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How many of us are polygots?

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

  1. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    Tiny French, miniscule German and infinitesimal Farsi.
    agathamorse likes this.
  2. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    So did I. Twice. Before finally passing it. Only did German once but did a little within my degree.
    agathamorse and nomad like this.
  3. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    I am no linguist but I can manage conversational Gujarati and, to a lesser extent, Hindi.
    agathamorse likes this.
  4. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    My degree was Latin and I went to school in Chester.

    For those reasons I was greatly interested to see an All4 programme on historic cities. The first was Chester. It was presented by Alice Roberts.

    I had to give up in disgust. She managed to find (flirt with) a Sicilian chap who runs a tea-shop and asked him how to pronounce Deva. She concluded that dee-va was correct. Cue much frothing at the mouth on my part.


    We are sure this must be the case because verbs in the pluperfect often underwent a process of assimilation. Let's take /amaverat/. This becomes /amarat/ in many texts. So written /v/ must have actually been a bilabial semi-vowel rather than a labio-dental fricative.

    So. NOT dee-va. Suspended programme at that point, never to resume. Calls herself a professor! Ha!
    cissy3 and Geoff Thomas like this.
  5. fraisier

    fraisier Senior commenter

    Far from me the idea to rain on people’s parade :( but when it comes to languages, people generally have a natural tendency to exaggerate their proficiency, sometimes ridiculously so.

    Trust me on that, I’ve been a language practitioner for 40 years and a qualifier teacher for 33 years (in France first, then England) – in a vast variety of schools, state and private/indie, including Berlitz type + translating and a bit of interpreting, and lots of private tuition since 1980, I started giving English and Spanish lessons at university in France while in my first year, to make money but also to learn as teaching MFL has been a calling of mine since I was 13.
    It was a great earner actually, some months I’d earn Fr.4,000 francs (£400) just in tuition, that was a lot in the early & mid 1980s, lots of demand and I was charging a reasonable Fr.50-100 an hour+. With some people, I'd stay 2 hrs, some were so nice. I remember a disabled person, in a council house, who had few visitors and loved English, she liked my company I think, would make me cakes etc. and I would often stay 2 hrs, she often wanted to give me Fr200, I'd always refuse, so she'd give me a good bottle of wine. You do meet some very nice people when you give tuition, some aren't just interested in whatever subject you teach, they use it as a social service, as a way to connect with the world.
    Combined with working as a high school pion – supervisor (French secondary schools employ uni students – not just students but mainly students – to do a wide variety of admin and supervision tasks), some months I’d take home £1,000, I fitted my busy working life around my lectures and tutorials around my busy working life, did that for 5 years with varying degrees of busyness, I flunked one uni year but that wasn’t a problem as the university system was, and still is, geared towards accommodating working students so it wasn’t a problem to repeat a year or repeat modules (like here in the UK at the time, there was no tuition fees or just a nominal admin fee of about Fr 300 a year I think it was – still no fees as such to speak of in French unis, about €175 a year).

    Anyway, enough digressing. A lot of people think that they’re “fluent” or “in X, Y and Z and find that they’re nothing of the sort but when confronted with reality. I’ve even met people who said they were “bilingual” in French or Spanish whereas they were at best fluent.

    Not necessarily people’s fault I hasten to add, many people do not realise quite how quickly language knowledge can evaporate and how difficult it it to master a language to fluency levels, with what it entails (understanding, speaking, knowledge of the demotic and so on).

    When you look at the The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages for instance, what I’m explaining above is blatant. I’ve had some many (private tuition) pupils over the years who’ve bigged up their proficiency at the beginning of the course, thinking that they were between B2 and C2 when in fact they were 2 levels of more below that. They might have been close to the high levels at some point but that boat has long sailed… If you don’t use a language you will lose it, and that can happen frightfully fast.
    smoothnewt likes this.
  6. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    My children would agree with you about deva.
  7. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    I'm even worse than I think? Dear God!
    bombaysapphire likes this.
  8. fraisier

    fraisier Senior commenter

    Then, you’ll want to visit this bookshop specialising in dictionaries if you’re ever in Paris: La Maison du Dictionnaire in Montparnasse, on 98 Boulevard du Montparnasse, bookshop is tucked in the Galerie des Parnassiens passageway (Paris is full of passageways, most of them very interesting, especially those between the Palais Royal and the Boulevard Haussmann, one of the main shopping areas in Paris). The Maison du Dictionnaire is next door from the legendary art déco La Coupole brasserie at #102, and its famed painted dome and its 33 painted columns (by Léger, Matisse etc. do have lunch there, very affordable for such a place, lunchtime two-course fixed-price menus from €20; if too expensive or too busy, there’s a great Léon de Bruxelles next door too with fabulous Moules-Frites for €10!). The Maison du Dictionnaire also does workshops around languages, they organise talks with translators etc.


    It’s the great McSolaar posing in front of the bookshop above, he's a French rapper who particularly famous in the 1990s (not a “f.u.ck the Feds” style of rapper, but a soft rap artist, a wordsmith, a lover of words, in the French chansonnier tradition. He did this for instance, my 6th formers love that song!
  9. fraisier

    fraisier Senior commenter

    Terribly sorry :(, forget what I wrote...

    Farsi? That's interesting. Don't know if you've ever heard of a French espionage series called The Bureau (Le Bureau des Légendes in French, it's great, one of the best French series ever made), lots of Farsi in it (in Season 2 particularly), excellent to keep up the lingo!

    racroesus likes this.
  10. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    You see, that's why I struggle with languages; your infinitesimal is obviously much different from my infinitesimal.
    I must ask Maleficent about the series, it might be something she has watched.
  11. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    Great posts, fraisier! Especially about people overestimating their language skills...
  12. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    I make no pretence about mine. I can do Cockney and spoken Yank. I ain't much good at written Yank though.
  13. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I can't do spoken Yank.

    I did try. My US cousin-in-law does a terrible British accent. I do a bad Yank one.
    I experimented with it in 2014 and decided I sounded like someone who'd be called Miriam from Brooklyn. A Yiddish momma. And I had fun with it (in the house!).

    We then went rafting on the Lehigh river and I was contemplating trying to pass for a Noo Yoiker. A bit reticent though so held back as I wasn't convinced I'd quite perfected it. Which was a good thing as I realised after about half an hour that the group of boys/young men (some wearing hats) was a school party from an elite Jewish school in New York and I could have sparked an international incident.

    I'd probably have been barred and never able to return. Phew!
    racroesus likes this.
  14. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I know the song well, and it has an excellent riff, but the lyrics are particularly vile! Of all the tracks he has produced, why would you want to play something analogising Samantha Fox's norks, and objectifying a street waker into "pork" when he has done far more searching tracks about actual social politics?
  15. annie2010

    annie2010 Occasional commenter

    Can speak French well. Have a reasonable knowledge of Italian and German; can get by in Spanish.
    I understand some Flemish/Dutch and Portuguese , but don't speak them.
    I've always wanted to learn Russian!
  16. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    Sounds like you may never "finnish" then...

    I'll get my takki.
  17. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I was going to do that joke

    Have to think of another one now

    I may be some time unless I Finnish earlier than expected.
  18. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    I know that my vocabulary in Spanish is, however niche, extensive. But my grammar is appalling. I probably sound something along the lines of “the nails you will be of passing to me last minute ago are shoddy although if you will have stopped wobbling the ladder in the next time soon please”.
    primarycat likes this.
  19. bigfatgit

    bigfatgit Occasional commenter

    's urrainn dhomh Gàidhlig a bhruidhinn
  20. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    I can have a simple conversation in French as long as it's not about anything too obscure. I have a small amount of Spanish and a few words in Hebrew, Polish and Italian. I can also sign BSL to a reasonable degree.

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