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  #21  
Old 07.11.2010, 20:20
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Doesn't it get hard sometimes, though, when there is an exact word for a certain situation very fit, but not very well translatable? So, you keep those handy words, not for work, but normal day talk, some in French, some mother tongue, some English, Russian, German...I always considered people who use those as phoney pretentious bastids, hahah, throwing foreign words around, but it is very tempting to mix languages when the words are so so fitting your thought and don't travel across languages so well.
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  #22  
Old 07.11.2010, 20:48
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Dreaming in the foreign language... definitely not a criteria. One dreams in the language when the brain has to work out the inputs it is exposed to. When you really are fluent, you don't need that. You dream in languages, but then it is a part of you, it is as symbolic as anything else in the dream interpretation. The two situations exist, one can not just take dreams alone as a criteria.

One can not say of oneself that one speaks a language. This is an opinion others have about you.
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  #23  
Old 15.11.2010, 14:36
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Most people seem to think that being able to speak a language is the same thing as being fluent in a language. I don't think this is the case at all. I think you can say you speak a language when you can understand and be understood by a native speaker in most situations. I don't know if anyone here uses the Common European Framework of References for Languages, but it outlines 6 levels. I'm probably C2 for Spanish and C1 for French. I'm about A2 for German. I would say I speak Spanish and French, no question. I wouldn't say I speak German, I don't understand enough and I certainly can't express myself enough. However, I think it's a very subjective and individual thing to say you speak a language. Most people I know in the UK that can say a few sentences in a foreign language think they speak it

EDIT: I agree to an extent with what Faltrad said about other people deciding whether or not you can speak a foreign language, but I think you yourself should be able to recognise when you're proficient in a language. You'll know because you don't feel lost in the foreign-language-speaking community!
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  #24  
Old 15.11.2010, 14:42
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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Most people seem to think that being able to speak a language is the same thing as being fluent in a language. I don't think this is the case at all. I think you can say you speak a language when you can understand and be understood by a native speaker in most situations. I don't know if anyone here uses the Common European Framework of References for Languages, but it outlines 6 levels. I'm probably C2 for Spanish and C1 for French. I'm about A2 for German. I would say I speak Spanish and French, no question. I wouldn't say I speak German, I don't understand enough and I certainly can't express myself enough. However, I think it's a very subjective and individual thing to say you speak a language. Most people I know in the UK that can say a few sentences in a foreign language think they speak it
I think that's the point of the thread, no?

My neighbour is embarrassed about her English and says she is really "bad" but speaks it to almost a native level. I think I'm bloody fabulous in German but the bastardised German/Swiss German I churn out is probably like nails down a blackboard to a native speaker.
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  #25  
Old 15.11.2010, 14:43
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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Although---a swiss faking an Asian german accent, or even faking German accent does get me laughing...
There are Asian Germans? I thought the Huns died out...

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Grrrrr....
Grrrrcic?
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  #26  
Old 15.11.2010, 14:43
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

When you carry a conversation with a Muotathaler about flätt, hüntsch and sauft in the local dialect.



By the way, I had a nice conversation with the bell maker just last month.
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  #27  
Old 15.11.2010, 14:51
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When can you say you speak a language?

When you're really under pressure/stress whilst counting, but still don't revert to your mother-tongue
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  #28  
Old 15.11.2010, 15:10
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

when you stop being shy and start trying.
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  #29  
Old 15.11.2010, 15:22
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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I think that's the point of the thread, no
Well yes, but is there any problem with reiterating this point?

I like some of the responses about automatically speaking in the language. I don't agree, I think you can 'speak' a language before you start doing it automatically, but it's certainly an indication that you've reached another stage. I found that, on my return to the UK after living in Spain, I kept unwittingly making Spanish noises and saying Spanish words. The only experience of that I've had in French was the other day. I was walking home, and some guy rode his bike round the corner and scared the crap out of me, prompting me to gasp "putain!". We then both laughed and said "bonsoir". I was quite surprised that I used that particular word rather than one from the plethora of delightful English swear words that I frequently use.
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  #30  
Old 15.11.2010, 15:29
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

I'm of the opinion that you can speak the language when you can have what my daughter calls a spazz attack in that language and the person you are ranting at understands the language as well as the tone.
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  #31  
Old 15.11.2010, 15:31
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

some 10 years ago, I overheard this conversation at the desk at the gate in the Toronto airport, while waiting for my flight to New York:

Lady: (raising her voice)"just because I look Indian it doesn't mean that I don't speak English. I am Canadian, you know!".

Gate agent: "Sorry maam, to sit in the exit row, we require you to speak fluent English, which is why I asked if you do. I did not mean it that way, but it is of course possible that French is your main language"

Lady: "well of course I speak English, so can I have the exit row seat?"

Gate agent: "in an emergency situation on the plane, an exit row passenger has to be responsible for a few things... are you able to instruct other passengers comfortably in English in an emergency situation?".

Lady, in deep thought: "err... no..."


I can give a business presentation comfortably in Frankfurt in German, but no, if there was an emergency, no way will I be able to bark out orders in German...
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  #32  
Old 15.11.2010, 15:36
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

When the locals think you are a local (after you've opened your mouth )
When you read a translated book and think you could have done better

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... if there was an emergency, no way will I be able to bark out orders in German...
Depends on the situation. If it was a Spitfire coming to attack my position, I could easily bark out the required orders... (I've watched too many WWII films...)
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  #33  
Old 15.11.2010, 16:03
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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When the locals think you are a local (after you've opened your mouth )
Really? Even including accent? I think that, for most languages (except ones with very simple sound systems such as Spanish), you can never have a completely native accent unless you are a native speaker. I know about two people who come close in English, but you can hear that there's something different about the way they speak.
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  #34  
Old 15.11.2010, 16:19
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Yep - I speak German with a French accent, French with a Swiss accent, and English with .... nobody has any idea sort of accent (although I am totally fluent after 39 years living in UK) - my Italian accent is not too bad, I've been told. LOL.
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  #35  
Old 15.11.2010, 16:27
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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my Italian accent is not too bad, I've been told. LOL.
And that's because the sound system of Italian is not that different from that of Spanish. I've been mistaken for a native Spanish speaker on the strength of my accent before, but once they listen to me speak for any length of time, they know I'm not native, because I don't speak as idiomatically as a native Spanish-speaker. Unfortunately, reaching this level in a foreign language requires some sort of super-genius power!

Interestingly enough, Odile, I've been told I speak French with a slight German accent! (And annoyingly I sound horribly English when I speak German).
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  #36  
Old 15.11.2010, 16:56
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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if there was an emergency, no way will I be able to bark out orders in German...
Don't bark, then. Speaking will do.
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  #37  
Old 15.11.2010, 17:18
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Kamarate - my English accent is a mixture of South-African and Welsh - aarrgghhh!
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  #38  
Old 15.11.2010, 18:49
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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Really? Even including accent? I think that, for most languages (except ones with very simple sound systems such as Spanish), you can never have a completely native accent unless you are a native speaker. I know about two people who come close in English, but you can hear that there's something different about the way they speak.
I don't think you can have a native accent in Spanish if you're not a native and didn't live there for say...40 years..though it sounds simple. As for the English language, to me faking a British accent is so ridiculous, that I prefer to have my own (undefined and very light) accent and focus on grammar and making myself clear.. Same for the German language. When I watch my accent in Hochdeutsch I get tired and I feel it's not worth the effort as long as I can speak correctly
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  #39  
Old 15.11.2010, 19:18
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

shuuks - that's why I never mastered it - only lived in UK for 39 years!
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Old 15.11.2010, 19:42
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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When the locals think you are a local (after you've opened your mouth.)
Last weekend, after a conversation in my best German, I was asked if I'm Dutch. Does that mean I'm getting closer?
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