Go Back   English Forum Switzerland > Help & tips > Language corner  
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07.11.2010, 05:48
RetiredInNH's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: New Hampshire, USA
Posts: 2,268
Groaned at 13 Times in 5 Posts
Thanked 1,481 Times in 747 Posts
RetiredInNH has a reputation beyond reputeRetiredInNH has a reputation beyond reputeRetiredInNH has a reputation beyond reputeRetiredInNH has a reputation beyond reputeRetiredInNH has a reputation beyond repute
When can you say you speak a language?

I rarely read the Johnson blog (about language, after the learned doctor) in The Economist, but today was a slow day ...

I read a post asking When can you say you speak a language? which started an interesting discussion, with very many definitions, some fascinating.

I only read the first page of comments, really liked this one:
Quote:
And for bonus points, if you can speak to a person in their native language and they actually respond in their language, and don't immediately switch to English. This one can be very frustrating to a language learner, depending on the situation.
OK, let me add a comment that made me think of a member of our community (he actually, as I recall, made that point in a thread long ago):
Quote:
In most countries these days, mastery occurs when you realize that whatever it was that you said, you can simply repeat it in English, only a little more loudly in order to assist comprehension by linguistically ignorant natives. World War I Australian diggers would ask "Ooay the bwardable ong?" when asking directions to assist assignations with Les dames du Bois de Boulogne. "Bwardable ong" is rather wonderful said loudly, and the damned froggies generally catch on.
For even more bonus points: How did we manage to waste our time pre WWW
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 07.11.2010, 08:27
kslausanne's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Lausanne
Posts: 412
Groaned at 39 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 565 Times in 228 Posts
kslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

I won't claim to be proficient in French until I can retain my fluency in states of high emotion, use puns, construct a convincing argument and make an interesting presentation. But I'm still working on those skills in English...
Reply With Quote
The following 6 users would like to thank kslausanne for this useful post:
  #3  
Old 07.11.2010, 08:49
Chemmie's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Zurich
Posts: 4,137
Groaned at 32 Times in 28 Posts
Thanked 4,927 Times in 2,228 Posts
Chemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Quote:
View Post
......in states of high emotion, use puns, construct a convincing argument and make an interesting presentation....

does this mean it is impossible by definition to be able to speak swiss-german
Reply With Quote
The following 5 users would like to thank Chemmie for this useful post:
  #4  
Old 07.11.2010, 08:52
J.L-P's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Gocki
Posts: 2,749
Groaned at 53 Times in 27 Posts
Thanked 2,317 Times in 1,044 Posts
J.L-P has a reputation beyond reputeJ.L-P has a reputation beyond reputeJ.L-P has a reputation beyond reputeJ.L-P has a reputation beyond reputeJ.L-P has a reputation beyond reputeJ.L-P has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

When you are under the effects of anesthesia and can respond in the language you are addressed in is a good sign of fluency. (at least to me)
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank J.L-P for this useful post:
  #5  
Old 07.11.2010, 09:06
kslausanne's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Lausanne
Posts: 412
Groaned at 39 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 565 Times in 228 Posts
kslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Quote:
View Post
does this mean it is impossible by definition to be able to speak swiss-german
I was wondering that as I was writing, but I imagine it would be difficult unless you really studied with some funny Swiss German friends. I learn French language humour by watching and reading comedy and by making jokes and seeing what works. I need to laugh, so it's a priority for me
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07.11.2010, 09:21
MrVertigo's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: CH
Posts: 3,210
Groaned at 86 Times in 70 Posts
Thanked 5,788 Times in 2,254 Posts
MrVertigo has a reputation beyond reputeMrVertigo has a reputation beyond reputeMrVertigo has a reputation beyond reputeMrVertigo has a reputation beyond reputeMrVertigo has a reputation beyond reputeMrVertigo has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Quote:
View Post
I won't claim to be proficient in French until I can retain my fluency in states of high emotion, use puns, construct a convincing argument and make an interesting presentation. But I'm still working on those skills in English...
totally agree on that.
In french a good test is if you understand the puns of the late Raymond Devos then you are definitely proficient.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank MrVertigo for this useful post:
  #7  
Old 07.11.2010, 09:23
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Quote:
View Post
When you are under the effects of anesthesia and can respond in the language you are addressed in is a good sign of fluency. (at least to me)
Similarly when you've taken a dive down a flight of stairs at the main railway station and someone picks you up and dusts you down in German. You respond in the same language despite the bump on your head and throbbing ankle and bruised ego AND correct your own grammar slip-up without pausing for breath.
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank for this useful post:
  #8  
Old 07.11.2010, 09:24
Chemmie's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Zurich
Posts: 4,137
Groaned at 32 Times in 28 Posts
Thanked 4,927 Times in 2,228 Posts
Chemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond reputeChemmie has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Quote:
View Post
......studied with some funny Swiss German friends.


Have tried this, but I still find humour lacking----a swiss telling me a joke is like telling a joke to a dog. I'm excited and want to laugh---but punch line never has any effect. Then it gets explained to me, yes I understood it, but perhaps I would have found that slightly funny if I was 4 and you were my crazy uncle.

Although---a swiss faking an eastern European/Asian german accent, or even faking German accent does get me laughing...but perhaps I just enjoy lower-brow humour
Reply With Quote
The following 3 users would like to thank Chemmie for this useful post:
  #9  
Old 07.11.2010, 16:26
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: At home
Posts: 4,172
Groaned at 208 Times in 133 Posts
Thanked 6,403 Times in 2,719 Posts
Faltrad has a reputation beyond reputeFaltrad has a reputation beyond reputeFaltrad has a reputation beyond reputeFaltrad has a reputation beyond reputeFaltrad has a reputation beyond reputeFaltrad has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Quote:
View Post
When you are under the effects of anesthesia and can respond in the language you are addressed in is a good sign of fluency. (at least to me)
Are you suggesting one should be high when taking language tests in order to have real result?
Just asking...
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank Faltrad for this useful post:
  #10  
Old 07.11.2010, 17:11
MusicChick's Avatar
modified, reprogrammed and doctored²
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: La Cote
Posts: 17,039
Groaned at 373 Times in 256 Posts
Thanked 19,567 Times in 10,212 Posts
MusicChick has a reputation beyond reputeMusicChick has a reputation beyond reputeMusicChick has a reputation beyond reputeMusicChick has a reputation beyond reputeMusicChick has a reputation beyond reputeMusicChick has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Quote:
View Post
I won't claim to be proficient in French until I can retain my fluency in states of high emotion, use puns, construct a convincing argument and make an interesting presentation. But I'm still working on those skills in English...
Yeah, I agree. But what if one actually primarily learned brit Eng and then Yank and in different state of emotions keeps switching from one another, without her willpower being in any way employed? Does that count as fluent? What is fluency, anyways...within varieties, accents, etc.

Quote:
View Post

Have tried this, but I still find humour lacking----a swiss telling me a joke is like telling a joke to a dog. I'm excited and want to laugh---but punch line never has any effect. Then it gets explained to me, yes I understood it, but perhaps I would have found that slightly funny if I was 4 and you were my crazy uncle.
What kills it is the fact the jokes are announced...We just talked about pranks today, etc. Now, can you imagine announcing a prank? I appreciate humor, but not when it is announced or incredibly...overexplained. Which is often the case here. I do like low brow, though, or outright dumb, the best. I am glad there aren't many dumb blond jokes here, not that many blonds around to tease, I guess. But people constantly rippin on how stupid girls/foreigners/not fluent people are...gets old.


Quote:
Although---a swiss faking an eastern European..
Grrrrr....
__________________
"L'homme ne peut pas remplacer son coeur avec sa tete, ni sa tete avec ses mains." J.H. Pestalozzi

“The only difference between a rut and a grave is a matter of depth.” S.P. Cadman

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." A. Einstein

Last edited by MusicChick; 07.11.2010 at 20:03.
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank MusicChick for this useful post:
  #11  
Old 07.11.2010, 18:42
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Leeds
Posts: 230
Groaned at 45 Times in 12 Posts
Thanked 42 Times in 31 Posts
SteK has no particular reputation at present
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

When you think in it.....
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 07.11.2010, 18:53
Camupa's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Zurich Unterland
Posts: 162
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 133 Times in 64 Posts
Camupa has earned some respectCamupa has earned some respect
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

When you dream in it...
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank Camupa for this useful post:
  #13  
Old 07.11.2010, 19:32
kslausanne's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Lausanne
Posts: 412
Groaned at 39 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 565 Times in 228 Posts
kslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Quote:
View Post
When you dream in it...
I dream in French all the time, and even better I understand most of it now!

I realised I knew French pretty well when I started having to change seats on the train because of the inane conversation that I couldn't help following. (No, I do not feel the need to walk around to my own personal soundtrack to the B-movie that is my life blaring in my ears, so I actually hear people around me.)

Ahhh, I miss those days when everyone's babbling was incomprehensible and I could imagine that being in 'Europe, where culture has been flourishing for so many centuries,' people were having very interesting, insightful conversations and maybe, just maybe I would be able to understand one day and benefit from the ancient wisdom being shared all around me...
__________________
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it!
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 07.11.2010, 19:38
FrankZappa's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: France, near Geneva
Posts: 869
Groaned at 8 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 2,773 Times in 725 Posts
FrankZappa has a reputation beyond reputeFrankZappa has a reputation beyond reputeFrankZappa has a reputation beyond reputeFrankZappa has a reputation beyond reputeFrankZappa has a reputation beyond reputeFrankZappa has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

One good sign is when you use the language correctly in ways that you've never conciously learned.

I couldn't explain how to use the subjunctive properly in french, but I'm pretty sure that I use it right most of the time. That's probably because I can only learn languages by listening and speaking. Lessons and books are too much of a pain for me. Alll honour to those who can!
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 07.11.2010, 19:39
kslausanne's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Lausanne
Posts: 412
Groaned at 39 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 565 Times in 228 Posts
kslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Quote:
View Post
Yeah, I agree. But what if one actually primarily learned brit Eng and then Yank and in different state of emotions keeps switching from one another, without her willpower being in any way employed?
Dear MC, I'm very puzzled... does that mean you mix up NAE and BrE swearwords or something? Actually I could see how an American might be confused if you use BrE vocabulary, I keep forgetting they're not totally confused like us Canadians who don't know what we speak or how to spell...

Yeah, they even had to get their own version of Antiques Roadshow for heaven's sake!

Or does your accent change?
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank kslausanne for this useful post:
  #16  
Old 07.11.2010, 19:46
Sky's Avatar
Sky Sky is offline
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Somewhere special far away
Posts: 4,172
Groaned at 60 Times in 43 Posts
Thanked 6,593 Times in 2,482 Posts
Sky has a reputation beyond reputeSky has a reputation beyond reputeSky has a reputation beyond reputeSky has a reputation beyond reputeSky has a reputation beyond reputeSky has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

When you dream as said above, and when you automatically count in that language.
People only count in their native tongue or when they are really bilingual
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank Sky for this useful post:
  #17  
Old 07.11.2010, 19:55
kslausanne's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Lausanne
Posts: 412
Groaned at 39 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 565 Times in 228 Posts
kslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond reputekslausanne has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Quote:
View Post
When you dream as said above, and when you automatically count in that language.
People only count in their native tongue or when they are really bilingual
Maybe I don't know French that well after all, because while counting is okay and in fact I have to think about what my phone number is in English, left and right still cause me problems (although it's the same in English). I was getting an eye test yesterday and the doctor was saying à gauche, à droite and that was already a challenge, but when he said 'tout droit' I looked right again, but really hard , a split second later I remembered that means straight ahead!!!
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 07.11.2010, 20:01
MusicChick's Avatar
modified, reprogrammed and doctored²
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: La Cote
Posts: 17,039
Groaned at 373 Times in 256 Posts
Thanked 19,567 Times in 10,212 Posts
MusicChick has a reputation beyond reputeMusicChick has a reputation beyond reputeMusicChick has a reputation beyond reputeMusicChick has a reputation beyond reputeMusicChick has a reputation beyond reputeMusicChick has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

Quote:
View Post
Dear MC, I'm very puzzled... does that mean you mix up NAE and BrE swearwords or something? Actually I could see how an American might be confused if you use BrE vocabulary, I keep forgetting they're not totally confused like us Canadians who don't know what we speak or how to spell...

Yeah, they even had to get their own version of Antiques Roadshow for heaven's sake!

Or does your accent change?
Actually, it's more accent, intonation, ocassional words...Lancashire and Cockney are hard to shake, haha. If I have no control, it's pretty much BrE, otherwise NAE. The actual swear words of each are inserted for my own enjoyment, with the ocassional abuuuuuuut and eh, to make myself laugh.

Now when there is a real need to swear, it's kurvadrat or jezisimarja.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 07.11.2010, 20:08
Mud's Avatar
Mud Mud is offline
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Romandie
Posts: 2,569
Groaned at 26 Times in 23 Posts
Thanked 5,002 Times in 1,826 Posts
Mud has a reputation beyond reputeMud has a reputation beyond reputeMud has a reputation beyond reputeMud has a reputation beyond reputeMud has a reputation beyond reputeMud has a reputation beyond repute
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

I considered myself fluent once I could tell and/or understand subtle jokes, and dish out and receive (and understand) insults. This is in French- insults seem to be a bit of an art form, at least in the crowd I regularly encounter.

Also, when I could deal with stressful situations without hesitating or searching for words, and could switch readily between the bizarre French approach to numbers and the logical Swiss approach.

Perhaps the real moment was, as someone who works alone, I found myself discussing problems in my head (or out loud) in French automatically- and when I noticed, couldn't easily translate that into English. It is normal to talk to oneself, right? Right?! Oui Mud, oui!
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 07.11.2010, 20:12
princessduck's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Zurich
Posts: 891
Groaned at 41 Times in 27 Posts
Thanked 492 Times in 265 Posts
princessduck has an excellent reputationprincessduck has an excellent reputationprincessduck has an excellent reputationprincessduck has an excellent reputation
Re: When can you say you speak a language?

When I will be able to speak with German speaking people without asking them ''sorry??'' or ''Ich verstehe nicht''...just for simple,easy conversations...
Reply With Quote
Reply




Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Language and table manners, or Language Integration in Switzerland is Painful sonnyk Language corner 70 13.11.2011 23:08
German Language Book - Pimsleur Language, Good??? Mavis Language corner 7 18.11.2010 14:04
What language does your dog speak? Midas Pet corner 24 15.06.2010 15:23
You also can speak Chinese! Torrevil Commercial 3 09.09.2008 11:02


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 13:51.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
LinkBacks Enabled by vBSEO 3.1.0