Learning languages

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Mar 8, 2010
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Hugh Januss said:
I would guess das Tur. Hey how come my keyboard won't make eine umlaut? Or is it ein umlaut?
Thats what I would guess too, but it is "die Tür"

"der Umlaut" > "ein Umlaut"

You can also write "die Umlaute" with "ue" (Ü), "ae" (Ä) and "oe" (Ö) if you don´t have them on your keyboard.
 
May 27, 2010
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Libertine Seguros said:
German is the most closely-related major language to English. ... Phonemically, Italian is probably the easiest of the Romance languages for an English-speaker - but Spanish may be easier grammatically and vocabulary-wise - although most of the Romance words in English come from French.
They say German and English are closely related. However, from my travels, when it comes to reading the languages, I found French the easiest to comprehend. Of course, I barely had a clue how to pronounce or understand when spoken to.

Having spent most my life in the southwest and California in the US I've picked up a lot of Spanish. Like many here, I've taken courses in school. Unfortunately never being immersed in it, or really ever having to use it, makes it hard to keep up. I'm not sure I really ever got all the ser, er, al etc.

Back to the OP, I used to work for a Japanese company and spent lots of time in Japan and Asia. The good part about Japanese is it's phonetically easy. The bad part is it doesn't really match up to English. I've met very few people, native English or Japanese speakers, who are truly good at conversing in the other language. Most just get by. The funniest English translations I've see are in Japan. I recall many sayings get lost in translation. I was asked why I want cake when I said, "it's a piece of cake!" In China I've gotten dumbfounded looks for a second then they get what you're saying.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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The Hitch said:
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


Really :eek: German has der die das die dependent on gender/ plurality. No s**t:cool:

:D
Okay then....:confused: I was just making the point about how german has so many different variations for the one word in english, "the".
 
Jul 23, 2009
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I'm with those of you who suggest that some form of immersion is preferable to formal education. I learned nothing during the mandatory French classes in secondary school. I tried 1 hr a week with a tutor as an adult and learned very slowly. I met my Francophone wife and began to learn very quickly as soon as we committed to speaking French at home. The tougher she became with the rules (ie no switching to English to give me a break), the faster I learned. Now our son on the other hand, it's pretty incredible to watch a three year old switch effortlessly between French and English depending on who he speaks with.

My suggestion to anyone learning would be to incorporate something you like to do into your learning. For me, watching hockey on tv in French helped. I liked the topic and I understood what was going on, which at least took the boredom out of it. And watching the news helped too, there were always visual aids and they spoke a more classic French as opposed to the hockey announcers' regional Quebecois accents.
 
krebs303 said:
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.”
Very nice.
 
auscyclefan94 said:
Okay then....:confused: I was just making the point about how german has so many different variations for the one word in english, "the".
That is not unique. le or la in French. el or la in Spanish. Il or la in Italian. Im guessing there are other examples. Maybe the dutch posters could enlighten us with theirs.

Slavic languages on the other hand like Polish and russian have no definite or indefinite articles at all.
 
pedaling squares said:
My suggestion to anyone learning would be to incorporate something you like to do into your learning. For me, watching hockey on tv in French helped. I liked the topic and I understood what was going on, which at least took the boredom out of it. And watching the news helped too, there were always visual aids and they spoke a more classic French as opposed to the hockey announcers' regional Quebecois accents.
I remember during the giro, people on here found some japanes stream which was apparently enjoyable to watch. I suppose the for OP (Craig) that might be a good idea for the Vuelta;)
 
May 9, 2009
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The Hitch said:
Slavic languages on the other hand like Polish and russian have no definite or indefinite articles at all.

And neither does Japanese for that matter. Sometimes a cigar is just cigar.

Craig, you can get Japanese TV on your computer anytime (for free) using various applications. I use one for Apple called MacKeyHole TV. The NHK feed requires a password, but believe it or not the password is "NHK". All the rest are just wide open.
 
stephens said:
And neither does Japanese for that matter. Sometimes a cigar is just cigar.

Craig, you can get Japanese TV on your computer anytime (for free) using various applications. I use one for Apple called MacKeyHole TV. The NHK feed requires a password, but believe it or not the password is "NHK". All the rest are just wide open.
I assume many oriental languages have no definite articcle but i can not be sure.
 
The Hitch said:
That is not unique. le or la in French. el or la in Spanish. Il or la in Italian. Im guessing there are other examples. Maybe the dutch posters could enlighten us with theirs.

Slavic languages on the other hand like Polish and russian have no definite or indefinite articles at all.
Portuguese has o and a (os and as in the corresponding plurals) as definites, and um/uma (uns/umas in the corresponding plurals) as indefinites.

Arabic has one definite article (al- or el- depending on where you are), and no indefinite article at all.

An interesting case is Sorbian - the Sorbs are a small Slavic-speaking group in the Lausitz, in Eastern Germany. Under the influence of German, they've developed an indefinite article using their word for 'one' ('jeden'), unique amongst Slavic languages, though purists are against the use of this system.
 
Mar 16, 2009
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I am still not sure when to use a or o at the end of a word. I know if I use el it is o if I use la it is a. I went to the store today and asked for uno soda but the clerk replied with una soda. I will figure it out.
 
krebs303 said:
I am still not sure when to use a or o at the end of a word. I know if I use el it is o if I use la it is a. I went to the store today and asked for uno soda but the clerk replied with una soda. I will figure it out.
Well you answered it yourself. For masculine nouns add o to the end of the adjective, for feminine nouns add a to the end of the adjective. Doesnt work with all adjectives though - eg importante is the same for both f and m.
 

Barrus

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Apr 28, 2010
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The Hitch said:
That is not unique. le or la in French. el or la in Spanish. Il or la in Italian. Im guessing there are other examples. Maybe the dutch posters could enlighten us with theirs.
de or het
...
 
Jun 16, 2009
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The Hitch said:
That is not unique. le or la in French. el or la in Spanish. Il or la in Italian. Im guessing there are other examples. Maybe the dutch posters could enlighten us with theirs.

Slavic languages on the other hand like Polish and russian have no definite or indefinite articles at all.
I was making the freakin point about the word "the" in english (which is the widest spoken language in our planet) in comparison to German which has many variations

FOR GOD'S SAKE!:mad:
 

Barrus

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Apr 28, 2010
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To be quite honest English is not the widest spoken language, if we go by the amnount of native speakers, Mandarin would probably come out on top. And if you go by most spread out, you would probably end up with Spanish :p;)
 
May 6, 2009
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So when learning languages, what comes first, or is "easiest" to learn first, speaking, or reading and writing? But I do like the idea of finding some cycling torrents in Japanese (and there is some), and so how I go. I have watched Het Volk in Dutch, and after a while I got the gist of what they are saying.

The other thing I'm interested in, and this aimed at those who don't speak English as a first language (like Barrus, Redheaded Dane), how do you react if somebody where to visit your country and made an effort to learn your language and speak to you, even though you knew (or assumed) they're native English speakers, would you talk back to them in the language they're trying to learn, or would you just respond in English? I had that in Italy, where I would try and practise my Italian, only to have people talk back to me in English. Serves me right for visiting places like Rome.

The other thing I've found in Europe, and I've been to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (and I loved my time there), and I was impressed with the all round quality of English that people spoke. From speaking to the locals, to walking into a bus station to buy a bus ticket to Warsaw in Vilnius. But I also remember a conversation that I had with an Estonian lad, and he told me he could speak fluently Estonian (that one is a given), Finnish (I assume those two are closely related Libertine?), and English. On top of that he could get by in Italian, German, and Russian. When I asked him how he was able to know so many languages, he just responded with "if you don't know languages in Estonia, then you don't know anything" .
 
I think more people do speak English. China has the most english speakers in the world with 200 mil there. Then you have US with another 200, Canada UK Australia New Zealand various African states probably another 200 mil. And then the bulk, people living around the world who speak English. If 1 6th of chinese people speak English, how many in Japan, Korea, Europe, Latin America, India, rest of Asia etc. I think this makes up for more than the 1.3 bill or so who speak Mandarin. Also Mandarin is not Chinas only language.
 
But a question for others on this thread.

DO you think that a language can be learned by listening to the radio in that language continuesly for a month - from the following startingpoints

Starting from beginner ? If not, COuld basics be picked up, or will it all just fly past without being understood?
Starting from basic knowledge?
Starting from a basice understanding of grammar, and decent vocabulary?
Starting from intermediate.
 
craig1985 said:
So when learning languages, what comes first, or is "easiest" to learn first, speaking, or reading and writing?
Depends on what situation you find yourself in, I think. Be careful not to leave a massive deficit in one discipline while you romp ahead with others. That happened to me - even now I read FR really well but I have a lot of problems with listening to it.

craig1985 said:
... would you talk back to them in the language they're trying to learn, or would you just respond in English? I had that in Italy, where I would try and practise my Italian, only to have people talk back to me in English.
I'm native EN too and I find this everywhere I go. People are just trying to help and often it's exactly what you don't want them to do. I found that the trick is simply to "politely ignore" their use of EN and continue in their language. Works every time. :)

craig1985 said:
The other thing I've found in Europe ... [was] the all round quality of English that people spoke.
craig1985 said:
if you don't know languages in Estonia, then you don't know anything
Sometimes I'm embarassed by how poor my native country the UK is at learning languages (and myself included) but you've hit the reason right there: the UK thinks it doesn't have to learn them, whereas LT has what a Flemish friend of mine calls the "little country thinking" - a greater awareness of relative proportionality. All countries who know their neighbours and have not at some point in history tried to take over the world are better at languages. :)
 
The Hitch said:
But a question for others on this thread.

DO you think that a language can be learned by listening to the radio in that language continuesly for a month - from the following startingpoints

Starting from beginner ? If not, COuld basics be picked up, or will it all just fly past without being understood?
Starting from basic knowledge?
Starting from a basice understanding of grammar, and decent vocabulary?
Starting from intermediate.
I would say the word is "boost" rather than "build".

I think you need to have a pretty good knowledge of a language before you dive into the oral media because you have to learn how to listen, which is a skill that is never taught formally. You need to know the cues that you'll need to pick up while listening.

However, assuming you have that capability, these media will take you into new territory very quickly and listening to cycling commentary for me now is as thrilling as riding a fast car - it's the wowness of knowing what they're saying but not being able to pause to think about how cool it is. :)
 
Aug 1, 2009
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craig1985 said:
The other thing I'm interested in, and this aimed at those who don't speak English as a first language (like Barrus, Redheaded Dane), how do you react if somebody where to visit your country and made an effort to learn your language and speak to you, even though you knew (or assumed) they're native English speakers, would you talk back to them in the language they're trying to learn, or would you just respond in English? I had that in Italy, where I would try and practise my Italian, only to have people talk back to me in English. Serves me right for visiting places like Rome.
[/I].
I consider a lack of respect the fact of speaking to a person your native language in his country (asuming your native languages are differents) without even asking if he/she speaks your language. No offense but it's very common among anglo people because many of them consider that speaking English is a must. I've been a few times in situations like that with british people in Spain.

When I travel the first phrase I learn is "Excuse me, do you speak English/Spanish?", I always get a yes, but I think it's a good beginning.
 
May 6, 2009
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It's no different to Australia, where you don't need to know any other languages apart from English. At least in Japan, if you go on the subway, they also have an English translation of the place you are visiting on the sign. Nothing like that in Australia, nor was that the case in England in my experience. I honestly think that you would be up the creek without a paddle in Australia if you didn't have some grasp of English.
 
Spaniard said:
No offense but it's very common among anglo people because many of them consider that speaking English is a must. I've been a few times in situations like that with british people in Spain.
You are quite right about that. It's shameful. I am a British national living abroad and when anglophones ask me straight out for directions in EN, I always tell them I'm sorry I don't understand in FR and I walk away.

On the other hand, I have had a number of conversations about getting directions with other native EN speakers without either of us realising we were native speakers. :)
 
craig1985 said:
So when learning languages, what comes first, or is "easiest" to learn first, speaking, or reading and writing? But I do like the idea of finding some cycling torrents in Japanese (and there is some), and so how I go. I have watched Het Volk in Dutch, and after a while I got the gist of what they are saying.
It will be much harder to pick up Japanese than Dutch in such a way (though you can pick up pieces of languages this way); because Dutch is related to a language or languages you already know (English, German) you can quickly pick up on things that sound familiar and subconsciously fill in the gaps in your knowledge, I can do this with Romance languages and West Germanic languages; it will also help if you can spot patterns (eg, initial Z- in German = initial T- in English and Dutch, eg "Zinn" 'tin', "Zwei" 'two'), which is always much easier in languages where there is some grammatical or especially lexical similarity to a language you're comfortable in.

The other thing I'm interested in, and this aimed at those who don't speak English as a first language (like Barrus, Redheaded Dane), how do you react if somebody where to visit your country and made an effort to learn your language and speak to you, even though you knew (or assumed) they're native English speakers, would you talk back to them in the language they're trying to learn, or would you just respond in English? I had that in Italy, where I would try and practise my Italian, only to have people talk back to me in English. Serves me right for visiting places like Rome.
I think it depends on the ability you display. If you talk the language very well then they'll tend to stick to the language, but if you trip over words, or have any trouble they'll revert to English. Don't just go and talk in English without first making an attempt to use the native language - even if you're terrible and after one sentence they know to go into English, many places will get offended if you don't at least try, and many will then play dumb when it comes to English in that case; depending on how proud they are of their own language. The French are the ones that are notorious for this, but they are by no means the only ones, and by no means are all French like this either.

The other thing I've found in Europe, and I've been to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (and I loved my time there), and I was impressed with the all round quality of English that people spoke. From speaking to the locals, to walking into a bus station to buy a bus ticket to Warsaw in Vilnius. But I also remember a conversation that I had with an Estonian lad, and he told me he could speak fluently Estonian (that one is a given), Finnish (I assume those two are closely related Libertine?), and English. On top of that he could get by in Italian, German, and Russian. When I asked him how he was able to know so many languages, he just responded with "if you don't know languages in Estonia, then you don't know anything" .
Estonian is indeed closely related to Finnish, they are Uralic languages, which is a separate family entirely from Indo-European (which subdivides into various families that cover most of Europe and the Indian Subcontinent). Most of these languages are fairly obscure tribal and regional languages in the Ural mountains and central Russia, but the Finno-Ugric branch contains a few languages that are more well-known. Finnish and Estonian (along with Sami aka Lappish) constitute one branch of this, and Hungarian constitutes the other branch of it. They are three of only 5 current languages in Europe that aren't Indo-European - the others being Maltese (which is related to Arabic but with a large English and Italian element to its vocabulary) and Basque (which is a language isolate that has baffled linguists for centuries).

The Hitch said:
I think more people do speak English. China has the most english speakers in the world with 200 mil there. Then you have US with another 200, Canada UK Australia New Zealand various African states probably another 200 mil. And then the bulk, people living around the world who speak English. If 1 6th of chinese people speak English, how many in Japan, Korea, Europe, Latin America, India, rest of Asia etc. I think this makes up for more than the 1.3 bill or so who speak Mandarin. Also Mandarin is not Chinas only language.
In terms of number of native speakers, Mandarin is top. In terms of geographical spread, Spanish is top. But in terms of number of speakers, English is top.

Interestingly, the Chinese government considers the various versions of Chinese to be "dialects", because that way the Chinese (whose language family is Sino-Tibetan and doesn't cover much area outside of present-day China) are felt to be better united. However, these "dialects" are in fact far more distinct and different than some areas where languages are clearly demarcated, such as between Czech, Slovak and Polish. I had two Chinese housemates a few years ago when studying, and they said that they were taught that Chinese was one language. They were also completely baffled when I told them that Taiwanese is not related to Chinese at all (it's related to Maori and Hawaiian), mainly because they didn't know there was a separate Taiwanese language at all (it is spoken by very few because Chinese/Mandarin is so dominant in Taiwan). They also said that they were taught that Japanese came from Chinese prisoners escaping abroad and making up a language to prevent re-capture. This seems implausible - if you try to make up a language, the chances are it will hold a close similarity in structure and grammar to a language you know - even most auxiliary languages like Esperanto and Ido fall into this trap, and are essentially constructed indo-European languages. Therefore, were this urban legend to be true, you would expect Japanese to be a related language to Chinese, whereas in fact it is another language isolate - although a theory has been postulated that it is part of a super-family, including Korean and the various 'Altaic' and 'Turkic' languages, which covers most of Central Asia (Mongolian, Tajik, Kazakh etc) and Turkey, no conclusive evidence that links Japanese to the other languages in this group (a relationship between which have been proven, with the exception of Korean). It is plausible that this urban legend resulted in WRITING being brought to Japan (there are four writing systems in Japanese, with kanji (Chinese characters) being one, and two of the others (hiragana and katakana) being derived from it), but language? Definitely not.
The Hitch said:
But a question for others on this thread.

DO you think that a language can be learned by listening to the radio in that language continuesly for a month - from the following startingpoints

Starting from beginner ? If not, COuld basics be picked up, or will it all just fly past without being understood?
Starting from basic knowledge?
Starting from a basice understanding of grammar, and decent vocabulary?
Starting from intermediate.
My personal belief would be that, if the language was closely related to one you know you could pick up the basics with the most rudimentary of knowledge of the language, as long as you had some kind of idea of the pronunciation system. The further a language strays from what you already know, the more background knowledge of that language you would need to have. Don't fool yourself into thinking you could possibly be fluent in just a couple of weeks. You may be able to get by and understand everything, but vocabulary is a neverending process. Even after a year in Germany I could still detect subtle differences in the way that some of my German friends talked to me from how they talked to fellow Germans. It wasn't a case of scorn or simplification; it was a case of intonation being slightly clearer, fewer modal particles, and so on. People who say that they were somewhere for a month and became fluent in the native language are either supernaturally gifted, or they're not quite right. You can certainly pick up enough to pass as fluent in such a short period of time, but from scratch to being totally fluent in a month is just not feasible.

I'm not calling the people on here liars, I'm just saying that language is a fluent and expanding thing; after years of immersing yourself you may still make mistakes of tense, mistakes of gender or declension errors. But in speech, these things are quickly covered up (I very quickly learnt to just use d' before nouns in German if I wasn't sure of the gender) and you can be understood even with these errors. I once erroneously used the past participle "gefindet" when I was 13 (as would be the ptp of "finden" were it a regular verb). Nobody corrected me, they all knew what I meant by it. But when I found out I should have been saying "gefunden", it was like I'd been saying "finded" all this time - being able to comfortably express yourself and being fluent aren't the same thing, so if it gets to your set amount of time and you feel like you aren't getting anywhere in the same time period as others seem to be able to discuss anything with anybody, don't get disheartened.
 

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