ussherd
Posts: 322
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 8:01 am

Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Thu Oct 23, 2003 10:47 pm

A question for all you multilingual people out there.

Is it easier to learn a language that is similar to a language already spoken or is it better to go for one that is completely unrelated? You'd think that as a Spanish speaker it would be easier to learn, say, Italian or Portuguese, but would the similarity between the languages mean that you'd end never learning the new language properly? Also, if someone were to learn a completely unrelated language, how possible would it be to achieve a "true" accent?


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TWFirst
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RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Thu Oct 23, 2003 10:54 pm

Good questions...

I think learning a related language is much easier. If another language has similar grammatical constructions, rules, etc., then it's easier to just focus on vocabulary without trying to remember vocab AND proper grammar. I don't think you'd "stop" learning the new language properly if you continued to make the effort.

I think it's difficult to acheive a "true" accent, but not impossible. There are always going to be some words you speak that people will be able to hear some traits of your native tongue, however slight. I also think it has to do with how much effort you put forth... I don't understand how people can live in a country for years/decades and speak the local language, yet still have an accent as heavy as when they first landed.
An unexamined life isn't worth living.
 
pacificjourney
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RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Thu Oct 23, 2003 11:19 pm

You may be interested to know that generally speaking native-spanish speakers are highly successful at learning new languages. The same is also true of Russian speakers.

This is due to the way you learnt your own language - a grammar based education - which you can more easily tranfer to any language than say and English speaker most of whom have only the vaguest understanding of how their language works.
" Help, help ... I'm being oppressed ... "
 
s.p.a.s.
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RE: Choosing Which New Language To Learn

Thu Oct 23, 2003 11:30 pm

As per accent, once I was told that it is much easier to get a perfect accent if you learn a language as a child, as your vocal chords aren??t that stiff... with age, they get "harder" and learning new sounds becomes more difficult..

Albeit being a Brazilian by birth, my family is of Austrian immigrants, and we speak in German among us, so I learnt this language as a child...other people here have many problems learning to speak German, as some sounds doesn't exist in Portuguese, like the "CH" combination on Ich..

Rgds

RS
"ad astra per aspera"
 
ussherd
Posts: 322
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RE: Choosing Which New Language To Learn

Thu Oct 23, 2003 11:56 pm

On the subject of language... I spelt "choosing" wrong in the title. Oops!
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JAL777
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RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 12:00 am

On the subject of language... I spelt "choosing" wrong in the title. Oops!

Maybe you should stick to English before trying something else?? Big grin  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
 
Lindy
Posts: 4722
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RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 12:11 am

In my elementary school I had German and Russian, beside my regular Polish class.
For me Russian was much easier to learn because there is lots of a similarity in Polish-Russian language. Alphabet is different but pronunciation is similar. With German I had some problems.

In general: I have studied Russian for 5 years in school and German for 8 years and I can say that the only things from both languages I remember are just basic stuff. If you don’t use it you lose it.

Rafal
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Sabena 690
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RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 1:13 am

Honnestly, I do not find German easier for me (being Dutch-speaking) than French.

I just started learning German, should be able to speak Dutch, French, English and German fluently within 2-3 years.

Regards
Frederic
 
bobrayner
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RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 1:18 am

All other things being equal (which they aren't), the more similar a language is, the easier it is to learn.

If it's mostly phonetic, and the grammar is sane, that helps you get on the first rung of the ladder. English has neither of these.

For Anglophones wanting to learn a new language, I'd suggest Dutch or German rather than Mediterranean languages!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
Cunning linguist
 
srbmod
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RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 1:50 am

How about learning Klingon?
 
Jaspike
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RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 1:57 am

I've learnt French & Russian, and I find them both easy Big thumbs up

Josh
 
kilavoud
Posts: 863
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2003 7:47 pm

RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 2:00 am

Dear Ussherd

“ Qui apprend une nouvelle langue acquiert une nouvelle âme ”
Juan Ramón Jiménez

Translation : "who learns a new language acquires a new soul"

Every language is difficult, but easy if you like it. The choice is personal, as for the decision to open yourself to y new culture, a new civilization.

Make a nice choice.

Cheers. Kilavoud.

 
desertjets
Posts: 7570
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RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 2:10 am

Also as you learn more and more languages it becomes easier too, especially if you begin at an early age. Basically your brain learns how to adapt to the new structures the more you make it struggle through foreign syntax.

As for accents, much of your ability to make certain sounds is formed during childhood. As you grow up you are only exposed to the 40 something sounds that your language makes and your vocal chords get used to making only those sounds. I am not certain about the idea that your chords get less elastic as you get older, but somehow I can believe it.

Take for example native Spanish speakers speaking English, and ask them say the word stop. I guarrentee you it will sound like "estop." Reason being that Spanish does not have the "s" sound by itself without a procedeing e. Hence Espana, instead of Spain.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
 
csavel
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RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 3:04 am

Aaah, my favorite topic other than airliners and sex!

Accents are hard to lose, because as many people have pointed out, once you hvae your mouth and tongue trained to certain sounds, it is difficult to change. Plus it is natural to try to substitue what sounds like the closest sound. For example, in English, most vowels are diphthongs, i.e. the long "O" in hose is actually, depending on which variety of English you speak, (We'll use my New York accent for this) sort of a short uh sound (like the a in about) followed by an oo sound. Try it now, class.

So for a native Spanish speaker, his or her o is a "pure" O. No value judgement, it just means it isn't a diphthong. he or she, unless it is explicitly pointed out, and how often do people as adults take that intense a class, will likely substitute the pure O, and thus you have an accent. English speakers will substitue a diphthong for a pure O. Plus there seems to be a small set of sounds that are difficult and don't appear in a lot of languages, non-native speakers always have trouble. Examples are the French uvular R, took me almost five years to do it! both Th sounds in English (you know 'zeese one'). I don't know, but I imagine it is very difficult to pick up a tone language if you don't already speak one.

Grammar probably works the same way, I'm assuming. The closer a grammar is to yours, the easier and more natural it will seem.

As a native English speaker, I find it difficult sometimes because English is so universal. Those whom I meet in business, even if working in foreign coutries and in a language that I can reasonably get by in, we'll almost invariably converse in English. I went to a hotel Front Desk in Paris and asked for a room and prices in what I thought was presentable French. She answered me in English. Asked more questions in French and she answered all of them in English. I guess she was being helpful, but i was crestfallen. I couldn't have had *that* bad an accent, her answers showed she knew exactly what I was saying. So, aside from any stereotypes of the "Ugly American" sometimes even those English speakers who try have no one to play with.

I may be ugly. I may be an American. But don't call me an ugly American.
 
UAL747
Posts: 6725
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 1999 5:42 am

RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 5:15 am

I speak English, Mandarin Chinese, and French. Chinese was BY FAR the most difficult thing I've tried in my life. It is so different from English. French was very easy for me.

UAL747
"Bangkok Tower, United 890 Heavy. Bangkok Tower, United 890 Heavy.....Okay, fine, we'll just turn 190 and Visual Our Way
 
ussherd
Posts: 322
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RE: Choosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:57 am

I read somewhere that our brains get wired for language in childhood as we listen to the speech patterns of those around us, which would explain why I speak English with a Northern Irish accent and Spanish with a Venezuelan accent. An adult who learns a new language has to use the existing brain "language circuitry" to approximate the sounds of the new language and can't produce the unfamiliar sounds instinctively. Presumably, the more languages learnt in childhood, the more chance you have of already being wired for the specific sounds of any new language you might learn as an adult. I like this theory better than the arthritic vocal chords idea!


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Stratofish
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RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 7:33 am

As to the question if it's easier to learn a question similar to your mother tongue or different: logically the similar ones are easier but based on my experience I (as an example) am much more eager and successful in learning something completely new.
You'd be surprised how fast you can learn a language if you really want to, I once knew this russian girl who...  Big grin
The Metro might be the Sub(optimal)way
 
Guest

RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 8:16 am

Well - I am multilingual as can be, many of you know...
Thanks to my family origin, former residences and present location...
I speak fluent English, French, and Spanish...
I speak some basic Dutch (Flemish actually), Portuguese and German...
I can read and understand Italian, and can read the (Russian) Cyrillic alphabet.
xxx
I was born in USA, father was an Irish-American, mother was Belgian...
I spoke English to him, French with my mother...
Then we moved to Paris, dad was an Attache at the US Embassy...
Mother insisted I went to the French public schools, not the US school...
xxx
In school, I also learned Latin and Greek... forgot all of it, but I remember a lot.
My mother was daughter of Russian refugees, I was in the Russian Orthodox Chuch.
I learned to pray in Russian, my grand'parents often spoke Russian to me...
xxx
Then NATO moved to Belgium, my dad went there, Brussels, my mother's home town...
Went to school there, learned Flemish (Dutch) and German in school...
At 18, went back to USA, university then Air Force...
xxx
After I lost my job with PanAm, I went to Argentina 1993...
Got married there, my wife does not speak English, so at home, it is Spanish.
My wife was a refugee as a kid in Brasil, during the "dirty war" 1976-1983...
She speaks fluent Portuguese... we have a beach house in Brasil... I learned Portuguese...
xxx
What I would suggest to all of you...
(1) Learn English... it ends up as being the "international language" after all.
(2) Learn a language related to your own, i.e. if you speak Spanish, learn Portuguese, or French...
(3) Select the languages you wish to speak based on the number of people and nations speaking it...
xxx
Learning languages is not difficult... "exposure" to one is where the secret is.
Babies learn to speak like the people around them, not grammar rules or correct spelling...
Make it fun, magazines, television, lyrics of songs and music...
xxx
My only regret, I wish I learned Japanese, a business language in Asia...
Or Mandarin, a future industrial "powerhouse" that China will be...
xxx
Happy contrails  Smile - a smile works in any world language...
Thanks, merci, gracias, obrigado, welbedankt, danke sehr, spasiba, grazzie, mange tak, shukria, shukram, domo aligato...
(s) Skipper
 
LOT767-300ER
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RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 8:34 am

Im content on knowing English and Polish perfectly + Fluent in French.

Skipper: thats rough...I like knowing that I dont have to move every 6 months like you did and learning a whole nother language. If my parents moved from country to country that much at 18 I would screw it and sit on my ass in the US where the best opportunities lie.
 
Shawn Patrick
Posts: 2465
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RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 12:01 pm

Wow, that was loaded, Petey.

I think I'd actually like to be in a family that moves to other places like that.

Regrettably I only speak English. But I'm working on French, which is really easy. I just wish I could go to France for a couple of months and become fluent so that I could start learning another language. Oh well.
 
Lan_Fanatic
Posts: 1056
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2001 11:41 am

RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 12:23 pm

I am chilean, therefore my language is spanish, and I can easily read and understand portuguese and italian without having ever studied them. also I began studying english when I was 4 and learnt it almost entirely. But I began studying french when I was 12...and I have only vague knowledge about that language.
But I think that if I had learn english and french in a parallel way, I guess french would have been much easier, as it is a latin language. (just like my native spanish)
 
B747_A340
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2000 11:11 pm

RE: Choosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 2:58 pm

My first language is Spanish. I started learning English when I was like 3 years old, so I have an extensive vocabulary, but I never really cared about the language that much, so I have an accent, not very thick, but you can still tell that Spanish is my first language. I started learning French 6 years ago and I can speak it and read it very well, last week I had a very nice conversation with a French lady and she said that my accent was very nice. I can read and understand both Italian and Portuguese, but I cannot speak them, I'm trying to learn both of them because one of my best friends speaks both of them, so she is teaching me. I can also understand Catalan and Gallego which are Spanish dialects, but again, I cant speak them. Right now I'm learning German, which is not a complicated language, but it has a lot of weird rules... And some of them don't make any sense to me.. Eh well. My goal in life is to fluently speak 10 languages by age 25. Why? Because I love languages... And if you learn a different language, you learn a different culture.

Buenas Noches,
Diego
God, please save me from your followers!
 
B747_A340
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2000 11:11 pm

RE: Choosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 3:03 pm

BTW I just read my post and it is very repetitive... Sorry I had a long day today...

Diego
God, please save me from your followers!
 
bobrayner
Posts: 2038
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RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 3:21 pm

I just wish I could go to France for a couple of months and become fluent so that I could start learning another language. Oh well.

Try somewhere like Switzerland or Belgium - learn multiple languages?  Big grin
Cunning linguist
 
swissgabe
Posts: 5147
Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2000 4:57 am

RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:39 pm

Yeah, in Switzerland there are 4 (FOUR) national languages on only 41'000 sq/km ...

I'm speaking German, learned French and English and I'm thinking of Spanish or/and Japanese to learn...
Smooth as silk - Royal Orchid Service /// Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens - Springbok
 
Shawn Patrick
Posts: 2465
Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2000 7:30 am

RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Fri Oct 24, 2003 10:08 pm

Yeah that's a good question. I'll be in Switzerland for a few days during the summer - where in the country is French most widely spoken? Also, I assume that French is spoken in Liechtenstein?
 
TWFirst
Posts: 5752
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2000 5:30 am

RE: Shawn Patrick

Fri Oct 24, 2003 10:30 pm

Nein, Deutsch is spoken in Liechtenstein.
An unexamined life isn't worth living.
 
seb146
Posts: 13897
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 1999 7:19 am

RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Sat Oct 25, 2003 4:04 am

I have spoken English my whole life. The reason I chose to learn Spanish is most of my childhood friends spoke Spanish. It was very easy to learn. I am finding I understand a few words in Portugese and Italian, but Russian would be more helpful to me as there are many immigrants here in Vancouver from Russia.

GO CANUCKS!!
Life in the wall is a drag.
 
petertenthije
Posts: 3260
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2001 10:00 pm

RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Sun Oct 26, 2003 7:27 am

It is easier to learn a language related to your own. I have found my German classes easier to remember then my French. Purely because a lot of German words are also Dutch. I can not write it properly as their grammer is more complex, but I can speak and read German.

Accents are very hard to loose. I have been in England for about a year. I mastered the English accent quite nicely, but only good enough to fool foreigners. A person from England will pick me out, they won't immediately know where I am from though (which they could prioir to my stay there).

Someone from outside England will find it harder, I even fooled Americans! One even remarked "For am Englishman you speak damned good American"! LOL
Attamottamotta!
 
iamcanadian
Posts: 704
Joined: Wed May 30, 2001 6:53 am

RE: Chosing Which New Language To Learn

Tue Oct 28, 2003 9:02 am

Try learning Canadian eh? Tougher than you think, with all that wierd slang and stuff eh? Excuse me while i put on my touque and my mukluks...its pretty darn cold here eh? Dippin down to 30 below eh?  Laugh out loud

Rgds,

Mike, eh?
Shut up and calculate.

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