I’m finally done with ‘A espada da gruta’ and the Lemony Snicket book set at the carnival and now it’s time to level up. And I don’t mean going somewhere and asking new people the same few questions I asked the last people I met and the ones before that and…
The Lemony Snicket book was tough.
It took a few weeks and a lot of dictionary work but I got through it, and now it’s time for three other books at the same time.
Ate mais e obrigado pelos peixes [So long and thanks for all the fish]
Matadouro Cinco [Slaughterhouse Five]
Another Lemony Snicket book, the one at the school
I started with ‘Ate mais’ but struggled a bit as the writing is a lot more complicated than I remember the English version being. I should’ve known. There’s so much slang and random weirdness and huge run-on sentences in the story that reading it in Portuguese is borderline impossible.
The only saving grace is the fact that English and Portuguese have a lot of crossover vocab – without those I’d be lost. If I were reading the Chinese translation of this book, I’d be deep in Children of Tama territory, much worse.
As I was plodding through ‘Ate mais’, the Vonnegut book arrived in the post, a book I also believed, based on my reading of it 10 years before, to be quite prosaic in terms of writing style.
Vonnegut doesn’t use long or complex sentence patterns, but he does have a distinctive voice, which is hard for a low-level Portuguese learner like me to grasp in Portuguese. I can get the gist of the plot – it helps that I’ve read it before and know the story fairly well – but there are a lot of phrases that are a mystery to me.
With the help of my dictionary crutch, I’ll get there, but…
According to Steve Kaufman, listening is the best place to start a new language, so I’ve been trying to do more of that.
Honestly, listening has always been my weak point in every language I’ve studied. The idea of watching videos I can’t understand 90% of is a tough sell and even though I know I should, I usually don’t watch any. It’s just not that interesting to me. How do others do it? Do they actually do it? I saw one guy say you should aim for 90% comprehensible input, but how can you find that if you’re not at least B2 Level. You could watch videos aimed at teaching foreigners the language, where they say simple sentences very slowly, but that seems pointless…
Is there a middle ground video-wise?
I remember trying peppa pig videos a year or two back, in Cantonese, and I managed to get through about 20 episodes, I even re-watched them a few times, but…it still felt a bit pointless. Unless Peppa got abducted by a UFO or something, I didn’t really care. Of course, it’s easier to understand than adult TV shows, but not much. The characters still speak quite fast. And it’s a bit of a deception too, as you can know what’s happening just from the images on the screen. I watched an episode in Romanian and I could figure out some words, it’s not hard, so people who say they watch and understand peppa pig are basically saying something meaningless. Do they understand every single word, can they replicate it in speech, can they really go for a 2 hour haircut and speak Cantonese without the hairdresser saying any English?
To replace Peppa Pig visually and spiritually, I found some YouTube channels from Brazil. They mainly focus on books and TV shows, which helps. I found a history channel too, quite similar to Oversimplified, and the narrator speaks fast but not as fast as Mikannn and Carol Maneiro in their GoT vids. I’ll admit, I can’t understand much without looking at the subtitles, but if I break down each vid and see which block patterns they repeat the most then I should slowly improve.
For Cantonese, I’m gonna try watching what my wife watches. Big Jay, Rock Gor etc plus maybe go back to the travel series that Choi Yu Bi Bi did a few years ago. I forget the name. She basically travels around the world, staying with people she meets online, the weirdest one being a Ukrainian woman who claims to be a princess from the Romanov dynasty. Was she really a princess? I can’t remember. I thought the Romanovs were all wiped out…all the main ones at least…maybe some second cousins survived and made it to the Ukraine…
Japanese…only channel I’ve really got is PDR.
My Japanese is pretty shit
So many simple words I don’t know
Or I’ve forgotten
But I do have a one piece manga
Could give that a try