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Tankertrashnav
31st Aug 2010, 15:15
Given that the number of candidates taking a foreign language at GCSE in the UK has fallen yet again, what do we think about the desirability of learning another language? Personally I speak pretty reasonable French, average Russian and some German, but I admit I'm keen on languages and find them easier to learn than most (conversely my maths and physics are rubbish!)

Do you speak a foreign language beyond the ordering a beer level, or do you find that English is so widespread throughout the world you can get on fine without bothering with anything else? After all a lot of us are in aviation and English is the international language of air traffic. I'd like to hear from non-native English speakers as well - what do you think about the Brits' (and Americans') reputation as poor linguists?

Btw - please try and keep the cunning linguist jokes to a minimum :=

RJM
31st Aug 2010, 15:30
I have a smattering of several languages. I can advise anyone considering learning a European language at least, to learn English grammar throughly. If you don't understand the grammar of English, to learn the universal basics of grammar in a new language is unnecessarily difficult.

Once you've 'aligned' the new language's grammatical forms with your already understood structure of English, the task is reduced to learning the vocabulary and idiomatic expressions.

If you're lucky enough to have had grammar forced into your head at a young age by having to learn Latin or French, you'll be most grateful for the experience.

Storminnorm
31st Aug 2010, 15:30
The Brits and Yanks are just too lazy to bother about
learning another language. If the foreigners don't
understand, just shout seems to be the norm.
I speak reasonable Ffrench, Dutch and German, with a
bit of Spanish as an emergency back-up.
French from school lessons, the others from just trying
to join in with things whilst working abroad. Mainly because
I always thought it was arrogant to expect everyone else in
the World to speak English, but not to at LEAST try to converse
with people in other countries in their own language.
PS, The Mrs was born in Holland, hence the Dutch.

rgbrock1
31st Aug 2010, 15:32
Tanker:

Not trying to toot my own horn (toot-toot) but you asked about languages so I'll respond.

My native tongue is American English. (not to be confused with that 'other' English)

I speak German/Austrian fluently, can read it and write as well.

I have a passive understanding of Russian but have a difficult time conversing. I can read some of it but write none of it.

I am passively fluent in Italian. I understand most of it, can speak some of it and can read/write some of it.

I have a passive understanding of French. I can understand much of it, can speak some of it, can read some of it but don't bother to write any of it.

I know a few phrases, enough to get around, in Japanese.

I have a solid understanding of Dutch.

Although I realize English is widely used throughout the world I've learned through by own experiences that speaking to a native in their language goes a long way in their acceptance of you.

Capetonian
31st Aug 2010, 15:39
I suspect that the answers you will get here will not be representative of the population in general as people who use this board are more likely to be internationally mobile and aware than the average.

My first language is English, my second is Spanish. I also speak Afrikaans, French and German to the level that I can express myself and understand them in most situations.

I have basic Dutch, Italian, Romanian, Catalan, and Portuguese, to the extent that I can understand what is going on around me when those languages are spoken and can say a few basic phrases.

I can read the Cyrillic alphabet but don't necessarily know what the words I'm reading mean!

I have a very limited understanding of Polish, and through that, an even more limited understanding of the other closely related Slav languages.

mixture
31st Aug 2010, 15:44
Once you've 'aligned' the new language's grammatical forms with your already understood structure of English,

Except that many Western European languages are Romance rather than Germanic, and therefore attempting to "align", say, French with English, might give you more headaches that you need. For example, how do you intend to "align" the concept of gendered nouns ?

If you want to become fluent, then immersion is the way to go. Translating things back to your mother tongue only leads to hesitations whilst you translate things back and forth in your mind.

Storminnorm
31st Aug 2010, 15:46
As you said Capetonian, the replies on here will certainly
NOT be representative of the populations as a whole.
Too many airline tramps hanging around in PPRuNe.

Squawk7777
31st Aug 2010, 16:01
I'd like to hear from non-native English speakers as well - what do you think about the Brits' (and Americans') reputation as poor linguists?

Generally true, I am afraid to add. Americans in general are not bothered by learning another language - there are exceptions of course. The typical "This is America - now speak English" makes me sick. Border towns or cities close to them are fairly bilingual (English/Spanish) but I can feel a certain resentment with some folks towards a non-English language.

Having said that, most narrow-mind people that don't bother learning another language and/or experiencing another culture are the ones that will never travel outside the US.

The traveling Americans I met outside the US where usually the most interesting type of people: open and polite. As with all countries, I find it hard to generalize the States, since it is quite a diverse country (much to the dismay of certain right-wing politicians and talk-show hosts :yuk: )

British people are different IMHO. It starts e.g with the pronunciation with a non-English name. Brits have far less problems in the correct pronunciation than Americans. Never figured that one out, but I believe one can trace it back to general education. I am still surprised that the CAA is able to pronounce my name correctly every time, whereas the FAA seems to take forever to ask how to pronounce it and where I am from and blablabla. As for (the attitude of) learning another language, I'd say that it is almost equally low, although I think that there are more bilingual-raised people in the US.

When it comes to languages and aviation, you just need to do a quick search on ATC language other than English and you'll read plenty of (sometimes bitter) exchanges. In my experience, pilots who aren't monoglots have far less problems flying in a non-English environment.

RJM
31st Aug 2010, 16:05
The advice was simplistic, mixture, and works more or less well with different languages, and best within the same family of languages.

In my limited experience, Latin is a good start because its grammar is quite complete. For example, it has the full range of cases in noun construction. Or take the use of the subjunctive mood, for example. It's almost extinct in English, but knowing its use in Latin will demonstrate how to use it in the rare English cases. Correct use of elements like the subjunctive, or gerunds, need not not be condescending or pedantic, but can be the sign of someone who takes pride and care in expression; like an artisan who carefully finishes even hidden parts of the work.

'If you're going to do it, do it well' etc.

Having said that, there is such a thing as conversational language, and level of discourse. Knowing the proper constructions, even if you only use them in formal writing, is still worthwhile.

Cripes - I sound like a know-all English teacher - sorry!

larssnowpharter
31st Aug 2010, 16:12
My 'mother tongue' is Chinese. To be more precise Hong Kong Chinese. This was learned as a child in Singapore and Malaya when, as a result of my mother going through a difficult pregnany, I was bought up by the ayah and her 3 daughters. They lived in the bungalow at the bottom of the garden. Still recall going to my first school in England and struggling with English.

I have spent some 10 years living and working in Italy and passed the Civil Service Commission examinations as an interpreter and translator. Have even earned a few bob doing the same as well as writing my doctoral thesis in Italian.

When in the RAF I was sent on a course to learn Romanian. Forgotten most of it as was never put into use. However, Romance group so no great problems.

I speak fair Arabic; enough to have a simple 'phone converstaion but cannot read it.

Probably 'get by' in all the Romance group.

Am currently working on Visayan (Malay/Austronesian with Spanish chucked in). Receive as long as that keep it slow and one at a time but struugle to transmit.

larssnowpharter
31st Aug 2010, 16:17
For example, it has the full range of cases in verb construction.

And thereby lies the problem with yer Orstralian.

Trying to apply case to verbs.:ugh::ugh:

RJM
31st Aug 2010, 16:21
Thanks lars, I stand corrected. Stop hitting your head.

I meant noun construction (error now fixed).

Rollingthunder
31st Aug 2010, 16:33
Why. what's the point? Speak well in one's own language and shout for others who do not understand. I refuse to contribute to the diaspora of language...English is the language of the world, certainly the language of business...you Chinese..take heed. But there was that two weeks on France one time....oks...used up a bit of French but only to order breakfast and buy ciggies.

I dare anyone but Juud to pronounce this correctly - Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij

Slasher
31st Aug 2010, 16:39
Im fluent in both English and Bullsh!t and have a A+ in
the latter. And straight As in the Language of Lerve. :E

Other languages I got no reason to learn.

Parapunter
31st Aug 2010, 16:44
English is hard enough to learn - some words can be nouns, verbs & adjectives all in one. For example:

Noun - You fat F**k

Verb - F**k off, you fat f**k

Adjective: F**k off, you fat f**k, through the f****g door.

Tankertrashnav
31st Aug 2010, 17:00
Corporal I knew once put it even more succinctly:

"Whats the matter with the Land Rover corporal?"

"F***ing f***er's f***ed, sir!"

Rollingthunder "kay ell emm?"

Thats weird - I wrote L A N D R O V E R - how did it become Trabant?

rgbrock1
31st Aug 2010, 17:01
But, parapunter, you forgot one:

F**k off, you fat f**king fat f**k.

Parapunter
31st Aug 2010, 17:05
Nah, I made my f*****g point.

Slasher
31st Aug 2010, 17:08
And also to indicate a whole range of emotions like -

Happyness: You f**king ripper! :ok:

Surprise: holy f**k! :eek:

Exclamation: well f**k me dead! :bored:

Love: Is a f**k out of the question? :\

Anger: Go f**k yourself! :*

Disapointment: Oh f**k.... :(

Commanding: Oi, shut the f**k up! :oh:

Sympathy: You look a bit f**ked... :ouch:

rgbrock1
31st Aug 2010, 17:11
But... but... but... there's a lot of that four-letter word being tossed around.
What happened to, what I believe is, that Americanism: Motherf**ka?

Shall we embed that lovely word in a sentence or two?

PS: How did we go from "Learning a Foreign Language" to f**k you, you f**king
f**k face????

PSS: I guess the answer to my question is: if you're learning English as a second language it's good to know what's being tossed in your general direction!!!!

Parapunter
31st Aug 2010, 17:15
Here's a good one: I'd be interested in being supplied a French version of 'ought'.

I do not believe an equivalent exists. Deficient is yer French language.

Tankertrashnav
31st Aug 2010, 17:24
Usually rendered by use of "il faut" followed by the subjunctive

eg "Il faut que je le fasse" - I ought to do it.

Doesnt quite cope with the difference between I must do it and I ought to do it though

Parapunter
31st Aug 2010, 17:27
Indeed, Falloir is not quite the verb is it? neither is devoir they express obligation in a slightly different way- ought is a modal verb & those just don't exist in French. Devoir is about as close as you can get as in J'aurais du, je devrais etc.

larssnowpharter
31st Aug 2010, 17:32
Or take the use of the subjunctive mood, for example. It's almost extinct in English, but knowing its use in Latin will demonstrate how to use it in the rare English cases. Correct use of elements like the subjunctive, or gerunds, need not not be condescending or pedantic, but can be the sign of someone who takes pride and care in expression; like an artisan who carefully finishes even hidden parts of the work.

Yer see, one of the problems with English grammar as some Victorian eejits decided that they would apply Latin grammatical systems to a non-romance language.

Gerunds: Let's take 'steering'. Present continuous? As in 'I am steering the car'. Then they give youu bloody gerunds where some bugger nicks the word and calls something a 'steering committee' thus taking a perfectly good word and changing it into a 'substantive modifier'.

As for the subjunctive mood, if I were to have had of had one I would have been really p1ssed orf about it. What about the Imperative Subjunctive? As in 'Andiamoci' in Italian? How many tenses in the subjuctive in English?

What happened to Past Historic for Krissakes? I think we should be told.

Still like some of the economy of expression in, for example, Han. One verb for buying and selling.

n5296s
31st Aug 2010, 17:57
I'd be interested in being supplied a French version of 'ought'.
Use the conditional of devoir, no problem:

Je devrais faire le menage mais ca me fait chier. QU'est qu'il ya a la tele?

I ought to do the housework but it's not my preferred activity. What's on the TV?

Learning indo-european grammar (English, French, Latin, whatever) is useful for other indo-european langauges. Probably useful, but less directly applicable, to non-IE languages (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, and about 6000 others). Declension of nouns and conjugation of verbs is pretty much unique to the IE languages - thank goodness. Of course other languages have their own peculiarities.

My 2c on the original question: English, French (effectively bilingual), German, Japanese (OK), Russian (learned it at school but have forgotten most of the vocabulary), Spanish (can read but not speak).

n5296s

Parapunter
31st Aug 2010, 18:01
Je devrais faire le menage - I should do the housework.

Just one of those ones that doesn't directly cross the divide, like get. You could obtenir, recevoir, prendre even, but you can't get in France.

Capot
31st Aug 2010, 18:05
Native English speakers have a problem, as a Polish taxi driver explained when I apologised for not speaking much Polish, although if he could manage fluent Arabic, French, Russian or German so could I.

"We understand" he said (in English). "English speakers have to pick at least two other languages to learn, and the chances are very high that wherever they go to, the language will be one they do not speak. We non-English speakers have a choice of precisely one language to learn as a second language, and it's English".

Quite right. And eat your heart out, Monsieur Crapaud, it's a fact of life.

larssnowpharter
31st Aug 2010, 18:08
One recalls explaining to a German mate on an exchange tour the niceties of the Conditional Mood in English together with the minefield presnted by the 'should', 'would' and 'could'.

Recall stressing the fact that 'should' should be used as a polite but, nonethless, imperative suggestion.

A few days later said mate comes in and says:

'Lars. You must do........' whatever it was.

Lars, forever the pedant, proceeded too re-explain lesson 101 of the English Conditional with reference to the German verb 'mussen'.

'Yeah Lars,' says mate. 'But yer really gotta do it'.

He was right!

ThreadBaron
31st Aug 2010, 18:12
What happened to Past Historic for Krissakes?

No idea! Never knew there was a Past Historic for Krissakes.

Krissaken? Krissook? Krissooken?

Civil Service Commission Russian Interpreter, but the job I was in line for was dis-established the month I qualified. :ugh: 18 months of hard, hard, but enjoyable, work down the pan.

Passive understanding of French and German. Working on the basics of Portugoose for the next holliers. Learning even a little makes such a difference to your reception by the locals.

Sirikit
31st Aug 2010, 18:18
I have been learning Mandarin and Cantonese for the past 2.5 years.

I am progressing very slowly. I am not musically gifted...but..I am very gifted in other departments.:E

rgbrock1
31st Aug 2010, 18:19
lars:

We speakers of the German language know about the verb mussen. Which in English means "must". However, you also know that the Germans have other verbs similar to our "ought to", "shall" or "should".

In German, both ought to and should are "sollten", must is, as above, "mussen" and shall is "werden".

So, truly, the German language also has it share of conditional mood vagaries, nicht wahr?

larssnowpharter
31st Aug 2010, 18:21
Hai ragione, mon mate.

I am just telling it as it happened. Seriously, should would could ought and shag cause problems..

rgbrock1
31st Aug 2010, 18:21
Sirikit:

And which departments might those be? :}

I see you've finally been able to accrue one (1) post. Congratulations Sirikit. You are now a number!!!!!

29JewlGsYxs

Sirikit
31st Aug 2010, 18:24
Was it good for you too, rgbrock1:E

rgbrock1
31st Aug 2010, 18:29
Sirikit:

Orgy-porgy, Ford and fun,Kiss the girls and make them One.Boys at one with girls at peace;Orgy-porgy gives release.

Lon More
31st Aug 2010, 18:39
English, French, German and Spanish to A level at school. none of which helped me survive two years later in Luxembourg.
Now English, Dutch, German and French. I picked up Dutch from the subtitles on TV and in bed :O. Also the Limburg dialects are very Germanic which made it easier. I can also say Good Day etc. in probably 10 other languages

flyblue
31st Aug 2010, 18:40
Usually rendered by use of "il faut" followed by the subjunctive

eg "Il faut que je le fasse" - I ought to do it.

Doesnt quite cope with the difference between I must do it and I ought to do it thoughI'd say il faudrait que je fasse for "ought". and Il faut que je fasse for "must"
There ya go with your coping :hmm:

You don't always achieve a result in the same way in a different language.

Parapunter :p

Juud
31st Aug 2010, 18:50
... or do you find that English is so widespread throughout the world you can get on fine without bothering with anything else? ... I'd like to hear from non-native English speakers as well - what do you think about the Brits' (and Americans') reputation as poor linguists?



Yup, widespread enough so you can get on fine in English.
As long as you stick to your large Intercontinental chain hotel and the local tourist traps. ;)
On the other hand, wishing them a cheerful Dobre Utra like I´d just learnt from the stern looking soldier guarding our airplane caused many happy looks and smiles on the normally not very cheery faces of the pax who boarded at silly o´clock this morning.
Local lingo often smoothes the way just a bit in many situations.

*****

True, Brits & Americans are not that hot at learning furrin.
Then again, neither are Italians, Spaniards, Frenchmen, Turks, Russians, Japanese, Brazilians, Thai, Poles, Kosovarians, Venezuelans, Uzbeks etc etc etc.

They all get by anyway; you Brits and Americans better than most. :p

Pugilistic Animus
31st Aug 2010, 19:01
with all of the various dialects of Spanish I can say still learning Spanish:\ used to be able to speak French and Italian but I suck now, I can read it and understand the spoken words at times with difficulty it got pushed out through non-use and remplaced with other more pertinent subjects, at least for me

I can read Greek but don't know anything I'm saying and I can read and pronounce German but also don't know what I'm saying:ouch:

my girlfriend yells at me and says "I don't understand that Boricua accent" I then say stop speaking Colombian then the Spanish tell us both Hableis Castilla!!!:}:}:}

Keef
31st Aug 2010, 19:06
I studied languages for my first (1963-66) degree. I found 'em easy after the first few, but all the ones I did were Indo-European. I can order beer in about 50 languages, and survive reasonably well in 20 or so. I can fox most Germans that I'm a German from Köln. The Kölner ask me where the heck I'm from.

One of my two daughters absorbs new languages like a sponge - her MA is in Greek and Hebrew; she's bilingual English-German, and has a few more. Her sister struggled with French, struggled harder with Welsh, and finally decided she had different genes.

The folks who impress me are the Dutch: I've not met one who isn't umptylingual. I once visited a former pumping windmill, now a museum. The bloke explaining it all did it in perfect English for us, Dutch for some locals, French for a bunch of grenouilles - and then explained that he was the last worker who minded the mill when it was in use for real. I couldn't imagine a mill operator in England who would even speak proper English, never mind anything else.


rgbrock1 - kein Mensch muß müssen (note müssen, not mussen).

Parapunter
31st Aug 2010, 19:13
You don't always achieve a result in the same way in a different language.

Parapunter

Indeed Mme Bleue:)

It is a vive la difference moment. I have this book here, called the real merde, which il faut que je laisse tranquile, having been profane enough in this thread already. Save to say it's taught me the big difference in any foreign language is the capacity to learn idioms & colloquialisms - I was snowbaording in Tignes a few years back & the object of my affections, Sandie from la Bouida was stood around with her mates at work, when, I & my pal Will stumbled by in the grip of a hnagover from the previous evening's jollity.

Ca va? shouted Sandie

Non, I replied.

Pourquoi ca? she enquired

Tete dans la cul! I advised

At this point Sandie & her mates fell about laughing!

What, what did you say? demanded Will.


That's the thing, not my superior grasp of French, but the fact that a pasty, hungover Rosbif, with a curious accent would know that expression at all - that was the good stuff!

I did alright that night!

Lonewolf_50
31st Aug 2010, 19:14
I've lost most of my German through disuse. Was able to carry on a modest coversation with a neighbor about 15 years ago, but doubt I can now. Vocabulary shot.

My Spanish is little better, and my Italian, which I was modestly able to use, has atrophied through disuse.

EDIT: I think I can still render a few choice insults in Mandarin that I leared as a teen, but no longer recall the context other than the insult involving a turtle's egg.

RJM
31st Aug 2010, 20:00
le cul, Parapunter?


Apologies for pedantry ...

Tankertrashnav
31st Aug 2010, 20:19
Think you're right Capetonian, we are probably not too representative, being more geographically mobile than most. However there are still many who move about the world expecting the natives to speak or at least understand English (especially the shouted variety Rollingthunder ;)). Just look at all those Brits who have moved to France or Spain and after several years have only the most rudimentary grasp of the language.

I am pretty impressed by the level of linguistic achievement among PPruners which certainly overshadows my own modest achievements. I never thought when I started the thread we'd soon be in a discussion about the subtleties of the subjunctive!

The only thing I still dont undertand is - when you type L a n d r o v e r (without the spaces) why does it come out as Trabant? Here goes again - Land Rover - see! (see post #16).

mixture
31st Aug 2010, 20:22
I'd say il faudrait que je fasse for "ought". and Il faut que je fasse for "must"
There ya go with your coping


My understanding is that falloir is a verbe impersonelle , whilst devoir is not.

Thus, the answer to the translation to "ought" would depend on the grammatical context as to whether it is a personal obligation or not.

There is no direct translation because French does not have modal verbs.

niknak
31st Aug 2010, 20:25
I've always found that the ability to speak a bit of Spanish, a bit of French and to shout slowly in English will get you by almost anywhere in the world.

seacue
31st Aug 2010, 20:57
I certainly don't claim any language prowess, but felt a little study of French and Spanish in school was a great help in understanding my (native) English grammar. English grammar has so atrophied that I really didn't learn much of the fundamentals in "English" class here in the USA.

Furriners have emphasized that I am really lucky to be a native-speaker of English. They have to work hard because of its loose rules.

They also point out that English is the obvious second language in many places - while we English-speakers have a myriad of choices to add confusion.

n5296s
31st Aug 2010, 21:41
Je devrais faire le menage - I should do the housework.

Just one of those ones that doesn't directly cross the divide, like get. You could obtenir, recevoir, prendre even, but you can't get in France.

So what IS the difference between "should" and "ought"? Where does it say that "je devrais" is "I should" not "I ought"? If asked to explain the difference, I would really have to think about it. They both express a sense of obligation. "should" is probably a bit weaker than "ought", but I couldn't swear to it.

Translation would be easy if all words had exact equivalents, but except for very concrete things, it's rarely the case. It's more like clouds that partially overlap. Try translating between Japanese and English.

n5296s

chuks
31st Aug 2010, 22:30
We had a German who learned his English in Nigeria from a crowd of ruffians. When he finally made it to Blighty he had to be taken aside to be told that in an English pub one did not say, "Oi! Gissa a f**king beer!" That was what he had been taught by his mates, no idea what it meant except that he got a beer by shouting that.

G-CPTN
31st Aug 2010, 22:52
I worked for a German company.
A delightful young lady was sent to the UK office to improve her English (not that she really needed it having worked in export sales dealing with English-speaking customers).
She arrived as we were embarking on a river cruise so she was dragged along.

After a while she announced to the party that she was "absolutely kernackered" - for which she got a round of applause (and a slight correction to her pronunciation).

lasernigel
31st Aug 2010, 23:12
I studied Arabic at " The Army school of language at Beaconsfield" before I went to Kuwait in '78. It is true that most people don't know the grammar of their own language, it was quite a shock to me as I am proud of my English.
It gave me an insight as to the problems foreign people have, of learning English and it's idiosyncrasies.
Can converse in Arabic, German and Thai. Also just know enough French to cope when out there.
Tried Polish but is very unforgiving on pronunciation.

G-CPTN
31st Aug 2010, 23:18
Subterranea Britannica: Research Study Group: Sites: Wilton Park (Beaconsfield): Eastern Command War HQ & AFHQ 5 (http://www.subbrit.org.uk/rsg/sites/w/wilton_park/)

lasernigel
31st Aug 2010, 23:30
Thanks G-Cptn, fond memories of my 10 week course. Came top and recommended for the interpreters course which was just starting, when mine finished. Unfortunately REME said only officers were granted these. Offered by Int Corps to transfer, but being young (25) and having a posting to Kuwait, decided not to. The biggest career mistake in life!!

Many "nice" WRAC's there and also managed a shot at the WO2 QM's wife one mess night!:ok:

mixture
1st Sep 2010, 06:57
n5296s,

So what IS the difference between "should" and "ought"? Where does it say that "je devrais" is "I should" not "I ought"? If asked to explain the difference, I would really have to think about it. They both express a sense of obligation. "should" is probably a bit weaker than "ought", but I couldn't swear to it.


Both are modal verbs and therefore no direct translations, therefore the difference is largely based on grammatical context and conjugation.

Should vs. ought is certainly one area where the context plays a large part in the meaning in French.

Infact, your "je devrais" is actually more like "I ought".

"Should have" would use the conditionnel passé conjugation .... e.g. j'aurais dû

Parapunter
1st Sep 2010, 06:59
Quite. One was pointing out the fact that between English & French, the gasket doesn't always make a perfect fit - it's part of the challenge of learning to express oneself in furrin.

I always have trouble getting masculine & feminine nouns correct, as RJM noticed. Makes me a trouduc!

mixture
1st Sep 2010, 07:10
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Z6BNYSS5L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Hours of fun for all the family.... :cool:

Barksdale Boy
1st Sep 2010, 07:27
Almost 50 years on, my headmaster's words still ring in my ears: "Translate ideas not words".

radeng
1st Sep 2010, 07:41
I have a small amount of French (GCE O level), enough to order a meal and have a halting conversation. But all the meetings (International Telecommunications Union, Conference of European Post and Telecommunications, European Telecommunications Standards Institute) I go to use English as the working language. In fact, I'm in a meeting in Italy right now, with French, Belgians, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Austrian, Turkish, Greek, Dutch, German, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Finnish, Russian, Irish, Swiss etc, being addressed in English by an Italian!

Parapunter
1st Sep 2010, 07:58
This
http://i52.tinypic.com/2507axi.jpg
and this
http://i52.tinypic.com/148p760.jpg
are the good merde.:cool:

massman
1st Sep 2010, 08:26
I have a great deal of difficulty with Languages but speak reasonable German and now, living in France, am struggling to pick up the language here. Also can read Russian (but don't understand a single word of what I am reading but my wife can - thank god for phonetic languages).
I consider my lack of English grammer and linguistics as one of my biggest problems. At school we concentrated on the creative rather than the formal or maybe that's all I can remember from this distant view point.

I also work in a multi-national company and have worked in many others. It is sensible to work in a single language if many nationalities are involved. However, if you work in a company where there are only two or maybe three nationalities involved then a good rule is for everybody being allowed to speak in their own language. This gives the speakers more confidence and installs creativity. The requirement is then firstly to develop a good understanding of the other language, eventually leading to the skill to communicate

G&T ice n slice
1st Sep 2010, 08:40
My British education was 1960-1968, standard boarding school. I'm 'English' but brought up in Latin America & spoke the local version of Spanish.

Naturally this was totally unacceptable, and this was quickly beaten out of me and instead I had to learn Latin & French.

With Latin, the general process was very much like the "Romanes domum eunt" from the Life of Brian.

With French we were taught using a complicated phoenetic alphabet, so simultaneaously I was trying to learn a new language and a new alphabet.

I passed GCE 'O' level and gave both up immediately. I have been left with no language skills at all... in fact the deep-seated embarrassment of trying to make myself understood just freezes the brain.

I worked 30 years for a NL company, reletives-in-law are all Latin Americans, but I have never been able to really get Dutch or Spanish to work.

I have never had any requirement whatsoever for French, I refuse to to to France. The only Latin speakers I know are dead

I 'absorbed' Spanish without books, without learning funny alphabets, without learning grammer. It annoys the ***** that the British eductaion system seemed at the time to be designed to destroy any attraction to foreign languages

Rant over

'scuse poor typing

Parapunter
1st Sep 2010, 08:53
With French we were taught using a complicated phoenetic alphabet, so simultaneaously I was trying to learn a new language and a new alphabet.

I passed GCE 'O' level and gave both up immediately. I have been left with no language skills at all... in fact the deep-seated embarrassment of trying to make myself understood just freezes the brain.
Funny how I never feel particularly privileged until I read threads like this. I went to a bog standard comprehensive, nothing special at all. In my first year, I showed an aptitude for French & scored well in the end of year exam.

However, the following year (I would have been 12), we had a new teacher. She spotted that I was showing a flair for the language & subsequently got mum & dad in for a meeting, where she secured an agreement that I could be intensively coached. By the age of 14, I was practically fluent.

I'll name her because she was exactly what a teacher should be - a cajoler, an encourager, a bully when required & an inspiration. Sue Morely - thanks for the help.:ok:

RJM
1st Sep 2010, 09:20
I am learning language of great English nation for expectation of happy times using verbs for intimate gatherings with mutual British chicks.

Parapunter
1st Sep 2010, 09:31
And all your base are belong to us.

MagnusP
1st Sep 2010, 09:52
Reasonable (and improving) Italian, some Spanish and French, but my Russian has atrophied to the point of uselessness.

I'm impressed by the number of cunning linguists here.

Smeagol
1st Sep 2010, 10:04
As a Brit who has spent almost half his working life "abroad", I can state categorically that there are only two languages in this world.

English and.......................Foreign:}


Never was any good at languages, failed GCE 'O' level with a grade 9 (Could get that by writing one's name on the top of the paper......and spelling it incorrectly!) Probably less than 5%. Last Latin exam (in 1964) got 3%.

To be (almost) serious for a moment, as others have stated, the problem we native English speakers have is that wherever we go in the world someone will speak English thus negating our need to learn "foreign".
As an engineer working in various countries, it is fortunate that English is the international language of engineering.

I can, however, order a beer in several languages and swear in several others!

Blacksheep
1st Sep 2010, 12:02
Mrs BS family are all English speakers, though her native tongue is Bahasa Malay. We've been together for forty years and I lived in Brunei for 27 years but I've never mastered Malay. Mrs BS and everyone else with whom I had any reason to speak was fluent in English. Whenever I attempt to speak Malay, the reply is/was always in English. Oddly, Mrs BS never mastered the Brunei version of Malay. Whenever she tried, they always answered in English (?)

Although the Malaysian family are fluent English speakers, the older generation never spoke in anything but Malay. So, whenever the younger folks didn't want the old folks to know what they were up to, they used English. Grandpa would puff away at his pipe and read his newspaper. One day the American mathematics teacher from the Methodist school called at the house and Grandpa greeted him politely "Good evening, do come in. Would you like a cup of tea?" etc. His cover was broken! Grandpa was fluent and understood perfectly all their little secrets! :uhoh:

Forkandles
1st Sep 2010, 13:30
Went to work in Leipzig in the 90s and my company sent me on a 4 week intensive German course in Prien.
When I returned to Leipzig a month later, after having picked up the basics, my workmates were most amused by my Bavarian accent and spent most of their time taking the piss. Needn't have bothered really, because they all spoke back to me in English anyway. Only ever really spoke German to taxi drivers when I was bladdered, which was often...

Now living in Malta, where good old Mancunian English gets me by, although in meetings, they switch to and fro between Maltese and English every 5 minutes and I have to remind them to stop speaking furrin in their own country. They can't drink properly either, much too Italian in their ways...

G-CPTN
1st Sep 2010, 14:35
Daughter-in-Law is French (though has lived in the UK - and the US - for much of her life and speaks perfect English). She speaks only French to my grandson who replies only in English (also to other members of the family who talk in French).

unstable load
1st Sep 2010, 17:02
Having grown up on a farm in Seffrica, I learnt to speak fluent (conversational, not formal) Xhosa and then in my global wanderings after helicopters have picked up passable Portuguese and passable Spanish. The Xhosa has wilted through lack of exercise, though.

ChristiaanJ
1st Sep 2010, 19:21
Myself... Dutch.
French, English and German in secondary school (plus Latin and Greek), with a strong preference for English. Italian as a plus. Enough Swedish and Spanish to read it, enough Greek and Russian residue to decipher it with a dictionary.
Lived in France over half my life, so the Dutch is getting rusty..... but my French still has a Dutch accent.

Daughter.... nationality Dutch, but doesn't speak a word of it.
Her mother-tongue, in the literal sense, is English, and she lived in the UK for the first six years. Primary and secondary school in France, but family language still English, so she ended up bilingual. Then went to Germany as an au-pair, did her university studies there, got married and divorced, and now works for an American firm, so ended up tri-lingual.

Now the funny bit.... whenever we two meet, we end up using all three languages at once, and more often than not in the same sentence.... to the total confusion of our friends !!

CJ

PS Each language does have words and expressions that just do not exist in another language, so, in some way, knowing more than one language enriches the way you think.

pineridge
1st Sep 2010, 19:53
Squawk7777 said....................


"I am still surprised that the CAA is able to pronounce my name correctly every time, whereas the FAA seems to take forever to ask how to pronounce it"



Squawk???

G-CPTN
1st Sep 2010, 20:17
Each language does have words and expressions that just do not exist in another language,
How true! . . .

ChristiaanJ
1st Sep 2010, 20:20
By pure chance there was this article in the New York Times...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/magazine/29language-t.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

A bit heavy-going , but not without interest.

CJ

Squawk7777
1st Sep 2010, 21:09
Squawk???

... yes, pineridge?

True, Brits & Americans are not that hot at learning furrin.
Then again, neither are Italians, Spaniards, Frenchmen, Turks, Russians, Japanese, Brazilians, Thai, Poles, Kosovarians, Venezuelans, Uzbeks etc etc etc.

I still have to meet a Dutch person that cannot even remotely speak (bits of) German. Btw I was also told by several Dutch that their abuse of their language is far worse than what the Flemish can ever do ("Belgians curse like little girls"). :rolleyes:

Languages are interesting, the more similar the dialect is, the greater the resentment is. (Bavarians and Austrians are another great example)

and no, I don't speak Dutch...

ChristiaanJ
1st Sep 2010, 21:38
I still have to meet a Dutch person that cannot even remotely speak (bits of) GermanThat is a funny subject, actually.

Dutch of course started off as a dialect of German, and the two separated around the 14th century, IIRC. Even now, a lot of the words are similar, if not the same, but their meanings have diverged....
An example I always use is "herstellen", which now means "to manufacture" in German, but "to repair" in Dutch... you can see the similarity, and the difference.

As a result, it's quite easy for a Dutchman to speak extremely bad German, but extremely difficult to learn to speak and write it properly !

What's amusing, too, is to discover to what extent local German dialects have retained some of the "old" words with the same meaning as in Dutch.
A "sloot" is a ditch in Dutch, but also in some German dialects.

As to the Belgians, or rather the Flemish, they're so anti-French, that their "Dutch" is full of words with the original Germanic origin, where the Dutch Dutch has long since adopted the corresponding French word. In Dutch Dutch an umbrella is a "paraplu" whereas in Flemish it's still a "regenscherm".

CJ

Blacksheep
2nd Sep 2010, 07:34
Each language does have words and expressions that just do not exist in another language, Mrs BS, not being a native speaker, invents new words to express what she wants to convey. Though I'm not fluent in Malay, I have enough to understand the improved message, which certainly enriches my life. Our daughters have adopted many of her new words and use them to the bafflement of anyone outside the family.

"Stop it right now! Do you want a plap on the head?"

Plap: a gentle means of chastisement used on small children. There's no word for it in English. The direct translation of the Malay word would be slap but a Malay slap isn't the same as a European one, so a new word is needed.

larssnowpharter
2nd Sep 2010, 16:10
Funny really.

Uncle Nelson is around tonight and our 5 yr old is speaking a mixture of Visayan and English with him. I am speaking Arabic with a neighbour and have just anwered a phone call in Italian.

Each language does have words and expressions that just do not exist in another language,

I could not agree more.

I love cooking and learned most of the basics in Italy which was, arguably, the best place to learn.

When cooking I think in Italian; English simply does not have the vocabulary.

Machiavelli:



Il traduttore e un tradittore

The translator is a traitor. Sounds better in Italian.

mixture
2nd Sep 2010, 16:36
When cooking I think in Italian; English simply does not have the vocabulary.



Curious...... any chance of some examples of missing vocabulary ?

Tankertrashnav
2nd Sep 2010, 16:43
Curious...... any chance of some examples of missing vocabulary ?

well they've got about 45 different words for boiled pap, sorry pasta, (whirly pap, stringy pap, tubey pap, etc) so he's probably right, mixture

Slasher
2nd Sep 2010, 17:14
When cooking I think in Italian; English simply does not have the vocabulary

Yeh same for porno too. German porn is too gutteral and
very off-putting - its sounds like an angry naked Waffen SS
officer ordering around an angry naked Waffen SS'ette to do
stuff.

French and Italian are ok and are the natural languages of
erotica as long as the Italian leading ladey doesnt start a
Mussolini-like verbal rant.

Moira
2nd Sep 2010, 18:48
ChristiaanJ

As to the Belgians, or rather the Flemish, they're so anti-French, that their "Dutch" is full of words with the original Germanic origin, where the Dutch Dutch has long since adopted the corresponding French word. In Dutch Dutch an umbrella is a "paraplu" whereas in Flemish it's still a "regenscherm".

:=:= In fact, officially "paraplu" is the correct Flemish word for it.
Words like "regenscherm" (or duimspijker (punaise), geldbeugel (portemonnee) and many more) are usually used by people who are trying too hard to speak "proper Dutch" in stead of the local dialect they often speak at home. Nothing to do with anti-French feelings at all! If the situation was really that bad, then how would you explain that so many Flemish have a reasonable knowledge (or at least understanding) of French?

Edited to add: Living in the east of Belgium, my local dialect does indeed sound a lot like German but it also contains a surprisingly high number of words that are originating from French.

ChristiaanJ
2nd Sep 2010, 19:23
Moira,
Sorry.... of course I was exaggerating a bit, rather than trying to stir up anything or upset anybody.

I suppose the Flemish have their language purists, like some French, who keep complaining about the contamination of their language by anglicisms and americanisms....

Reminds me.... the French are still very bad at foreign languages, including English, yet a lot of English words have infiltrated the language. Most of them promptly had their meaning adulterated....
"Foot" doesn't refer to what you walk with, but to soccer.
"Tennis" and "basket" don't refer to the respective sports, buto the shoes you wear when playing them.
A "sweat" is not the result of a proper work-out, but a sweatshirt.

One of the prize winners is a chain of sports wear shops called "Athletes Foot".... I kid you not.

CJ

Moira
2nd Sep 2010, 19:41
One of the prize winners is a chain of sports wear shops called "Athletes Foot".... I kid you not

LOL, really makes you want to go in there and try on some new shoes! :E

mixture
2nd Sep 2010, 20:15
well they've got about 45 different words for boiled pap, sorry pasta, (whirly pap, stringy pap, tubey pap, etc) so he's probably right, mixture

And the need for 45 different words for boiled pap when you don't live in Italy is what exactly ? :rolleyes:

Tankertrashnav
2nd Sep 2010, 21:31
'Athlete's Foot' was an American athletic footwear chain dating back to the 1980's


Thus disproving our fond belief that the American's don't get irony. Excellent:ok:

(at least I think it's ironic ;))