Category Archives: Autobiographical

This relates to things which happened to me personally in the past, that might make up something of the story of who I am.

Airport shops – a Poll


I sometimes think that airport shops are simply there to prey on the captive audience which is standing around, bored, waiting for a plane. I always laugh when they ask me to show my boarding card – even if I tell them I’m not leaving the EU and therefore have to pay the VAT, not that it makes any difference most of the time if you are leaving the EU – it’s like you’re getting privileged treatment to be able to pay a few dozen percent more than you’d pay on the highstreet.

It works a bit like hotels. The posher they are, the more they rip you off with overpriced minibars, extra for internet, and nonsense like that. The same Cialdini-ism seems to be used in reverse by these airport shops, in that they think that if they treat you like rubbish and overcharge you, then you’ll feel like you are in a privileged setting and that it behoves you to shell out for things you probably didn’t even want or need in the first place.

Some places are worse than others, but the airports that will actually give you some kind of bargain seem to be in the minority, an increasing small minority.

One time in Prague airport I wanted to buy a deodorant as it was a hot day and I didn’t normally carry a toilet bag as I had a flat in Prague with that job. I was asked by the sullen saleswoman if Warsaw was my final destination. I quipped that I hoped not, as I hoped to go to heaven one day. At this her eyes clouded over, she just took the purchase out of the bag, placed it on a little shelf in her booth and refused to serve me.

Evidently I had offended against the culture of the Czech Republic. I knew they were the most atheistic country in the world, I just didn’t realise they were so religious about it.

What’s your experience with airport shops? Do you tend to use them or not?

St David’s Day


This is fresh off the press of my video camera, filmed less than one hour before publication, which is good for me as may play out backlog has been at times slightly over one year and right now is about 8 months long, but still I think (and in this I have been guided by some of the regular viewers on YT and some of my dear subbers on here who told me so in comments) that it’s good to let topical stuff jump to the front of the queue. I don’t say the best stuff – that would mean I would have a lot of less good stuff waiting to come and that would end up being a bit demotivating for me and you also, but thankfully there’s a lot of my best ever stuff in the backlog waiting its turn patiently, however topical stuff deserves to come to the front of the line regardless of quality.

In the past I have done St David’s Day videos and the best of them in the mind of the viewer, assuming that comments and ratings are an accurate reflection, is the first I did, which is:

A number of viewers stated that they were even in tears or a family member was in tears listening to it. I don’t know what better compliment can be paid to a rendition. Assuming they were the right kind of tears, of course…

The Myfanwy one was from 2007 and since then I had an almost unbroken track record of St David’s Day videos.

Here’s Huli again doing the 2008 one:

And as you can see, facial fungus appears on this one.

The beard, which for some years I wore from Christmas to Easter, also appears in the 2009 one:

being not the best ever rendition of Hopcyn’s “Bugeilio’r gwenith gwyn“.

The fungus is still in evidence in the 2010 video:

However in the 2011 video there is none. That is not only because I didn’t grow a beard in winter that year, but also because I didn’t do a St David’s day video – I was busy and forgot about it.

However, in 2012, last year (again no beard at all last winter) I made up for lost time by putting up a rendition of music that you won’t hear anywhere else on the internet, and which I may possess the last copy of in sheet music, namely Cartref. Like most of the St David’s Day videos, this is sung “a capulco” as Huli puts it.

Here it is:

Which brings us back to the current one, the sixth one, in the course seven years.

Why is it important to me to do a St David’s Day video? Do I believe in Saints in the Roman Catholic sense of the word? Absolutely not. Do I regard myself as linked in some way, being called David, with that David? Well in fact that is what I was told I was named for – the name had been in my family and various grandparents in the male line were Dafydd and you didn’t need to go far back before you got to people in that line who never knew a word of English. But I really know very little about him and much prefer to identify with the Old Testament David who wrote Psalms, played music, admired women, killed Philistines, put up with Saul’s persecution, built cities and was a man after God’s own heart. He doesn’t get aday in the calendar though, which smacks of anti-semitism to me.

No, the reason why I think is this – partly to take the opportunity to celebrate Welshness and being part Welsh, and the other part is that it’s a bit like an anniversary. I joined YT and started to put up my first faltering videos in February 2006 but the beginning was so faltering you could say it was a couple of months before it got off the ground and so treating the end rather than the middle of February as the Anniversary of being on YT seems fairer. It’s now 1st March 2013, that’s 7 years of me being active on YT, and active I am as I have over 1500 videos, on average 200 a year although one year I went over 300 in that year.

I have found that doing video and sharing experiences with a kindly (and sometimes unkindly, but never mind) audience adds an extra dimension to the experience of anything. On the one hand I take the video to have a memory of my own, but the impetus to keep going and keep it organised is better when it is going to be published and others enjoy it.

Before video, I used to travel like I do now but when I think back and see the difference between the things I did before YT and after YT – I simply remember the post YT stuff better, much better, and the experiences don’t all blur into one in my mind. Also it makes me want to get out there and make the film, rather than do the airport-taxi-hotel-office-hotel-taxi-airport cycle of work without seeing anything. There are so many well-travelled businessmen who have nothing to show for all the places they have been. They have been to major capitals of the world but they haven’t even walked around on the streets and heard the language or tasted the local food or seen the individual sights. Just international looking hotels, airports and offices. I was one such person and decided it was a waste, I wasn’t gonna do it anymore, and that even if my own descendants don’t watch to find out what great grandaddy’s life was like (I don’t see why they should) at least I have the record for my own satisfaction. The surprise was, however, that so many more people liked it and were ready to subscribe and follow the travels time after time, such that I now feel that I know so many of these online friends and carry them with me, in a sense, on journeys, feeling them there (albeit with a time delay) when I walk with the camera switched on.

And that’s something which is definitely worth celebrating to me. So hopefully you’ve enjoyed the above mini-Eisteddfod and HSDD!

Enjoy!

Intro to a mobile phone GPS-based game voiced over by me


Some friends of mine, very clever folk, have made a smart phone app which is a territory game – based on the Voynich Manuscript which I’ve blogged about on here before. The game is called Modern Wizards and the idea is self-explanatory if you watch the film above. They’ve made it in Polish and now they are making the English version so they asked me to be the “voice” for this in English. I was very flattered.

Here’s my narration and critiques from professional voice actors are much appreciated.

Plans for 2013


Please link to me

This channel on YT

I thought I would just round off the year’s blogging personally, rather than just with the machine generated summary in the previous post which is very interesting, maybe more so for me than for the readers, just to give you all my warmest wishes for 2013 and to hope that I may continue to be part of what you look at online in the coming year. Your ratings and comments and hits, both here and on Quoracy.com blog and also on the YouTube channel, on Linked-In and Facebook and several other places are all very highly appreciated and at times of crisis I do derive a certain strength from knowing that I’ve still got my readers,  at least I got my friends:

In the deliciously ironic video to this interesting recent hit, the girl’s friend is a robot, but in my case behind the robot face of the internet and it’s various interfaces are real people who have been willing to share a bit in my life by watching the videos, listening to the voice droning on, reading the posts and the comments. That means a lot to me, and some of you I’ve got to know as well as people I’ve spent time with in the same room, or better.

I didn’t manage to do as much as I wanted to in 2012, partly because I always set my plans too high anyway, but also because I had a bad round of pneumonia in the summer which wiped out July and August. Read the rest of this entry

Goldlisting may or may not be from the very beginning of learning a language, but it’ll take you on as far as you like!


1st edition (publ. Hodder & Stoughton)

1st edition (publ. Hodder & Stoughton) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) –  But will Hodder and Stoughton manage to make Michel Thomas’ method everlasting?

Neworldgirl78 wrote on my Goldlist lecture in Moscow film the following question:

I am learning Russian and have been using a variety of means such as Pimsleur, various apps, and your you tube videos of course. Should I narrow my studying to this method or add it to my current methods? Thanks, and love your videos :)

Many thanks!

I started to answer this in the comments section but I thought that it needs more space than the comments section there allows.

Here’s the full answer:

I use Michel Thomas and Pimsleur myself, audio only as they are, at the beginning of learning a new language, but they eventually come to an end. You might for example work through MT first and even a very long course with all the available levels in still is only less than 20 hours of material, add on a full Pimsleur course with another 30 hours of material (much of it overlapping with the MT) that gives you 50 hours.

This 50 hours – the maximum currently available of quality audio-only beginners courses – when listened to a few times gives you 150 hours of audio time at the max, and if you use the pause button properly you could stretch that to 250. It’s great to do this at the beginning – use MT first as that method gives you the deep structures of the language and doesn’t shy away from grammatical explanations (which Pimsleur does to the point that it becomes misleading at times) and it gives you a good accent, but that 250 hours of work will only take you so far.

And let’s be clear that for many of the less popular languages there’s still no MT course – Hodder and Stoughton didn’t make much on the ones available so far as the activities of internauts were too impactful on the sales of the material, and so it may well be down to hobbyists rather than businesspeople to take Michel Thomas’ legacy to its full conclusion. So it the best case, something like Russian, you might be lucky and find 250 hours of useful work to do on audio only. If you were looking at Bulgarian you’d be hard pressed to find any – I found some in bookshops in Sofia, from an unknown method and author which I didn’t even start yet, but nothing on Amazon or the net.

So once you have finished with the audio only, or earlier if you are not an auditory learner and feel that you aren’t progressing so well with the audio only methods, you need to progress onto reading and writing. Read the rest of this entry

Huliganov.TV goes over 100,000 views!


Many thanks to those of you who have subscribed and who come again and again to my humble abode. This milestone is hopefully only the beginning, although in fact I have now been doing this since November 2009, that is three years, and a few days on top. In three years’ time where I’d really like to be is over a million views – that’ll need a lot of work to do pulling over from other places all the resources and creativity that I’ve been doing in different parts of the web and making this the unified place where it’s all easy to find in one place with the various categories and subcategories, and the ability to search by words within this space, as well as the ability to have discussions not hampered by word limits, in which you can thread them properly and include links and media to your hearts’ content – unlike in YT where most of my material currently is and where most of my hits currently occur – in total well over 4 million there so hopefully a million here by the end of a similar six years (the time I’ve been on YT is now closer seven than six) is not too much to hope for.

In the end it depends on you, the viewer. Every bit of interactivity that you do here, discussing with me or with other commentors if you feel the urge, every subscription, every use of the share buttons I’ve put under the articles, it all helps me along, it all encourages me to produce more in the future.

Not everyone will like the blog, or the films and other internet “assets” (sometimes “internet contingent liabilities” might be a better phrase), but for some of you I know it has been and will be a source of interesting ideas and an experience of language learning, travel and other subjects such as faith, politics and others from time to time, and I hope that it will continue to be a place that you subscribe to, that you like to come to from time to time, and that you recommend to like-minded people. Read the rest of this entry

Snippets from various performers (South Africa Series 5/10)


Playout date: 19 November 2006
Camera: Fuji Finepix
Post Production: Windows Movie Maker – slight use
Location: Cape Town conference centre near the Arabella
Other people featured: Conference goers, performers
Genre: Conference
Music used: Several performances by Cape Town groups
Languages used: English
Animals featured: None

If there’s one thing I miss about the old firm’s conferences it is the amount of music and entertainment they laid on. The ones done by my current group are a bit more low key in that regard. Here’s an example of what the opening ceremony of the Cape Town conference looked like.

 

Zachód słońca z okna mojego biura.


image

Tak właśnie wyglądało w czwartek.

The stubborn ear of the first-time linguist.


Portrait of Jane Austen, from the memoir by J....

Meet your new English teacher...

This is an answer to the question received from Grzegorz Siwiec which I’ve answered also where he put it in the Goldlist section, and also I wanted to make an article of it in its own right as it’s a great question. I’ve added a bit more here than in the answer to his question, so hopefully you’ll read it here as well. The additional bit is at the end.

You basically said that when you read English you understand a lot, but when you hear even the same text spoken, you understand a lot less. You asked whether the Goldlist method would help with listening.

OK, so here’s the answer.

Firstly, reading and listening are two sides of the same discipline. They are both the passive sides of linguistic activity. Linguistic activity, like mathematical activity, has four main functions. In maths we have addition, multiplication, subtraction and division. And just as division is like the opposite or passive side of multiplication, so hearing is the passive side of speaking. And just as subtraction is the passive side of addition, so reading is the passive side of writing. And just as it is easier to do big subration sums than it is to do long division without a calculator, so it is that the beginner until fluency is gained will find the passive activity of reading to be easier than the passive activity of hearing.

In reading, we provide in our heads our own “voice” for the words and we “listen” to that. But it is a voice that we have made and therefore it will contain the mispronunciations that we have picked up. We may hear the same word back read by a native speaker and it may sound different because the pronunciation is not what we expected. The Goldlist can help here if you note with words in the goldlist any unexpected pronunciation to an English word if you’re learning English or other not precisely phonetic language.

In the main the reason why we do not understand a spoken text as well is that the tempo it is presented in will be someone else’s tempo. When we read we adjust the speed of the internal voice to match what we are comfortable with. We pause when we need to think about a word, whereas in a spoken text the voice carries on while we still need to chew on an earlier word, and we get lost. We can also see an unfamiliar word and analyse it for etymological clues, and do things that we don’t have time for when listening to a text. If we do get lost we can repeat it.

So don’t expect following a spoken text to be equally easy as following a written one. Not unless you are learning Japanese, that is. And even there, the speech of some speakers, especially male speakers, is quite hard to follow. Bear in mind also that some languages swallow half the letters, for instance French and Danish, and many accents of English. Accents in themselves cause listening comprehension to be much tougher than reading comprehension, especially in languages like German or English which contain strong dialects. In Polish even the Zakopane accent is not so hard to follow – I heard some on the radio this morning as a local was commenting record visitors to the place last long weekend. Kashubian is the biggest challenge maybe, or a thick Silesian, but Kashubian counts as another language and even Silesian is not as far from Polish as some of the dialects around England are from one another. People speaking southern England dialect can follow standard Australian or American with much greater facility than they can follow broad Geordie or Scouser once they get going. Please make sure you are following people who are speaking a form of English that is fairly standard. Many Poles went to Ireland and pride themselves on getting an Irish brogue, but the downside is that they aren’t all that understandable to other native speakers. Irish is a lovely accent when it’s authentic, but it’s not one the foreigner should be aiming to copy for international use if they can help it. I’m not talking Terry Wogan here, I’m talking a strong Irish accent.

So, what tools can one use to improve listening comprehension? In the good old days, in schools we used to be given dictees in French – less so in German as it was more self evident how things were written as long as a person wasn’t speaking to us in Schwaebisch. I understand that ‘dyktando’ was also used in Polish schools. You can actually give yourself a dictation by taking an audiobook and sampling a paragraph at random on the mp3, writing it out from listening to the actor read and then checking it back to the book.

You don’t even need to write it, you can simply listen to an audiobook paragraph by paragraph, then read the original to see if you understood everything, and then mark the words you still don’t know, and then use the translation to get those words, which by the way should be added to the Goldlist headlist. This linguistic Triathlon is a great way to develop both the passive skills.

The best way to go about it is to see if you can get three things for the same novel or short story: first the audiobook read by a good actor on mp3 on audible.com or other sources. There’s no shortage of material out there on the net and not all of it is paid, if you get my drift. second you need the English original and finally you need a Polish translation. It probably helps if at least one of the two written ones is in printed form – a print-out if not a book bought or borrowed from the library. By using this method you’ll gradually come to see that you need the Polish translation less and less and you need to read the material in addition to just hearing it less and less. Also you’ll familiarise yourself with some of the jewels of English literature. Take twentieth century literature in order to have a more modern standard – we tend not to talk these days in the way people did in Dickens or Jane Austen, but in due course if you like the process you’ll be able to graduate to them.

If you cannot get into novels and literature, you could choose films. Films with a lot of talking in are preferable. Green Mile, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society, Fight Club – these are all better than pure action movies like James Bond which will take your time up with car chases and sexy women which could more profitably be spent on language learning. The thing to do here is to get DVDs – preferably hiring them, and play about with the soundtracks and titles. Basically when the DVD was born the language lab died.

Here are the additional bits I wanted to say:

The problem which you are encountering is particularly noticeable when learning your first foreign language. Sometimes the ear is slow in reacting to the different sounds of a language, especially when being in a country for the first time and hearing native speakers when all one has had has been other more adavcned foreign learners as speakers. This training the ear to accept strange sounds is different to activation, and can take a couple of months of being in a country. Once one has “broken” this stubborn ear then for subsequent languages the problem doesn’t tend to happen.

The other thing is that as long as you have a small vocabulary, of only a few thousand words, then you will come up against unfamiliar words more often and they will put the ear off track all the more often. A vocabulary of 15,000 words or more means that you are really familiar with 99.9% of what you hear so interruptions to the flow are that much rarer and one’s ability to follow for longer periods that much easier. Therefore working on the Goldlist to gain really large vocabularies will also help the ear to become attuned.

Chateaux Drive


Châteaux of the Loire Valley

The big picture - we only saw a handful of the total available!

Occasionally these blog posts will contain more than one video – especially if the video is one item which was split up into separate items as this day chasing chateaux in the Loire Valley was split up in order to keep them on HD in YouTube.

They are all one day out, and they can best be enjoyed from beginning to end as one piece, hence putting them into a single post.

I don’t always do this, but sometimes I just feel like it.

OK, so here are the videolinks in order of their appearance:

Enjoy!

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