einsteinboricua
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A 4th Language

Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:52 am

Yes, because I'm that crazy, I'm thinking of learning a 4th language. I'm fully bilingual (Spanish and English) and working towards becoming trilingual by taking French lessons, but all of a sudden, I'm interested in learning more and more. So I've narrowed it down to three conditions (preferred, but not required):
1. An official UN language. Considering I have three down, that leaves Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and Russian to pick from.

2. Be a widely spoken language. For instance, odds are I might meet someone who speaks Japanese as opposed to Icelandic.

3. Preferably not spoken in the Americas. That would mean that Portuguese would also not be a preferred language (even if it sounds similar to Spanish).

Today I was thinking about purchasing a new book. I have a Japanese book, but it doesn't teach me how to write (but at least it helps with pronunciation). So, from the most likely candidates:
Chinese, Arabic, German, Italian, Korean, or Russian. Which of these would you prefer? Any other suggestions?

To paraphrase Rebecca Black: ♫gotta make my mind up, which language should I take...♫
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Airstud
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:19 am

From an economics perspective, my feeling is you should go with Chinese.
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Fly2HMO
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:20 am

Quoting einsteinboricua (Thread starter):
Mandarin Chinese

Definitely this. Heck well over 1 billion people speak it. It would be the most challenging for sure though.

Quoting einsteinboricua (Thread starter):
(even if it sounds similar to Spanish).

Similar? Heck, it IS spanish. That would be a waste of a language to learn if you're already fluent in spanish. I've held pretty much normal conversations with Brazilians speaking to me in Portuguese while I speak to them in Spanish. I've had similar experiences with Italians. The languages are just so related you'd have to be brain damaged to not be able to communicate with them.

Quoting Airstud (Reply 1):
From an economics perspective, my feeling is you should go with Chinese.

        
 
initious
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:07 am

I'd recommend Chinese. However, as someone who is bilingual in Spanish and English, learning how to read the characters in Chinese would be challenging for you, similar to Japanese.

However, learning Chinese means that you have another language to communicate with at least 20% of the world's population.  
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airportugal310
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:56 am

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 2):
Similar? Heck, it IS spanish. That would be a waste of a language to learn if you're already fluent in spanish. I've held pretty much normal conversations with Brazilians speaking to me in Portuguese while I speak to them in Spanish. I've had similar experiences with Italians. The languages are just so related you'd have to be brain damaged to not be able to communicate with them.

It is NOT Spanish  

Close, but Portuguese is it's own language. Agree with the rest though...in Spain & Italy I got along just fine with them, but no doubt I had to chose my words a little carefully and watch for agreement.
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einsteinboricua
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:31 am

Ah, the benefit of speaking a language derived from Latin, from which French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian are also derived. Portuguese is perhaps the most similar language to Spanish I've heard, but it's still loads different.

Quoting Airstud (Reply 1):
From an economics perspective, my feeling is you should go with Chinese.
Quoting initious (Reply 3):
However, learning Chinese means that you have another language to communicate with at least 20% of the world's population.

That's another way to look at this. And I've been considering this for a while as well.

I'm really hoping to learn a language that doesn't use the Roman/Latin alphabet so Chinese would definitely fall in that category.
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Derico
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:59 am

It's one thing to be able to communicate, and another to speak properly.

I have been learning Portuguese, and it is the right term to use, learn, because there are some things that are very different: mainly object pronoun placement which can be RADICALLY different in Portuguese from Spanish, which verbs are reflexive or not, and certain uses of the conditional and subjunctive.

In fact, I have found it just as challenging to learn to SPEAK this language as German, because Spanish can pollute my Portuguese much more easily than my German (German was more difficult to learn, however). I will at the end of this month declare myself trilingual, as I will graduate myself in German after 10 months of hard work. My speaking is still rusty but I can read, listen and write with little difficulty and if dropped in Germany would have no problems making myself understood in a wide range of topics in that language, even if it is not flawless.

I hope to be able to graduate Portuguese in the next three months. I will start French next month as German takes a backseat (I wil take an advance course in it but only every other day and not 2 hours a day like now). French should be much quicker since I already took classes in High School.

Now, as to the question... Watch out! You may be becoming a language junky. I have tried very hard to keep that in check, specially what is called ''wanderlust''. That's when after a couple of months of one language you feel like moving to another, blinded by curiosity into thinking you already ''know" the one you were learning. I have stayed the course with German and Portuguese and it's paying off.

I guess I would suggest Chinese, and given your parameters (UN, widely spoken, outside West. Hem), the obvious choice if you don't care about the fact that it will take you at least two years to get anywhere with it. I am learning it too, but I have given myself 5 years, so I don't even consider myself learning it yet. I am mastering the sounds of Chinese and getting a head start with the characters. I know how the meaning and how to write 100 characters right now.
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einsteinboricua
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:20 am

Quoting Derico (Reply 6):
That's when after a couple of months of one language you feel like moving to another, blinded by curiosity into thinking you already ''know" the one you were learning.

Trust me, at least with French, that won't happen. With Chinese, it may, but I'll make sure to soak in as much as possible before proceeding to another one.
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dlowwa
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:47 am

I speak the three that you do (English, French, and Spanish), as well as one you are considering as a fourth: Japanese. As a Spanish speaker, you will find pronouncing Japanese much easier than Chinese (I'm assuming you mean Mandarin, not Cantonese or some other dialect) as Japanese pretty much shares the same vowel set as Spanish.

That having been said, as a globally useful language going into the future, Chinese (Mandarin) would be a better choice, as the Japanese population is already in decline. Another advantage of learning Chinese is that if you ever decided to go for a fifth language, Japanese orthography is based on Chinese characters, so you would be instantly familiar with a large portion of the Japanese writing system - kind of like how knowing Spanish would help you to read and learn Italian a lot faster than, say, Swedish.
 
iakobos
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:39 am

From an article in The Independent, 2009
This year it will be announced that China now has more English speakers than any other country in the world.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...ecame-big-celebrities-1777545.html
Just to put things in perspective.
 
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n229nw
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:31 am

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 2):
Heck, it IS spanish.

Portuguese sounds to me like a cross between Spanish and Russian...the vocabulary obviously Romance/Latin-based but the sounds of the vowels and consonants more Slavic-sounding (not for any actual reason I am sure, just a strange similarity by coincidence).
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Fly2HMO
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:40 pm

Quoting airportugal310 (Reply 4):

It is NOT Spanish

Close, but Portuguese is it's own language.

Well of course. But they're just ridiculously similar.

Quoting n229nw (Reply 10):

Portuguese sounds to me like a cross between Spanish and Russian.

I don't get that impression. To me Portuguese sounds like Spanish after you've gone to a bar and got trashed and are now slurring your words  .
 
JJJ
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:14 pm

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 11):
Well of course. But they're just ridiculously similar.

As a Spanish speaker that has bothered to actually learn Portuguese there's a world of difference between struggling with Portunhol and actually speaking Portuguese.

You can understand and make yourself understood with Spanish (basic concepts, at least), but learning Portuguese gets you a much warmer welcome and a more rewarding experience.

To the OP, it's not crazy. If you have the time and the ability (some people are better at languages than others) by all means go for it.

I already speak 5 languages rather fluently (bilingual at home, then took English, French and Portuguese), flirted with German and Russian (took a few courses) and would improve those or go for an additional one if I just had the time.

Greek, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, whatever. All of them can be useful in some way so go for the one you like the most.
 
einsteinboricua
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:07 pm

Quoting dlowwa (Reply 8):
As a Spanish speaker, you will find pronouncing Japanese much easier than Chinese

That I've noticed. I love languages that are like that, where, for instance, the vowel 'e' is always pronounced 'eh', and that's an advantage of Spanish as well.

Quoting JJJ (Reply 12):
I already speak 5 languages rather fluently (bilingual at home, then took English, French and Portuguese)

Judging by your flag, you're a Spaniard...Taking out the last three languages and Spanish (which I assume is that one you know best), which other one do you know?
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Revelation
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:10 pm

Quoting iakobos (Reply 9):
This year it will be announced that China now has more English speakers than any other country in the world.

I'd love to know how they define "English speaker". Have these "English speakers" been tested on their ability to communicate in English?

My experience as a software engineer working with Chinese software engineers who've come to the US is around 50/50: Half speak fine English, better English than I do, whereas half speak barely intelligible English so I find myself asking for many repeats and that flusters the Chinese English speaker a great deal, so communication efficiency goes down dramatically.

My experience working with Chinese software engineers in China is far worse: 80% or more who claim to be English speakers speak barely intelligible English.

That's not to insult the Chinese. Mastering two languages so different from each other is very difficult, especially if you try to do so later in life.

My point is merely to question the statistic mentioned above.
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JJJ
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:22 pm

Quoting einsteinboricua (Reply 13):
Judging by your flag, you're a Spaniard...Taking out the last three languages and Spanish (which I assume is that one you know best), which other one do you know?

Catalan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalan_language
 
einsteinboricua
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:30 pm

Quoting JJJ (Reply 15):
Catalan.

I knew it! The other possibility was Basque, but Catalan seemed the more likely choice.  
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iakobos
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:36 pm

Quoting Revelation (Reply 14):
My point is merely to question the statistic mentioned above.

Of course, the article should have mentioned "learners" (estim. 300 millions) instead of able speakers (estim. 10 millions).
It remains that English has made very significant inroads due mostly to the internet wave in the last 20 years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...ies_by_English-speaking_population
Figures cannot be trusted but give an idea of English penetration.
 
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Revelation
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:17 pm

Quoting iakobos (Reply 17):
Of course, the article should have mentioned "learners" (estim. 300 millions) instead of able speakers (estim. 10 millions).

Indeed, I consider myself a German learner, but I don't even have enough German to hold a good conversation, never mind being employed in a position requiring a German speaker.

Quoting iakobos (Reply 17):
It remains that English has made very significant inroads due mostly to the internet wave in the last 20 years.

Indeed so, and perhaps a bit further back to the 80s as PCs and minis made the demand for computer professionals spike, since most computer software development really requires a working knowledge of English.
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signol
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RE: A 4th Language

Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:50 pm

I'd suggest Russian, it's still the largest country, major economy, influences in Europe and Asia, and a very large Russian speaking population in Israel. Also the alphabet is not Latin, but easier to work out than Chinese or Japanese.

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mhkansan
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RE: A 4th Language

Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:18 am

I'd suggest German, as I think for you it would be relatively easy and Germany is still one of the world's largest and most advanced economies. Its not spoken widely, but Germans - probably more than any other European group - appreciate visitors who can speak German over those who flounder.
 
duke
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RE: A 4th Language

Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:27 pm

Learning Chinese could be VERY useful in the future.
 
einsteinboricua
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RE: A 4th Language

Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:33 pm

I went ahead and bought not one, not two, but three books, all for less than $24.

One is a Korean phrase book, one is an Essential Russian book, and the other is a Mandarin in 30 days (all from Berlitz). My Essential Japanese book is also from Berlitz, so it promises to be quite a year learning more languages. I'll start with Chinese. Finally the mystery on how the characters are read and written is solved, but one step at a time. First pronunciation, then written.

Plus, if I decide to also learn German, my sister was given a German software (also from Berlitz), so needless to say, Berlitz will be the teacher from now on.
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DocLightning
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RE: A 4th Language

Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:19 pm

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 2):

Similar? Heck, it IS spanish. That would be a waste of a language to learn if you're already fluent in spanish. I've held pretty much normal conversations with Brazilians speaking to me in Portuguese while I speak to them in Spanish. I've had similar experiences with Italians. The languages are just so related you'd have to be brain damaged to not be able to communicate with them.

Yeah, a Spanish Speaker can pick up a decent command of Portuguese or Italian by living in a place that speaks either one for about a month. Or by taking about 2 weeks of formal classes.

I'd go with either Arabic or Mandarin. Both are going to be very important business languages.

Quoting mhkansan (Reply 20):
I'd suggest German, as I think for you it would be relatively easy and Germany is still one of the world's largest and most advanced economies. Its not spoken widely, but Germans - probably more than any other European group - appreciate visitors who can speak German over those who flounder.

That said, essentially all German-speakers also speak English. So unless you are going to do a LOT of business with Germany, it's not as important to learn it.
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n229nw
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RE: A 4th Language

Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:27 pm

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 11):
I don't get that impression. To me Portuguese sounds like Spanish after you've gone to a bar and got trashed and are now slurring your words .

Well, the Russians are known to like their Vodka, so maybe that is the root of the conneciton I hear!   
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Luftfahrer
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RE: A 4th Language

Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:01 pm

I can speak German and English fluently, and am advanced in both French and Spanish (still learning). In fall this year I will start learning Chinese (Mandarin). I'm only 19, so it will take a while until I get out of university, considering that a BA and MA degree will take at least 5 years. My goal is to be relatively fluent by then. I'm also learning Mandarin for the fun of it, as I plan on visiting Asia (Singapore and Taiwan, maybe China) in 2013 and don't really want to go there only being able to communicate in English, or worse, body language.  

PS: I have very recently started to take a look at Singlish, if that counts as a language...   
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