General Language Thread

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Valvar, 28 October 2014.

  1. Which languages do you speak? Which languages would you like to learn and why? What do you think are the best methods? Which languages do you think are the best linguistically and/or aesthetically? Which languages would you want your children to know?

    Let's get a general discussion about languages going!
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  2. The Fool

    The Fool Second Lieutenant Sustaining Member
    1. Lumine Boreali Gentlemen's Club
    2. Neoplatonism

    I can speak German and Irish very poorly. My German is a lot better than my Irish, though; I studied both in school and could elaborate on the reason for the difference if anyone's interestsd.
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  3. Plantagenet

    Plantagenet Heroic Member

    I only speak English with any proficiency. I am currently learning Mandarin for a variety of reasons though interests in Daoism, Chan Buddhism, the guqin, qigong/taijiquan, and other spiritual topics of a Chinese provenance are the primary guiding motivations, though I'd also like to be able to read some of the great classical novels and Chinese poetry (like that of Hanshan/Cold Mountain) in Chinese.

    So far I've been using Pimsleur's and I think it is a great method. I would recommend it for anyone learning any language. Besides that I use Pleco flashcards to help me learn the characters and ingest various forms of Mandarin media, mostly historical dramas, in order to facilitate learning. My progress is coming along decently for only having been learning for 5-6 months as I am starting to pick up a decent amount and am able to understand many of the more basic sentences and phrases.

    That said, I wouldn't say Mandarin is the most aesthetically pleasing, though it can be nice if spoken properly (the aristocratic and polite Mandarin spoken by the heroine of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon sounds nice for example), and some of the non-Mandarin Chinese languages (like Cantonese) sound god awful. I like Welsh for aesthetic reasons, especially how it appears in written form for some reason. I also like German for being a powerful language, and some Slavic languages I've heard, like Polish and Russian, also sound nice. I think the Romance tongues are overrated, though my favorites would be Latin and Italian. Finnish is also an interesting language.

    If I had wonderful linguistic ability, besides my own tongue of English and Mandarin that I'm learning, I'd be interested in learning German, Sanskrit, Japanese, and Old English/Anglo-Saxon.
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  4. I speak, my mothertongue aside, English and German generally well.
    I also have a basic understanding of Latin, having sung in it for a longer period of my life.
    The first things I instinctively learn about a language are the general phonetics, cadence and melody that are unique to this language, then I'll march endlessly through the grammar, after that I'll forcefeed myself as much parallel-texts and news-articles as possible.
    The last hurdles are represented by some unfortunate and unplanned 'rite de passage' by means of natives.

    There's hardly any language I wouldn't like to be able to speak, although I have almost no affinity for any of the Romance languages . I hate the sound of Semitic languages, but I'd like to learn Arabic nonetheless.
    Languages I'd speak in a universe in which I'd have all the time of the world are: Schweizerdeutsch (Swiss German) as it sounds even prettier than Hochdeutsch (Standarddeutsch), Euskara (Basque), Afrikaans, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Russian, Arabic, Greek and Farsi (Persian).
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  5. Olavsson

    Olavsson First Lieutenant Staff Member
    1. Lumine Boreali Gentlemen's Club
    2. Neoplatonism

    The only non-Scandinavian language that I speak relatively fluently is English. However, I have promised to myself that I will learn at least French, German and Italian at the same level of mastery as my English before I die. (And this I will succeed in, unless I die very young). Russian is the European language that I would most greatly prioritize after having established a good foundation in the three aforementioned languages. However, that is not anything I have really sworn to do, unlike the first three.

    Of non-European modern languages, Japanese would probably be at the top of my to-do list, but I highly doubt I will ever work much on that. Below that, there are many other ones I'd think it was cool to be able to master, but this is mostly limited to the more important Asian languages and perhaps Arabic for the Middle East, but this is not anything I prioritize. I'm completely disinterested in African languages, native American languages, and most of the minor Asian languages, except possibly Tibetan due to the mysteries of their tradition.

    Ancient or dead languages: I would like to attain a good foundation in the ancient Indo-European languages of Greek, Latin and Sanskrit. Especially the latter one, to be able to study the vast selection of Sanskrit texts, many of which aren't translated into European languages. Even mastering Pāli would be a great key to a deeper understanding of the Buddhist tradition. The fact that my old Germanic ancestors did not really belong to a culture that produced any vast body of spiritual texts makes me place somewhat less of a priority on learning, say, Old Norse. But it would still be a great way of coming a bit closer to the spirit and mentality of my ancestors.

    I guess that's about it.
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  6. OhEidirsceoil

    OhEidirsceoil Member

    Right now I can speak German and French fairly well, after having studied both in school and after having done a high school exchange in Germany and studied for a semester in France. While in France, someone suggested that my classmates "write about art in French," something I do only occasionally. I will eventually be able to speak Spanish as well, after practicing it and listening to it. I can read some Latin as well.

    My focus for right now is Mandarin (traditional characters) because I'm living in Taiwan (for now). I'm probably interested in exploring other peoples and cultures for the same basic cognitive irregularity, whatever it is. It's a daunting challenge, but every time I learn a single character, every sign calls to me just a little more. The process of switching from a phonetic script to complicated-looking characters has gone from being irritating to being addictive. Though I don't like dealing with tones, I'll get used to it.

    I suspect that languages aren't as vital to Tradition as they are fascinating to those who tend towards traditional thought. In theory I give all the credit to the meanings behind words, yet in practice it's the form of the language that contains all the music.

    Probably the best method for learning languages is to put yourself in a position where you are invested in understanding content, preferably when you have a grasp of the overall message first. Begin speaking as soon as you can make a single grammatical sentence, and move on exponentially from there. Set specific goals ahead of time and don't be satisfied unless you meet them.
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  7. Pachakuti_Runa

    Pachakuti_Runa Junior Member

    I speak my mothertongue Spanish and English (just well).
    I would like to learn Quechua and Aymara.
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