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Old 05-18-2010, 07:28 AM   #91
Jellby
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Originally Posted by orwell2k View Post
These figures include secondary speakers (i.e. native speakers plus second language speakers). This helps significantly boost the French and Spanish figures, whilst adding a little to the Englis
I'd say the opposite, there are probably more people with English as "second" language than with Spanish or French. According to Wikipedia, the list by native speakers is:

1. Chinese
2/3. Spanish / English (almost a tie)
4. Hindi/Urdu
5. Arabic
...
7. Portuguese
...
10. German
...
14. French

Well... maybe it helps French quite a bit
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Old 05-18-2010, 08:24 AM   #92
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Originally Posted by mike_bike_kite View Post
@PKFFW - in the UK our language has changed dramatically over the years following each new invasion (Anglo Saxon, Viking, French) and these changes have added to the colour of our language. Certainly no-one in the UK complains about being forced to use Norman words and the language is still changing on a daily basis - last Saturday I was having dinner alongside the guy who created the word "simples" (used in some advertising campaign) and he was inordinately proud that his word might make it into the OED.
I'm not saying anyone else complains about having to use english because England invaded and conquered them years ago.

I'm saying that the fact England did invade and conquer those countries years ago, and in so doing spread their language to those countries, is the main reason english is now the defacto international language.
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Originally Posted by mike_bike_kite
The huge influence of China in business means that children in my son's school are learning languages like Chinese. I don't resent this and instead hope it will get them better jobs in future. The global nature of commerce just means that people will veer towards more widely spoken languages. Things might change in the future if oil shortages make travel (and global shipping) untenable and then perhaps regional languages might start to spread again.
Again, I did not say anyone resents english being the dominant language or that anyone resents their children learning it in school.

As for commerce meaning people will veer towards more widely spoken languages, I agree completely. However, I believe english will continue to be the defacto international language of choice for the foreseeable future. I primarily believe this to be the case because far more countries around the world have english as a compulsory second language in their school curriculum than any other language. Therefore it is far more likely that more people will have english as a second language than any other language. About the only other language that could conceivably threaten english as the international language is chinese and even China has english as a compulsory second language at school.
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Which language would you propose as the lingua franca for India? would everyone there be happy with your choice?
What has that got to do with the price of beans in chile as my mum would say? What I think might be a good language for India doesn't mean squat and has no relevance to the discussion at hand.

The simple undeniable fact is that english was spread around the world by England embarking on a campaign to colonise the world. It is primarily because of this fact and not because of any inate advantage of the english language over other languages that english is now the defacto international language. That is my only point. I'm not judging it for good or ill or suggesting that all those countries despise having to speak english or resent their children learning english.

Cheers,
PKFFW
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Old 05-18-2010, 09:34 AM   #93
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Originally Posted by PKFFW View Post
I'm not judging it for good or ill or suggesting that all those countries despise having to speak English or resent their children learning english.
My apologies - I must have read a lot more into your post than was actually meant.
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Old 05-18-2010, 12:10 PM   #94
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This is a major topic for me. I speak and read German and French (and English) easily have studied several other languages. A must would be full Dictionary capability at a high level, say Petit Robert for French, with ease of function. It would seem that reference capabilities ought to be built into these devices, but not necessarily with WiFi and Accelerators. I will thus look for the capabilities --- when I get around to purchasing a reader! Ta da!
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Old 05-18-2010, 02:16 PM   #95
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The two things that really kill Chinese (any flavor) as a worldwide second language are the tones and the writing. One of the various Romanized writing systems can handle the latter, but tonal languages are a stone b*tch for anyone who didn't grow up speaking them. Which is too bad, really, because from what little I understand about the structure of Chinese, it's pretty neat. And I think that, as an isolating language (Chinese: the un-German!), it would be easy to learn -- except, of course, for those tones.
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Old 05-18-2010, 02:41 PM   #96
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I have multiple dictionaries on my desk.

I don't have one on my Sony, and don't feel the lack. For me, it's not a selling feature for a reading device. I had dictionaries on my PDAs and never used them, so the absence isn't an issue.

However, I read one language, which I know very well, and one language only.
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Old 05-18-2010, 05:43 PM   #97
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My apologies - I must have read a lot more into your post than was actually meant.
No worries, apology accepted.
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Old 05-18-2010, 05:46 PM   #98
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The two things that really kill Chinese (any flavor) as a worldwide second language are the tones and the writing. One of the various Romanized writing systems can handle the latter, but tonal languages are a stone b*tch for anyone who didn't grow up speaking them. Which is too bad, really, because from what little I understand about the structure of Chinese, it's pretty neat. And I think that, as an isolating language (Chinese: the un-German!), it would be easy to learn -- except, of course, for those tones.
Very true. For someone like myself who is so completely tone deaf it defies scientific explaination, trying to get those tones right is nigh on impossible!

Cheers,
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Old 05-18-2010, 10:58 PM   #99
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I speak Cantonese and have tried teaching my non-Chinese husband over 20 years together. He's not tone deaf, but it is a difficult language. At this point, he couldn't make conversation with a grade-schooler. It probably would be entertaining to the grade-schooler to hear him try, though.

Last edited by Maggie Leung; 05-19-2010 at 12:19 AM.
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Old 05-19-2010, 07:40 AM   #100
Michael J Hunt
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At least he tries, Maggie.

MJ
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:07 AM   #101
Maggie Leung
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At least he tries, Maggie.

MJ
Yup, I admire that, actually. I had a much easier time with Japanese and German, but slacked and have forgotten most of both. Or I remember nearly useless sentences, such as "I would like a beach chair" or "How much is this record?"

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Old 05-20-2010, 05:55 PM   #102
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Hello to all the distinguished members.

Allow me to present my modest contribution.
My reader has an English dictionary which is easy to use: two taps in the neighborhood of a word and a small window pops up. More deft taps and it becomes a full page of the dictionary. Which, with the excellent dictionary that is included, is a pleasure in itself.

I never felt the need of a dictionary while reading English. Reading the posts of this tread, I wanted to verify that my belief is well founded: I opened a page at random in a classical of 18th century (Gibbon, yes I am a men with a certain spectrum of reading interests, and Gibbon is one of the few pbooks that I did not put in storage after the advent of my ereaders) and quickly read the whole 2 pages understanding the meaning of all the words.

Now I have a contrary example. It has an happy ending. Last month I was reading, with the book Club, the Egg and I. Which cannot be compared with Gibbon in literary value, scope and content. And, after few pages, I found a word that I did not recognized and that I could vaguely guess from the context. I looked it up and found its meaning. And then, oh marvel, the expression "untrammeled girlishness" made me more than giggle. A whirling crowd of aunts, and friends of aunts, she cousins (cousinesses?), with their court of friends, sisters, friends of sisters, sisters of friends came to my mind and set it to a nostalgic, admired and amused state, that went well further the charm of the story itself.

There are no conclusions to be drawn by my part. Now, I am happier to have the dictionary in my reader.
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