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View Full Version : How many languages, do you know?



Baracuda
25-07-2007, 02:06
Just interested in how many languages do people know, note they can be either native-level or fluent (fluent means; yep I can write a book, poems, songs and even think in this language.. and not I can survive with my knowledge)

Albertina
25-07-2007, 07:31
Just interested in how many languages do people know, note they can be either native-level or fluent (fluent means; yep I can write a book, poems, songs and even think in this language.. and not I can survive with my knowledge)

not i can survive with ... - what does that mean?

good poll - i couldn't use other 2 languages where my knowledge is good but not fluent yet.

Baracuda
25-07-2007, 09:54
With "I can survive in" I meant those people who can talk like "me tarzan you jane in some language.. " or what my prep school maths teacher used to say I know enough French to survive, you only need ; red, white, thank you, and yes .. :)

With native I mean your mother tongue, not languages that you learn afterwards in school etc...

With fluent I mean really fluent; if a native cant tell if you're a foreigner or not, then thats fluent.

Clean32
25-07-2007, 10:21
native is english buy i still count my change in Lao, i found the more i learnt the more i have to think when writing english LOL

Clue
25-07-2007, 11:25
With "I can survive in" I meant those people who can talk like "me tarzan you jane in some language.. " or what my prep school maths teacher used to say I know enough French to survive, you only need ; red, white, thank you, and yes .. :)

With native I mean your mother tongue, not languages that you learn afterwards in school etc...

With fluent I mean really fluent, if a native cant tell if you're a foreigner or not, than thats fluent.

Well, from my experience, any native will know in five minutes if you're a foreigner or not, even if you are incredibly fluent. It all hinges on very small things which you use only if it's your mother tongue, and you'll never learn them all. I know a couple of Italians who speak Russian better than quite a lot of Russians, yet I could never mistake them for native speakers. Maybe, for that very reason.
For instance, in Russian there're a lot of negative forms, they are sometimes used even for positive statements. In English you can say 'remember to do something', but in Russian you can only say 'don't forget'.

Clean32
25-07-2007, 11:39
true, i like and get cought out on the " feal a smell" lol
plus i am to polite lol

Baracuda
25-07-2007, 12:41
Well, from my experience, any native will know in five minutes if you're a foreigner or not, even if you are incredibly fluent. It all hinges on very small things which you use only if it's your mother tongue, and you'll never learn them all. I know a couple of Italians who speak Russian better than quite a lot of Russians, yet I could never mistake them for native speakers. Maybe, for that very reason.
For instance, in Russian there're a lot of negative forms, they are sometimes used even for positive statements. In English you can say 'remember to do something', but in Russian you can only say 'don't forget'.

Most people think they are fluent (or a native) in some language but in reality they simply are not. That was the main reason why I wrote it that way.

However, If you have a racially neutral appearance for a country... ( i.e. You don't stick out from the crowd like a caucasian in an asian country), you can think in the language you're talking in, and to some extent have the ability to mimic various dialects/accents of that language then there isn't really a way to tell. But there is but a few people who have these talents ;)
(p.s. an italian in a russian crowd technically should stick out as a foreigner :) )

Baracuda
25-07-2007, 15:09
native is english buy i still count my change in Lao, i found the more i learnt the more i have to think when writing english LOL


Sawatdee Khrab!, pom poot tai mai dai, kun poot pah san angrit dai mai? LOL :D

Clean32
25-07-2007, 21:55
Sawatdee Khrab!, pom poot tai mai dai, kun poot pah san angrit dai mai? LOL :D

Sawadee Karapt, sabi de bore, pom port tahi yai gang mark, pom port Issarn gang mark, thai leck gang mark, port Lao mau die Karp.
pom keet Baracuda mern key nock, me coo porjing coffay Karp.

Clean32
25-07-2007, 21:59
Most people think they are fluent (or a native) in some language but in reality they simply are not. That was the main reason why I wrote it that way.

However, If you have a racially neutral appearance for a country... ( i.e. You don't stick out from the crowd like a caucasian in an asian country), you can think in the language you're talking in, and to some extent have the ability to mimic various dialects/accents of that language then there isn't really a way to tell. But there is but a few people who have these talents ;)
(p.s. an italian in a russian crowd technically should stick out as a foreigner :) )

so can you say SNAKE in thai or Evgenevna and get away with it ???

Benedikt
26-07-2007, 18:51
started english when i was 11 years, excellent russian speak, good read (but can't type)
speak / read / understand Africaans fair, from my South African years..

BakingJen
26-07-2007, 21:29
I think you have the bar pretty high for "knowing" a language. I've met native English speakers who couldn't write a book in English due to their lack of grammar. Regardless, I sound like a middle schooler when I write in Russian, but read extensively in the language, can follow almost all conversations (I get lost in slang), etc. Additionally, I can read a bit of German and French and can handle basic life skills (grocery shopping, making toasts, basic conversation) in Estonian and Kazakh.

nakosy
26-07-2007, 23:28
I speak five languages. Absolutely fluent in three. Yes, I do write in these languages. One thing I know for sure, if it's not your native tongue, the accent will give you away no matter how much you try! People who live in Moscow for good part of their life can easily recognize a out-of-town accent. I am not talking about thick Caucasian (Georgian etc.) accent here. For Italians, as stated in an earlier post, if they did not learn Russian when they were under 5 years, it was impossible for them to acquire native Russian accent.

Albertina
27-07-2007, 17:28
Most people think they are fluent (or a native) in some language but in reality they simply are not. That was the main reason why I wrote it that way.

However, If you have a racially neutral appearance for a country... ( i.e. You don't stick out from the crowd like a caucasian in an asian country), you can think in the language you're talking in, and to some extent have the ability to mimic various dialects/accents of that language then there isn't really a way to tell. But there is but a few people who have these talents ;)
(p.s. an italian in a russian crowd technically should stick out as a foreigner :) )

i completely disagree with your definition of fluent. a non-native speaker will always have an accent, but can be fluent in away that he/she operates the language quickly, precisely, etc. Like someone who has lived in a country for a long time.

By your definition of fluency it's the same as a mother-tongue.

PS: Moreover, I'm stunned by the number of spelling and grammar mistakes native speakers make in English... So in some ways non-natives who really studies the languag can be even more correct.

Albertina
27-07-2007, 17:32
Besides, in the poll there are no options for intermidiate/advanced levels - so I skipped two languages I not only can survive in, but can express and comprehend pretty sophisticated thoughts/subjects.

so the poll is somewhat flawed.

Baracuda
27-07-2007, 19:48
i completely disagree with your definition of fluent. a non-native speaker will always have an accent, but can be fluent in away that he/she operates the language quickly, precisely, etc. Like someone who has lived in a country for a long time.

By your definition of fluency it's the same as a mother-tongue.

I did not define fluency itself, my definition was just an explanation to what I meant by my usage of the word.



PS: Moreover, I'm stunned by the number of spelling and grammar mistakes native speakers make in English... So in some ways non-natives who really studies the languag can be even more correct.

Spelling and grammar mistakes are normal, but as you can see from the posts above some people aren't really native speakers at all..

If you want to see language mistakes, take a look at Russian TV / News.. :)

SalTheReturn
27-07-2007, 21:21
I speak five languages. Absolutely fluent in three. Yes, I do write in these languages. One thing I know for sure, if it's not your native tongue, the accent will give you away no matter how much you try! People who live in Moscow for good part of their life can easily recognize a out-of-town accent. I am not talking about thick Caucasian (Georgian etc.) accent here. For Italians, as stated in an earlier post, if they did not learn Russian when they were under 5 years, it was impossible for them to acquire native Russian accent.


Sometimes I really think I should open a paypal account and ask you to send some money because it is really painful to read crap all the time.

Now, 4 out of 5/6 russian teachers i met in Moscow whom were regularly dealing with foreigners, were regularly praising the way Italians could actually "speak Russian without an accent". The same was told by russian people.
Now hoe comes people say "italians could never acquire a russian accent?".

There are millions of other nationalities that speak russian with a crapper accent than us, the most ridicolous so far being the Brits

My experience in Moscow tells me that in ONLY one occasions I heard russians asking a foreigner "are you russian?". This guy studied russian at Princeton and invested over 300k in his education, having had a russian girlfriend from the suburbs (a peasant) he would even understand MAT.

Albertina
27-07-2007, 22:07
salthe return,
Can I please suggest you change the tone of your messages please. I don't need another redtape.

Josh V
01-08-2007, 15:23
Maybe part of the reasoning behind the definition of 'fluent' was the frustration I share about Russians who will definitely tend to assert that they 'know English' or 'know French, or German' while they at the very most have some notions of it, but can't understand most written sentences and sound absolutely horrible when they try to speak it. Granted, this was much more the case 10 years ago - recently Russians have become a tad more careful with these assertions.

I've had the same thing happen with some English relatives about their knowledge of French - and then, when I happily leave them on their own to "swim" in Paris --- they do the brick-stroke.

Still, your definition of fluent is indeed a bit extreme. We were just back on holidays in Canada, and quite frankly you hear more Asian/Indian/Jamaican English accents in multi-cultural greater Toronto than 'the in-bred' Canadian with the typical 'ou' diphtongues and the greatly exaggerated frequency of 'eh'. Yet all of those people are also fluent, and often English is their native language.

I know quite a few people who have no accent in their English, although it isn't their native language. The same is much harder for Russian. I'm pretty good in Russian, and even on a good day, after about fifteen minutes of conversation, the best I can achieve is that Russians take me for an 'ex-Russian' (son of emigre) or someone from the Baltics. That's after four years of university studies and fifteen years of travelling here or living here.

PPR
13-08-2007, 15:55
Dear All,

I think we should not forget that all bread is not baked in one oven, and everything depends on a person, if he/she really wants to learn a language, be fluent, have excellent pronunciation and thus do his/her best, believe me sooner or later he/she will succeed.
As for the Russians speaking English, it seems to me that u exaggerate a bit..:rolleyes:
by the way, it's a great fun to hear English-native speakers talking Russian:rolleyes:

Troublesome fly
13-08-2007, 16:02
to PPR

+1!!!!

WilliamFTH
13-08-2007, 19:08
Native in 3
1. Mandarin
2. English
3. Malay

fluent in 5
1. Bahasa Indonesia
2. Cantonese (Chinese dialets)
3. Hokkien or Taiwanese (Chinese dialets)
4. Shanghainese (Chinese dialets)
5. Hakka (Chinese dialets)

Baracuda
13-08-2007, 20:25
Native in 3
1. Mandarin
2. English
3. Malay

Just a curiosity, how can you be native in three languages when technically can have only two parents? (unless of course they talk in 3 or more languages at home all the time that is..) :D

Clean32
13-08-2007, 22:28
Just a curiosity, how can you be native in three languages when technically can have only two parents? (unless of course they talk in 3 or more languages at home all the time that is..) :D

LOL thay probably did, Malasia is the only country that i have worked in that has such a language mix. you have the option of sending your children to any language school, the 3 languages mentioned above are very common.


just to point out
Shanghainese (Chinese dialets) is the local language around shanghi. go to school talk in manderin go home talk in Shanghainese

Hakka chinese the language of many old chinese imigrants, spoken all the way from china malay indonesia thiland Menmar india, there was even a setelment in Iraq untill about 20 years ago.

but its Cantonese that does my head in, 8 tone. mar maar marr maarr mar maur maaaaar and mmmaaaaaarrrr, come dog hource condemed bla bla i give up. at least Thai is only 4 tone lol

Baracuda
14-08-2007, 02:07
well I picked Cantonese back in school and used to be able to talk and write quite well, but since then or lets say 20 years later with lack of use I don't remember much, Same situation with some of the other languages I knew :) must be early case of sclerosis :D but still I have lot more to forget :)

WilliamFTH
14-08-2007, 19:59
LOL thay probably did, Malasia is the only country that i have worked in that has such a language mix. you have the option of sending your children to any language school, the 3 languages mentioned above are very common.


just to point out
Shanghainese (Chinese dialets) is the local language around shanghi. go to school talk in manderin go home talk in Shanghainese

Hakka chinese the language of many old chinese imigrants, spoken all the way from china malay indonesia thiland Menmar india, there was even a setelment in Iraq untill about 20 years ago.

but its Cantonese that does my head in, 8 tone. mar maar marr maarr mar maur maaaaar and mmmaaaaaarrrr, come dog hource condemed bla bla i give up. at least Thai is only 4 tone lol
Thanks bro for the explanation, surely you have worked or lived in Malaysia.

Any Chinese or Indian living in Malaysia can speak and write three language it is very common as we have to learn English and Malay in school (12 years) with option for Tamil (Indian) or Mandarin (Chinese) same goes with most Singaporean Chinese or Indian.

Bahasa Indonesia is the same as Malay with a different tone but it is easy as I understand Bahasa Malaysia.

As for me, I can speak Cantonese as it is a language for my family, As for Hakka and Hokkien, Basically all Chinese dialects use Chinese character with different tone so it is not difficult to pickup other dialects and I grew up in a area with many of them as neighbor and friends.

I can speak some Shanghainese and understand fully as I have spent many years over there and my ex- girl friend is a native. I like Shanghainese as it is very interesting and as mentioned it is not difficult for me to pick up.

I will learn Russian as soon as I land my self in Moscow that is for sure. I just love learning the languages as it bring me closer to people and not to mention good for work and socializing.

Clean32
14-08-2007, 22:46
Thanks bro for the explanation, surely you have worked or lived in Malaysia.

Any Chinese or Indian living in Malaysia can speak and write three language it is very common as we have to learn English and Malay in school (12 years) with option for Tamil (Indian) or Mandarin (Chinese) same goes with most Singaporean Chinese or Indian.

Bahasa Indonesia is the same as Malay with a different tone but it is easy as I understand Bahasa Malaysia.

As for me, I can speak Cantonese as it is a language for my family, As for Hakka and Hokkien, Basically all Chinese dialects use Chinese character with different tone so it is not difficult to pickup other dialects and I grew up in a area with many of them as neighbor and friends.

I can speak some Shanghainese and understand fully as I have spent many years over there and my ex- girl friend is a native. I like Shanghainese as it is very interesting and as mentioned it is not difficult for me to pick up.

I will learn Russian as soon as I land my self in Moscow that is for sure. I just love learning the languages as it bring me closer to people and not to mention good for work and socializing.

Mate I will tell you now Russian is not going to be easy for you, changing from Tonal languages to Russian will do your head in. For example “come” one syllable in English. “Mar” most SE Asian again 1 syllable. Russian “E D suda” 4 syllables. LOL and that’s an easy one. At least the alphabet is Tonal and there’s only Constanints/ Voules 33/9 Thai 44/22 if I remember correct lol and you don’t have to remember 1200 silly little pictures LOL.


Any way if your Ex was from the prison city, I would say you are already equipped to handle a Mongolian chick LOL.

Umutt65
14-08-2007, 22:52
3

WilliamFTH
14-08-2007, 23:04
Mate I will tell you now Russian is not going to be easy for you, changing from Tonal languages to Russian will do your head in. For example “come” one syllable in English. “Mar” most SE Asian again 1 syllable. Russian “E D suda” 4 syllables. LOL and that’s an easy one. At least the alphabet is Tonal and there’s only Constanints/ Voules 33/9 Thai 44/22 if I remember correct lol and you don’t have to remember 1200 silly little pictures LOL.


Any way if your Ex was from the prison city, I would say you are already equipped to handle a Mongolian chick LOL.
God.....

But anyway I have to try...I know its not going to be easy. Maybe a Russian Girl Friend can help me to speed thing up. LOL.

But the rewards for learning Russian....Hmmmmmm

Bels
14-08-2007, 23:24
I can't answer. Does a bit of Russian, Spanish and Italian count in regards to buying in shops for example. But I can't to have a heated conversation. However I'm amazed how many people are fluent in so many languages. I know my two children are going to be bi-lingual in Russian and English and I am proud of that, perhaps I will encourage to get more languages. Because they say once one additional language is learnt an other language gets easy.

WilliamFTH
15-08-2007, 07:40
I can't answer. Does a bit of Russian, Spanish and Italian count in regards to buying in shops for example. But I can't to have a heated conversation. However I'm amazed how many people are fluent in so many languages. I know my two children are going to be bi-lingual in Russian and English and I am proud of that, perhaps I will encourage to get more languages. Because they say once one additional language is learnt an other language gets easy.
My opinion, let them study some asian languages when they are older....that will be great.

Bels
15-08-2007, 21:01
I think kids that grow up learning popular languages fluently is a good start in giving them the path of earning good income for the future. You say Asian, my belief is that perhaps chinese and Japanese is in big demand from companies. Very difficult languages, however if they have already mastered English and Russian maybe it won't be such a big deal for them as it would be to others.

WilliamFTH
15-08-2007, 21:51
I think kids that grow up learning popular languages fluently is a good start in giving them the path of earning good income for the future. You say Asian, my belief is that perhaps chinese and Japanese is in big demand from companies. Very difficult languages, however if they have already mastered English and Russian maybe it won't be such a big deal for them as it would be to others.
Either Mandarin (Chinese) or Japanese will be good and China being the economic power house will surely be a good option for future career advancement.

It is a good experience for myself to be able to travel and work most part of Asia working for Western Companies, learning an extra language not only give more opportunities but really open up gates to different culture.

Baracuda
17-08-2007, 22:25
I would also advise on learning Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages, difficulty really depends what age you learn or on talent.

Bels
18-08-2007, 21:40
I would also advise on learning Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages, difficulty really depends what age you learn or on talent.

Chinese and Japanese yes I agree for future professional future. But does learning Korean have any monetary value?

WilliamFTH
18-08-2007, 23:56
Chinese and Japanese yes I agree for future professional future. But does learning Korean have any monetary value?
Any Asian language will be an added advantage for a westerner that already has English as native. If you might notice China, Japan, Korea and some of the Asean countries are the future economic power.

Just like the Asian learn English for the past century to gain some advantages in the western countries now many westerner are learning Asian language to stay ahead for the future.

Look around you, most of your electronic, garment, food and software are produced in these countries and every dollar you have in your pocket today 40% of it run through some Asian countries.

Clean32
19-08-2007, 01:06
Correct William.
Just to expand on William’s post with some examples, very few of what could be many, and it may come as a shock to many.
China gets from Russia just as much oil and Gas as Europe.
Most car companies actually build there cars in Asia. Mercedes in Malay. Toyota, Chrysler jeep, BMW in Thailand, and Isuzu jeep ( sold in Russia as opal)
Bmw in Vietnam now I think.
Have a look at the labels on the clothes you are wearing, the last ten years most of Russia cloths came from turkey, now it’s from china,
Just think about china 1 billion people, they are not all planting rice. they have rockets going into space every week!!
etc etc I could go on for hours. But I think English and mandarin are today are mandatory languages.

In fact I would go as far as saying to young Russian people who have finished university and done English ( and there are a few on this site) Go to an English country get a job as a cleaner or what ever for about 3 months. Come back to Russia do your TESOL cert in Moscow. Then go live in China (small city) and work as an English teacher for a couple of years. Much better money than working in a Russian school teaching English. Then come back with the money you have saved in china, back to uni do a business course or something like that. And you will be all set and doing well by the time you are 25, and you will have 3 languages.

Bels
19-08-2007, 21:53
And it has been stated from MSN financial news that the chinese are buying the British pound rather than the dollar. I read that the reason for this is that they want to keep their currency rate low and the British pound is the best option for the time being. Making the pound the major currency.

Back to languages, my knowledge of what languages are of value come from looking at vacancies from employers in the UK. Most certainly tri lingual is in heavy demand. All EU countries are popular, as well as chinese, Japanese and Russian, with a special interest in the most recent members of the EU. It's obvious that Britain wants to break into the sales market in all these countries. But I don't see Korea being mentioned

Bels
19-08-2007, 22:14
Let's be fair about it. Oil and gas is one thing. But many companies from rich European companies now choose to produce their products abroad. For example cars, clothing, toys etc. They continue to use their own brand name and are simply seeking cheaper labour but will demand the same standards, this will include Asia.

I was in the Merchant Navy, it's still pretty big but the ships now keep well away from Britain and employ mainly asian staff. Not much of a chance for Brits to get a job now, as most of the employees are Asian, cheaper labour.

WilliamFTH
20-08-2007, 19:45
Let's be fair about it. Oil and gas is one thing. But many companies from rich European companies now choose to produce their products abroad. For example cars, clothing, toys etc. They continue to use their own brand name and are simply seeking cheaper labour but will demand the same standards, this will include Asia.

I was in the Merchant Navy, it's still pretty big but the ships now keep well away from Britain and employ mainly asian staff. Not much of a chance for Brits to get a job now, as most of the employees are Asian, cheaper labour.
It is true of what you said, Asian provide cheap labor…..

Actually it is not healthy and not only the westerners exploit the cheap labor but the local Asian countries do the same. It is hard to avoid this as the local government is doing nothing to protect the people.

For example in Malaysia, education funding is always way below budget compare to other expenditure but our government still have money to send someone to Russia to be train as an astronaut. It is really a waste of money. If the people are well educated then the economic of Asean countries will be base more on intelligent rater then labor just like Japan and Korea, My country have fail in the education systems.

Anyway, I hope these will change; I would like to see some protection of labor so people can at least make a decent living in Asean.

Coming back to your question of Korean language, not too sure of UK but in Asian it is a high demand language same like Japanese.