Monthly Archives: March 2012

Old Usenetposts Gallery #5 Coots in cahoots

Gallery Page 5 – Coots in cahoots

The birds you see here are the common coot, Fulica atra, which is similar to the American coot Fulica americana, only with a ‘balder’ appearance, as the white headshield is higher in the Eurasian version, leading to the expression ‘as bald as a coot’. The term ‘coot’ in itself is in all likelihood onomatopoeic in English, as one common noise the bird makes, among a large playlist of other calls and alarms made by the splashing of its specialised lobed feet, is like the syllable ‘coot’. The only language that shares with Engolish the name ‘coot’ is Dutch, which calls the bird ‘Meerkoet’. The German term is ‘Blaesshuhn’, the Scandywegian languages are ‘blishoene’ and ‘sothoene’, but don’t ask me which is which, the Russian is Lysukha’ and the Polish is ‘Lyska’, and the Romance languages show mainly variants on the latin ‘Fulica’ (Fr. ‘Foulque’, Sp. ‘Focha’ , It. ‘Folaga’)

Coots wintering on the Vistula near Plock – Photo taken at Nowy Duninow, December 2004

These coots are resting together on the retention reservoir which has been made in the Vistula River between Plock and Wloclawek in a ribbon several birds deep and several kilometres long, strongly calling to mind the appearance of the band of rooks in migratory flight over Warsaw each spring and Autumn, only resting on water rather than flying through the air. These birds will migrate in the spring into East Poland, Belarus and Russia for the summer breeding period – this is the most westerly point on mainland Europe that they are found all year. They live for about 18 years, are omnivorous, and considered as a type of rail: family Rallidae, order Gruiformes.

More beautiful landscape scenes from Poland and elsewhere coming up…

DJJ 13th February 2005

Old Usenetposts Gallery #4 Pineapple Pleco

Gallery Page 4 – Pineapple Pleco

English: Pseudorinelepis genibarbis (Valencien...

Image via Wikipedia

(As you can see from the insert, this photo was also given by me to Wikipedia and remains there to this day.)
Here’s one of my two pineapple plecos – Pseudorinelepis sp. I don’t find it easy to take fish photos, as invariably either a piece of algae gets in the way or they swim off or turn round and look at me, or I get a reflection, but this for me is a relatively good shot. The fish is a true delight, very elegant swimmers, relatively peaceful, needing to supplement their diet with bogwood The piece you see in the photograph has been diminished in size by their occasional nibblings. (The rock to the left is jasper, by the way, a very good aquarium rock). They have gradually learned to compete for surface food by swimming upside-down and grazing the surface, which looks very odd, and I have never seen this behaviour in a large plecostomid before.

Pseudorinelepis sp., called the Pineapple pleco, is one of the loricarids known to science under an ‘L’ number – in this case L152 – as there are too many to sort out

They are called ‘pineapple plecos’ for the pineapple skin appearance of their armour. These armoured fishes, of which there are so many, are the ideal creature to be found in the fossil record, and yet very few have been found, one of many facts consistent with a major catastrophic flood, but not millions of years of evolution.

Stay with the tour for more natural history photos, and numerous other topics….

Old Usenetposts Gallery #3 Gecko on the Wall

Gallery Page 3 – Gecko on the Wall

Here’s a tropical lizard on the wall of the villa I was staying in. I assume this is a gecko of some sort, but what I don’t know is what sort, exactly. It allowed me to take a load of photos at quite close range, of which this is perhaps the most detailed. Please E-mail or bulletin board if you know what species of lizard this is precisely.

Gordon the Gecko is not wired for sound this time, but was under surveillance anyway

Stay with the tour for more natural history photos, and numerous other topics….

DJJ 13th February 2005

Old Usenetposts Gallery #2 Tropical Birds

(I’m continuing with the repost of old material from the former

Gallery Page 2 – Tropical Birds
Right, still with me? Good. We’re still looking at unidentified fauna. Here we have a kind of gull that I’ve never seen in Europe, with a kind of hairstyle, as it were, of an old English teacher of mine. (I use that possessive pronoun attributively, not possessively, as he would say). Provisionally, therefore, I’ve named it the Saunders gull – but what is its real name? E-mail or bulletin board if you know the answer. Seen in the Dominican Republic, Casa de Campo, November 2004.

This seagull is probably not new to science, but it was new to me

Again from the Dominican Republic in November 2004, is this small reddish hawk. The picture doesn’t deserve its own page, as the quality is not good, but still I don’t know the bird so I’m hoping someone will tell me what it is. This is the best of three I managed to take before it flew away.

The tiniest hawk I ever saw

More animals coming up, before moving on to other themes…

DJJ 13th February 2005

Old Usenetposts Gallery #1 Moth

I’m scheduling some reposts of some content I used to have on – over the next few days I’ll be showing some old photos I took and placed on the old site as a tour. I’ll be keeping the old original text I wrote some years ago, as this is now not up anywhere else since, in the form it was hosted before, was sabotaged by the sad, conceited drug addict who hosted it, whilst pretending to be an Evangelical Christian, which he has since dropped his pretense of being.

Gallery Page 1 – Tropical Moth
Welcome to my picture gallery. This is just a small selection of the photos I’ve been taking. The rule here is to give a small amount of text around the picture, but to give pride of place to the pictures in each page of the gallery, between 1 and 3 pictures per side. They have all been made very small for the net, and if anyone likes any of them particularly, then they can always ask me for a full sized version by e-mail.

I am not making an index to the gallery, but taking it as a tour, so as to encourage people to see all the pictures. I’m not saying at this stage what is around the corner, the best thing is simply to follow the links to the next page at the end of each gallery page. When it is finished it will lead back to the home page of this site, but as this is going to be an ongoing work in progress, as I take photos all the time, you may like to check back in a few weeks and see if there are any more.

DJJ 12th February 2005 (original time of publishing)

An amusing thought about the Goldlist vs Flashcards

A set of flashcards demonstrating the Leitner ...

Image via Wikipedia

In various places I have heard people comparing the Goldlist to flash cards and saying that for them, flash cards are preferable.

I am not saying that flash cards are all wrong, certainly you can build yourself a manual SRS with paper flash cards. However, unike the Gold list they do give people the temptation to look at words they really memorised on the first day far too many times and this they create time wasting and drag on the learning process.

Even in the course of making the flash cards, if you make them yourselves, which is a job like setting up your headlist, you are making cards, and using cardboard on words, and 30% of them you memorised the first time you wrote them. So that’s a waste of paper for a start.

But the biggest negative for flash cards was brought home to me by Mike Lin on the comments on this blog on the Goldlist Method page – he says he prefers the compactness of the Goldlist to fumbling with a high pile of flash cards. That’s what got me thinking. I had exactly that problem in University trying to make enough cards to manipulate the vocab I was trying to learn.

Im Goldlist, one piece of paper has 25 words going through various stages of distillation. A single notebook just 2 cm thick can contain a headlist of 5,000 words going through the system. Let’s consider how thick a flashcard system would be that had 5000 words in it – each piece of card is about double the thickness of a page of writing paper in a book, so if a number of words written 25 per page half as thick is 2 cm deep, the pile of flash cards doing the same would be about a metre high! A 15,000 word challenge containing three bronze books and a silver book needs 8cm of shelf space, whereas flash cards would need 3 metres! You wouldn’t fit it in most rooms, you’d have to lay it on its side. Which is just as well, because of it fell over or got blown by the wind the time you’d need just putting it back together again would be another big waste. Along with the money spent on buying all that card.

I understand about the need to replenish the carbon sink, so maybe I shouldn’t be so discouraging to these flash card fans, but really – if you intend to do a big language learning project then just do the maths. Linguists who can count too will almost certainly agree that the goldlist is a far more efficient and manageable manual system than flash cards. If you just want to learn 500, then it’s not such a big deal, but still you’ll get there in less total time applied with the Goldlist method.



Grammar and the Goldlist

English: Greek: Present Active Indicative, Imp...

Image via Wikipedia

I am often asked (or, for hypersticklers, ‘it is often being asked unto me’) “Is the Goldlist only for vocabulary or is it also for grammar, and other things?”.

It is a good question. The answer is that I personally use it for everything involving writing which is involved in the learning of a language, and I prefer to keep a language within a single Goldlist system if it’s feasible. ‘

There are sometimes cases to be made for doing multiple goldlists around a single language. If we are talking about, for instance, and understanding of the grammar points in Japanese or Chinese, it may be easier for some people to deal with these and get them out of the way in PinYin or Roomaji (there are pluses and minuses to that approach, as hiragana is used in Japanese for most of what would be considered grammar, and getting used to the look of that grammar in hiragana is essential, but you can get to it later once you’ve grasped what’s actually going on using Roomaji) A separate goldlist book can be used for that, and that would enable a person to use their main goldlist to keep track of pure vocabulary as it grows.

Likewise phrases, proverbs, lines of songs in the language that you want to remember – if you don’t want them getting in the way of the pure vocab count, stick them in a separate goldlist. It doesn’t bother me much in my case, I know anyway what the composition of a given headlist is and where I got the material to be memorised from.

Whether you have a separate grammar Goldlist or a mixed one, when it comes to grammar and the goldlist there are certain things which need to be borne in mind.

– In most languages it is possible to talk about regular grammar, the basic rules, regular verb conjugations, noun declensions, etc, and then there will be irregularities. The regular parts are learned as tables, and the use of the grammar as well as syntax is driven home by typical practice sentences. All of these things can be included as line items in the gold list once over, and not any more for those words which follow the regular paradigms.

– the irregular verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc, all the words which don’t follow the tables which have been memorised as deafult tables should have their irregularities learned at the same time as you learn the word. In the headlist you might spread the word over different lines for all the parts in which it is irregular, and then combine them in later distillations or leave them out once you remember them.

If you are talking about Spanish, for instance, (a language whose nouns are strightforward in the main but the verbs can be a nightmare) it is possible to determine from three or four of the “persons” of a verb in any declension how the other positions will look. Therefore even in the Headlist when looking at the present definite of an irregular verb, it will show only four rather than six positions. If you prefer to write all six in H (notation for the Headlist) just to get a better feel for them, then that’s up to you. If you do that, it will be possible to take the verb to four lines in D1 (notation for first distillation) and in D2 you might get those four verb forms all on one line, writing the part of the root that doesn’t change, a concatenation mark and then the parts of the verb which change with commas after them. If you are aware that you are writing the yo, el, nosostros and ellos part of the verb each time, then you don’t need to add those pronouns. By D2 you’ve probably droppoed the infinitive anyway, so as you see the rate of distillation of grammar done that way is faster than for normal vocab. After D2 you’ll probably be unable to do any more compaction, so dropping lines is a function of already being comfortable with all the irregularities.

If we were doing Japanese verbs, the Goldlist for them would look quite different. On almost all verbs it would be possible to get to one line quite quickly. The exceptions here are things like modestive verbs and aspects like the potentive form of suru is dekimasu. Most other unusual aspects can be derived from the rules by which connexive forms are made from different stems of the basic form, and that rule can be condensed to fit on one line anyway, plus general rules about phonology that you learned when you did the katakana tables and hiragana tables anyway. It’s no surprise that ‘matsu’ becomes ‘machimasu’, that isn’t even an irregularity, but I can envisage a person wanting to include it in H anyway just by way of getting used to it.

Tables of the regular paradigms can be included in the Goldlist. Some of my Czech goldlist contains pure tables and the numbering at the side is broken so as to include the number of lines in the tables, but sometimes the tables can be manipulated and this actually aids learning. For instance the adjective endings table includes at one stage of distillation M, F, N and the two plurals going across the top and seven cases going down – that’s a seven line deep table. One trick for further compaction, possible only if you are just looking at the endings and not the stem, is to turn the table on its pivot and have it presented in the less usual way of  M F N Pl (with the masc animate and the others separate using “/” signs just for the nominative and accusative where they differ going down and the seven cases going across. That turns a 7 liner into a 4 liner.

In these cases I skip a line number where the table headers are. Sometimes it’s also nice to use colours on the grammar tables to highlight areas which are identical.

I haven’t yet learned a language whose grammar would be the biggest task. I can’t think of any language, even Spanish with its irregular verbs taken at a very gradual pace, where the grammar has been the big deal. In a challenge to gain a 15,000 word vocabulary and all the grammar, the Goldlist parts needed to learn pure grammar will be something between 5 and 15% of the total.

I hope this has been useful, and either clears up people’s questions about the use of Goldlist for grammar, or corroborates what they do naturally with the Goldlist or gives them some new ideas.

Newsflash: Soon I will start a new goldlist for Indonesian and this time it’s my intention to use it as a model goldlist that will illustrate the forthcoming book. I am going to start off by doing the Pimsleur before I even look at a written word, therefore dealing with the first issue of phonics, intonation and accent which is in my view the weakest area of the Goldlist method. I will then do a particularly careful Goldlist which will be linked to the TY book, and therefore anyone wishing to follow the whole logic can get hold of the same materials, and see if they like how their application of the method differs from mine. Which doesn’t mean mine is necessarily better, but we can all compare notes that way. If anyone is interested in joining in that project, please let me know.

Greece as a Financial Plutoid

English: The final planet in our solar system,...

Ironically it is the solidarity of Europeans with their common culture that could drag down the EUR. Nobody wants Greece out of the EURO because it’s the cradle of European civilisation. However, as far as economy and attitude are concerned, they are outside the other members.

I would liken the case of Greece to that of the planet Pluto. Scientists reckoned Pluto was a planet for a while, and included it in the planet club as the ninth planet of the Solar system. After a while, scientists saw that it was too remote to be a planet really, and belonged among these other “dwarf planets” or “plutoids” that kept on being discovered, ie the so-called Kuiper Belt.

Greece is still a Euro-Zone country, a planet, because people haven’t managed to determine the reclassification – we don’t have an economical Kuiper Belt to reassign Greece too. We are also wary of the effect of a nation that would contuniue to be an EU member being squeezed out of the EURO, left to fend for itself and failing to do so. Regardless of the poverty and problems that would ensure, the nation would still be in the EU. They would still be having their hand out for subsidies one way or another.

If they were removed from the EU and plunged into economic chaos, then probably the Chinese would come back and renew their bid for the Port of Thessalonica again, but this time there would be less to stop a potential dictator sweeping aside the mess Orban style and enabling Chinese investment, which would put the cradle of Western Civilizisation in thrall to the Han Dynasty.

On a lighter note, just because Pluto became a non-member of the planets club, it doesn’t mean that the infection passed on to Neptune or Uranus. Portugal seems to be taking its medicine, Ireland too. While in Greece there is chaos with people out on the streets burning stuff and there seems to be little to show for the previous EU investments while the Iberian countries made significant improvements to their infrastucture and invested their fundings more wisely.

Logic would say get rid of Greece. Sentiment towards our common culture says “bale them out some more”. And unfortunately, they know that.

Me on the radio again – this time Polish radio 3, on polyglotism

Not a very satisfying broadcast, though. It was twenty minutes of me and no doubt similar times from two other people who have been compressed into a 4 minute slot interlaced with the Beeb’s tape of Alex Rawlings. At least it contained more info than the usual media pap you hear about language learning. Only one person gave me any feedback from hearing it live, despite it being on in drive time on a big national station.




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