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Studying with movies


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I definitely agree that movies are a great way to learn. Ideally you'll want to have the characters, the pinyin, the lliteral translation and the translation. At least for individuals that are just starting out. And if you're having a really hard time hearing a section, that's when you pull out praat and analyze the recording.


But  it's a common misconception that a language is sounds. Written and sign languages are just as legitimately language as spoken language is. In fact in some ways they're superior to spoken language if you want to learn.


Trying to text in real time is every bit as challenging as speaking is, it's just that rather than having to hear and speak, you're having to write and read. But, in both cases you develop a very similar feel for the language. With the upside that you have a transcript that you can go back and view and check for accuracy after the conversation is over as a reality check.


It gets back to what a word actually is, I'm not sure where people got the idea that a word is more wordy when spoken than when written or signed, but all a word is is a unit of meaning. A sign, a written word or a spoken word are all equal in terms of their ability to communicate with somebody that understands. In Chinese more than most other languages, the written form is ultimately the more authoritative form. Even amongst native speakers, the written form is what they tend to fall back to when the pronunciation isn't clear. Mandarin has only about 400 unique syllables and that expands to about 1600 unique syllables when you include the tones. By contrast, the written form has somewhere between 50 and 100k different characters depending upon how you count.



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But  it's a common misconception that a language is sounds. Written and sign languages are just as legitimately language as spoken language is. In fact in some ways they're superior to spoken language if you want to learn.


One of the fundamental tenets of the field of linguistics is the primacy of speech. Written and sign languages are rooted in speech. A written or signed word always represents a spoken word. Language is sound before it can ever be anything else. Of course writing is very useful for learning a language, but it is no replacement for speech.

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OneJet, I've heard that and it's a sensible enough idea if you ignore the fact that the brain doesn't work like that.


Basically a word is a unit of meaning, whether or not we're speaking we're still using words as those tend to be how we conceptualize the things we encounter in our daily life. For some people that is indeed a sound, but for about the same number of people that's a picture. Neither is any more common than the other, they both have advantages and disadvantages related to them, but it's foolish to grant sound primacy just because the tools don't exist to study the actual words themselves. Especially in light of the fact that only about half the people treat and store words as sounds when the other half treat them as images.


Anyways, my whole point here is that it's a horrible disservice to tell people that words are sounds when it's equally valid to treat them as pictures. I'm fortunate in that I can handle them as pictures or as sounds, but most people don't have a choice, most people they're sounds or they're pictures, but not both.


I failed miserably to learn several languages because of this ill-informed silliness. Now that I'm treating words like the images they are, I learn them much more quickly and with much better reliability. Which is why it's probably a good thing that linguists don't get to decide what a word is, that's something that happens naturally inside our own brains.


Anyways, I agree with the rest of your premise about movies. It's a shame that you can't get them in the US without a region-free player, but I still love loading up a copy of something like LOTR and trying to figure out the jokes.

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You obviously have a very different definition and understanding of these terms than I do, so I'm not sure it does us any good to continue.


As for region-free players, your regular DVD player may be able to be unlocked. I had a Toshiba something or other when I lived in the US. I did some googling, and I just had to punch a certain sequence of buttons on the remote to make it region-free. Worked like a charm.

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