how many languages do you speak?

Jun 2nd, 2000, 02:17 PM
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Elvira -- If you're serious about Basque (and who could joke about Basque?), I remember seeing a Colloquial Basque book and cassette tape in a bookstore. I'm pretty sure the publisher is Routledge, who does a whole series of Colloquial ____ books. Put those tapes on in the car and imagine what the driver next to you at the stoplight is thinking while you're doing the repetition.
Jun 2nd, 2000, 03:03 PM
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I see I've cornered the market on Czech. I also struggle through French (studied it for 10 years) and Spanish (8 years), both of which have been totally out of use since college. I think understanding a foreign language gives you a unique insight on a culture as well as a better grasp or awareness of your native tongue. The more fluent you are, the better you can understand a culture -- listening carefully to sentence structure and word choice lets you really read between the lines... Fun stuff. I heartily endorse college requirements for foreign language proficiency.
Jun 5th, 2000, 03:52 PM
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Jun 6th, 2000, 01:12 AM
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A question- should I try to speak French (not fluent at all) while i'm in Paris, or just stick with English?

As for Beth's question:

Fluent: Colloquial Vietnamese, English
Learn/ed: Latin (so shoot me for learning a dead language LOL) 3 yrs, French 4 yrs, Italian 3 yrs
Jun 6th, 2000, 03:09 AM
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Bonjour! Tina. Yes, you should definitely try. The locals like it if you try. They will break into English when they realise your French is not up to much. They won't be so rude if you try your French first.
Jun 6th, 2000, 05:23 AM
Beth Anderson
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Hi Tina!

Yes, by all means, do practice your French as much as you can. What better time to improve your skills?

I always look at it like - if a foreigner were to come up to me here, and at least TRY to speak English I would do whatever I could to help them. If they came up and started gabbling at me in Farsi I would not have a clue as to what they were saying and would not have the slightest idea even HOW to help them!

I learned a few Gaelic terms on my trip, too - so I can add that to my repertoire now (I just got back from Ireland, Sunday)...

I will post a trip report soon...

Jun 6th, 2000, 07:03 AM
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Born in Cuba, reared in the US. Consequently, am completely fluent in both languages (Spanish and English). Here is my experience with another foreign language, though, an am curious if others have had the same experiences.

As an undergraduate and later as a grad student I spent three semesters in France, with about five years in between the undergrad and grad periods. Before going I took classes at L'Alliance Francaise and discovered that by knowing both Spanish and English that French was a relatively easier language to learn had I not been fluent in the other two.

Second point, I thought I would develope my fluency in French across the board. Instead, I found that it became easier to read, second easiest to speak, third to understand, and fourth to write. I am now at the level where I can understand about 50% of the conversation between two native French speakers, so long as they don't speak too fast. But I believe that I will have achieved "real" fluency only when I can completely understand the conversation taking place between two people, say as I walk along a street in Paris or sit at a cafe and I hear what others might be saying next to me.

Last, in order to reach fluency I carry on fictional conversations in French in my head. It sounds odd but I find myself recalling words and phrases I've heard and forgotten.
Jun 24th, 2000, 08:46 AM
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Mother tongue: Basque
At street, learnt Spanish.
More or less English, French and German.
Jun 24th, 2000, 10:37 AM
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Fun post! I'm very impressed with everyone's desire and ability to learn so many languages. I thought I was doing so so, but I now hang my head in shame and bow to those who blow me away -

Mother tongue - American English

Fluent - British/Australian/New Zealand English

Basic words/phrases/count to 10 - French

Basic words/phrases - Hungarian, Italian and Spanish
Jun 24th, 2000, 09:56 PM
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I speak English fluently with an unmistakeable but not overpowering Australian accent.

Deutsch kann ich gut genug, dass ich mich eine Stunde lang mit einem Muttersprachler unterhalten kann, bevor er merkt, dass ich kein Deutscher bin.

Je peux converser en francais assez couramment, mais je me sers d'un francais litteraire, parce que j'ai appris cette langue a l'universite et n'avais pas l'occasion de vivre en France.

Mis conocimientos de Espanol son bastante minimos porque hace 35 anos yo ha hecho un curso de verano durante seis semanas en San Sebastian en Espana y no ha habido despues muchas occasiones de servirme de esta lengua.

Saya dapat cakap-cakap sedikit di Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia karena saya berkali-kali kunjungi negara-negara ini.
Dahulu saya cakap lebih lancar dari sekarang.

Ya mogu chitat russkiyu pismenu, a uzhe zabyval bolshinstbo slova.

I feel guilty that I don't know any Thai when I spend about a third of my life over there. But I do have a fair idea of their awfully difficult script.

Jun 25th, 2000, 05:08 AM
the turnip
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I'm bi-illiterate. I can't read or write in at least TWO languages...
Jun 25th, 2000, 09:52 PM
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Bad luck Turnip, but surely you can speak Swede!
Jun 26th, 2000, 04:50 AM
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I only speak two, English and German, but have many relatives in Europe. One interesting family tidbit: my husband's German cousin met a Korean-born Swedish girl in Australia and they fell in love, got married and live in Germany. They spoke English to each other, he learned Swedish for her, she learned German for him. They now have two young children. She speaks Swedish to them, he speaks to them in German. The children will learn English in school, so soon the kids will be tri-lingual as well! My nephew, also a German, speaks English, French and Spanish like a native, as well as his native tongue and ancient Greek among others. Put most of us Americans to shame!
Jun 27th, 2000, 03:46 PM
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Hi, Bonjour, Guten tag, Goeie dag, Sanbonani, Dumelang, Sau Bona!!!
In South Africa we have 11 official languages!
My home language is Afrikaans which is quite close to Dutch/ Flemish.
I had German at school for 5 years along with a bit of French.
The other languages all South African's know bits of are Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho.
Obviously English is also on my list.
Enjoy your travels & communicating from your phrase books everyone!
Aug 1st, 2000, 05:48 AM
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Aug 1st, 2000, 12:28 PM
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Impararo l'italiano da cinque mesi, ma non parlo bene.
Bisogno di practica!
I have been trying to teach myself Italian for five months now.
I find it exciting and frustrating.
English is my native tongue,and all of my relatives spoke only english, but occasionally would interject some german or dutch phrases.
I took 2 yrs. of spanish in high school, but at the time was not too interested, and as it has been almost 30 yrs.,remember almost nothing.
The educational system in America really does *not* value the learning of second languages.
Waiting until high school age is really too late to develop a fluency, or even a real interest (unless one is really into learning )
I know my children's 1st grade teacher was so frustrated by the lack of interest, by the administration in their school to have languages, that she actually went to nightschool to learn spanish.
We finally have a part time spanish teacher, but not until the children reach 7th grade!
Other countries are so much farther ahead of us, in introducing students to languages while they are still young.
I think the United States is a great country, but we are so egocentric, that "we" do not really see the need for our children to be bilingual.
It is too bad.
I would have loved to have had the opportunity to learn language when I was receptive, and young.
So, for now,
bisogno italiano.
Sorry for this rambling discourse,
I kind of got off the subject.
Aug 1st, 2000, 12:58 PM
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Native English speaker
Obsessed with and Fluent in Spanish
Can surivive in French
Desire to learn everything, but no time.

These posts remind of my first time really speaking in French. I was living in Spain, teaching English, and my roommate was Spanish. He would practice his French with a French woman, and I had taken just the basic French 101. And we went out with this French woman and her friend. Well, her friend didn't speak English and didn't speak Spanish, so the only way for me to communicate was my rudimentary French that I had never spoken to anyone who wasn't my French 101 teacher. I just put aside all modesty and the words came out one at a time "Je . . . m'apelle . . . Ed".
It was like this the whole night, but I talked, somehow. Nancy, I know you're
going to do great. Good luck to all the language learners everywhere!!!
Aug 4th, 2000, 10:42 AM
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How about a joke as a follow-up to Nancy's comment:

Q: What do you call someone who speaks several languages?
A: Poly or multi-lingual.
Q: What do you call someone who speaks two languages?
A: Bi-lingual.
Q: What do you call someone who speaks one language?
A: An American.

I agree that it is a shame that we don't spend more time and money on our kids learning another language. In fact, in our school district, they have actually eliminated all but Spanish as an option. Back when I was in school, you had to pass a proficiency test in another language to graduate from the University of California.

Anyway, this was a great question. For my answer, I am pretty fluent in English, French, Spanish and Italian. Can get by in German and Greek. Native tongue is English, learned the rest either listening to my parents (spoke Spanish when they didn't want us to understand) or school (French) or tapes (German and Italian) or living there for a while (four months in Greece). Can you tell I love foreign languages?
Aug 4th, 2000, 04:05 PM
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Liked your joke!
Dec 22nd, 2000, 04:22 PM
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