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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.


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