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Do you speak another language (or wish you did)?

Discussion in 'Hangout' started by Hayley87, Sep 8, 2017.

  1. Hayley87
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    by Hayley87 » Sep 8, 2017
    Full disclosure: I'm a language and linguistics nerd. :geek2: I have multiple degrees in English lit, taught it for years, and currently have an International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) book on my shelf. I. Love. Language.

    I've taken Spanish since I was 11, earned a Spanish minor in college (writing a 15-page paper--in Spanish--on medieval Iberian poetry stands out as a particular memory :lol-2:), and taught it when a past coworker went on emergency medical leave for a semester. I suffer from a bit of performance anxiety nowadays since I'm a tad rusty and no one expects me to speak Spanish, but I wish I had more opportunities to use it.

    I tried to take French in high school my senior year alongside AP Spanish but had to rearrange my schedule, and French got the ax (or the guillotine, rather? o_O).

    I bought myself a teach-yourself Irish Gaelic kit years ago because my grandpa spoke it, but I need a human teacher for Irish; the letters don't signify the same sounds as they do in Romance or Germanic languages. I live near a community college and am dying to take French or Italian once the kiddos are old enough to free up an occasional evening.

    I took a year of ASL when I was a freshman in high school, but I've forgotten most signs. The ones that stick with me are dinosaur, French, "make out," and coffee (the latter two are comically similar, which is why I remember them: my teacher used to joke that we needed to be very precise when asking a barista for coffee, lest we appear to throw ourselves at him).

    How about you? Do you speak a bit (or a lot) of a second language? What language(s) do you wish you could speak? :mrgreen2:
     
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  2. AGBF
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    by AGBF » Sep 8, 2017
    I would exhaust myself writing my treatise on my languages, although I am fluent only in English. I applaud you for your thorough essay (and all your study) though, Hayley. I will do my list if Matata does hers first! She claims not to remember them, but she studies everything before she travels. Then there's madelise.... Actually, I think we have a lot of polyglots here.

    Deb
    :saint:
     
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  3. Austina
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    by Austina » Sep 8, 2017
    I studied French and German for years, even did business French and French shorthand. I can just about understand French, if the person isn't speaking too quickly, and the odd word of German, but you know what they say, use it or lose it, and I've lost it!

    My husband often says I talk ********!
     
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  4. dkata
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    by dkata » Sep 8, 2017
    Hi,
    My mother language is Hungarian, I speak fluently German, and can speak English, but not as perfectly as German.
    I really would like to learn Italian, but I don't have the time. Maybe in a few years, when my daughter goes to school.
     
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  5. Phoenix
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    by Phoenix » Sep 8, 2017
    I speak 5 languages, with varying degrees of fluency. So going from best to worst: English (first language, fluent), Vietnamese (mother tongue - can read and write and of course speak), French (used to very good at this, but it's become somewhat rusty due to lack of practice), Mandarin Chinese (used to be moderately good at this, but it's very very rusty at the moment. Can only speak and read Haiyu Pinyin but not the "proper" Chinese characters - either traditional or simplified) and Spanish (LOVE this the most but alas I'm only at beginners' level, can understand more than I can speak or write. I'd like to be fluent at, or at least be functional in Spanish).

    My father is fully fluent in English, Vietnamese and French. All my family, barring a few kiddies, are fully bilingual. DH is a native English speaker and can read and write Mandarin Chinese (traditional characters. He went to Taiwan to study it full-time as an adult; and now uses it at work, as well as in daily life).

    I LOVE languages. I think the ability to speak more than one language opens lots of doors and overcomes cultural barriers etc., not to mention it's so fun!
     
  6. monarch64
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    by monarch64 » Sep 8, 2017
    I studied French in high school and college. I can read and write, but my conversational French is sorely lacking. Learning the language helped me with my Apparel Merchandising degree--a tremendous amount of fashion and textile terminology is French--so I found it very useful in everyday life.

    I can understand Spanish to a certain extent, and some Italian, which makes sense since they're also "Romance languages" (I believe.) Other than that, English is the only language I speak fluently. I'm ok with that--I get along well enough in the world with basic knowledge. :P2
     
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  7. mochiko42
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    by mochiko42 » Sep 8, 2017
    I've always loved languages. I've studied many different languages over the years, to varying levels of fluency, from fluent to tourist to knowing only a few random words. I think it's a product of having been educated in different school systems (German, Chinese, British, American and Canadian). I do find etymology fun and finding the connections between languages and cultures!

    My list:

    Fluent (I hope!):
    • Chinese (Cantonese dialect)
    • English

    Intermediate level:
    • Japanese (I passed the Japanese govt language test, level N3, last year. N5 is beginner, N1 is fluent). I visit Japan at least once a year and have been studying it on and off since college.

    Basic tourist level (simple sentences, can get around, order food, get the gist of newspaper articles):
    • French (7 years of classes in English primary and secondary school)
    • German (5 years in a German primary school and then 5 years of learning it as a foreign language in England)
    • Chinese (Mandarin) - can read and speak and get around, can read business contracts but not write them!
    Total beginner (know only a few phrases, these are mostly languages I've either learned a long time ago and forgotten, or picked up a few words somewhere along the way)
    • Latin (5 years of high school in England)
    • Ancient Greek (1 year of high school in England)
    • Spanish (took a language course before and listened to a lot of Spanish music. Also learned a few more words after marrying an American and being immersed in American culture, lol. Knowing French also helps a little.)
    • Korean (traveled to Korea for work and my husband used to live in Korea so I picked some words up from him during our visits)
    • Arabic (had some work in UAE for a time)
    • Tagalog (I have relatives in the Philippines and have picked up a few random words and phrases, mostly food related or slang)
    • Chinese (Shanghainese dialect). I know a few words as my late paternal grandparents spoke it. Unfortunately it wasn't passed on to those in my generation.
    I regret not keeping up with my French and German more as I used to be a lot more fluent. Not much call for it over here in this part of the world, unfortunately! I also wish I had the opportunity to learn Arabic properly as it's a beautiful language.

    I see myself as a kind of magpie when it comes to languages. I carry with me too many random bits and pieces of useless knowledge. For example, the Chinese word for fire hydrant is directly translated as 'Fire-fighting dragon faucet/head'. The mention of 'dragon' comes from the word hydrant which comes from the word hydra, which of course is the multi headed sea monster which was killed by Herakles/Hercules in ancient Greek mythology. :lol:

    I recently read an article which said that people who spoke more than one language had brains that functioned slightly differently due to the switching in languages and culture. I find this to be somewhat true. When I'm using Japanese I find my personality and thought process to be different than when I'm using Chinese or English or another language. I think it's also the awareness of the other culture, too. I find myself speaking and acting slightly differently whenever I'm talking with someone from the US, the UK, or Canada (of course, I switch my spelling and measurements too! I can tell you that I find it's a pain for America to be the only country that still uses Fahrenheit and the old Imperial system of measurements! When I'm chatting with Americans I have to consciously translate 30 Celsius as 'around 90F' for them, lol..or say 'it's 10 miles' instead of '16km'.. Having to adapt to different languages and cultures does change the way you think!
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2017
  8. AGBF
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    by AGBF » Sep 8, 2017
    mochiko-

    I am so impressed by your studies!!!

    Deb :wavey:
     
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  9. Phoenix
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    by Phoenix » Sep 8, 2017
    @mochiko42, I super like your post!! I'm so in awe!! Wowza!!:appl:
     
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  10. Phoenix
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    by Phoenix » Sep 8, 2017
    Deb, we posted at about the same time! lol
     
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  11. AGBF
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  12. AGBF
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    by AGBF » Sep 8, 2017
    I found you pretty darned impressive, too, Phoenix!

    Deb :wavey:
     
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  13. Phoenix
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    by Phoenix » Sep 8, 2017
    So kind, thank you, Deb. The feeling is mutual:)
     
  14. Hayley87
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    by Hayley87 » Sep 8, 2017
    What an amazing "collection" of languages you have, Mochiko! I'd love to learn Japanese. I love the fire hydrant etymology!

    Yes, French, Spanish, and Italian are Romance languages and generally share a common syntax and many cognates. Because of my Spanish, I can understand a good chunk of written Italian and Portuguese (perhaps 50%?) although the understanding stops there. As soon as it's spoken, I'm lost :lol-2:

    English is primarily Germanic (which is why English speakers often find learning German to be relatively easy, or so my German-speaking husband says), and Old English sounds very German. But then English had an influx of Romance language after the Norman Conquest in 1066. Middle English (that of Chaucer, etc.) developed after that, and it's relatively readable if you know the extra letters. (As I like to explain it, Middle English sounds somewhat like a drunk Irishman: you get most of what he's saying, but you're puzzled every now and again when he slurs something :lol:). And then Modern English began to appear organically after the Great Vowel Shift, which many scholars believe happened when dispersed rural populations re-congregated in cities after the massive death tolls of the Plague.
     
  15. AGBF
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    by AGBF » Sep 8, 2017
    My story is not too different from that of other Americans. I grew up in a world where people spoke only English. I had two great-grandmothers who spoke Slovak while I was very little. One of them also spoke fluent English, so I spoke English with her. The other one spoke Slovak to me, and I believe I understood it a little. I certainly picked up a few phrases. And, even now, on Easter my great-Aunt and I say "God has risen" and "Indeed, He has risen" to each other in Slovak, although it usually isn't on Orthodox Easter! She was married to a Methodist and we all seem to have strayed from the eastern rite.

    I was entranced by French, of which my father spoke a bit when I was very young. He and my mother had both studied Latin and French in school and not mastered French, but he had just spent a few years in France as a soldier and came home able at least to read a French newspaper. His accent sounded great. I think that is where my love of French began. I knew i always wanted to master it.

    French studies did not begin in my school system until the third grade (age eight). I was a bit of a schizoid language student. I wanted to get ahead and read advanced literature, but I didn't want to buckle down and learn the rules of grammar. When I got to college I tested into some very low level of French and had to start out all over again learning the grammar from the bottom up, which was wonderful for me. I needed to learn it all from the start. Then I was able to build on that and go on to French literature and poetry.

    In high school I had also taken two years of Spanish. When I got to graduate school I decided to do a dissertation on Germany so I started to study German. Then I married an Italian and found myself learning a language in a whole new way, by being immersed in it as opposed to learning it in a classroom. When we visited his family, although they tried to speak French with me, they spoke Italian with each other, so I had Italian coming in my ears all the time. I had never experienced a language just coming at me like that and it was fascinating. I followed it up by doing some "book learning" back in the States when we returned to live there. (We had been living in France.)

    I had a Portuguese cleaning woman and I got the Rosetta Stone Portuguese computer learning system, but after seeing how interesting it was compared to Spanish, I didn't pursue it. The only other languages that have, now caught my interest, are Hebrew and Latin.

    I was-until recently-dutifully studying French, Italian, Spanish, and German on Duolingo. Those are the languages I really need to study. But I have had weird, little glimpses of Hebrew over the years. I had two Israeli friends when I was in graduate school and they taught me words for things like "left" and "right"; "good" and "bad"; "I don't want to eat", etc. Then I went to Israel twice with my husband because his sister lives there. I was totally tongue-tied, but I learned phrases like "the central bus station"; "no"; "yes" and "beautiful".

    One would not think that these few words would be exciting, but I was watching a film in Hebrew with English subtitles, "Operation Thunderbolt", and I found myself understanding some of the Hebrew being spoken by one of the characters! Those of you who love language may understand how exhilarating this can be. Now I have felt the desire to study Hebrew.

    And I have always regretted choosing Spanish over Latin in high school. I had a choice of which I wanted to take as my second language, and I stupidly picked Spanish. I could have learned Spanish anytime. My husband, who was a Greek and Latin scholar, can figure out the meaning of any English word (and many other words in Romance and Germanic languages). I dabbled a bit in Latin when I was a teacher, studying with the seventh graders who were taking Latin, but my career as a Latin student was short-lived. The school needed me to teach French and that class was at the same time as the seventh grade Latin class!

    if I live long enough, I would like to learn some Hebrew and some Latin. My French, Italian, Spanish, and German all need a great deal of work, too!

    Deb :wavey:
     
    


    


  16. telephone89
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    by telephone89 » Sep 8, 2017
    I am only fluent in english :(
    I can read (pretty well) french and spanish, and italian is a bit further behind. I can speak 'tourist spanish' as we travel there quite often.
    One of my second cousins married a gal from switzerland. She speaks english, swiss and german. All their kids speak english and german fluently. I think a second (or third or fourth!) language is a wonderful asset.

    My husbands parents each speak 5-6 languages (he only speaks english!). Something like english/urdu/swahili/hindi/Gujarati/farsi. It is bizarre because they go in and out of different languages. Impossible to follow!
     
  17. FeFeV
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    by FeFeV » Sep 8, 2017
    I'm fluent in English and French. My mother is Caribbean and ONLY speaks French while at home. I also speak, read and write in Tamil, but less confidently. I learned Tamil to communicate with my in-laws who are Sri Lankan.
     
  18. canuk-gal
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    by canuk-gal » Sep 8, 2017
    HI:

    I am fluent only in English. I surprise myself with how much French I can read.

    My Mother spoke Ukrainian, Polish and a bit of Russian. Second language was English. She did not teach us to speak anything other than English. Not sure why, but too bad for us. I took Ukrainian in HS but I was useless at it.

    I have two BIL's who second language was English--as each one had a Grandmother living at home who spoke mostly their native language (Ukrainian and German). Both are fluent in their respective (family) languages and English.

    My son took Russian at University to fulfill his (degree) language requirement.

    cheers--Sharon
     
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  19. valeria101
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    by valeria101 » Sep 8, 2017
    English has been my other language - by now, it feels First-ly. Amusingly, when I do get to speak Romanian now - less than every week, my Northern chieldhood accent, is returning and it is very welcome !

    I ought to French: having studied the object up to fluent academic use toward the end of college. Then, I have had no meaningful use for French. It is in a funny state: very easy to read & understand, and not much more. However, a week of France brought the rest back fast. I wouldn't mind more of it.

    I have been living in Spain for a couple of years now - an entirely unexpected move. Spanish, I have not studied almost at all, since both work & private life require English - but, the tongue of the land seems to have seeped in through the seams, somehow. The result is as good as I would expect from embarassingly more years of study. Admitedly, Spanish is quite close to RO, but, so is French - which was painful to learn formally, back in the day. That is to say: if you can toy with learning a language by the ear, try the magic !

    RE. collecting ... It is a nice thought - collecting foreign languages (I see that it is possible, due to a linguist friend who has collected all Latin species & the original, aside a few classical & modern 'diversions'; I have lost count ...). Yet, I cannot see myself learning one that I am not using, just out of curiosity ... If there were more hours in each day, this is what I'd do with them.
     
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  20. AGBF
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    by AGBF » Sep 8, 2017
    That is how my husband feels about English. His first language was Italian. English wasn't his second or even his third language. But it is the language he has spoken for most of his life and the only language besides Italian in which he really knows all the nuances. He still, despite voice coaching lessons he took years ago, has a discernible accent when he speaks English. However he now has one in Italian, too. He says that now he is like Henry Kissinger who famously said that there was not a single language that he spoke without an accent.

    :wavey:
     
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  21. redwood66
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    by redwood66 » Sep 8, 2017
    Cool thread and I am glad to see so many that speak other languages. My Spanish is limited but my German is better. I found that when I was first learning German after having had Spanish the voices in my head would be mixed up. Mas langsam bitte - oi it was hard to break that habit. DS#1 is practicing Russian on me and I am completely lost.

    Spanish was the only foreign language taught in my farm high school (taught by my favorite teacher Mrs. Yee - yes she was Chinese-American) My parents insisted we learn German before a trip to Europe that I would be staying by myself with our German family friends for 2 weeks before the parents arrival. I try to keep it up as best as possible.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2017
  22. jeweln
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    by jeweln » Sep 8, 2017
    I am fluent in 2 languages : Arabic and Urdu .And very good in 1 :English .
    My kids are learning Spanish in school ,seems fascinating .
     
  23. t-c
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    by t-c » Sep 8, 2017
    I can read Spanish and French, and can understand both when spoken slowly, but my conversational skills are generally poor. I used to be better, but I'm totally out of practice (my accent, on the other hand, is good enough that it gets me in trouble as people think I am fluent). In Paris earlier this year, I spoke Spanish to a person who responded in Italian -- all good. My grandmother would revert to Spanish when I frustrated her :mrgreen2:. I also used to read Attic Greek (good enough to for Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles, but not Aristophanes), but again those muscles have atrophied over the years.
     
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  24. mochiko42
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    by mochiko42 » Sep 8, 2017
    @t-c I always found the jokes in Aristophanes the hardest, but I always ascribed it to the "you really had to have been there at the time to find it funny" rationale but also partly because I think that if Aristophanes were modernized, he would basically be like Seth Rogen or Seth MacFarlane, whose sense of humour is not really my thing :P2. Hmm but to be fair maybe Aristophanes would be more political than those 2 so maybe he would be more like Louis CK or Bill Hicks??? Haha I digress. I mostly read the Greek plays in the English translations as I only studied the language for a short period of time compared to Latin, which I took for longer and ended up reading the Aeneid and parts of Suetonius' 12 Caesars in the original. Although I do love the Robert Fagles and Robert Graves translations into English.

    @jeweln Arabic and Urdu are two beautiful languages. :)

    @AGBF What your husband quoted from Kissinger is very true! After your second or third language, you start speaking with an accent in all of them (my German-American husband speaks Cantonese Chinese with a KOREAN accent. My parents and relatives find it hilarious! :roll:). I had the privilege of meeting Dr Kissinger once and he did speak with such a strong accent even after so many years in the US!
    Thank you for sharing the link to the article about bilingual language learning. A friend of mine did her PhD in linguistics at Cambridge studying the way people acquired a third language and how their second language impacted their learning, so this article was something I found very interesting as a so-called 'third culture kid'! Thank you for sharing your story, too. I love how you wove your experiences with different languages into your sharing of some precious memories. It reminds me of Proust's madeleines and how certain things can evoke long-ago memories. When I listen to some certain French pop music, it instantly transports me back to a certain summer in Paris when I was a 15 year old running about the city unchaperoned, listening to music, and eating baguettes with Nutella and French butter with un petit noir (small black coffee) at little cafe on the banks of the Seine in the mornings after all nighters wandering around the different arrondissements! I still can taste the richness of the butter, the croquante texture of the baguette and the bitter taste of the cafe noir today and the brusque language of the grumpy old men having their breakfast in the cafes in the mornings... Haha, sorry I went down memory lane for a little bit there! :whistle:

    @valeria101 Interesting to hear about your experience with Spanish. I agree it is easier to absorb and learn new languages by immersion when you are surrounded by that new language. I like to think of it as learning by osmosis. It just soaks into your consciousness in miniscule and incremental amounts until suddenly, almost without your noticing, voilà, as you said, it's like magic, you are fluent in that language. :razz:

    @Phoenix aww thanks. I am so impressed by your language abilities too. I've always been awed by my Singaporean friends who can comfortably switch between multiple languages, sprinkling Malay with Mandarin and English words all mixed up together. The benefits of living in a melting pot of cultures!

    @Hayley87 thanks! I am such a language/etymology geek. I think I got it from studying Latin and German in high school and realizing how many English words had their roots in those two languages. In Asia, I find that knowing Chinese is very interesting for studying Japanese and Korean as well as a few other Asiatic languages. I'm so impressed that you could learn Spanish to the level of being able to TEACH in it. That's difficult, to be able to teach a language that's not your mother tongue. I think you would enjoy learning Japanese. Despite Japan's history of being closed to outsiders during Tokugawa/Edo shogunate era, in fact the Japanese language is full of foreign influences. The earliest being the Chinese of course (with the 'kanji' Chinese characters being one of the 3 Japanese alphabets), but there are so many 'Western' loan words in Japanese, and not just the English/American loan words that you would expect. A lot come from Portuguese and Dutch due to the roles those countries had in Japan's early history of international interaction but there are other random words from other languages that snuck in, too Eg. The Japanese word for bread is 'pan' which originally came from the Portuguese 'pão' (rather than Spanish 'pan'), while the word for a job (as in part-time job or gig but not full-time job) is 'arubaito' or 'baito' which comes from the German 'Arbeit' (work or labour). And of course 'tempura' (fried food, usually seafood) comes from the Portuguese Catholic tradition of having fish on Fridays and the words 'tempero' (seasoning) and 'tempora' (Latin word for 'time' used by missionaries to refer to Lent). Hahah OK I'll stop there. I could go on and on about this. o_Oo_O
     
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  25. Hayley87
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    by Hayley87 » Sep 8, 2017
    See, this is the sort of thing I could read about all day long. (Well, with breaks here and there to ogle jewelry :lol-2:)
     
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  26. mochiko42
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    by mochiko42 » Sep 8, 2017
    Haha. I'm glad it wasn't too boring. It is a niche interest I admit!! :mrgreen::mrgreen:
    Also I love the Japanese jewelry sites so there's that incentive, too :dance:
     
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  27. ihy138
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    by ihy138 » Sep 9, 2017
    I'm fluent in English, Portuguese,and Spanish. Portuguese I've known from birth as it is my only ethnic background and my grandmother didn't speak a lick of English (or so she had us believe). I took six years of Spanish in school and passed the fluency exams, although I feel a lot less confident in Spanish because I never spoke it at home.

    I understand the other romance languages pretty well. When I visited Italy, I was the elected translator because of Italian's proximity to Portuguese and Spanish. We got by okay. :lol: I'm using Duolingo to learn French now but it is slow going. I'd like to be fluent in all of the romance languages someday.

    I love languages and the nuances of each. There are some Portuguese words that don't quite translate into English. I most definitely use these in my day-to-day conversations despite the funny looks I get.
     
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  28. valeria101
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    by valeria101 » Sep 9, 2017
    Thx for the mention of such exotic & enthralling object !

    [Troglodite leafing Google Books]
     
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  29. t-c
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    by t-c » Sep 9, 2017
    My issue with Aristophanes is his play on words, double-, triple entendres make it difficult to fully grasp what he's saying. Also Attic Greek has no prescribed word order, as you know, so word order gives emphasis and his choices have significance; you have to pay much more attention to this with Aristophanes than with the others. Add to that the fact that his works address what was happening in his state at the time and you have something that is a bitch to translate.

    I didn't much enjoy Aristophanes (likely a function of my proficiency with the language); I'd rather deal with troop movements in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, which is a great read, by the way.

    I think of Aristophanes' comedies akin to our "Book of Mormon", more satire (Borowitz becomes bawdy).

    I have been told that outstanding new translations (of the Greek) have been published in the last few years. Maybe I'll put off picking up my lexicon again until I retire (or burn out from my job).
     
  30. Arkteia
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    by Arkteia » Sep 9, 2017
    I still speak Russian, having come from Russia. But when I came to the US, I still spoke French and started to speak German.

    Well, they are lost. No one needs these two languages here. Diring my recent trip to Germany, I started understanding it again, and could follow conversations. I can still read in French.

    Of these two languages, I miss German more. Because I absolutely love the country, the way it became now. And also because the history of my mother country is intertwined with the history of Germany.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
    mochiko42, Hayley87 and AGBF like this.

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