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  #41  
Old 15.11.2010, 21:25
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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shuuks - that's why I never mastered it - only lived in UK for 39 years!
I don't believe you, you're probably too modest Though on a serious note, it matters at what age you've started speaking the language.
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  #42  
Old 15.11.2010, 21:30
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

At school age 14 - vocab, more vocab, grammar, grammar, grammar + a bit of lit! to London aged 19 - total and absolute immersion from day 1.
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  #43  
Old 15.11.2010, 21:39
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

I've been told by a Swiss doctor that I have a south Austrian accent when speaking German. Would you consider that as a compliment or a complaint?
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  #44  
Old 16.11.2010, 10:17
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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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.
I'm not so sure. As I've mentioned, I have been mistaken for native in Spanish (in the past... I'm a bit out of practice so I doubt that would happen now!) just because of the accent, but then the vocabulary I choose and the way I express myself definitely isn't native.

Odile - South African and Welsh sounds very interesting! I'm trying to imagine how that would sound...
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  #45  
Old 16.11.2010, 10:59
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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I've been told by a Swiss doctor that I have a south Austrian accent when speaking German. Would you consider that as a compliment or a complaint?
Ahem..me might have wanted to imply that you speak a little bit like ...peasants do. I might be wrong though.. Anyway, coming from a Swiss.
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  #46  
Old 16.11.2010, 10:59
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Im often asked if im Dutch, when speaking German .. for some strange reason i speak German with a very strong Dutch accent, (maybe because i speak Dutch like a native. ) and im English .. so im not sure if youre getting closer or not.


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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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  #47  
Old 16.11.2010, 17:09
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

To Germans, hearing somebody with very good vocab but english /r/ articulation and thick /L/ added with u/ü confusions and /k/-like articulation of ich-laut will be linked to Dutch people, not English. That is however precisely the four most difficult articulation challenges for English speakers in German.

So with a fluent Dutch speaking English person, one will never know if it was your Dutch accent or your English accent that made them ask how Antje's doin'...
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  #48  
Old 23.11.2010, 23:21
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

To the OP;

Can't really answer your question, but when I moved from South Africa to the U.K. I spoke Afrikaans. I spoke English well enough to quickly get a job and after about 2-3 years I stopped dreaming in Afrikaans and started dreaming in English.

My parents switch to English when they speak to me, even though I reply in Afrikaans. To me that means that they see me as English speaking, therefore I can say that I can speak English.

Last edited by BuggedSee; 23.11.2010 at 23:22. Reason: spleling and grammar :D
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  #49  
Old 23.11.2010, 23:25
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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When can you say you speak a language?
When you know you can answer the telephone, and you will be able to understand your interlocutor.
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  #50  
Old 28.11.2010, 06:37
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

I'm picky with this...even though I'm almost fully conversational and understand most things I see and read, I still don't feel fluent. Sure, I tell people that I speak German, but until someone mistakes me for a native speaker, I still have to room to improve haha. I feel like I still don't quite phrase things like a native speaker would, and until I can truly get my sense of humor or other expressions through in German, I don't consider myself fluent. It sucks because no one can really correct everything you say...I don't care as much about grammar now, I care about how a native German speaker would say it instead.
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  #51  
Old 28.11.2010, 14:30
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

i consider i can speak a language when i can speak it as well as an average native speaker (lower bar than you might think). considered fluent when a native speaker does not realise you are a non-native speaker during a short conversation.
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  #52  
Old 28.11.2010, 15:11
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

I don't think a non-native speaker can ever reach native level. There will always be some indications that you're not native, whether it's the accent, choice of vocabulary, syntax or strange inflections. To say that you're not fluent just because you don't sound like a native speaker is rather doing yourself down.
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  #53  
Old 29.12.2010, 20:31
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

The argument is "when can you say you speak a language?" I see everyone pointing out fluency and whether you sound like a native or not, but that isn't necessary to speak or understand a language. You don't need to sound like a native to speak or be spoken to. You also don't have to be completely fluent to understand or carry a conversation. Obviously knowing only two words in another language does not mean you speak it. You have to have been learning, practice speaking, and having the means to engage in a "real" conversation with someone who speaks the language. This way you can correct yourself with how you pronounce words and the context in which they are used. Now I understand that in different cantons or just different individuals can differ in how they pronounce their language, which leads me to my point. I feel you speak another language the moment in which you can carry any conversation and be perfectly understood by either person involved in that discussion, accent or not. The reason you should try to use an accent or make an effort to immerse yourself completely in another language should be out of respect and genuine interest. Wouldn't we all appreciate someone actually making the effort..... you know when you are really trying or half-assing it!!
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  #54  
Old 29.12.2010, 20:59
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

"when can you say you speak a language?"
I would say when you no longer notice which language you are speaking in; I mean, for example, somebody speaks to you & you do not think; "Ooops must reply in German" - you simply reply.
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  #55  
Old 29.12.2010, 21:22
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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I don't think a non-native speaker can ever reach native level. There will always be some indications that you're not native, whether it's the accent, choice of vocabulary, syntax or strange inflections.
Even so, years ago I was in Italay, and my Italian back then was even worse than my German.

So, I was at a party or something in Italy, and an Italian asked me in Italian "so, what part of Italy are you from?" With my accent and errors, he thought I was Italian?

With retrospect, perhaps he thought I was from Alto-Adige (the main German speaking part, though there are others).

A few years ago, I met up with a guy from Texas that I know from a motorcycle forum, in Ortesei (Val Gardena). Now, Ortesei IS in Alto-Adige, but the primary Italian language there is NOT German, it is Ladino!

So, I meet my friend, and go for a ride. We stop for lunch. When the waiter arrives, I ask (in Italian) "what language do you speak", and he replies "Italian". Meanwhile, my friend ask why I asked the waiter what language he speaks, and I pointed out that on the way to his hotel, stopped for gas, and asked the same of the attendant. His response was quite different "Ladino, but German is OK", which is what I expected.

A coworker did point out that no matter which linguistic region you are in in Italy, everyone at least speaks some Italian, which is not the case here. When we were in Zurich a few weeks ago, my girlfriend (who is 'technically' Swiss German but never spoke it with her father) asked a shop assistant something in Italian, and she stared as if she was from another planet!

Tom
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  #56  
Old 29.12.2010, 21:35
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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To Germans, hearing somebody with very good vocab but english /r/ articulation and thick /L/ added with u/ü confusions and /k/-like articulation of ich-laut will be linked to Dutch people, not English. That is however precisely the four most difficult articulation challenges for English speakers in German.

So with a fluent Dutch speaking English person, one will never know if it was your Dutch accent or your English accent that made them ask how Antje's doin'...
I find this really interesting, because I have had Germans ask me where I'm from, and when I say the US, they tell me that I'm wrong! I have the above issues with my accent (as well as grammar issues) and if I don't have an American accent, I can't imagine who would!

When asked if I speak German, I always answer that I speak fluent bad German (and I do).
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  #57  
Old 29.12.2010, 21:35
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

when you can get the jokes i think
I am a native swiss speaker and this is what i want to share with you (funny really)
A friend made me mad and i responded in english "oh blow in my shoes" which is translated from swiss german and means nothing in english i just got a stupefied look. What I know now I should have sad is something in the lines of " F.... off"
I went to the gym and asked the front desk attendant asked me what kind of locker i wanted I asked if he he has a "big one" what I wanted is a tall locker and did not realize that i was asking him something way to personal..oops..
So now I do not make these "oopsies" anymore so i think i can speak english
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  #58  
Old 29.12.2010, 21:36
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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Even so, years ago I was in Italay, and my Italian back then was even worse than my German.

So, I was at a party or something in Italy, and an Italian asked me in Italian "so, what part of Italy are you from?" With my accent and errors, he thought I was Italian?

With retrospect, perhaps he thought I was from Alto-Adige (the main German speaking part, though there are others).

A few years ago, I met up with a guy from Texas that I know from a motorcycle forum, in Ortesei (Val Gardena). Now, Ortesei IS in Alto-Adige, but the primary Italian language there is NOT German, it is Ladino!

So, I meet my friend, and go for a ride. We stop for lunch. When the waiter arrives, I ask (in Italian) "what language do you speak", and he replies "Italian". Meanwhile, my friend ask why I asked the waiter what language he speaks, and I pointed out that on the way to his hotel, stopped for gas, and asked the same of the attendant. His response was quite different "Ladino, but German is OK", which is what I expected.

A coworker did point out that no matter which linguistic region you are in in Italy, everyone at least speaks some Italian, which is not the case here. When we were in Zurich a few weeks ago, my girlfriend (who is 'technically' Swiss German but never spoke it with her father) asked a shop assistant something in Italian, and she stared as if she was from another planet!

Tom
Interesting, it used to be that the majority of people in Italy did not speak the same language. It is claimed that since the advent & spread of television most people now speak the same "TV" Italian.
Some academics still argue about whether TV Italian is really pure Italian.
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  #59  
Old 29.12.2010, 22:00
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

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Interesting, it used to be that the majority of people in Italy did not speak the same language. It is claimed that since the advent & spread of television most people now speak the same "TV" Italian.
Some academics still argue about whether TV Italian is really pure Italian.
They don't, not even here (Ticino).

Here there are three levels of Italian: standard Italian, railroad dioalect, and local dialect. Railroad dialect is basically Lombardian, and is a sort of standardized dialect that everyone understands, and came about when people started travelling around (due to the invention of the railroad). Local, of course, varies town to town (like up north).

Years ago, I was in Sweden with three Ticinese colleagues, and I noticed that they all spoke Italian to each other, and not dialect (back then I spoke, and with them normally still do, speak French). They responded that it was because they didn't understand each other's dialects.

End result, as you get older, you learn to understand the other dialects, but speak your own.

Tom
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Old 02.03.2011, 19:21
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Re: When can you say you speak a language?

I think my moment occured this afternoon.

Calling our personal liability insurance company to inform them of our change of address, I asked if it was possible to talk to an English speaker. The lovely young lady at the other end tried to put me through, but there wasn't anyone available, so she asked if I'd like to call back later.

"No," I replied. "I'll try in German if you don't mind speaking slowly."

Eleven minutes later, I had given her our new address, bought a family package for personal liability insurance and home contents (including an accidental fire damage option and special freezer contents insurance, but not including burglary advice) and agreed on a means of getting the new documents to me. All on the phone!

I'm still buzzing now!
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