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How many of us are polygots?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by oldsomeman, May 15, 2019.

  1. primarycat

    primarycat Star commenter

    I'm utterly useless. Sad remnants of school French. Mr PC, who travels a lot for work, can understand a fair amount of Spanish, Italian and German, speaks less but gets by.

    My Mum went to a French speaking school (ordered human kidneys at the butcher's shop once as she did biology and not shopping) and is fluent in Italian. My mother in law speaks fluent German, Spanish and some Italian.

    I'm the family dunce. But I can read a menu in French, Italian and a bit in German and Spanish. Priorities, priorities.
    agathamorse and oldsomeman like this.
  2. artboyusa

    artboyusa Star commenter

    Grew up speaking American but now fluent in English. Fundamental Italian, Spanish, German. Decent French.
    agathamorse likes this.
  3. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    Languages were the one area at school that I found difficult. I have a GCSE in French (and Latin) and a smattering of German. I don't have the confidence to use my French though.
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
    agathamorse likes this.
  4. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Star commenter

    Fluency in French as I was teaching it to A Level until retirement last summer.
    I used to be fully fluent in Italian having studied it to degree level and worked in Italy. I regret few things in life, but do regret having lost my fluency in Italian. I can manage perfectly well on holiday, but am nowhere near as fluent as I used to be.
    In Spain and Portugal I can read key language. I could get by orally at a basic tourist level in Spain, but Portuguese is something else!
    agathamorse and oldsomeman like this.
  5. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    wow thank you.
    I am well impressed with your language skills. I have struggled and struggled but often to no avail. Really I find it easier if I'm staying in the land of that language.
    I so often wish I could converse to folks in their home language. Mind you even after 2 years of Glasgow speak I still was never able to converse in the language lol.
    agathamorse likes this.

    MAGAorMIGA Star commenter

    Dydw i ddim, ond rydw i'n ceisio siarad o Gymraeg.
    Sally_90, agathamorse and dumbbells66 like this.
  7. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    I’m not bad at Spanish, considering I’ve never studied it, but because I learned what I learned in the jungle while working on a construction/conservation project, my vocabulary is quite niche and not exactly useful for most day to day interactions.
    agathamorse likes this.
  8. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    @Dunteachin, he speakes the "fluent" languages well enough to give a lecture in them. The others he can converse happily in. It's true that some of his vocabulary is a bit specialist - architectural terms, for example - but he is fluent.
    He tells me that once you learn one of the latinate languages, the others come more easily, which is true, but nothing helps with Turkish or Arabic, I don't think.
    Dunteachin and agathamorse like this.
  9. Oldfashioned

    Oldfashioned Senior commenter

    I'm currently using the duolingo app to learn french. Apparently I've learned 311 words. I have to be honest I'm struggling. I think the window of opportunity for my brain to master another language may have closed decades ago.
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I love languages more than anything.
    I speak seven languages fluently and have a passable knowledge of many many more, because the more languages you know, the more you are able to make cross connections to come to grips with new ones. The Magyar-Suomi uralics still mock me quietly from a corner, mind, tethered there for future mastery. (I have a mobile phone somewhere, locked into Suomi from my playing with the settings. Every couple of years I take it into a phone shop and ask them to revert it to English for me, but they never can. This way, I have been given four free phones over the years, by defeated techies who cannot deal with language. "Here, have another phone and go away")
    I have a room at home of only dictionaries. Language dictionaries from around the world, which I read voraciously, it's true. All the detail, the annotation, the implications; the older ones give unique insight into social history, publishing, technology and elitism. Sometimes I spend hours in there just hiding away like in an erudite beer shed, and reading about other languages, looking at the script, wondering how it was all collated, wondering why certain words in particular fail to appear at all. Wondering if it is at all possible to understand all the languages of the world.

    My favourite language dictionary at the moment is a Hindi-English dictionary from the 1980s; published in Delhi. It is full of words that do not actually exist-"opportunablism", "golatile", "hershoveness". What is going on here?! I love this book-somewhere in India there is no doubt an English language school churning out top notchificating (yes, that word is in there too) certificates in completely made up English. Cracks me up.

    Tomorrow my favourite dictionary will be a different one. I wont know until tomorrow.

    It was once said to me by a neighbour who happened into my dictionary room (it is literally a room full of dictionaries. And a chair. And a lamp)-"Gawd, you are so ferkin' weird. I can't decide if you are the world's most boring person, or the world's most interesting". I told him that actually when in this room I am nothing whatsoever, compared to the power of all the languages in the world.
    (He fled.)
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  11. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    Mae yna bob amser nad oes un yno?


    Oh dear, that was a spectacular fail.

    It's supposed to read "There's always one isn't there?", but when I put the phrase back into Google translate, it comes back with "There is always no one there?"

    Mea culpa.
    Sally_90, MAGAorMIGA and agathamorse like this.
  12. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    Oh you have that problem too? I thought it was just me.
  13. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    I can get by in Spanish, Arabic and Maltese, Spanish, I learnt at school in Gibraltar, Maltese, learnt when I lived there for 3 years as a child, Arabic has a connection with these 2 but I teach many Arabic students and visit Jordan annually.
    French, basic but fluent in culinary French!!
    Geoff Thomas and agathamorse like this.
  14. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    Dw i'n siarad Cymraeg, Saesneg, Ffrangeg, Rwseg, Pwyleg ag Almaeneg ac ychydig o iaithoedd eraill, hefyd.
    Sally_90 likes this.
  15. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    So 6 languages according to google :D mind you i recognised you where writing in Welsh,
    Geoff Thomas and agathamorse like this.
  16. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Apparently Uralic issues are quite common.
    Have you tried cranberry juice?
    Of course the irony in that is that one of the only places you'll get it freshly squeezed is in Finnland, but if you're able to order it I suppose that indicates you no longer have the problem.
    Ah well, Kippis!
    Geoff Thomas likes this.
  17. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    I am learning Finnish, but am still a long way off mastery :)
  18. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    @sbkrobson Crikey! Amazing!

    I thought I was clever speaking 2 foreign languages like a native speaker, but flamin' Nora!
    agathamorse likes this.
  19. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Could I guess from your username that you have a neighbourly interest in it?
  20. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    Oh boak!
    agathamorse likes this.

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