How many languages / What languages do you speak?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Giambattista, Feb 26, 2007.

?

How many languages are you fluent in?

  1. 1

    29.4%
  2. 2

    37.3%
  3. 3

    22.5%
  4. 4 or more.

    10.8%
  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    I agree and was merely oversimplifying so the point would not be lost. Still I maintain that there is a qualitative difference between the use of pitch in Chinese and English, which creates a difficulty for a speaker of one language in learning the other.

    We can say:

    "He's here."

    and

    "He's here?"

    and make the difference between a declarative and interrogative sentence obvious through the modulation of pitch. You can't do that with Ta zai jer. You can't put a rising or falling tone on a single Chinese syllable that doesn't have it, or you change it into a different morpheme and lose the meaning.

    Yes, I know they do that in pop songs, but they restrict themselves to short sentences and a very small vocabulary that slavishly follows the context, thereby reducing ambiguity. I can almost understand Chinese pop lyrics.
     
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  3. Tyler Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,888
    I think it's more accurate to say that Chinese simply uses pitch for phonemic uses more, and we use it for feeling/sentiment more.

    That said:

    "ta zai a!"

    and

    "ta zai a?"

    (also... "ta zai zher", not "jer"!)

    Are perfectly acceptable constructs in Chinese. Different charater for 'a', but the same sound except the tone is changed colloquially.

    For that matter: "a???" is a common statement for confusion or disbelief, whereas "ah.." is disappointment (as in "ah, hao kelian ah"), and "a!" is understanding. Slap these on to the end of any sentence and you can use pitch to express sentiment.

    I know for a beginner learning the language it's much easier to just tell them "Chinese questions are constructed using positive-negative form or adding 'ma' and 'ne' to the end of sentence". But it's very far from the whole truth.
     
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  5. Tyler Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,888
    Truth be told, this is one of the biggest difficulties I have with Chinese! I can never remember which character for 'a' is surprise, which is understanding, which is... Same for some other sounds.
     
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    Sorry. I originally learned the Yale system and occasionally I lapse back into it. Dzai jyali wo syihwan shwo junggwo hwa, keshr wo bu hwei sye junggwo tsz.
     
  8. Cellar_Door Whose Worth's unknown Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,310
    English - 9
    French - 6
    German - 1
    Russian - 1
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    Are you using my powers-of-three scale??? A "1" means you know approximately three words. If you can stumble through an understandable sentence, with a vocabulary of 100-300 words and a rudimentary grasp of elementary grammar, that's a 4 or a 5.

    Passable pronunciation of a restaurant menu might qualify for a 2.

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  10. superstring01 Moderator

    Messages:
    12,110
    Engrish: 9.0
    Spanish: 7.8
    French: 6.0
    Latin: 4.0
    German: 4.0
    Ancient Greek: 3.5

    ~String
     
  11. brokenpower Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    237
    It's hard to tell how much of each language i know. Some i learned while young, some i learned recently.

    I can speak all of them fairly well, Icelandic was by far the hardest to learn...

    English
    Spanish
    German
    Icelandic
    Danish
    Chinese
    Korean
    Japanese
    Latin
    and of course Russian
     
  12. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,552
    Wish I knew more.

    English - 9
    German -7
    Spanish - 6
    Latin - 5
    Italian - 4
    French - 3
    Russian - 2
    Swahili - 1
    Japanese - 1
     
  13. chuuush Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    441
    Farsi: 9,5
    English: 8,5
    Turkish: 8
    Uzbeki: 7
    Arabic: 7
    Spanish: 2
    Russian: 1
    Urdu: 1
    French: 1
     
  14. -ND- Human Prototype Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    861
    Romanian-10
    English-9
    Spanish-7

    I understand German, French, and Arabic.
     
  15. Cellar_Door Whose Worth's unknown Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,310
    Erm, I thought I was.

    Ok, all the words/phrases I know in German:

    Guten Tag
    Auf Wiedersehen
    Wo Wohnst Du?
    Ich Wohne in ...
    Ich bin sechzehn Jahre alt.
    (Meine) Liebchen
    Mutter
    Vater
    Grossmutter
    Grossvater
    Ich bin dich
    Shizer (and various other rude words)
    (Numbers up to 100)

    Perhaps a 3/4 then if you count numbers?

    All the phrases I know in Russian (transliterated of course):

    Da
    Niet
    Niet Dorma
    Pajalusta

    That looks like a 1 (just about) to me.

    Oh, I could add Welsh:

    Yaown
    Diolch
    Bore da
    Chi
    Llan
    Euraid
    Losinen
    Ambwlans
    Nyrs
    Araf
    Ysgol
    Jennie dw i

    So that's about a 2.

    Apart from my 6 in French, I know nothing of any other languages. Pretty shaming really.
     
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    Let's break out your individual German words:
    That's sixteen words plus the numbers. Let's see, ein - neun and zehn - hundert, that makes nineteen more and 35 words gives you a 3. Perhaps my scale is too generous at the low end but I didn't want to make it too difficult to use.
    You probably don't know what wiedersehen means (again-see), nor auf, so I didn't give you credit for them.
    I think you're trying to say Ich liebe dich, "I love you." Your sentence would translate as "I am you," but the grammar is incorrect.
    I'm not giving you credit for that one because you spelled it wrong and if that's the way you pronounce it you're also saying it wrong. I don't recommend learning profanity when you know hardly anything else of a language, so I'm not going to teach you how to say it right.
    It's a power-of-three scale. Zero = one word, 1 = three words, 2 = ten words.... 10 = one hundred thousand words. 3/4 would mean you know two words and you know many more than that.
    Do you mean nye doma, not at home? There's no R in it. Unless you speak a non-rhotic (silent R) British dialect and throw the R in to make it look like an AW sound. That's not the standard way of transliterating Russian.
    That's a ZH, not a J. The ZH in "Asian," "collision," and many French words like jour and garage. It's customarily transliterated as "pozhaluysta" because that's the way it's spelled in Russian. But Russian spelling is not perfectly phonetic: the unaccented O is pronounced as an "uh" and the Y is silent. Sometimes it's written "pozhalu'sta" in Roman letters, to get it half right.
    6 = one thousand words. That's nothing to be ashamed of. Very few Americans know a thousand words in any foreign language.
     
  17. alexslasce Registered Member

    Messages:
    1
    My mother tounges are Castilian and Catalan. I grew up speaking Polish and Romanian as well as those are my parents origins. But I can't read or write very well in those languages.
    And English of course, but my english is horrible. I went to a British School and I barely learned, I think I've been doing better since I met my partner who's British.
     
  18. ptvo Registered Member

    Messages:
    20
    English, french, dutch
     
  19. PsychoTropicPuppy Bittersweet life? Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,538
    German, French, English..
     
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    Didn't you just post something in Czech on the other thread? Or was that Ukrainian--it also has the G-->H shift.
     
  21. PsychoTropicPuppy Bittersweet life? Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,538
    Lol....I also speak Czech..but nothing admirable when it comes to written form. Reason why I didn't...mention it. =(

    PS: I think Ukrainians type in Cyrillic.
     
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    Yeah, but that's a lot of work if you don't have the keyboard interface. I suppose I have it on this Mac, since it came out of the box with everything else. I just never learned to touch-type on a Russian keyboard.

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  23. hypewaders Save Changes Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,061
    I would like for more people, who have not done so already, to list their languages and proficiency.
     

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