Jump to content
Science Forums

So What Languages Can You Speak?


Recommended Posts

I'm a native English speaker, but I was raised in a town settled mostly be Germans so I studied German throughout grammar school. I'm no fluent speaker of German but I imagine I could do well enough if immersed. I took some Spanish in high school as well, but my vocabulary es tristemente deficiente y estaría perdido para hablar o entender el español conversacional. (Thank you Google translate and curse you spell-checker. ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a native English speaker, but I was raised in a town settled mostly be Germans so I studied German throughout grammar school. I'm no fluent speaker of German but I imagine I could do well enough if immersed. I took some Spanish in high school as well, but my vocabulary es tristemente deficiente y estaría perdido para hablar o entender el español conversacional. (Thank you Google translate and curse you spell-checker. ;)

That's great! have you been or plan to visit Germany?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 months later...

Turtle, i should be: " Nein ich gehe nicht nach Deutschland. Oder, ich fahre nicht auf der Autobahn".

 

I speak 5.5 languages, italian and swiss-german as mother-tongue (both, because it depends how you define mother-tongue: as the first langauge learned or the one done schooling in?), then French, English and Norwegian. The .5 comes from the fact that swissGerman is such a hardcore dialect that Germans do not understand it, but it is only spoken, written stuff in the German-part of Switzerland is proper German --> so one can count German and Swiss-german as 1.5 languages :-).

I learned all these languages just by living where they spoke it. This helps a lot! I tried to learn Polish just like that (my wife is Polish), but by not living in Poland and the fact that it is one of the hardest languages I did not go very far, but manage to play cards with my mother-in-law who speaks only Polish...

Link to post
Share on other sites

The diversity here is great!! I speak English, Spanish, Dutch and Serbian/Croatian. English and Spanish are my mother tongues (what sanctus said...) and I am thinking to pick up Italian or Portuguese and maybe Russian. I have been an ESL teacher for many years and find languages and how they work to be fascinating.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I speak only English. I have attempted to learn the following languages:

 

French, German, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, Dutch, Finnish, Russian, Latin, Mandarin, Malay, Indonesian, and Japanese. I have failed at all.

 

I rate languages by the amount of alcohol one requires to drink in order to think one can speak it fluently. Thus Spanish, a rather straightforward language, is a one and a half beer language, French is two beers. Mandarin requires the consumption of two bottles of Jack Daniels in a 36 hour period and is therefore a potentially lethal language and should be avoided unlesss learnt as a child.

 

I became lost once on the Moscow underground. I realised the only two phrases I could remember were of limited use in finding directions, these being:

 

Я не говорю по-русски.   I don't speak Russian

Существует американский рабочий.  There is an American worker.

 

I believe one can judge an individual's worth on four skills.

 

Their ability to converse coherently in their own language.

Their ability to converse fluently in at least one other language.

Their ability to play a musical instrument.

Their ability to perform moderately complex mathematics.

 

On this basis I think I scrape a 25% - not a passing grade.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sadly, I only speak English. I would absolutely love to learn more languages. I don't know if many of you saw that post on Facebook a while back. Asking if you'd rather learn every possible language you can learn or how to play every musical instrument. I'd pick the languages any day of the week. I feel like now days people who have the ability to speak more languages are going to go further. I think in the future we're going to see the need for bilingual people. I will definitely want my kids to learn multiple languages.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Allanah, I would pick musical instruments mainly because after 3 or 4 languages it gets complicated to not mix. And switching suddenly to one you don't speak every day needs quite some concentration.

 

Additionally (I think I said this elsewhere), there is a price to pay to know many langauages the "monolingual" people never think about: you might know a lot of languages, but there is none where you know 100% or even 95%. Eg. from 10 to 20 years old I lived in the italian speaking part of Switzerland (did all my schooling in italian), so my vocabulary in italian is pretty big, but at home we were speaking mainly swiss-german. So all swearwords I know in italian (the advantages of going to school :-)) while names of tools I know mainly in swiss-german.

 

On the other hand if you are "monolingual" then at least you know almost everything of that language.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I speak Afrikaans and English. And like Sanctus' .5 for Swiss German, I suppose I should score a .5 for Dutch. Dutch and Afrikaans people can understand each other perfectly, both in the written and spoken forms, but because the pronunciation is so different, when a group of Dutch and Afrikaans people mingle, they'll tend to gravitate towards English.

 

And then a smattering of Zulu, Xhosa and Tswana. But not nearly enough to count in any form as "fluent".

 

I can read about 50% of what's written in a German book. And after a couple of beers I am able to sound like a german and make noises that'll fake anybody not versed in German that I am, indeed, of Teutonic stock. But I cannot speak it for the life of me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Forgive me if I have told this story before, but it still amuses me to think of it. I hope it may give you a smile also.

 

In my youth, when I was prone to overindulge in beer drinking and the like, I had stopped in - late in the evening - to a hotel in Jakarta for a nightcap. The bar was closed, but the helpful staff brought us beers in the hotel lobby. Sitting there I noticed a small booth , belonging to a travel agent, with signs advertising trips to various parts of Indonesia.

 

It occured to me that many of the hotel staff would never have had the opportunity to visit interesting parts of their own country. This seemed to me very unfair: at the very least I needed to tell them something about the wonders of their archipelago. So, I went round the hotel, gathering up chamber maids, front desk staff, maintenance man, kitchen staff and an under-manager or two, sitting them down on rearranged sofas and chairs facing the travel booth.

 

I then delivered a lecture, in Indonesian, on the wonders of travel in Bali and Borneo, Sulawesi and Irian Jaya. When I could not think of the Indonesian word I used the French equivalent, on the basis that one foreign language is much like any other. Running out of words in either language and distracted by some other thought, I bid them farewell and disapeared into the night.

 

Several years later, visiting Indonesia with my fiance, we passed the hotel and - needing to change some travellers cheques (which should help you date the episode) - went in. As I signed the cheques I noticed the front desk manager looking at me in a peculiar way.

 

"Excuse me, but you are looking at me as if you know me."

 

"Yes sir. You gave us a talk on travel in Indonesia four years ago."

 

"Oh. I'm surprised you remember me."

 

"Sir, the entire hotel staff remember you."

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...