Learning languages

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Barrus

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The Hitch said:
I disagree. German has surprisingly few words which are similar in english, and those who only speak english often struggle with the concept of masculine neuter, feminine nouns, adjectival endings, nominative and accusative tenses determined by endings rather than word order etc etc etc.
Well, the grammar, I mostly just ignore it, the Germans understand most of what I'm saying anyway, and German grammar, it's just odd ;)

What I understand about Lëtzebuergesch, is that it seems like a mixture between French, German and Dutch. And strangely enough I can understand the gist of what they are saying in Lëtzebuergesch, it really seems quite like Dutch at times, perhaps that is due to a common history
 
Cobblestoned said:
Yes, thats the hardest point for English people, I think.
For example, my English mate once asked:
Why is it called "DIE Maus", but "die Sendung mit DER Maus" ? :D

For me, the similarity to English often is a trap for me. I mainly mean the sentence construction.
going the other way (german/ any language to english) is easier. There is no real grammar in english. especially today with children growing thinking its cool to butcher the language completely, you can get away with making mistakes.

There are no verb endings in the past or future tense, and one minor point to learn in the present ( add s to the end of 3rd person verbs)

No adjectival endings.

No masculine, feminine, neuter.
 
On the other hand, what it lacks in grammar, English makes up for in ridiculously inconsistent spelling laws, phonemes that are hard for most of Europe to pronounce (th!), and an enormous vocabulary born of having an entire Germanic vocab and adding bits and pieces of lots of other languages - especially French - over the top.
 
Mar 8, 2010
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Over the years (getting to know and learning more languages) I also realized, that learning Latin for somes years was not tooooooo bad.
There are many vocabulary derived from Latin.

But that doesn´t change the fact that I hated learning Latin at school. Must have been because of the teacher. :rolleyes:
 
The Hitch said:
going the other way (german/ any language to english) is easier. There is no real grammar in english. especially today with children growing thinking its cool to butcher the language completely, you can get away with making mistakes.

There are no verb endings in the past or future tense, and one minor point to learn in the present ( add s to the end of 3rd person verbs)

No adjectival endings.

No masculine, feminine, neuter.
It is also impossible to determine that individuals from say Liverpool, the Australian outback, and West Virginia are in fact all speaking English.
 
Hugh Januss said:
It is also impossible to determine that individuals from say Liverpool, the Australian outback, and West Virginia are in fact all speaking English.
Fortunately for myself, I am likely to go through life without ever needing to learn to communicate with either one of the above 3.;)
 
May 9, 2009
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Libertine Seguros said:
First of all, the language you have chosen to study (Japanese) will be much more work than a language more closely related to your native language. As Japanese is a language isolate, there is very little in its word structure, grammatical structure or anything else that can be familiar to you, which could make learning it from book form either a) too simplistic, so that much of it is of little practical use, or b) too involved, so that much of it is daunting and difficult to follow without a background in linguistics.
As long as we aren't talking about mastering classical Japanese, but are instead talking about the kind of language one needs to travel somewhere on vacation and interact with the locals or even operate business, I believe Japanese is quite easy compared to European languages. The sentence structure is very simple - and can often be mixed around without causing any problems. There are no singular or plural issues, nouns don't have genders and verb conjugation is much simpler than European languages. There are some complicated issues regarding politeness levels but foreigners are never expected to get all that right anyway and the OP certainly won't be needing them in his typical travels to Japan. The vocabulary necessary for surface level daily interaction is also much smaller than in European languages because Japanese culture relies so much on "set phrases".

Japanese will not be easy, however, for those who can't read between the lines. You need to be the kind of thinker who can figure out who the subject is or even what/who the object is even if they are not spoken in the sentence. People will not speak in the complete sentences found in Japanese learning books. When you're sitting around the table in a bar, people on your own social level are not going to say, "Bob, would you like to drink more sake'?" (bob-san, o-sake motto nomimasu ka?) They are just going to say "drink?" (nomu?) as they gesture in your direction with the bottle. (or more likely they are just going to keep pouring it until you pass out anyway).

You also have to get their indirect way of speaking. When your wife asks if you're hot (again, not by making a complete sentence you'd find in your 'learn japanese at home' book, but by uttering the word "hot" in a quizzical tone), she's not looking for an answer from you: what she is really saying is "Open the damn window already because it's too hot in here for me!"



Having said all that, I'm with Susan: a few hours a week at home doesn't really work. You really have to be immersed in a culture to really learn the language. But it really helps to gain a background on grammar so that when you do go to the country and start hearing it spoken to you, you can more easily figure out what is being said. For example, if there is just one word in a sentence that you are unfamiliar with, it's much easier to guess what it is if you can tell by its position in the sentence and the overall context if that unknown word is a verb or a noun or an adjective and so on. Then you just have to go there and jump in as much as possible. And hang out with people of your own sex because men and women speak differently. Chasing the opposite sex will definitely help your language skills, but don't copy them or you'll sound like a girl (or guy).
 
With German i occasionally forget to engage my brain and capitalize the nouns. :eek:

I guess i don't fully understand the point of this convention.

...supposed to make it easier for readers to find out what function a word has within the sentence
Are there any examples where it really makes a difference?
 
Jun 16, 2009
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For aussies, watching sbs is quite good as they have a lot of programs and news bulletins in all different languages. I speak German and watching those programs and talking to others who know the language helps as well. I would learn German or french as a lot of terms are from those languages and they are big countries which you may need skills in those languages for work to communicate.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Barrus said:
Yup, Suisse-Deutsch is terrible, hardly understandable. I can handle myself in Germany quite well (thank god that Dutch is just a dialect of German), but with Swiss people, it just becomes that much harder. Luckily those that I do came across also spoke English.

But to Craig, from what I've heard from some Canadian and American friends, is that German is one of the language that is easiest to learn from English.
Japanese is a language that is terribly hard to learn, again going from what I've heard from others.
I know someone who speaks suisse deutsch. Yes german has a lot of similarities but I wouldn't say it is "easy". 1) No language is easy 2) Learning the different cases, when to use the different cases, gender, word order and prepositions can be tricky. German has 2/3 less words than english has. But funnily, the simple word "the" can be said multiple ways, for example die, der, das, etc. It just depends on gender.

Libertine Seguros said:
That's the same with any language though. German is particularly bad for this because Low German is almost a whole new language! I lived in Frankfurt for a while, had the language absolutely sussed, more or less fluent, would get home at night and realise that, without noticing it, I'd been holding conversation in German for several hours at a time. I could understand all the Germans around me, most of the regionalisms made sense to me, everything was going great.

Then I visited Switzerland.
LOL!
 

Barrus

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Apr 28, 2010
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auscyclefan94 said:
I know someone who speaks suisse deutsch. Yes german has a lot of similarities but I wouldn't say it is "easy". 1) No language is easy 2) Learning the different cases, when to use the different cases, gender, word order and prepositions can be tricky. German has 2/3 less words than english has. But funnily, the simple word "the" can be said multiple ways, for example die, der, das, etc. It just depends on gender.



LOL!
Never said that it was easy to learn, I said it was easiest to learn, and this is only what I've heard from native English speakers, I myself would not know what is easier to learn for native English speakers, as I'm not one ;)
 
Maybe you should see if you could get a Japanese pen-pal... you could always go on Skype for the speaking part.

Susan Westemeyer said:
As to Dutch, I have always said that if you know German and English, you can read most Dutch.
Knowing Danish is handy too! :D
Well, I can't read Dutch but once watching a YouTube video (about cycling, what else?) I realized that Hey! I understand this

As for the Swiss-deutch, well. I remember after the final ITT in the Tour when Cancellara was being interviewed.
He spoke French: Dennis Ritter translated.
He spoke Italian: Rolf Sørensen translated.
He spoke Swiss-deutch: They gave up translating...
 
Jun 16, 2009
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I have a Colombian wife and have dabbled in learning Spanish via various courses etc for several years with not much success.

just ONE week by myself in Valencia last year - fluent.

Necessity is the key determining factor I believe. If you attend courses with a 'dream' to learn a language you will never get past the book examples. But if you go to a foreign country and then go to the areas that really don't speak your home language, then talking to survive will teach you all you need to know.

cheers
 
auscyclefan94 said:
I know someone who speaks suisse deutsch. Yes german has a lot of similarities but I wouldn't say it is "easy". 1) No language is easy


LOL!
I was surprised to hear that you spoke german. So as i read your post i was awaiting that final touch were you showed off your bilingualism.

Then it came
2) Learning the different cases, when to use the different cases, gender, word order and prepositions can be tricky. German has 2/3 less words than english has. But funnily, the simple word "the" can be said multiple ways, for example die, der, das, etc. It just depends on gender.
Really :eek: German has der die das die dependent on gender/ plurality. No s**t:cool:

:D
 
Mar 16, 2009
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Negative Double Positive

An MIT linguistics professor was lecturing his class the other day. “In English,” he said, “a double negative forms a positive. However, in some languages, such as Russian, a double negative remains a negative. But there isn’t a single language, not one, in which a double positive can express a negative.”

A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”
 
Mar 8, 2010
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roundabout said:
My biggest nightmare was figuring out the gender. I got past the articles once i figured out that feminine and plural have the same inflection and the difference between masculine and neuter is only in the accusative
And the problem is that there is no fixed rule for the gender and you must save it to brain for every single word. :D
If often works to define the gender, like "die Mutter", "der Vater" for example...

But what about "the door" ?
"der Tür", "die Tür" or "das Tür" ?
 
Cobblestoned said:
And the problem is that there is no fixed rule for the gender and you must save it to brain for every single word. :D
If often works to define the gender, like "die Mutter", "der Vater" for example...

But what about "the door" ?
"der Tür", "die Tür" or "das Tür" ?
I would guess das Tur. Hey how come my keyboard won't make eine umlaut? Or is it ein umlaut?
 

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