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-   -   How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently (https://www.englishforum.ch/international-affairs-politics/255456-how-many-languages-do-you-speak-fluently.html)

Tasebo 09.06.2016 21:24

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
I've thought a lot about where my interest in languages came from, born and bred in the US, with parents who only knew key phrases that their German speaking grandparents (immigrants to Texas and Indiana) had thrown about. My dad had a study filled with Latin, Hebrew and Greek dictionaries from his days at seminary, but would probably have wished to speak a language.

I think it was envy - the 70's equivalent of a fancy handbag maybe? (though personally not an owner of any to this day) My middle school/high school friends had parents who spoke Norwegian, French, Swiss German, Italian, German, Spanish and it sounded so fun - I wanted to be like that too.

Lately I keep hearing people (particularly ambitious parental types) talk about "exposure" as a key element to broadening young people's horizons - looking back on my life I have come to appreciate how MUCH I was exposed to with noone making any special efforts.

ZuriRollt 09.06.2016 21:25

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Faltrad (Post 2602868)
From their English into yours or from English to another language?
Interpreting is a whole thing in itself. I speak and practice quite a few languages but I don't do interpretation jobs ever. One needs a natural talent for it. I just understand, translation/interpretation is just strange to me. I admire those who can do it well, it's a special gift on top of hell of a lot of work.

My mother language is English - but it's the way that my colleagues express themselves which is simply so difficult to understand.
They probably think the same about me.

fatmanfilms 09.06.2016 21:27

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

I'm fluent in US English. Oddly, i've been asked many times in Switzerland and the Netherlands if I'm from the UK. I think it's because I don't have much of a regional US accent.

My German is atrocious - mostly I speak Gerglish. I know lots of words, no idea how to put them together.


Sadly I can no longer replicate my native Pittsburghese/yinzer speak. Been away too long.

I absolutely love Northern UK, Scottish, Welsh and Irish accents.
I have no accent at all, but Swiss often ask if I am American, I usually reply I am from Boston, completely lost on them :B

Guest 09.06.2016 21:32

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Your post really resonates with me Tasebo. I so admired all the immigrant kids here who could switch from one language to an other as if there was nothing to it. As a just post war kid from rural Switzerland, who fell in love with rock- I always knew I wanted to travel the world - and languages were the key to it all.

I was so so lucky, in those pre EU and pre bilaterals, to be one of the few young Swiss able to go and work as an assistant translator/PA in a great London firm.

Blueangel 10.06.2016 01:54

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by EastEnders (Post 2602621)
So quadrilingual,l I dare say.....and.....I can lip-read all of them too.

Question from a curious mind...

If someone speaks to you in one of the languages you understand, but you don't know the person or their nationality, how long does it take you to recognise the language by lip reading alone?

crazygringo 10.06.2016 03:36

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
others have also said it, but for me it depends upon how you define "fluent". for sure I am "fluent" in English, which is my mother tongue - and, in English, my definition of "fluent" means that I read, write and speak (as well as manipulate) the language for a living.

:msntongue:

I could live in Swiss German if compelled by threat of death to do so, though of course there is no comparison between my Swiss German and English skills. in this sense, my definition of "fluent" is that I can bastardize the language as successfully as the Germans with whom I work can bastardize English.

:msnblush:

my standard German skills, however, are a shining example of just how far from "fluent" B2 language skills can be, at least in a professional setting. much of this is because I simply do not practice it enough, since bad English is frankly much easier for me to understand than bad German is for my colleagues (English simply accommodates far more imprecision).

:msnsad:

I have also tried to learn Luxembourgisch, but the accent is just way beyond anything I could ever hope to approximate in what is left of my lifetime. this means that Swedish is probably next up.

eddiejc1 10.06.2016 04:03

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dodgyken (Post 2602384)
It is important to learn just the key languages - so Cornish, Welsh and Gaelic cover the British Isles adequately. I get by in the Middle East with Sumerian and some pretty rudimentary Assyrian.

Latin means I can muddle by in much of southern Europe - and made learning Romantsch a doddle when moving here. Further North I'm finding it harder and harder with my Frisian.

When dealing with the colonies I dabbled in Karkin - but I wouldn't call myself properly fluent. There were great nights spent in the pub quaffing back cold beers chatting in Gaffat - 18 words distinct words to describe the visual appearance of breasts. Damned if I can remember half of them now.

There is English, of course, both native and for foreigners - the latter is basically just normal English without the long words, spoken both louder and slower.

And Kensitanian - obviously.

Although this post is obviously a joke, there's one language you overlooked that would have been EXTREMELY useful, especially in the eastern part of the Roman Empire---Greek. Keep that in mind the next time somebody hops in a TARDIS and the translator isn't working.

eddiejc1 10.06.2016 04:22

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by slammer (Post 2602445)
Define fluent.
If by fluent you mean that a native speaker will not be able to hear that you are from another country, then in my case it would be German, if you mean hold a conversation, add Spanish, if you can get what you want and not starve then Danish, French and Italian.


Only because this is Switzerland and native Swiss dislike speaking standard German, WHICH German do you speak fluently? It's possible somebody from Zurich or Lucerne might think you're a native, but someone from Berlin would immediately know you aren't German.

slammer 10.06.2016 06:35

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eddiejc1 (Post 2602970)
Only because this is Switzerland and native Swiss dislike speaking standard German, WHICH German do you speak fluently? It's possible somebody from Zurich or Lucerne might think you're a native, but someone from Berlin would immediately know you aren't German.

Germans and Austrians would take me for a Swabian or Bavarian and no questions asked, same with somebody from the german parts of Switzerland, Swabians would know that my dialect is from Augsburg and somebody from Augsburg would place me as being from the region of Augsburg´s western forest. (actually the region south of Donauwörth) The region around Augsburg is on the rather clearly defined language border between Swabia and Bavaria and is unique as having traits from both dialects, people can pick up small "tells" and know where a person is from with a high amount of accuracy.
To totally confuse people I also speak Baden-Württemberg, Hessian, North german and High German dialects.
But total fun is talking to a (lets say) north german as somebody from deepest Swabian-congo and having some helpful soul translate.
A wise person once said that the ability to speak a dialect is as good as being multi-lingual.

NotAllThere 10.06.2016 06:37

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
I voted just for 1. But I speak French and German perfectly adequately. I'm not trilingual, but I'm not monolingual either.

Tasebo 10.06.2016 06:55

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Faltrad (Post 2602868)
From their English into yours or from English to another language?
Interpreting is a whole thing in itself. I speak and practice quite a few languages but I don't do interpretation jobs ever. One needs a natural talent for it. I just understand, translation/interpretation is just strange to me. I admire those who can do it well, it's a special gift on top of hell of a lot of work.

Funny that this post is bottom of the thread as I woke up this morning with this thought: I was most fascinated on class trips to the United Nations headquarters in NYC not by the international diplomatic goings on, but by the idea of working as a simultaneous interpretor. I have ended up doing a lot of translation over the years, but seamless eloquent interpretation is, as Faltrad said, a gift and partially a focused training.

Blueangel 10.06.2016 10:36

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eddiejc1 (Post 2602969)
Although this post is obviously a joke, there's one language you overlooked that would have been EXTREMELY useful, especially in the eastern part of the Roman Empire---Greek. Keep that in mind the next time somebody hops in a TARDIS and the translator isn't working.

To quote my OH...
"Yet another word derived from the Greek word Windex" obviously a parody, but he's fluent in Greek as both his parents are/were Greek.

Duolingo have got the Greek course in beta testing now, and I'll be right on it when it's released. Been doing the Pimsleur Greek on and off for four years now, and I just find the language structure more interesting than German and very expressive. Also love that a sentence in English can often be summed up in one long word in Greek. :D

Guest 10.06.2016 10:43

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Interpreting is the most skilled job a linguist will do and I just loved it. But you have to be very careful not to put your slant on things and to stick exactly to what the speaker said, even if you disagree or think it could have been said better, etc. I wonder how many times interpretor in highly dangerous political situations, say the Suez Canal crisis, were employed as spies to distort what was said and the replies.


And of course, under pressure of a live conference, mistakes can be made. One of the worst I ever heard was at the time of signing the Maastricht Treaty- Jacques Delors (so apt today with the vote on Brexit pending) stated 'Bien sûr, l'union fait la force' = of course together we are stronger. Which the interpretor gave as 'of course the Unions will have more power' which was like a red rag to a bull to Mrs Thatcher listening to him via interpretor- you could see her flinch.

Samaire13 10.06.2016 10:46

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by crazygringo (Post 2602968)
I could live in Swiss German if compelled by threat of death to do so

:rofl: Awesome :D

Blueangel 10.06.2016 10:47

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
I just want to say a massive Thank You to everyone who has taken part in this poll so far. The results are fascinating to me.

One of my oldest friends from college days, runs an expat website in Spain and has decided to run a poll there (off the back of this) asking how good expats Spanish language skills are. He's lived and worked in a number of countries and it will be interesting to see the results they get.

slammer 10.06.2016 11:13

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Blueangel (Post 2603106)
I just want to say a massive Thank You to everyone who has taken part in this poll so far. The results are fascinating to me.

One of my oldest friends from college days, runs an expat website in Spain and has decided to run a poll there (off the back of this) asking how good expats Spanish language skills are. He's lived and worked in a number of countries and it will be interesting to see the results they get.

You will share the results here won´t you?

JagWaugh 10.06.2016 11:15

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Blueangel (Post 2603106)
I just want to say a massive Thank You to everyone who has taken part in this poll so far. The results are fascinating to me.

One of my oldest friends from college days, runs an expat website in Spain and has decided to run a poll there (off the back of this) asking how good expats Spanish language skills are. He's lived and worked in a number of countries and it will be interesting to see the results they get.



I would be interested to know how prevalent English is in the local Spanish population compared to Switzerland.

evianers 10.06.2016 13:08

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Blueangel (Post 2602360)
I'm very aware that the members of this forum aren't a typical group to poll from, but I'm curious to know...


How many languages do you speak fluently enough to work exclusively in that language?


I can speak bits of this and that, but no other language than English fluently. I strongly feel that British schools don't put enough emphasis on language learning and that could be detrimental to our economy if Brexit does happen. I also strongly feel that one of the best gifts you can give your children is to teach them a second language from a very early age if you are able to.

Wholeheartedly agree!
My students are a Hungarian family : they are putting their little son [6 months] into the local creche where the dual languages are English and High German. Amongst themselves however, the staff speak Schwiizertuutsch. This means the little laddie will grow up with four languages which will be very beneficial for his future.

Urs Max 10.06.2016 14:11

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by evianers (Post 2603216)
Wholeheartedly agree!
My students are a Hungarian family : they are putting their little son [6 months] into the local creche where the dual languages are English and High German. Amongst themselves however, the staff speak Schwiizertuutsch. This means the little laddie will grow up with four languages which will be very beneficial for his future.

Quite some time ago, a neighboring couple was: She Spanish, he Italian, living in German speaking CH. They both spoke their mother tongue at home so their daughter grew up learning three languages.

What struck me most is that until perhaps age ten, the girl had no concept of "language". If you wanted to know a word in, say, Italian you didn't ask "what's that called in Italian" but rather "how does daddy call that"? Consequently she kept switching seemingly randomly from language to language, often in a single sentence.

Today she speaks five languages, French and English joined the collection. I completely envy her.

JagWaugh 10.06.2016 14:19

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Urs Max (Post 2603313)
Consequently she kept switching seemingly randomly from language to language, often in a single sentence.



My kids grew up speaking primarily German/Swiss German, and only really spoke English with me. For a period of about 6-8 months my Son apparently decided that if he was trying to speak to someone who was particularly thick he would be better off speaking English with them.

Guest 10.06.2016 15:33

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JagWaugh (Post 2603131)
I would be interested to know how prevalent English is in the local Spanish population compared to Switzerland.

Just depends where in Spain. One daughter lived in Southern Tenerife for a few years, and the % of English speakers was very significant - and most of them didn't speak any Spanish beyond asking for a beer or fish and chips- and lived very much among themselves ghetto style. In the North of the Island, there were very few- and thos who were British all spoke Spanish quite well and lived as part of their community- often married to locals.

Blueangel 10.06.2016 22:59

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by slammer
You will share the results here won´t you?

Quote:

Originally Posted by JagWaugh (Post 2603131)
I would be interested to know how prevalent English is in the local Spanish population compared to Switzerland.

I've just asked the owners of the forum. They're posting the results in a week or so and will let me know, so I'll post a link in this thread then.

EastEnders 11.06.2016 14:16

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Blueangel (Post 2602966)
Question from a curious mind...

If someone speaks to you in one of the languages you understand, but you don't know the person or their nationality, how long does it take you to recognise the language by lip reading alone?


Depends obviously on different things.....anything from no problem at all to a minute perhaps.

One thing is observation, it may sound a tad crazy, but have you seen the series "Sherlock" with Mister Cumberbatch, I am a bit like that in life, not just when entering a room or meeting someone new. Gives me often a lot of clues to be prepared what language might be spoken. (for example on holidays)

But very often when I meet someone new, I just try to understand at first,without saying anything.

I still wear very strong hearing aids and get rudimentary sounds through them, and those sounds help as well to identify a language together with lip reading, it is a process that takes seconds only.
If I fail, I am the one admitting to my "hearing" problem.

During childhood and up to my early 30's i was only very hard of hearing, so I am speaking normal, normal voice and pronunciation and without accent, and if you don't know me, you would never think I am now totally deaf (correct German term is; spätertaubt).

Which is the other problem, when i then say I am totally deaf, please look at me speak normally bla bla bla, because my voice sounds so normal, most people don't believe me........

I actually try to avoid situations like the one you mention and I don't go out to places where I could be spoken to at random.
I only meet up with either people I know anyway or if it were someone from EF for example, there will have been an exchange of PM's prior to the meeting to inform the person about my problem and make communication easier I never meet with more than 2-3 new people at once.

Does this answer your question ok? if not, don't hesitate to ask :)

JagWaugh 11.06.2016 14:24

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
[QUOTE]Does this answer your question ok? if not, don't hesitate to ask[QUOTE]


Fascinating. Do you "see" accents? Are they regional, or do you see something more related to facial construction, or both?

sniveri 11.06.2016 14:41

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
I don't speak any languages fluently :)

EastEnders 11.06.2016 14:45

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Fascinating. Do you "see" accents? Are they regional, or do you see something more related to facial construction, or both?
What i always have to do at first immediately, is learning about how the person speaks overall, their mimics, pronunciation and lip movements.

I just love people who talk to me through an artificial smile with clenched teeth ;););), like shop assistants or bank tellers.

In a way, yes, I can sort of see the accent, but only in Swissgerman.

Having said that, it is more difficult for me to read lips from a person originating in East Switzerland (TG, SG,AI) than someone from Aargau or Solothurn, the latter are closer to my Bernese Dialect.

Overall, as funny peculiar as it may sound, communication is key to communicate with people like me.

Trollemor 11.06.2016 21:49

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Single citizenship, somehow sadly.

French, mother tongue; I cab speak both Québécois and French French (Paris style) so people don't know I'm not from Paris unless I want them to.

English, which lately has acquired a South African tinge (I'm being influenced by my best friend).

Norwegian, only people from Bergen know I'm not from there.

My writing skills are at the same level in all three languages, it helps to have done a university degree in each language.

My German is nowhere near those 3, but I get by in a mix of Swiss and High German tending more and more towards Swiss German due to my tendency to unconsciously mirror other peoples' way of speaking. Will get there eventually, just need more practice.

Blueangel 21.06.2016 13:37

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Blueangel (Post 2603617)
I've just asked the owners of the forum. They're posting the results in a week or so and will let me know, so I'll post a link in this thread then.

As promised, the results of the language poll on my mates' Spanish ex-pat site...

http://www.spainbuddy.com/the-spain-...urvey-results/

The biuggest percentage, with 26%, is the option - 'I can hold a very basic conversation in most circumstances'.

They took a different angle to the poll here, choosing to concentrate on how well ex-pats and visitors speak Spanish.

Looking at our results, I feel that ex-pats in Switzerland possibly concentrate more on learning the local language, but as I've long suspected, it appears that non-Brits are far more inclined to be polylingual.

NomadAmericano 21.06.2016 20:54

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JagWaugh (Post 2603131)
I would be interested to know how prevalent English is in the local Spanish population compared to Switzerland.

An observation from my discussions (in Spanish) with Swiss-based Spaniards and other native Spanish speakers: Almost none speak English.

Sky 06.11.2019 21:02

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Loved reading this thread, especially EastEnders
Much beloved JagWaugh’s posts are so nice to read too.

I speak 4 languages.
Swiss Italo-American, I am fluent in French, English, Italian and enjoy conversational Spanish.
I love languages and very much enjoy translating literary texts from French and Italian into English.

greenmount 07.11.2019 00:18

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
This thread made me think of the Catherine Tate's sketch "The offensive translator"...thank you @Tom1234, now I just can't help it...

venetian 07.11.2019 10:38

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Blueangel (Post 2602360)
I also strongly feel that one of the best gifts you can give your children is to teach them a second language from a very early age if you are able to.

In Italy in the '80s teaching a second language in school was almost the norm, starting from the age of 6. The most popular languages were French and German, I believe due to borders (Yugoslavia was a special case then). In some places English was "experimental"; Spanish was also present here and there.
Nowadays English is the standard, and German or French are taught at a later stage (>11y) and not to all students (e.g. some can do extra CS or music instead of a second language).
I studied French from age 6 to 14, English since I was 11... and German for the last three years :D My French is fading, I plan to revive it when I start to be kind of fluent in German.

Blueangel 07.11.2019 12:00

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by venetian (Post 3117992)
In Italy in the '80s teaching a second language in school was almost the norm, starting from the age of 6.

For comparison, I began learning French in yr 4 at infant school, so age 7-8. By yr 8 / age 11, I was learning French and German as was standard at our school, but dropped languages aged 13 in favour of Biology and Chemistry.

Axa 07.11.2019 12:06

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Blueangel (Post 2602360)
I'm very aware that the members of this forum aren't a typical group to poll from, but I'm curious to know...


How many languages do you speak fluently enough to work exclusively in that language?


I can speak bits of this and that, but no other language than English fluently. I strongly feel that British schools don't put enough emphasis on language learning and that could be detrimental to our economy if Brexit does happen. I also strongly feel that one of the best gifts you can give your children is to teach them a second language from a very early age if you are able to.


My language fluency test is to be able to interact successfully with a client on the phone, I'm a consultant. So, I'm French and English, and in my mother language Spanish.



I think the best gift we can give to children and future adults is to free them from prejudice and self-imposed limits. I learned French at 32 YO and learning Swiss German at 37 YO. Of course I have an accent, but as long as invoices get payed...everything's all rigth :D

amogles 07.11.2019 12:11

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by NomadAmericano (Post 2610413)
An observation from my discussions (in Spanish) with Swiss-based Spaniards and other native Spanish speakers: Almost none speak English.

In my observation, in Spain it's pretty generational.

People aged about 50 or over rarely speak more than a few words of English (unless they work in tourism). If they do speak a foreign language it's more likely to be French, or possibly German.

People aged 30 to 50 typically have some working basic English but are grateful if you switch to Spanish.

People aged 30 and under typically have very good English and are very keen to use it.

the_flag_is_a_big_plus 07.11.2019 12:38

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
I recently passed B2 German. Is that fluent? I did go through some job interviews exclusivley in German recently and got hired - so I would say probably it's good enough :o

greenmount 07.11.2019 12:54

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Axa (Post 3118018)
I think the best gift we can give to children and future adults is to free them from prejudice and self-imposed limits. I learned French at 32 YO and learning Swiss German at 37 YO. Of course I have an accent, but as long as invoices get payed...everything's all rigth :D

Exactly. My mother learned English quite late in life because a) she needed it and b) wanted to because she could see it's gonna be very important to have some (working) knowledge of English. She learned other languages during school years.
Never too late for anything. ;)

slammer 07.11.2019 13:03

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
English and German are pretty much interchangeable for me. At one time I could hold a conversation in Mexican Spanish, something that turned heads when in Spain. I could hold a simple conversation in Danish and can still just about read a newspaper also and much to my surprise I still retain a lot of school French. (Bet you did´t expect that Mrs. Ormrod) Maltese, only a few words, just enough to get me from A to B and not starve in a Restaurant.
It´s all a case of "Use it or lose it!"

Sky 07.11.2019 19:28

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by the_flag_is_a_big_plus (Post 3118028)
I recently passed B2 German. Is that fluent? I did go through some job interviews exclusivley in German recently and got hired - so I would say probably it's good enough :o

A B2 is the required level should you wish to study literature in a specific language at uni.
So definitely a big + 🙂

cannut 07.11.2019 19:39

Re: How Many Languages Do You Speak Fluently
 
Zueri duetsch :p


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