Over the weekend, I finished reading 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts! As promised, I shot a short video where I attempted to speak in Ukrainian about finishing it. I didn’t get very far (and kind of repeated myself), but I was happy to see that my Ukrainian came together a little better than in previous videos (I was able to put sentences together a little more confidently).
Here’s the video if you’d like to check it out:
I neglected to mention in this take of the video that I read all of the texts at least two times each, plus listened to the audio version of the texts twice as well, so that is partially why it took so long to get through all 100 of them! (I also forgot about the book over the summer, so that’s also why it’s taken me so long!)
Since finishing it, I’ve had the audio versions of the texts playing while I’m cleaning and whatnot. At this point, I don’t understand every word, but I’m able to follow many of the texts, so that’s encouraging! The later ones are a bit harder, so I’ll have to work on them a bit more.
The eighty-seventh author interview went live today on TBPL Off the Shelf! This time I interviewed the Thunder Bay Public Library’s Writer in Residence, Annette Pateman. We talk about her residency, what attracts her to poetry, and performing her work with percussion instruments. You can find the interview here.
I’m really excited – I only have a few texts left to read in 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts by Yulia Pozniak!
This book has been a real struggle to get through. I’d hoped to have it finished in the spring, but I lost momentum and it’s been lingering on since then. The problem is that the texts themselves aren’t super engaging. They’re almost all a paragraph made up of a few sentences (maybe about 4-6 for most of them) of just description. With the exception of text 6.8, which was a dialogue, they’re all the same, so it’s hard to read them one after the other. (I also ended up really sad after 6.8 because I thought maybe now there would be more dialogues, but that unfortunately wasn’t the case). It’s a shame, because the book is full of great vocabulary and I really like that it includes a link to the audio versions of all the texts, too. I’ve been listening to them as I read, which gives me more of a feel for how Ukrainian sounds when spoken (and has helped me with the pronunciation of different words, too).
As much as I’ve struggled with it though, I also feel like I should go back and reread it, just to help all the words stick in my head better. But I do want to move onto something else, so I’m thinking I’ll probably just keep it around and flip through it periodically (it will be good for days when my brain doesn’t want to do anything too intense, especially once my Ukrainian improves!) It’ll also be nice to focus more on the topic areas that interest me, rather than trying to read the whole book from cover to cover again (the book is made up of 10 texts in 10 different subject areas). I might also load some of the audio files onto my iPod just to see if I can follow them while I’m walking to work or doing housework. 🙂
Pozniak has a second book, Ukrainian Language Reader with Vocabulary and Audio: Pre-Intermediate Level. I wasn’t sure if I would pick it up, but found a preview that showed this book has dialogues like text 6.8 in 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts, so I decided to give it a shot, too. I’m debating between reading it next, or taking a leap into one of the Ukrainian books I’ve bought that are made for Native speakers (if I do that, it will be really slow going as I’ll probably have to look up a lot of words, particularly in the beginning). I’ll probably go with the next book by Pozniak, which will hopefully help prepare me a bit more for the native-level texts.
I’ll make another Ukrainian video when I’m done reading the book (and have hopefully decided what I’m going to read next in Ukrainian!) 🙂
Last month I decided I was going to get myself caught up with Maclean’s magazines. In August I read four, and just kept reading them into September. But as I was finishing the October 2020 issue, the eighth issue I read in a row, I was in major need of a break. It didn’t help that the issues I had just finished were all dealing with Covid-19 (which I honestly wasn’t able to read last year because I was not in a great place mentally due to the pandemic), Black Lives Matter, Indigenous injustices, the WE Scandal, and a shooting in the Maritimes (plus repeated requests for a public inquiry as a result) – all heavy and depressing things.
At that point, I took a break to read a fiction book. That gave me the energy to read a few more issues of Macleans, though not as many as I originally planned to (I was hoping to get completely caught up with them before the election on September 20th). But I did manage to finish all of the 2020’s prior to the election, so that was something at least.
Going forward, I’m going to try to read an issue of Maclean’s, then a book (or two, depending on how well I’m doing mentally after each issue), in an attempt to get caught up with them (and hopefully keep more on top of them than I have been, too!)
Dungeon Eternium by Dakota Krout
I also read six issues of Maclean’s Magazine.
I was really excited to fit in finishing Dakota Krout’s Divine Dungeon series this month, too. The friend who recommended it to me wants me to start another series set in that universe, but I’m going to go and read some other stuff before I come back to this world. 🙂
I put aside the nonfiction book I’m currently reading (Lean Out by Tara Henley), in favour of Unreconciled by Jesse Wente, which I decided to read for today, the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation here in Canada. Unreconciled sounds really good (and was highly rated on Amazon), so I’m really looking forward to it.
So what have you read over the last month? What was your favourite book?
Over the weekend I had my first Ukrainian lesson in a few weeks (both me and my teacher have been busy over the last few weekends and hadn’t been able to connect). She asked me if I’d learned some vocabulary on art and theater like she had asked. Unfortunately I completely forgot! But it was okay, she said to just learn it for next time.
I struggle with learning vocabulary in Ukrainian A LOT. I find I have a hard time getting new words to stick (I think in part because they’re often so different from English, unlike French words). I tried using Anki flashcards for awhile, but I hated it. I’m pretty sure I made the flashcards wrong (I put only one word on each flashcard, rather than a phrase or sentence which would have been easier to learn). But I also felt like I was making the same mistakes with the same words day after day, which was frustrating. The flashcards I needed to review were also growing exponentially each day; after a few weeks I needed an hour + just for Anki reviews, which was completely unsustainable. And boring. I tried cutting back the new cards and reviews, but I still just hated the time I was spending with the app, so eventually I gave up with it.
So this time around, I thought, why not try writing a short story in Ukrainian incorporating the words I’m supposed to learn? My original intention was to create some sort of character and write about their adventures dealing with the art world. But when I actually sat down to write something, I found myself writing about my life. The list of words I’m supposed to learn is fairly long, so I broke it up and wrote a few short pieces on half of them (literature, music, and musical instruments – I’ll work on the other half of the list later this week). The first piece. on literature, was extremely short; it ended up being a paragraph about interviewing authors because that’s what the vocabulary seemed to most easily reflect. The second piece, which was around the same length, was a paragraph about me enjoying singing along (badly) to some songs by Скай. Then the third piece was about musical instruments. I started what I thought was going to be another short piece, but as I wrote it, it grew until it quadrupled in length (it’s still fairly short at four paragraphs, but much longer than the other pieces I wrote)! I ended up deciding to post it on Journaly, Robin McPherson’s Journaling platform for language learners (he’s a polyglot Youtuber I follow – I read his book a few months ago). I signed up for Journaly back in July, but this is the first thing I’ve posted anything on there. Hopefully I’ll get some feedback on my grammar soon (but there aren’t a lot of Ukrainian posts, so it may be a bit before anyone comments on it). 🙂
A day later I wrote another Ukrainian post on Journaly. I was working on the art and museum vocabulary from the list, so I decided to write about visiting the ROM and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. I wasn’t able to fit a couple of the words in though (specifically the words for “icon” and “guide,” as well as phrases for hiring a guide and asking how much an entrance ticket costs), so I’ll have to see if I can either learn them another way, or incorporate them into another story.
Full disclosure: to write these posts, I used Google Translate for help with some words and spelling. I also don’t have any nice pictures of musical instruments, so I snagged this one by Firmbee from Pixabay to use as the banner for the post. I do however have pictures from the ROM, so I used one of those for the second Journaly post. 🙂
While it’s only been a few days since I wrote these pieces, I’ve found that I’m able to recognize the words I set out to learn! I don’t think I can produce them yet on my own, but this is really promising! Hilariously, all of the words I am having trouble with are verbs I needed to tell the story (mainly in the longer piece about musical instruments). I’ll need to work on those as well. 🙂
I’d also like to add that this is two weeks after I was working really in-depth with Eileen’s Ukrainian cover of “The Dragonborn Comes” and I still know what the lyrics from the first two verses mean (I didn’t work on the last verse because in the original it’s in Dragon Tongue, not English). I’m even getting better at singing along with her, although I do still stumble in a few places.
Oh geeze, I’ve missed posting the author interviews I’ve done on TBPL Off the Shelf since April! So here’s a list of all four, including yesterday’s interview. 🙂
In May I interviewed Elle Andra-Warner about researching historical subjects, travel writing, and the most interesting facts she learned about the lighthouses of the North Short of Lake Superior.
In June I interviewed Eleanor Albanese about what drew her to fiction writing from theatre, how her fiction writing process differs from her theatre process, and the role of midwives in rural Northern Ontario a century ago.
In August I interviewed Roy Blomstrom about writing a wide variety of forms and genres, what drew him to science fiction for his newest novel, and writing a multiverse.
And this month I interviewed Martha Wells about where she got the idea for Murderbot, writing engaging AI characters, and her newest book, Fugitive Telemetry.
Last week, I was thinking about Rammstein. Back in high school, I loved Rammstein, and listened to them all the time. But the interesting thing is, even though I don’t know German (I wanted to learn it back then, but never actually sat down and did so), I was able to sing along to the songs (I’m a bit rusty, but still can!), and I actually understand a lot of what they’re saying.
So that got me thinking: why is this not the case with, say, the music I’m listening to in Ukrainian? I have a big playlist of songs in Ukrainian that I love and listen to quite often. I also have some specific songs I listen to more often than others. And while I can sing along (badly) to them, I don’t know what is being said, outside of a few words here and there that I know.
I will admit though, it’s been interesting seeing how periodically words I didn’t understand before are suddenly clear as day from listening to these songs over and over again while simultaneously learning more of the language.
But yes, what’s the difference between then and now, German vs Ukrainian? At first I thought, maybe I listened to the Rammstein songs a lot more than the Ukrainian ones. While that may be true, by this point I’ve listened to a few Ukrainian songs, particularly my favourite few from Скай (Skai), an awful lot, so that can’t be the reason. I even started to get a bit sad thinking that maybe it’s because I’m coming at this a little later in life (even though that doesn’t really make sense because I wasn’t actively learning German the way I’m learning Ukrainian now). But then, I remembered: I used to look up the meanings of the song lyrics all the time on one particular website (oh my gosh, I found it! It was on https://herzeleid.com/en/lyrics!) I remember spending a lot of time on that site years ago looking up the meanings of their first five albums, and even printing out my favourite songs!
With a few exceptions, I actually haven’t looked at translations on most of the Ukrainian songs I like (and I haven’t looked up translations or even just the lyrics of any of the French songs I listen to either). And the ones that I did look up, I didn’t really study them the way I did with the Rammstein songs; instead I was waiting for the meanings to become clear to me through study.
So I decided to test this out on Friday with “The Dragonborn Comes,” a short song from Skyrim that was popularized by Malukah on Youtube. Even though I’ve never played Skyrim, I used to listen to (and sing along with) this song a lot, along with a few others she did because they’re really pretty:
A few months ago, a friend sent me a video by a Ukrainian singer named Eileen who makes covers of English songs in Ukrainian. Looking at her videos, I discovered that she made a Ukrainian cover of “The Dragonborn Comes”:
I only focused on the two verses Malukah sings in English (the final verse is not English, but Eileen translated it into Ukrainian anyway). With the help of the lyrics in both versions (Eileen very helpfully posts the Ukrainian lyrics of her songs in her video descriptions), along with Google Translate to confirm certain words and phrases (they’re not word for word translations – the Ukrainian version is a little different but it conveys a similar meaning), I was able to get a fairly accurate idea of what the words in the Ukrainian version meant after just one evening. It took an hour or two and lots of repetition to get to that point though, listening to both versions of the songs while reading the lyrics (mostly listening to one language and reading the other so I could mentally map the words to each other).
But more importantly, most of the words I learned in the lyrics were still in my head the next day! Even now, a few days later, I can listen to Eileen’s version and understand what she’s saying! I can even sing along with her fairly well for most of the song (except for a couple of phrases where I’m stumbling over the pronunciation – they’re a bit hard for me to pronounce normally, never mind at this singing speed). And some of the words seem to now be in my “usable” vocabulary – those are the words you not only recognize, but can actively produce. 🙂
After my success with “The Dragonborn Comes,” I decided to give this a try with one of the songs I really like by Скай, “З Мене Досить,” (that translates to “I’ve Had Enough”), which I found the words to on pisni.org.ua. It’s going to take a bit longer because it’s a longer song than “The Dragonborn Comes,” but it helps that I looked up the chorus awhile ago so I at least have a starting point with it. There also isn’t an English version as it isn’t a cover and the English translations do not work along with the rhythm of the song because some of the phrases are shorter syllabically (yes, I was trying to make them fit but it didn’t work). Here’s that song if you’d like to check it out:
A translation of the chorus is: “I’ve had enough believe (me)/I’ve had enough, I do not want (to)/I’ve had enough, sorry/I’ve had enough, it’s better not at all.”
Surprisingly, there are a few words in these lyrics that were also in “The Dragonborn Comes!”
I had a great start to August with reading. I even managed to only read books that I own, which was great as that is one of my goals for the year. But then the Canadian election was called, and I decided I need to put reading books in English aside until the election at the end of September. Instead I’m going to be reading through the many issues of Maclean’s Magazine that I’ve been putting off reading for over a year (I started off with 13 and my brother says he has 2 or 3 more) in an attempt to be more informed prior to the election, so that’s going to keep me busy!
But I will continue reading books in French and Ukrainian as I go through all the Macleans back issues. 🙂
Narrative Designer: Fabulator Ludus by Stephen E. Dinehart IV
An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire
Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire
Dungeon Desolation by Dakota Krout
I also read two local magazines (Northwest Nosh from 2019 and a copy of The Walleye from earlier this year) and 4 issues of Maclean’s. I really hope I’ll be able to keep up my momentum with reading them in September!
I think my favourite book this month was An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire. I really liked the idea of where Blind Michael, the master of the faerie Hunt, gets his new hunters and their steeds from. I do wish the book had upped the horror factor a bit though. The story revolves around a childhood bogeyman and the main character gets turned into a child – this just screamed horror, or at least a much darker vibe, a la Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
So what have you read over the last month? What was your favourite book?
As promised, today I wanted to look at the things I’m reading in French. 🙂
My French is a fair bit more advanced than my Ukrainian, so I’m able to read short stories for French learners fairly well. I’m a big fan of the books by Olly Richards (the first French book I finished was his Short Stories in French for Beginners). I’ve attempted to read French Short Stories for Beginners by Lingo Mastery a couple of times since last summer. The first time I had a hard time with the first story, so I put it aside in favour of the Olly Richards book. I’ve since made it through the first story and have attempted the second story a couple of times, but I still can’t really follow it. So I’ve put it aside once again and gone back to books by Olly Richards.
I ordered a copy of Short Stories in French for Intermediate Learners, as well as 101 Conversations in Intermediate French. 101 Conversations in Intermediate French came first, so I gave it a try. I was a little skeptical about the book because I thought the conversations were going to be just random conversations between random characters. But I was pleasantly surprised – the 101 conversations in the book are all conversations within a larger story! The book is basically a novel with all the description removed (there’s just a paragraph at the beginning of every conversation to give some context). I absolutely love it! I made it through the first three conversations with little trouble, able to follow the just of what’s going on, which was really exciting because it’s a book for intermediate learners, not beginners. I had a harder time with conversation 4 though because it deals with a lot of vocabulary I’m not familiar with (revolving around art crimes). I’ve read it a few times, and am following it a bit better, but I’ll still need to work on it a bit before moving on.
It was at this point that I decided to get the book 101 Conversations in Simple French. Some of the characters from the Intermediate book appear in the beginner book, and it sounded like conversation 4 revolves around what happened in the first book. So I decided to grab the first book on my Kindle to give it a quick read. That way I’ll know exactly what happened in the story (and hopefully pick up some of the words that are giving me trouble in the Intermediate book!) 101 Conversations in Simple French has been a super easy read for me – I’m on conversation 63 already, and have only needed to reread maybe two of the conversations so far to better understand them (everything else I just read once and moved on). It’s been a lot of fun because it really does feel like I’m just reading for pleasure and not having to work at it. 🙂
The other thing I did was purchase the audiobook versions of a lot of these books (the only one I haven’t bought is 101 Conversations in Simple French because I was planning on just reading it quickly). I’ve heard that if you read and listen at the same time, it will greatly help your listening comprehension in another language. I even bought the audiobook version of Short Stories in French for Beginners and started working my way back through that book while listening to it. I’ve made it about halfway through the book reading and listening, then started listening to some of the stories on my iPod while walking to work (I was super excited to discover that the file on my iPod had chapter selections! The file on my computer looked like one big 4 hour file with no chapter breaks). I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the audiobook version so much, so a big thank you to the narrator, Louis Bernard, for making them so engaging!
And that’s where I’m at with French. I’m hoping in the next week or two I’ll finish reading 101 Conversations in Simple French so I can get back to 101 Conversations in Intermediate French. I’ll probably work my way through that book before starting Short Stories in French for Intermediate Learners.
Hey everyone, how’s it going? Today I thought I’d talk a bit about the Ukrainian books I’ve been reading lately: Хто живе у Лісі – Who Lives in the Wood? and Я Люблю Читати – Ukrainian Reading for Kids: Ukrainian–English. Both of these books are bilingual books written for kids. I found Хто живе у Лісі first and thought it was adorable, so I went looking for more books by Chatty Parrot and found Я Люблю Читати (along with another book of winter words that I haven’t really looked at yet because it’s summer).
I love how the story is laid out in Хто живе у Лісі. Every page talks about a different animal and the things they like to do; key words are in a different colour, so you can very easily understand what each word in the sentence means. I found it a great vocabulary booster for both new verbs and different animal names (I knew a few of them, like the word for “bird,” but have learned a whole bunch more thanks to this book!) Plus the pictures are just so darn cute! (And having the cute visual is helping me remember the different animals in Ukrainian!)
Я Люблю Читати is a very generic title for a book with four bilingual fairy tales (I personally would have called the book something more like Я Люблю Казки – I Love Fairy Tales instead). The four fairy tales are the Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel, The Princess and the Pea, and the Ugly Duckling. So far I’ve just read the first two – I’ve read the Three Little Pigs several times, and have just read Hansel and Gretel once so far. I’m finding I’m now recognizing words better the more I read the tale. As a bonus, some of the animal words I learned in Хто живе у Лісі are in the Three Little Pigs, too!
My hope is that these books, which are fairly easy, will help me build my vocabulary so I can eventually attempt to tackle another, harder book of fairy tales (I took one look at the pages of that book and felt a bit overwhelmed by it (take a look at this random page from that book, you can see it’s a *little* harder than the random page from Хто живе у Лісі). I’m also nearing the end of 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts (I think I have about 15 texts left to go), but that’s been a little slower going because the texts aren’t super engaging. They’re not really stories, but more like little passages of explanation. They’ve been helpful for vocabulary building though, and I’m really happy that the author, Yuliia Pozniak, made audio versions of all the texts so you can read and listen at the same time! But I wish they had been more like a series of dialogues rather than paragraphs of description.
Next time I’ll take a look at the French books I’m currently working with! 🙂