Monday, March 7, 2011

A round of applause for Mobipocket!

Everyone is reading nowadays. Vera and my Hungarian tandem partner are reading and listening to Harry Potter in Swedish and Norwegian, and Doviende is reading Polish without much prior knowledge of the language. Just a couple of days ago, my Hungarian tandem partner sent me the link to Alice in Wonderland, both the text and audio (I wrote about it on lang-8 today). I immediately thought that it would be too difficult, and I had already started another book in Hungarian. I changed my mind today though, and gave it a try. Just a bit. My last try was with Jane Eyre, but then I had a parallel text in Hungarian and English. Now I just have the Hungarian.

First of all, I downloaded the .lit e-book, and converted it to mobi-format (so that it will be readable on my Kindle) and started reading it in the Calibre e-book reader on my computer while listening to the audio (Kindle, after all, isn't all that flexible...). I soon realized that I wanted to take notes though. Some words kept appearing, and I thought it would be great to be able to add a note to those. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any way of doing this in Calibre. Mobipocket Reader came to my rescue though! If anyone wonders why I don't simply read a Word document, I just have to say that e-book format is 1000 times more pleasant to read even on the computer. Changing the background color from white to beige, for one, helps a lot, and you get the text divided into appropriately wide columns so that you don't lose focus and don't have to move your eyes all that much. Flipping pages is ever so easy (space key), which is excellent when you are concentrating like mad to keep up with the audio while trying to make clever reflections on what you read. In Mobipocket, you can very simply highlight words, copy them, and add notes to them that are saved in a column to your right (perfect if you want to add them to ANKI later).

(Click to enlarge.)

I've read the first chapter, which was 15 minutes of audio, and I can't say I understood all that many words. I know what happens in the first chapter since I have seen the movie, so I was able to tag along, so to say. I find that what may be even more important than actually understanding all the words is to get a grasp on word order. Word order is, like in all languages that claim to have "free word order", annoyingly difficult in Hungarian, more so than in Russian. Also, I think that you pick up correct usage of small particle words, multiple negations, possessive constructions (these things aren't as easy in Hungarian as in all the Indo-European languages I've studied) from just pure exposure.

Oh, and Alice in Wonderland turn out to be much easier than I thought, since I was set on not understanding anything.

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