Thinking outside the box: Different alphabets

Ranger
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It is a lot more easier to learn a language that shares the same alphabet than yours, I've tried to learn the basics in Hebrew by myself and every time I tried I failed. So, I'm going to take advantage of the fact that there are a lot of active members in the forum who know more than one alphabet, how did you start to learn a language that has a complete different alphabet than yours? I found it discouraging, Hebrew has 22 letters (all of them are consonants ) and vowels appear under the consonants as dots. From my point of view, once you learn all the consonants when you combine 2 letters (consonantes) they don't sound like how you would think they would sound. 


Do you guys have tips? It feels like it would need exclusive dedication and a lot of practice to at least reach a basic level of understanding.



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#1
Ent
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Jess.PWinkler wrote:
Do you guys have tips?

The first different script I actually got to a useful level in was Japanese kana (hiragana and katakana). Learning them wasn't too hard, but getting used to them was sort of scary. I didn't think I'd ever feel comfortable, but after many hours spread over many weeks, I finally succeeded. The languages I know different scripts for are Japanese, Thai, Mandarin, Russian and Korean. 


I actually learned Thai script before kana, but I didn't get used to it for a few years because I didn't know the tip I'm about to tell you. In order to reach a useful level in a script, you have to use it a lot, and never rely on any other form of transliteration. Use only the script itself when you read or study the language, or you will never master it.


Now I admit Japanese kanji and Mandarin hanzi are exceptions to this rule - it can take hundreds or even thousands of hours to master, so there are things one should do in the mean time. But I won't elaborate on those here because they are off topic.


So learners should stick to their guns and only use their L2 script. This is one of the reasons I get concerned when I see a learner using transliteration. I want to advise them to use the script, because I know how harmful it is not to use it, but I don't want to be mean to people.  

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#2
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When I was learning Korean, what I did was write everyday. I had bought a Korean novel and I'd copy a page's worth of text everyday. It helped me get used to writing the characters and reading too. :) I didn't get what I was writing but after a while, I noticed that my reading and writing both got better.

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#3
Elf
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I made several attempts to learn Thai (still suck at it). The first teacher started out with transliteration, and even after 6 months, we still didn't learn the alphabet. I learned some convo from that class, but that's about it. 


The second teacher I had (I restarted from basic) is more balls-to-the-wall. For the first 2 weeks of the class, it was all about learning the alphabet. There are still things I can't identify, e.g. uncommon characters, and sometimes I forget the hidden vowel/tone mark, but otherwise, the alphabet mostly stuck. 


The class never went back to transliteration. She wrote the textbook as well, so there was just Thai (in Thai script) and some English explanations. 


So, I agree with the other posters, and their tips about familiarizing yourself with a new alphabet. Copy it out, don't rely on transliteration. It takes less time than you think to familiarize yourself with it. 


Except Mandarin. That is a cry-yourself-to-sleep language. I am always in awe of people who learned it in their adulthood. 

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#4
Elf
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I would say there are advantages as well as disadvantages. Who would think of advantages though. But, there are. One I could think of now is that you don't confuse words for example with the other language of another alphabet/script that you know. Although, I read that learning Polish simultaneously with Russian, can make you confuse certain words and structures because they are similar, even though the alphabets do not match. 


Otherwise, I've been learning English since very little, while my mother tongue is part of the Slavic languages (so Cyrillic alphabet). Since I was very little, way more flexible and receptive (I have a topic on why children absorb easier than adults), I don't even remember having any resistance towards it, or towards the idea of studying it. Maybe I wasn't even allowed to protest, but however it is, maybe because parallelly I was studying my own language at school, it didn't really represent any problem. School was boring this way or another, so you just accept what you're being given in this/that era. 


I started Arabic recently, and I had few classes before I quit. And the reason for quitting was just that - symbols were way too hard to interpret and remember, they write from right to left too, found that also very difficult, (I was studying with a native Saudian Arabian , so he didn't introduce any other simpler way), and this task needed more of my attention and time, something I couldn't give at that time. 


I understand you completely, and couldn't give a lot of tips myself, except not to place too high expectations, to take it step by step, and see where that takes you. 

Good luck! 


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#5
Dwarf
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Good point! That's true! I've also just started learning a different language and it wasn't easy. I wished I did it when I was young, when I was more flexible and receptive! And writing in a foreign language is waaaay more difficult. But yes, one step at a time and we'll get there :)

mismei

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#6
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leosmith wrote:

Jess.PWinkler wrote:
Do you guys have tips?

In order to reach a useful level in a script, you have to use it a lot, and never rely on any other form of transliteration.


At first I thought it would be helpful to transliterate some words to get used to some sounds, the second after, I thought that it would be a terrible idea. I imagined a Russian, Indian or an Arabic speaker trying to write a spanish word in their own alphabet and my mind exploded, it felt wrong. So yes, I agree that transliteration is a terrible idea.


Mai wrote:

I started Arabic recently, and I had few classes before I quit. And the reason for quitting was just that - symbols were way too hard to interpret and remember, they write from right to left too, found that also very difficult, (I was studying with a native Saudian Arabian , so he didn't introduce any other simpler way), and this task needed more of my attention and time, something I couldn't give at that time.


Yes! Right to left writing is something that worries me, I'm right handed. I thought that the best for me would be to try to learn the hebrew alphabet by writing the letters with my left hand ("Killing two birds with one stone") and then I found this:


https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-training-to-become-ambidextrous-improve-brain-function/


So, now I think that it might not be a good idea :(....

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#7
Elf
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[/quote]

Yes! Right to left writing is something that worries me, I'm right handed. I thought that the best for me would be to try to learn the hebrew alphabet by writing the letters with my left hand ("Killing two birds with one stone") and then I found this:


https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-training-to-become-ambidextrous-improve-brain-function/


So, now I think that it might not be a good idea :(....

[/quote]


Hey Jess, this is very, VERY speculative. Alcohol, drugs, causes neural underdeveloppment and dysfunction, not whatever activity that you do with full consciousness, you can't just go dumb for exercising your left handwriting. It's same as if they were telling me "exercising your left leg and muscles, and aiming to create symmetry in your body, is going to cause neural damages". Anything that you do consciously, will make you start and STOP whenever the moment for that comes. And I didn't really understand this article, who declared it as a competition? That's just practice even in psychology to write down certain aspects of your self-exploration on paper, with your less dominant hand. In the context of the article, competition is there referred to as a negative phenomena/state, while it is actually very healthy, if it is approached healthily. Why would I make my own hands compete with each other, I'm doing it for myself, they are part of me and I wouldn't force it, as some mindsets in the past thought was beneficial. I didn't understand that part, of you find the need to clarify, please... 

Otherwise, our left hand is connected to our right brain hemisphere (the intuitive, creative, feminine side), while our right hand is representing our left hemisphere (the logical, analytical, masculine side). So, consequentially, people that are leftists naturally, they won't conform to society and will be considered "mentally unstable" or whatever the labels used in the article itself are, but they can be and are great artists. Attention deficit and hyperactivity IS actually the irresistible desire and intention coming on this planet, to not do what others want you to do, and not being even able to. And it IS about being left, allowed and encouraged to do whatever that person is inclined to do and talented for.


This article explains some of it 


https://tealswan.com/resources/articles/understanding-autism/ 


It has nothing to do with language-learning, but it can clarify some stuff to you maybe


Worrying is fine, I wouldn't tell you not to worry, but I am rather backing up my arguments, as reality is that if you DO worry, you should follow your instincts. Otherwise, if you approach competition and any training with love and understanding, patience and determination, nothing can go wrong. I find the article you shared very speculative and I wouldn't rely on it myself. 


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#8
Ent
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meifeng wrote:
She wrote the textbook as well, so there was just Thai (in Thai script) and some English explanations.
I bet it was this book. It's fantastic!

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#9
Elf
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Yep! I see it has gone up in value. Time to sell it on Amazon.  

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#10
Ranger
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Mai wrote:

Jess.PWinkler wrote:
Yes! Right to left writing is something that worries me, I'm right handed. I thought that the best for me would be to try to learn the hebrew alphabet by writing the letters with my left hand ("Killing two birds with one stone") and then I found this:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-training-to-become-ambidextrous-improve-brain-function/
So, now I think that it might not be a good idea :(....

Hey Jess, this is very, VERY speculative. Alcohol, drugs, causes neural underdeveloppment and dysfunction, not whatever activity that you do with full consciousness, you can't just go dumb for exercising your left handwriting. It's same as if they were telling me "exercising your left leg and muscles, and aiming to create symmetry in your body, is going to cause neural damages". Anything that you do consciously, will make you start and STOP whenever the moment for that comes. And I didn't really understand this article, who declared it as a competition? That's just practice even in psychology to write down certain aspects of your self-exploration on paper, with your less dominant hand. In the context of the article, competition is there referred to as a negative phenomena/state, while it is actually very healthy, if it is approached healthily. Why would I make my own hands compete with each other, I'm doing it for myself, they are part of me and I wouldn't force it, as some mindsets in the past thought was beneficial. I didn't understand that part, of you find the need to clarify, please...
Otherwise, our left hand is connected to our right brain hemisphere (the intuitive, creative, feminine side), while our right hand is representing our left hemisphere (the logical, analytical, masculine side). So, consequentially, people that are leftists naturally, they won't conform to society and will be considered "mentally unstable" or whatever the labels used in the article itself are, but they can be and are great artists. Attention deficit and hyperactivity IS actually the irresistible desire and intention coming on this planet, to not do what others want you to do, and not being even able to. And it IS about being left, allowed and encouraged to do whatever that person is inclined to do and talented for.
This article explains some of it
https://tealswan.com/resources/articles/understanding-autism/
It has nothing to do with language-learning, but it can clarify some stuff to you maybe
Worrying is fine, I wouldn't tell you not to worry, but I am rather backing up my arguments, as reality is that if you DO worry, you should follow your instincts. Otherwise, if you approach competition and any training with love and understanding, patience and determination, nothing can go wrong. I find the article you shared very speculative and I wouldn't rely on it myself.


I knew you would have an interesting opinion about that article and the topic in general :). Scientific American, is a magazine in the U.S., that has been bringing its readers unique insights about developments in science and technology for more than 170 years. My parents are both biologists so science has taken an important place in my life. As I thought of the idea of train my left hand by learning a language I looked for something that would support my impulse, that was when I found that article.


I thought the same about training my left hand and my left hemisphere as you, but now I'll research about the topic and then take a decision. Thank you for the article!

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#11
Elf
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wrote:

I knew you would have an interesting opinion about that article and the topic in general :). Scientific American, is a magazine in the U.S., that has been bringing its readers unique insights about developments in science and technology for more than 170 years. My parents are both biologists so science has taken an important place in my life. As I thought of the idea of train my left hand by learning a language I looked for something that would support my impulse, that was when I found that article.

I thought the same about training my left hand and my left hemisphere as you, but now I'll research about the topic and then take a decision. Thank you for the article!


I forgot what I was going to write :)) 

Dealing with all quotation space, that btw quotes the whole thing, while I just wanted to quote her, maybe somebody would like to fix this 


Ok, I didn't check where the info was coming from, I kinda had the vibe of it, and it came from a space of doubt, fear and denial, hence, not reliable and trustworthy :D 


Weren't .org and .net sites worth listening to and learning from for real? I thought .com wasn't as reliable

Thank you too! <3 **


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#12
Elf
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Scientific American is a decent source, despite its .com domain. The article highlights some interesting issues. The developmental "harms" of ambidexterity occurs only if ambidexterity came from birth. Training ambidexterity and being naturally ambidextrous is not the same thing, though. 


The article does then go on to argue that ambidexterity is not efficient for brain function because it forces competition between both spheres of the brain, but that's assuming you are using both hands at the same time, no (since the article uses the example of a concert pianist)? I have ever tried using both hands to write different things at the same time, and based on personal experience, yeah, it takes too much mental power, and is completely counterproductive. What it doesn't cover, is if you train your other brain by using your less-used hand, and not using both hands at the same time. 


I personally write Chinese characters with my left hand, even though I am predominantly right-handed. I don't actually feel a diminishing in processing power, because there's no competition between the spheres of my brain. 

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#13
Elf
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Hey, yeah, using both hands for writing at the same time is definitely too much mental power, since you also concentrate on what you are writing, or other parts of the brain concentrate on thinking, constructing sentences, organising it, words, so it's definitely hard and quite impossible and even unhealthy for a human, in my opinion 


Thank you for explaining that 


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#14