Being multilingual

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Trippy, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,890
    There's a qiestion in itself - Multi-lingual or poly-lingual, which is more correct.

    Anyway, I have tried on several occasions to learn various languages, the most recent being Latin, with the end result that I know some butchered version of "I don't speak [insert language here]" in several different languages (along with a variety of choice words and phrases).

    I just don't seem to be wired for picking up languages (which is part of the question, does this happen? - If I'm honest even my English has been remedial at times).

    The second question is, do you have any advice or tips when it comes to picking up foreign languages?
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    Multilingual is preferred and more common, but polylingual is in the dictionary with the meaning "multilingual." BTW, there's no hyphen in either word.
    Of course. There are all kinds of differences between people. Some people can learn to solve partial differential equations but can't read a map.
    The most important thing is to be interested, and you seem to have that one. Other than that it's practice, the more the better. So choose a language that people you know speak, and ask them to speak it with you. Obviously speaking slowly and using simple words and grammar at first. My Chinese girlfriend spoke Chinese to me at home, and our conversations were initially at the level of a three year-old.

    It doesn't sound like you're going to get very far with just you and a book, so you're going to have to settle for a language you can practice with other people, which might not be the one you'd like to study. But be patient. Once you've learned your second language the third one is much easier.
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,890
    It's funny, I initially tried it with and without the hyphen, and neither looked correct.

    Now there's an interesting propostiion.
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    24,101
    The rule of thumb always used to be that the best place to learn a language was in bed.

    And not in a windowless cement walled German class at eight in the winter morning. Not that I regret the attempt.
     
  8. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    22,087
    Ha! Zey should have shot you for your inefficiency!
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    Make friends with Dictionary.com .
     
  10. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,100
    I'm currently taking a class to learn Irish Gaelic. Holy shit is it difficult! Not coming as easily as German did when I was in high school.
     
  11. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,890
    What's amusing is that I would have never dreamed of hyphenating bilingual, so the same rule should have applied for multilingual or polylingual, but for some bizzare reason the connection wasn't translated.
     
  12. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,890
    I did try learning Scotish Gaelic at one stage...
     
  13. kira Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,579
    I happen to be a multilingual person myself because I have been living in multicultural environment. However, I am only perfect in my mother tongue. In other languages, I make always mistakes, but I can understand at least passively.

    In my experience, there are languages which are easy to learn, especially if they are related with other languages which I have learned before. For example, if you learn French, you'll find it easier to learn Spanish or German because they are all Indo-European languages, so they have similiarities.
    Unfortunately I need the tips myself

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    I have been living for several years in Germany, but I still have trouble following German movies, especially when they speak fast or with other accent. I don't understand Swiss people when they speak, even if they actually speak German.

    In my experience, though, I made progress in a new language simply when I take intensive language courses and practice a lot (outside of the course). I would also look up internet forum which provide discussion in the language that I learn, I try to express my mind and observe the way other people express themselves, etc. Sometimes, I would also look up article in Wikipedia and see how it is written in my language and in other language that I learn, just to improve my vocabulary in certain topics.

    One very important thing that I've learned in the process of learning new languages is to memorize VERBS that are common to use. You can always find the list of important verbs in most course books. Once you know all common verbs, it is rather easier to proceed further. Sometimes, I initially ignore the grammars, and I construct my sentence in my native language's grammar

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    It works, though (people understand what I meant). When I have trouble to think of a vocabulary of an object, let say "banana", I would use "long-yellow fruit", but when I have trouble to think of a vocabulary of a verb, I wouldn't be able to convey what I wanted to say.

    p.s.: I speak about 10 languages with different degrees of fluency.
     
  14. CutsieMarie89 Zen Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,485
    Whenever I try to learn a new language I find, that I can read and write extremely well (except for Chinese which I'm taking now, I can read well but the writing...not so much). But I can't follow or make conversation to save my life. I've tried everything from watching children's shows to socializing with native speakers. But I always get lost. But I find I have the same problem in English. I read and write okay. I hear people, but often I'll have no idea what they said when they finish speaking. It gets embarrassing saying "what?" over and over again. Maybe it's just the way my brain works and has nothing to do with learning :shrug:
     
  15. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    33,264
    I've had a problem with my primary language for my entire life. Trying to learn another that I would butcher up would be unwise at this point of my life.:itold:
     
  16. kmguru Staff Member

    Messages:
    11,757
    A person who speaks 3 languages is called Tri-lingual
    A person who speaks 2 languages is called Bi-lingual
    A person that speaks one language is called American

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    I was rather inarticulate as a child, could never think of the words I needed. After I learned Spanish I became a good speaker and a better writer.

    The two languages give you two different ways of thinking so they help each other.
     
  18. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    72,822
    The way I see it, a society is multilingual, a person is a polyglot.
    Heh so do I

    yeneke Tamil terriyad
    yeneke Malayalam ariyille

    Fraggles already answered this
    I suppose I could say I speak several languages, but in India everyone has to, with every schoolchild learning at least three.

    kiras already given you a great tip. Memorise the verbs, when I went to Saudi Arabia, the only Arabic I knew was some prayers I memorised as a kid and the alphabet which was similar to my mother tongue Urdu.

    I learned Arabic entirely by memorising verbs and vocabulary and pestering the Arab speakers around me to speak to me only in Arabic. Within six months I had picked up enough words to use them as I thought they should fit in sentences and with the help of the kind Arabs around me, who smilingly corrected me whenever I made an especially obvious gaffe, I could communicate quite efficiently .

    So I think Fraggles advice is right, learn a language you can speak and practice, otherwise it will be harder to learn.
     
  19. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,890
    Maybe that's what the problem is, I've been going about it all wrong.

    I have a hearing disability, my hearing is sometimes (well, often) unreliable, I'm not an aural learner, I'm a visual learner (which presents it's own problems). I also have poor short term aural retention.

    However, most of the languages I have tried to learn until now have been through total immersion, and oriented strongly towards a verbal/aural model.

    Maybe what I need to do is actually just sit down with a good book, and a dictionary.
     
  20. kira Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,579
    It helps a lot to know many vocabularies. When you know a lot, it will compensate your hearing problem.

    For example, Verspätung (in German) means delay. If you know this word already, when you hear only a part of it (say, pätung), and you know the context (as in "there is a 15 minute ****pätung"), you will easily guess that the unclear word is Verspätung.

    Here is an example of how you can improve your vocabulary in Latin (see screenshot on the bottom):
    • You go to wikipedia (or any site which gives GENERAL explanation of terms).
    • Insert an ENGLISH keywords of your interest, let say "Education". The wiki will display an article about "Education".
    • Go to the menu on the left column, switch the language into Latina, it will take you to the Latin version of Education (i.e. Educatio).
    • Minimize the window until half of your screen.
    • Open another window next to it. Put it side by side with the wiki page.
    • On the new window, go to http://www.translation-guide.com/free_online_translators.php?from=English&to=Latin
    • Copy paste the URL of the wikipedia page that is displayed on the other window into the translation box on the new window like this:

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!



    • Then, you can compare the Latin and English version of the article. Of course, the translation result will not be perfect, but you'll be able to get the meaning of many new vocabularies in no time, and see in what context they can be used.
    • After you read the first few paragraphs, you'll see that some words will be repeated over and over, so you will get used to the new words.
    • When you are done with the words, you can change the keywords, and copy paste the new URL into the translator box. Like this:

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!



    • Sometimes, to test my new vocabs, I would close the original wiki link (in this case the left window), and try to translate the English version (the one on the right window) back to its original language (in this case Latin) by myself. I hope that will work for you, too.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
  21. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    72,822
  22. kira Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,579
    I also always use Google Translate or Yahoo Babelfish for many occasion

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    , but the Google Translate and the Yahoo Babelfish don't have Latin translation (in which Trippy is learning).
     
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    That's not a word you'll encounter very often in contemporary American English, particularly spoken English. And in reference to people, it's more likely to be used as a noun than an adjective: "John is a polyglot." But: "Mary is multilingual."

    You might run across it in reference to groups or abstractions: "a polyglot society," "a polyglot tradition." But only in writing or scholarly speech.
    Your regional language, English and Hindi, right? Except in the New Delhi region where Hindi is the regional language.

    Is it not fairly common for children to also study Sanskrit, as the language of history and scholarship, the way children in England used to be taught Latin?
     

Share This Page