learning Serbian on and off for MANY years now but it's only in the last couple months that I have actually taken any sort of serious steps with it. I have extremely basic skills - yet they far excel anything I've known previously - what's helped is I sorta "get" the language now. I think my particular learning style is dependant on understanding how the language works - in other words having a grammar focus.

    Now once again, I want to stress that I don't understand the grammar - that is far from the truth; I am only just starting to understand how this complex slavic grammar pieces together and it has helped a lot. Thankfully even though there are many verb conjugations - they are all (in my perspective) relatively simple.

    Past tense is a bit annoying as you have to fiddle with the infinitive form of the verb and it begins to introduce gender into it - but present and future tense are straight forward. The real hassle lies in remembering how to conjugate nouns, adjectives and adverbs. Especially since you have to remember exceptions. For example:

    onaj covek je stvarno visok!
    molim? koga vidis?
    vidim onag visokog coveka!
    ah, njega! zaista je visok!

    ona zena je stvarno visok!
    molim? koga vidis?
    vidim ona visoku zenu!
    ah, nju! zaista je visok!

    that man is really tall!
    pardon? who do you see?
    I see that tall man!
    ah, him! he is really tall!

    They both say almost the same thing except one is talking about a man (covek) and the other a woman (zena). Notice how a lot of the words change depending on the gender? In the above case only when you have a male animate noun do you use the "go/ag" endings on the words above. Crazy, no?

    Don't even get me started on the different versions of "me"

    Give that to me == Daj to mene
    You speaking to me? == Govoris sa mnom?

    Anyways, I'm really only into the first couple chapters of my textbook and I feel it has been really helping. The book, in case anyone is interested is this one here. I highly recommend it, though I am not using this book by itself :)

    Don't know what I'll use this for exactly, but I'll put updates here and there I guess at the very least detailing how I'm going :)
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  2. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    Serbian Resources

    So, I mentioned that I am sorta complimenting this textbook with other resources but didn't got into details as to what other resources I am using. So, here's the list of things that I use to help me out:

    en.wiktionary.org - I use this to find out how to conjugate words; the only annoying thing is you need to know the nominative or the infinitive which can be a bit hard because not all words are regular in their conjugations.

    translate.google.com - when I am chatting with serbs and have no idea what they're saying I use this to give me a hand so I'm able to respond.

    anki / memrise - In anki I am creating my own decks but I noticed a couple of small decks that are useful on memrise that I couldn't be bothered importing so I am just using them off the site.

    http://www.world-english.org/100verbs_serbian.htm - I am in the process of making an anki deck from these list of verbs. All I am doing now is looking for example sentences for each of the verbs and to see what they are in first person singular (not all verbs conjugate nicely, unfortunately but mostly knowing the first person singular is all you need to know how to conjugate the other forms). Despite the name, there's only 91 verbs listed there - but that's enough to give me a solid foundation I believe.

    www.opensubtitles.org - I've downloaded a few for some movies I have. I've yet to try using them, but I will try to watch a movie or two a week with them. I'm also looking to see if I can find subtitles for some Serbian shows in Serbian as well, will update as I find them.
  3. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    Following in Big Dog's footsteps, I'm going to also do postings of text that I've had corrected. In my case I came across lang-8 so I'll be using them for now at least. Even though Serbian uses cyrilic as somewhat the preferred text, I find it easier to type on computer by sticking to latin. With that said, my first text:

    Zdravo. Ja sam pensulo i učim srpski jezik jer volim da razgovaram sa svojom porodicom koja živi u Srbiji i Republici Srpskoj. Oni ne znaju da govore engleski, a ja ne znam da govorim srpski. Zbog toga sada učim jezikn kako bih mogao da razgovoram sa svojom porodicom. Hvala vam na vašoj pomoći!

    So, interesting things I learned: zbog toga is more natural to use at the beginning of a written sentence than is "pa" (pa being something like "so" in English). Further, "svoj" is used when talking about the person in the subject instead of someone else (so I used moj, which means "my" but nevertheless this is incorrect grammatically speaking).
  4. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    I'm really liking my textbook. I'm using anki once again to help me memorise words from my textbook and have also been using memrise. For the hell of it I did a course on animal names in Serbian and I liked it - the animals that were in there were kinda random but it was cool just to learn something that wasn't so serious. Next on the list is 100 common Serbian verbs. I got the first 20 and got 80 to go. After a week or two I should have this done and go on to the other memrise course with 100 common words. By may or june I'd like to know about 1000 words which would work out being a bit over 10 words a day. I think this is rather reasonable. I go through my textbook pretty slow, about a chapter a fortnight so I hope to be around chapter 10 by the same point. Going through it slowly I noticed is letting the grammar settle in.

    My goal for this year is to be in intermediate territory by the end of it. I really do want to visit family there and since we're sorta set apart by language when I do get there it's definitely sink or swim. I think it'll help what I learn this year to really sink in. In the mean time I am mostly typing to others, but I plan on speaking when I get around to the may-june period. Since I also have my parents to rely on, I will sorta switch to speaking only Serbian with them at that point as well.
  5. Bob

    Bob Active Member VIP member

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    Hehe I agree with the animals thing. On some level it's not that useful but I get a kick out of it too :)
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  6. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    So, today I decided that I've been a bit too passive with my language learning. I feel like I should be making more attempts at putting into use the vocabulary I am learning. I shall be writing more on lang-8 I think. I have another post which I've had corrected which I should post up here but today at some point I think I might spend a couple hours writing away attempting to use a bunch of the words I know in various formats. I think this will help it sink in and boost my confidence a bit. I've noticed already a few phrases are just coming to me naturally now because I've been using them a fair bit (either with others or in conversations in my mind). I just want to add to that.

    I've also been thinking about my foray into Esperanto and whether or not it has been helpful to my learning Serbian. Looking back, I don't think it makes a lot of sense to learn one language in order to learn another - unless of course you're actually interested in learning the first language. I think that while I did learn some things that have helped me understand Serbian to a better degree - these are things I would have easily picked up in shorter time than what was spent on Esperanto as a whole.

    What learning it did help with was I guess ridding myself of the mindset that learning languages requires an insurmountable amount of work. It also allows you to feel quite "powerful" with the language in a short amount of time as learning the few prefixes and suffixes it has allows you to say a great deal with a small vocabulary. Most of my headway was made in a matter of weeks - the rest of the time was purely refinement. Such speed would be hard to reach in any other language.

    Anyways, Serbian is a whole other endeavour to tackle and I am for the moment enjoying it. I'm enjoying my day by day successes and I'm looking forward to hitting that B1-ish tier. I think from there the fruits of my labor will really be sweet to enjoy. One last thought as well, I think that the attitude with which you approach a language matters as well. I noticed that when I read about other people learning Slavic languages they complain about the cases and all that - but I think mostly so because it was built up in their mind to be such a big bad thing. I have no doubt that they are hard but to me I see them more as a feature as opposed to some sort of stupid hindrance getting in the way of my language learning.
  7. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    ok, up to 60/100 words at memrise. I think I'll finish this 100 in the next 2 or 3 days. After this I think I will "pause" going through my chapters as I've just about finished chapter 3 and I will spend maybe a week or two practicing various conjugations of these verbs in sentences and having them assessed at lang-8. I still have to post here the ones I've already had done, but I'm a bit lazy at the moment copy/pasting them across.

    During this "pause" period I will also learn the 100 common words (nouns mostly) at memrise and also try to incorporate them into my sentence structures. I also have a course in food words and body parts which I will also do. This is definitely starting to get fun - I feel like I am getting more expressive and I of course love that. In fact, even though I am not really a goal setter (i.e. one of those SMART goal setters) I have a goal in mind - know how to talk about myself and what I do and wish to do. I am "good' at talking about day-to-day sort of things but when it comes to what stuff you would normally say to someone - I haven't developed the vocab for that yet.

    this time next week goal:

    • be able to introduce myself by saying who I am
    • what I do
    • what are my hobbies
    • what I wish to do in the future

    I can do the first easily enough, and the second I can sorta express in a roundabout way - so I need to improve upon this and the rest. Yes!
  8. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    [​IMG]

    This image is a good example of how context really helps with understanding - it also might potentially show how memes might be useful in language learning as they employ simple language.

    In this case, the words I understood were nece, znati, olovka and zasto. mlade looked like mladic (young man) and generacije looks like the English word generation. Given these words I was able to figure out that it said something along the lines of "the young generation will never know why you used a pencil". Looking up the words that I didn't know, I found I was pretty spot on. Quite cool.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
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  9. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    šta ima?
    ma ništa, kako si?
    dobro sam, a ti?
    odlično, danas ću da pogledam film
    koji film?
    zove se terminator 4
    mislim da je taj film odličan
    uzgred, da li poznaješ sa Arnolda Švarcnegera?
    možda, da li on je tvoj brat?
    haha, nije moj brat, glupane
    večeras on hoće da vozi kroz Višegrada
    stvarno!?
    da
    ne mogu ga da vidim njega večeras jer ja ću da budem na poslu :(
  10. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    My brain is feeling a little fried :D

    I finished up my 100 words and did a test of myself and I am averaging about 75% in terms of how much I memorised - A little bit higher (~ an extra 5-10%) if I allow myself points for ones that I made minor errors on (i.e. zeliti instead of zeleti). I will probably spend some time working on those tough ones over the next week or two. I won't really be learning any new vocabulary in memrise, but I'll continue on with my anki deck as I already am sorta familiar with the words in there.

    So, how many Serbian words to I know now? Well, if we're not counting the variations declensions and conjugations - just the root words themselves - I know at least 300. There are plenty of words I haven't added to anki since I already know them and I'm not worried about forgetting them. This would probably bring my word count to around 350-400 (closer probably to 350 then 400 though). Looking Big_Dog's post as a guide, I'm broaching A1 territory at the moment, though I think another 200 words or so would probably put me in a range where I feel like the A1 descriptor is an accurate of me, but I'll touch base on that point in the next couple weeks when I reach that level of vocabulary.

    So, what's happening now? Textbook is paused and new vocab is for the most part paused; so what on earth am I doing? Practicing my grammar and reinforcing my vocabulary. I'm going to be writing out sentences, getting them checked on lang-8 and attempting to incorporate those changes in future efforts. Of the 100 verbs I learnt I'll be conjugating them and using them in various tenses with each other (i.e. to need, to talk, to want; I wanted to talk with him, They will need to talk with her, You need to want it) and putting them up on lang-8 and revising.

    More and more the grammar is sinking in, I also need to start listening more but I am avoiding it since I am finding that I am not that motivated to do it, and I don't want to force myself. For now I'm listening to Serbian music, and that will have to do for now. I want to eventually start watching some movies in Serbian with Serbian subtitles to help me follow along. I encountered a short clip of some soap opera today and I actually understood more than I expected from reading the subs than I did from listening. Quite an interesting experience, but far from the level of comprehension I'm after.

    I'm sorta aiming for a high A2 right now...I can almost see it in sight. It's at this point I feel like I can sorta "explode" in growth. With my parents and family to talk to, I will have plenty of speaking practice but until I get to that point it's going to be a bit of an uphill battle. I'm ok with that though, it's a challenge I (think I) can handle :)
  11. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    [​IMG]

    This image is a result of something finally clicking in my mind that I guess I sorta knew to some level but didn't really truly appreciate - languages don't don't always have a 1 to 1 translation for the words in them. I am noticing this especially in Serbian prepositions which are used in ways we don't use them in English and sometimes are used for several words we have and other times are more specific than the ones we have. It's also helped me understand why people phrase things the way they do from certain countries. For example I noticed Slavic people will say "How do you say X on English?". Now, this isn't all Slavs, but I noticed with Serbian at least the word na is used in the same phrase "Kako se kaze X na Engleskom". The word na has a fairly wide range of meanings: on, in, to, at, into, by and for (all depending of course on the case used with na).

    I noticed that I do the same mistake in Serbian. My mind goes to the preposition that I'd use in English, assume a 1 to 1 translation and go ahead and use it. I think I got use to this because when I studied Esperanto this was largely the case but is definitely not so in Serbian. I gotta learn to keep on top of this but it was an interesting realisation for me.
  12. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    Da li primaš njen novac?
    Da li je primio tvoj odgovor?
    Zašto si primio njegov novac?
    Čiji si novac primio?
    Da li ću da primim njegov novac?
    Da li si njoj dozvolio da primi njihov novac?
    Da li ti je dozvolila da dođeš ovde?
    Ko?
    Tvoja majka.
    Da, ali ne mogu da dođem uskoro.
    Da li si nju pitao o mom autu?
    Zašto si pitao njega?
    Zašto je tebe pitala?
    Da li si verovao njima?
    Da li si mi verovao, da pitam nju?
    Želim da sam njemu verovao.
    Da li će ti dozvoliti da pozajmiš njegovu knjigu?
    Zašto si slomio moj auto?
    Zašto si njega doneo?
    Da li te je pitao da je doneseš?
    Da li kupila je tvoj auto?
    Da li si mogao da kupiš njenu knjigu?
    Da li si mogao da otkažeš moju karticu?

    My main problem? Well, to make the past tense in Serbian you do a couple things and then add one of the present tense conjugations of "to be". For example, "pitao si" you asked, "pitao su" they asked or "pitao sam" I asked. When asking a question however you put "to be" in front of the main verb. Kinda like how in English to switch from the statement "you are leaving" you simply say "are you leaving?". The other most common problem is using the wrong declension of personal pronouns. Namely using the accusative when in actually it should be the dative (sorta jumping ahead of myself here as I am still sorta coming to terms with the accusative, genitive and vocative).
  13. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    So, I was going to try to hold back and go over stuff a bit more in depth but I don't really want to I've found. I'll continue pressing on and going back when I am either forced to because I did not understand a concept well enough or when I feel like I'll enjoy taking a break. Right now I feel like pushing forward. I started my next deck at memrise, another "fun" one - food. I completed the goal I set earlier in the week regarding an introduction and I've found that helpful. Will post it after I get it corrected. I think another goal of mine is to cover common questions that I might encounter - kinda like what you see in the FLR method. Anyways, that's it for now.
  14. Bob

    Bob Active Member VIP member

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    Prepositions, I think match up the worst of any other category of words. Cebuanos mix up to,for,at,on,in,about, etc, because these can all be translated as "sa".
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  15. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    So, I am starting to think I should probably tone it down a bit and review material. I think the best way of doing this is translating the material into English then retranslating it back - as well of course going through the exercises at the end of each chapter. Everything in Serbian has been pretty regular (albeit complicated) at this point of my study - but now I have hit my first wave of irregular declensions - plural genitives. They are still mostly regular, but far more exceptions to the rule than I am used to at this point - further I have seen that there are some "na" words and some "u" words (for the meaning of being at/in a place) which basically involves you memorising which to use depending on the word *argh* pesky grammar :) This is what makes esperanto so easy to learn.

    Anyways, still enjoying it despite the first sorta roadblock that I've come into contact with.
  16. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    So I learned more "fun" words. I learned a bunch of words that are food related and now I am learning about body parts. Once I have finished these ones, I will learn the next list which is the 100 most common words in serbian. As it stands now, my serbian vocabulary has the 400 word mark; by this time next week I suspect I'd have reached somewhere around the 500 mark. It's amazing to think I thought I'd be oh so more proficient with a vocabulary around this size, but I feel like it would need to quadruple before I think I would have a reasonable amount of dexterity in the language - which going with Big_Dog's guide puts me at about a B1 level which I guess sounds about right - I just need to be selective about which words I learn.

    On another note, I got myself a copy of a book in Serbian - it's recent-ish but I gotta work with what I got. I created a small program that basically stripped the text of punctuation, removed word duplicates and alphabetized them. It took the text of about 100000 words and reduced it to something like 14500. This isn't of course the true number of different words as due to the way serbian words conjugate/decline there are numerous copies of the same word in a different case or person. I'm now trying to figure out what would be the next best step - I'm thinking it would probably be easiest to use the google translate api to translate the words for me and then remove duplicates from the results. This of course is bound to result in some mistranslations, but I think it will be minimal - and probably worth it compared to me figuring out how to use this serbian/english dictionary I have pick up the words in various cases and persons. I think after this effort the number of different words would probably be reduced to a couple thousand.

    The reason I'm doing this? To create a personalized dictionary that is faster than using google translate or an actually dictionary. It will also mean once I've finished creating the program - the creation of personalized dictionaries will be quicker and I can use it for other texts I plan on reading (namely wikipedia articles). Anyways, this is sort of a side project but we'll see how it pans out.
  17. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    I finished creating my program after much hassle, I substituted Google Translate for a free API - it hasn't picked up a lot of words, I'm not sure what the percentages are yet but I might have to find another more accurate one. Other than that, back to my revising! :)
  18. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    OK back again folks, I know you missed me :)

    So, what new things are happening? Well, I'm still in a sort of revising mode.

    Vocabulary

    I noticed that I had forgotten about a quarter of my vocabulary so I've been working on bringing that up. Which leads me to some criticism of memrise - memrise is pretty bad at helping you keep on top of vocabulary that you're obviously sucking at. Let me contrast this with anki.

    There are times that for some reason a word will just not stick in my mind. It can take days or weeks but for whatever reason it will not as easily get inserted and I may be forced to use some sort of mnemonics for it to stick. In anki, that word will keep coming back up until it finally sticks, and that's good because when it does finally stick it tends to be one of those words that I remember the best.

    In memrise, you only need to get a word right several times before it is considered memorised - no matter how poor the ratio of correct/incorrect answers are. As a result you don't really get the help required to plant that word into your mind. This is frustrating and requires work outside of memrise to ensure that the word is actually memorised. Whenever I have the desire I think I will create a program similar to memrise so that I can help memorise my vocabulary in its fun and interesting way - but with the persistence of anki so that hard to remember words are actually memorised.

    Grammar

    The plan is at some point to go back and be more thorough in what I have learned in the textbook, but I have been really slack with that. It's mostly been me using anki and memrise as of late. I will do some grammar work today though, so I will give myself some credit for that. I am also introducing a bit of a game changer to my routine which I will now detail.

    Glossika

    So, I haven't really been practicing my listening and speaking skills all that much. I've been listening to Serbian music on occasion and I talk a bit with family or friends in Serbian on the odd occasion, but I am still not really getting a lot of comprehensible input as they say, so this is where Glossika comes in. I have heard mixed reviews about the accuracy and quality of Glossika with some saying it's great and others not so (it seems more an issue with the language in question than people's perceptions of the same exact product). I had a listen to about a 1/4-1/3 of the first set of recordings and they seem pretty good to me. This review and the comments below seem to cover the main reactions I have seem to have encountered on the web in case you haven't heard of it.

    I plan on mainly doing the GSR method with occasional supplementing of the GSM. I read somewhere the claim that if you follow the GSM method you will reach conversational fluency in 3 months. That's an interesting claim considering it gives you 3000 different sentences - though it does stress it needs to be used with other materials and that you should be an advanced beginner before you start. Using the GSR method, I should be at the same place in 9 months (since it takes 3months to finish one section and there are 3 sections),

    I feel like at this stage it will be a good supplement to my studies, I plan on implementing some of the GSM as well so I might progress faster than 9 months, but nevertheless I am reaching for a B1 level by the end of the year which is about that. As I update my log here, I will continue to post my perception of the glossika method and how I have been implementing it and supplementing it and how much I feel it has contributed to my learning overall.

    Anyways, this is a big post but I had a lot to say. Will post more soon enough though with my other lang8 corrections that I have been too lazy to post as of yet! :)
  19. Bob

    Bob Active Member VIP member

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    what is GSM?
  20. pensulo

    pensulo Member VIP member

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    My apologies, the two methods are called GMS and GSR.

    In GMS, in a nutshell you listen to a recording, write down what you hear, record yourself and compare. The GSR involves only listening and repeating without the other more involved steps.

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