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Old 06-25-2009, 01:49 AM   #1
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Learning a new language

In thinking about that "speaking a language in a different country" thread, I've been thinking about all those multilingual members we have here. So I want to know if you are multilingual (and in what languages) and how/when you learned them.

I tend to be fairly decent at learning languages; I'm no savant, but I can pick up more quickly than most people I know. However, I find that when I learn a new language, I tend to lose any languages I'm not speaking consistently in context. So I'm really curious how people learn many languages without losing languages they aren't currently using. And whether they learn them simultaneously.
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Old 06-25-2009, 02:30 AM   #2
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I will admit to being not so good at learning new languages. I studied French for two years in Jr. High, but with that knowledge I can count to 10, and tell someone to "Kiss My *ss" (actually I learned that last part from my maternal Grandma who was French Canadian)

But I can "speak" in American Sign Language. Not very well, but I can communicate with Deaf People. I learned that through community college and being engaged to a lovely deaf woman for two years.

Yeah, it didn''t work out. Let's not talk about that, unless you want to bring me to tears.

But ASL is a language to its own. Which is another topic altogether. I imagine many Hearing people do not even know that Deaf people have their own language barrier.
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Old 06-25-2009, 03:07 AM   #3
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I speak Dutch as native language, English as secundary language (you wouldn't have know, would you!) and some German and only a few words of French.

I used to get English in 5th grade and 6th grade. And on high school (we don't have junior high, but something much more difficult to explain, but high school could be used as name) I had English and French for the first 3 years and add German at the second year.

French I just never could understand. I always got fail grades for it. I know a few words, but I managed to store away two sentences (which, I think, are very important), so I can make clear I don't speak French and if they speak English?

My German is slightly better (always has been, our grading system works from 0 to 10, with a 6 being a pass grade and everything below fail. I usually got a 3 for French and a 5 for German). But I also use it more often, as we generally go to German speaking countries for holiday (Germany, Switzerland, Austria).

I've never been good at learning languages, even my Dutch never got good grades.

Having said that, I can read all four languages fairly well (even French), but don't expect me to speak them very well (except for Dutch and English).
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Old 06-25-2009, 03:19 AM   #4
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Sweetpea, you are light years ahead of me. I admire anyone that read and make basic conversation in another language. But your English is fantastic. You use the English language better than 9 out of 10 Americans I converse with daily.

I think Europeans have an advantage because "foreign languages" are just a few kilometers away. In America it is "English" (for the most part) everywhere you go for hundreds (and hundreds) of miles.

And because, culturally, we are taught that foreign languages are just guttural gibberish.

I am only slightly kidding.
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Old 06-25-2009, 03:27 AM   #5
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your English is fantastic. You use the English language better than 9 out of 10 Americans I converse with daily.
As for those from the UK and Australia, I can hardly discern what nonsense they are spouting.

I wish they would learn to use the language as it was intended.
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Old 06-25-2009, 03:42 AM   #6
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The more languages you learn, the easier it becomes, because you start to see the commonality in the way that languages "work". Also, if you're learning languages with Indo-European roots, you find that many of the most commonly-used works are very much the same in different languages.

Personally, my main expertise is in Latin and Attic ("ancient") Greek. I can "get by" in German (although it's a little rusty - I must "brush up" on it) and very basic French. Italian and Spanish I can often figure of the meaning of due to their Latin roots. I also have some knowledge of Welsh.
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Old 06-25-2009, 03:49 AM   #7
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As for those from the UK and Australia, I can hardly discern what nonsense they are spouting.

I wish they would learn to use the language as it was intended.
I know, right??? The worst thing for me is that they spell words incorrectly! They stick all these "U" in everywhere. Canadians do that, too!

Nah, I love different accents. Some are harder to understand than others.

I think the idea that European countries are in closer proximity to a lot of different languages is spot-on. There are definitely various languages in the US as well, in their own microcosms. I took German and Norwegian, and learned Navajo, and was passable in all three of those languages, but certainly not fluent. When I learned each new language, the old ones sort of got sucked into the new one. years later, I found myself trying to put a sentence together and realizing I had German and Norwegian all stuck together in there. No wonder those German tourists looked at me like I was nuts ...

So I am bilingual, and have learned bits and pieces of a few more languages, but it almost feels like my brain is full and I can't fit any more languages in there. I know I'm not concentrating on any other language other than that two I'm fluent in, because there isn't any great need for it. I speak those two languages daily in my job; I don't need to speak another language in my daily life.

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Old 06-25-2009, 03:58 AM   #8
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I know, right??? The worst thing for me is that they spell words incorrectly! They stick all these "U" in everywhere. Canadians do that, too!
These spelling differences are largely due to the efforts of Mr. Webster in the 19th century. They certainly do not reflect "correct" or "incorrect" spelliings. Can you elaborate, please, on why you feel one to be more "correct" than the other?
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:02 AM   #9
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HarryT, I love you, but why do you remind me of Basil Fawlty?

I am kidding, really.
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:05 AM   #10
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These spelling differences are largely due to the efforts of Mr. Webster in the 19th century. They certainly do not reflect "correct" or "incorrect" spelliings. Can you elaborate, please, on why you feel one to be more "correct" than the other?
facetious
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:10 AM   #11
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There is, however, a serious point to the "-our" spellings ("colour", "favour", "armour", etc) that you dislike. The "-our" represents a different sound to a simple "-or" and therefore there is a rational basis for it to spelled differently.
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:10 AM   #12
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GraceKrispy, are you admitting to being a facetioust?
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:26 AM   #13
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I also have some knowledge of Welsh.
I am always surprised that on the "mainland" of the primary British Isle, that there is such a language barrier. I assume (but I am probably wrong), but don't most Welshmen speak a dialect of English? Is Welsh a language that is still used?

I admit my ignorance, but I also admit my amazement.

Language is a fascinating thing.
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:28 AM   #14
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There is, however, a serious point to the "-our" spellings ("colour", "favour", "armour", etc) that you dislike. The "-our" represents a different sound to a simple "-or" and therefore there is a rational basis for it to spelled differently.
I actually don't dislike it at all (although a few online Australian friends and I get on each other about spelling things "wrong"). Now I am trying to think of that sound difference of which you speak. Can you provide some example words? I know there are a few differences in pronunciation of the short "o" sound in American English that not everyone can hear. I just remember graduate school, working on research on phonics with a professor who could not hear the difference between the |o| sounds in dog and bottle. One was a more open sound and one more closed. To her (Boston born and raised) they were one and the same. Some Southerners pronounce pin and pen the exact same way, to give another example. I'm guessing there are examples like that in all languages, as dialects alter, however minutely, the sounds of some letters.

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GraceKrispy, are you admitting to being a facetioust?

I've admitted nothing! *stands on box* I am not a croo... uh, facetioust!
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:32 AM   #15
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And I have to admit that making "English" the official language in the US is still a going concern. And one I am absolutely against. There is no doubt that English is the dominant language of the US, but I never want it made the "official" language of the US, anymore than I would ever want *any* religion made the official religion.

When that happens, the US becomes much smaller. And very insignificant.
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