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Languages

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message 1: by RandomAnthony (last edited Feb 21, 2009 10:14AM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments This morning I heard a fascinating story on NPR about people trying to document dying languages. Apparently PBS is running a show on them this week:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

I wish I spoke more than English. It's easier in Europe, I think, to learn multiple languages because there are so many mixed together. I'm hoping Spanish becomes more commonplace among non-latinos in the US but I don't see that happening just yet because you can get on with just English easily. The people on the NPR interview, by the way, made the point that you don't need to destroy a native language to learn another one. That's an important point.

What do you think? Would you like to learn other languages? What would you like to learn? Why?


message 2: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) I have language envy, too.

A guy I used to work with was visiting his girlfriend in Cologne, Germany once. They were driving around France and Germany seeing the sights. Once, he told me, they were stopped at an intersection in a rural area. She turned to him and started babbling in German about where they should go next. When he just stared at her, she then said in English, "I wasn't speaking English was I?"

I took a lot of French in school, and almost got to where I could think in French. Now it's gone, I'm afraid. Fluency with multiple languages is such a cool thing.

Yup.


message 3: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Great piece, RA. Thanks for posting. I'm setting my DVR to record that show.


message 4: by Natalie (new)

Natalie (ghostinmarble) I can read a good deal of French and I speak it badly, but I live in the middle of Florida and want to learn Spanish just out of practicality.

If I were granted one superpower, I'd want to be able to speak and understand any given language.


message 5: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Me, too, Natalie. On the superpower, I mean.


message 6: by Julie (new)

Julie | 568 comments I was getting pretty good at Japanese once, after a few years of classes in college.
But the writing was kicking my ass, and I could not continue to learn that and take other classes as well.
Now it is almost all gone.
However, everytime I wonder what time it is, I think it in Japanese.


message 7: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (ksprink) | 11469 comments i do pretty good with languages when i am immersed in the culture. i am functionally fluent in spanish, and have learned a bit to know greetings, salutations and some conversation in Mandarin, Telegu, and a few small tribal languages like Tanda and Tawahkan. if you speak Spanish you can quickly pick up a few things in Portuguese and Italian. i do know some sign language as my mother is an interpreter. my point is that i am a people guy and a talker. if i am in a different culture and want to talk i have to learn their language. Americans are usually very imperialistic in thinking when we travel that everyone around the world should speak English. i love languages and work at learning wherever i am, usually by writing out words and meanings phonetically on a small notebook and then most of all, using it whenever i can and not being afraid to be wrong. i have found people to be very helpful with you when you are accepting of their culture and language


message 8: by Chloe (new)

Chloe (countessofblooms) | 347 comments I want a babbelfish. More than anything.


message 9: by Lori (new)

Lori Dammit, where's the Universal Translator!

In Europe, especially, people speak so many languages. Here in America, we find we don't have to. When I go to a foreign country, I try to at least speak the basics.

Kevin, my b-i-l speaks fluent Portuguese, and can get around in Spanish speaking countries very well. And when he lived in Florence for 6 months, it only took a short time til he was speaking Italian with ease.


message 10: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments I think I shared this somewhere on here before, but my grandfather spoke SEVEN languages fluently. He lived in a part of Europe where the borders changed frequently, and it was a good survival skill to know Russian, Polish, and German, as well as the Yiddish that was spoken in Jewish homes... when he left Europe he moved to Cuba, and he learned Spanish fluently as well. The doormen at our building in New York used to love him because he'd hang out in the lobby with them and speak Spanish.

I wish I'd inherited that gene. Any languages I try to learn go into a central repository in my brain, so when I try to come up with a word in one, I come up with another.


message 11: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (ksprink) | 11469 comments yup lori. with some of any of those you can give the others a pretty good go.

sarah - i certainly am not near fluent in any of these but i try and learn and that seems to be much appreciated and tolerated by people i am trying to communicate with

your grandfather sounds very cool. my kind of guy


message 12: by Cosmic Sher (new)

Cosmic Sher (sherart) | 2234 comments I really want to learn Italian, and even signed up for online classes... but I never got around to learning them (lazy).

My brother went there for two years & learned by immersion, and when he came back he had to relearn how to think in English. It was strange. But, he makes the best pasta I've ever tasted.


message 13: by Lori (new)

Lori Wow, so in 2 years he started to think in it, I thought it took alot longer.

I used to think I was good at languages. Maybe I used to be good at languages. Now I stink!


message 14: by Cosmic Sher (new)

Cosmic Sher (sherart) | 2234 comments Well, he was in an unusual situation where they were completely immersed in the culture and speaking in English was discouraged. They had to adapt pretty quickly, and couldn't leave for the entire 2 years.

Did you study languages in school, Lori?


message 15: by Lori (new)

Lori Yep, I started French in 4th grade, and in high school was reading very proficiently - Rimbaud and Baudelaire were my favorites! But they didn't really teach for listen in those days, more reading and writing. So in my 20s when I fell in love with French movies, listening was very helpful.

And I always forget this, completely, but when I was young I went to Hebrew school! We never really spoke it, more reading. The Bible of course! I don't remember a thing. Oh wait, the shhhh symbol.


message 16: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24357 comments Mod
I took French and German in high school and German again in college. I was always good at learning languages. Sadly I've forgotten a lot....

I would like to learn Russian.


message 17: by Jim (new)

Jim | 6485 comments I would like to learn German.


message 18: by Cheri (last edited Mar 11, 2012 10:37PM) (new)

Cheri | 795 comments I'm married to a guy from the NW of England so I am bilingual. I understand English (most of the time - not always) but I speak American.


message 19: by Louise (new)

Louise As a Dane, well, we HAVE to learn languages, as no one outside Scandinavia has a clue what we're saying in Danish.
I speak Danish, English, some Swedish, some German and some French. I'd like to learn some Italian at some point :-)


message 20: by evie (new)

evie (ecie) | 4306 comments It would be useful at the moment if I could speak Mandarin.

I do know a bit of 'Strine.


message 21: by Spellbound (new)

Spellbound (spellboundreads) | 117 comments I am Italian and I speak English, German and French. I've acquired the basics in school and refined the knowledge travelling and working.
When abroad, I find it a sign of respect to at least try to communicate in the local language even if it is only through "goodmorning", "please" and "thank you", you immediatly result "nicer".
Truth is, English is a wonderful vehicle-language. It allows you to interface with virtually anybody with relative ease. I understand why English/Americans are less driven to learn other languages. The disadvantage though, is missing out on the mental flexibility that foreign lingustic constructions give you, on the understanding of different cultures, but most of all, the missing out on the new and wondrous ways to insult people.


message 22: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24357 comments Mod
That's so weird....I posted a comment after #22 that isn't there anymore.


message 23: by Spellbound (new)

Spellbound (spellboundreads) | 117 comments @Cat*chilling with the Doctor*, I'm sure Italian would come back to you easily if you stayed in Italy for some time (without nuns!). Languages work in mysterious and unexpected ways!
I've always found amazing the gap between passive language and active language. Most people understand a lot more than they can speak, which is fascinating. If only I could unlock this knowledge I, and many others, would be perfectly polyglot!


message 24: by Spellbound (new)

Spellbound (spellboundreads) | 117 comments Cat *chilling with the Doctor*, should you need help with the language and the nuns, let me know. I have a Ph.D in profanity. :-D


message 25: by ~Geektastic~ (new)

 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) | 3207 comments I've been attempting to learn sign language on my own over the last few months, but I'm not making much headway as I don't know anyone to practice with and I don't have much time to study lately. When I was growing up we had a deaf neighbor and I knew quite a bit, but I've forgotten nearly all of it. Granted, I learned it out of childish selfishness; they always had puppies so I learned how to ask if I could hold them and say how cute they were in sign language :)


message 26: by janine (new)

janine | 7715 comments I took a sign language class in school, but have by now forgotten nearly all of it.


message 27: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24357 comments Mod
Spellbound wrote: "I understand why English/Americans are less driven to learn other languages. ..."

Retyping my disappeared comment.

I wish Americans were more driven to learn other languages.

It doesn't help that a lot of localities turn reactionary and xenophobic and institute "English-is-the-official-language" rules.


message 28: by Spellbound (new)

Spellbound (spellboundreads) | 117 comments Lobstergirl wrote:
I wish Americans were more driven to learn other languages.

..."


In general terms I find "the official language rule" useful. A community/county/state/country needs a common comunication ground to organize itself and provide services. Xenophobia is quite a different and dangerous story that stems mostly out of ignorance.

What I really appreciate, is the effort a person makes to understand and be understood. Slowing down and choosing simple words is a great help. Unfortunately those who don't know how difficult it is to express yourself in a different language don't seem to understand this simple fact. This is what annoys me most in some Americans/British.


message 29: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments Amber, have you looked to see if anyone is doing ASL hangouts in Google +? That might be a good place to work on it.


message 30: by Louise (new)

Louise Spellbound wrote: "Cat *chilling with the Doctor*, should you need help with the language and the nuns, let me know. I have a Ph.D in profanity. :-D"

What school did you go to to get that? :-)


message 31: by Spellbound (new)

Spellbound (spellboundreads) | 117 comments Louise wrote:
What school did you go to to get that? :-)"


Catholic school, ça va sans dire. Not to mention my father is a professional curse-and-swearer, 3 times world champion of creative profanities. It runs in the family. The Italian expression is FIGLIO D'ARTE, it means son of art, well, daughter in my case. ;-)


message 32: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24357 comments Mod
Apparently Rick Santorum, campaigning in Puerto Rico, informed them that if they wanted to become a state they'd need to speak English.

In this clip there's also a hilarious campaign stop where he talks about the Dutch senior citizens who wear wrist bands that say "Don't Euthanize Me" but they get euthanized anyway. Oops!

http://gawker.com/5893801/stephen-col...


message 33: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments Lobstergirl wrote: "Apparently Rick Santorum, campaigning in Puerto Rico, informed them that if they wanted to become a state they'd need to speak English.
In this clip there's also a hilarious campaign stop where he talks about the Dutch senior citizens who wear wrist bands that say "Don't Euthanize Me" but they get euthanized anyway. Oops!
"


I think he knew he had lost PR to Santorum already, so he might as well continue pandering to his conservative base.

On the euthanasia front, he made up his facts. When called on it, his spokesperson said that he just says what's in his heart. Ah, now there's the making of a good leader. Why let pesky facts get in the way?


message 34: by Cheri (new)

Cheri | 795 comments “Like any other state, there has to be compliance with this and any other federal law,” Santorum said. “And that is that English has to be the principal language. There are other states with more than one language such as Hawaii but to be a state of the United States, English has to be the principal language.”

But there isn't a federal law that says this. Besides, I thought Rick S. was for fewer government laws. He's so much fun.


message 35: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 3447 comments I'm worried that people are voting for Santorum, but I'd be more worried if there were any chance he'd be elected.


message 36: by Karen (new)

Karen (kazzalarr) | 10 comments My English daughter has an honours degree in French, German and Spanish, and is doing her Masters in European Politics at the Lille University of science and politics in France.
Her dad and me speak Franglais badly ( a mixture of poor French and English!)


message 37: by Seham (new)

Seham Yusuf (sehamyusuf) | 18 comments My mother tongue is Arabic and I learnt French and English at school then after graduation from university I took some courses in Italian, but unfortunately didn't continue because of my work.
Would love to learn more Italian and Spanish, but lately I have been thinking about Russian language since my best friend started learning it.


message 38: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Key (crazykey123) | 1 comments I struggle with learning new languages. I've taken two years of French, but my accent is terrible. I read and understand the language much better than my ability to speak it. I know very elementary Spanish. I have started studying Japanese on my own. (I probably only know about 150 kanji.) I would love to study Japanese in a formal setting, but I don't know if I will get the opportunity for several more years.


message 39: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24357 comments Mod
I love it when you know enough of one or two languages to be able to figure out words in other languages, like Portuguese, Italian, or Slovenian.


message 40: by Annette (new)

Annette Hart | 171 comments I'd like to speak Cornish - I think there are only a handful of speakers now so it is nearly dead.


message 41: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24357 comments Mod
I guess this woman is one of them.




message 42: by Annette (new)

Annette Hart | 171 comments Wow - obviously things are looking up for Cornish independence if more people can learn it. I'll need a passport for my summer holiday!


message 43: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17346 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "My English daughter has an honours degree in French, German and Spanish, and is doing her Masters in European Politics at the Lille University of science and politics in France.
Her dad and me spe..."


::writhe::


message 44: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24357 comments Mod
Bilinguals are smarter.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opi...


message 45: by Aliyah (new)

Aliyah | 369 comments I wish I did other languages at school (besides Afrikaans), this year I take a isiXhosa course. Xhosa is one of the major African language spoken in South Africa, and I'm pathetic at it.

On a side note, I was always intrigued by French and Spanish


message 46: by ɯɐɔ (new)

ɯɐɔ (camalama) Spanish, French, Italian, English, sarcasm.



So...the romance languages.


Oh, and Latin.


message 47: by ɯɐɔ (new)

ɯɐɔ (camalama) I also speak Google Translate fairly well.


message 48: by L.F. (new)

L.F. Falconer | 48 comments I have a hard enough time with English (which is supposedly my native tongue), but if I had the time, I might choose Japanese so I could understand what my daughter-in-law is saying and not just trust my son's translations :)


message 49: by Alyssa (new)

Alyssa (alyslinn) | 1 comments I think I'd have to do the immersion in order to learn any language decently. It's difficult to retain vocabulary and structure without regular practice and speaking. But I can read some French, at least. I wish I could be fluent in at least one other language, if not more.


message 50: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) If wishes were horses . . .


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