General chatter - What Languages Do You Know?

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09-14-2011, 05:31 AM
Just curious :)

For me:

English: Native
Latin: Written fluency
Spanish: Conversational... pero ahora estoy estudiando mucho para mejorar mi habla! (żes correcto?)
Khmer (Cambodian): A few words to get around :)

09-14-2011, 06:20 AM
English: Native.
French: Used to be ok in school, could brush up and be ok.
Japanese: Used to be ok in school, would need to re-learn a lot of it.

09-14-2011, 10:13 AM
English : native
Spanish : fluent

What I would like to learn however:
Italian :)

Thighs Be Gone
09-14-2011, 10:29 AM
English is my mother tongue.

I have spoken Italian and Deutche while living abroad although the skills are quickly escaping me. I know lots of broken Spanish now.

09-14-2011, 10:57 AM
French : native
English : learned it in school, travelling and speaking a bit of it at work
Spanish : learned a bit in school but forgot a lot :(

I'd really like to learn German, as I'm planning to travel over there by 2013. :)

09-14-2011, 11:15 AM
Greek : Native
English : Fluent
Italian : Intermediate
French : Some just for fun, will take it more serious after my degree in Italian
Spanish : Oh how i wish!

09-14-2011, 11:16 AM
English: native
French: learned in school,but forgot most
Sign language: learned from some deaf friends,then took a class in college,but forgot quite a bit and some signs have changed over the years.

09-14-2011, 11:25 AM
I'm fluent in ASL - teach classes, interpret, it was my first language.
Spanish - I studied for 7 years, so I can communicate, but I'm getting rusty! I prefer to write/read than speak.

09-14-2011, 11:33 AM
My first language is English and my second language is French. French/English bilingualism is pretty standard where I live, I've only met 3 people so far who only knew one language here (with the exception of children).

09-14-2011, 12:43 PM
My answer is "not enough".

English: Native
Spanish: High School Level, if that. Took for it for years, can still only ask "Where is the tobacco store?" and I don't even smoke, so fat lotta good that'll do me.

I always wanted to learn French, German, and Japanese, though. Maybe not all at once, but still fun to pick up certain words and phrases.

09-14-2011, 01:01 PM
Spanish: High School Level, if that. Took for it for years, can still only ask "Where is the tobacco store?" and I don't even smoke, so fat lotta good that'll do me.

Hehe well all I remember from my Khmer (Cambodian), besides general direction and polite conversation, is "More rice, please."

And equally important for all Asian cultures: "Please, no, I'm full."

09-14-2011, 01:06 PM
Slovenian and Serbo-Croatian are both my mother/native languages, I also speak fluent English, German and Italian.. I would love to know Spanish or Portuguese. Or maybe Dutch, Swedish.. I like languages, I'm a quick learner but I'm lazy. If I am forced to use the language I get the hang of it pretty fast. Studying from books.. Not so much :)

09-14-2011, 01:11 PM
Hehe well all I remember from my Khmer (Cambodian), besides general direction and polite conversation, is "More rice, please."

And equally important for all Asian cultures: "Please, no, I'm full."

I took one year of Mandarin in middle school and my four year old daughter has already learned as much as I did by watching Ni-Hao, Kai-Lan (,_Kai-Lan)


Suzanne 3FC
09-14-2011, 01:24 PM
English :shrug:

Though I purchased Fluenz Italian and need to get started. Maybe we need little study groups :)

09-14-2011, 02:17 PM
I'm fluent in ASL - teach classes, interpret, it was my first language.

That's why I took it in college.I thought if I liked enough and did well,I wanted to be an interpreter.It wasn't easy,and rather then continue on,I gave up.I really wish I hadn't given up.

09-14-2011, 03:06 PM
English: native
basic Spanish
American Sign Language
some Czechoslovakian (my family's ancestry is from Czech)

09-14-2011, 03:53 PM
That's why I took it in college.I thought if I liked enough and did well,I wanted to be an interpreter.It wasn't easy,and rather then continue on,I gave up.I really wish I hadn't given up.

I'm not crazy about interpreting, but my job led me in that direction. For me, it's much easier since I think in ASL and often have to translate in my brain (like when I was a kid I would finger-spell behind my back during spelling bees).

09-14-2011, 06:33 PM
I'm native English (of the British kind) and am fluent in German. I just moved back home from a German speaking country and can feel the German slipping away, despite skyping with my German speaking boyfriend every day. Irritating!

09-14-2011, 07:03 PM
I know English, and that is it. I'm sort of ashamed about that.

I'm half Mexican (meaning, my Dad is Mexican American and my Mom was white) and I don't know Spanish. Dad wasn't able to teach me Spanish as a kid due to health reasons. In high school I took Latin. I've been able to pick up a word or two here and there, and I have a few books and such... but I cannot speak it fluently.

As a kid I used to speak fluent sign language (and not just finger spelling, actual signs) when my sister and I took a course in sign language as kids. We used to speak with the deaf community a lot. Now I remember a scant handful of signs, but last year I was able to communicate with a deaf man while at the doctor's office, so I suppose that is good.

09-14-2011, 07:15 PM
This is so interesting!

I speak English, high school Spanish (so, hardly any), and know enough conversational/slang Swahili to get by with basic things and/or yell at potential theives (they don't call it Nairobbery for nothin' ;)). I spent about 2 months in China and no matter how hard I tried, I continuously failed at every Mandarin attempt.

I'm moving to South America in February and have been told that I won't need a lot of Spanish, but will most likely have to learn an indigenous language. I'm excited becaues I'll actually get language training and will be living where I have to use the language on a day-to-day basis.

09-14-2011, 07:30 PM


My wife says I speak "double negative"....

I ain't got no idea where she gets that from ;)

09-14-2011, 08:44 PM
English (obviously), American Sign Language and a fair amount of british sign language. I used to know a lot of sign for the deaf/blind, but I've forgotten most of it.

09-14-2011, 09:32 PM
I'm curious what the difference is between ASL/BSL and "sign for the deaf/blind", as I was never aware of one. :)

The deaf/blind are not able to see the sign language that we usually use, so you adapt things that you do within their hands. Like, if you were to cup your hands on top of each other and allow someone else to put their hand inside that cup, a person could make signs within that cupped hand that the person who is cupping their hands could interpret.

09-14-2011, 09:43 PM
English, Hindi, Marathi
Marathi si my native language
understand many other Indian languages

09-14-2011, 10:56 PM
puneri I live in India! Marathi + your username = are you from pune? I'm in A.P. :)

09-15-2011, 01:42 AM
English is my native language. I took enough French in high school and university that I used to be able to converse with fluent speakers, but unfortunately I lost most of it. I can read a letter in French, though, and at least get the gist of it. Also, when I'm shopping for groceries, if I see a can and the French name is the only thing showing and there are no pictures on the can of what's inside, I can always pick it out.

I took introduction to Inuttitut (the Inuit language, or Eskimo language) for Labrador (Inuttitut has many dialects depending on where it is spoken) in school earlier this year, wish I could speak more and I may take future classes. That is the language spoken by my culture, actually, and my username is a derivative of a word that means "Owl" in Inuttitut. I can speak a few words in Innu-Aimun, spoken by First Nations peoples of Labrador, but not enough to have a conversation. I was actually at a conference today where that language was mostly spoken, and I was sorry I didn't know more. I guess I'll be purchasing a Rosetta Stone at some point in my life!

09-15-2011, 01:57 AM
Some very interesting linguists here!

Greek: first language, fairly fluent
English: native
Spanish: I can eavesdrop effectively and order dinner
German: learned it in high school, used it twice
Bahasa Indonesia: I can effectively shop and navigate through Jakarta

I would love to learn French.

09-15-2011, 02:09 AM
Native in English.
Advanced in Japanese.
Advanced comprehension of Spanish, but I haven't spoken it in five years.
Planning to learn German.

09-15-2011, 03:00 AM
Afrikaans - Native (Almost sounds like German type)
English second language ;)

09-15-2011, 03:06 AM
Highschool Spanish

09-15-2011, 03:28 AM
I'm curious what people consider "knowing" a language. Fluency? (and what is your idea of fluent?) Native-like? Being able to hold a casual conversation? The basics of a high-school class?

I agree. It's an interesting question. This is why I qualified my list of languages. Do I know Khmer? No. I can speak a few words of it.

I have been studying Spanish intensively for the last several months with a native speaker and sometimes feel like I'm at an intermediate level. Then I go online and practice with auditory "flash cards"- a Spanish speaker saying a sentence- and sometimes have NO idea what they are talking about. I am accustomed to the accent, pace, and vocabulary of my specific teacher. I may know one word for "homework" and not another.

On the flip side, I live in India and have people tell me all the time they "know" English. Can they get their point across when they speak? Yes. But the grammar and idioms are wrong ("Coming for building here only" instead of "They will build it only up to this point."). And I have to speak slowly, far more simply, and often use incorrect grammar for the individual to understand me.

It's really easy to overestimate one's linguistic ability. Can you have a back-and-forth conversation in different tenses about most topics with a native speaker in their normal pace of speaking and be able to speak in full sentences and get the grammar right 80% of the time? If not, then it probably does not qualify as "knowing" that language! :)

09-15-2011, 04:47 AM
i don't believe anyone can achieve native-like fluency,in a secondary language, except maybe when living in that country for many years.
I worked in UK for like 3-4 years, but still i m nowhere near that fluent in English.
I can hold a conversation about any subject, understand everything that being said, but the cultural differences are way too many to overcome in 4years only.
So i guess, fluency means for most, being able to communicate in a language, with ofc the less mistakes possible.

09-15-2011, 09:46 AM
I'm curious what people consider "knowing" a language. Fluency? (and what is your idea of fluent?) Native-like? Being able to hold a casual conversation? The basics of a high-school class?

I teach English as a second language - I think it is such a subjective topic. I know students who have full BA + MA degrees in English yet cannot hold a conversation with a native speaker (but they can write a thesis in English on the complexities of various tenses!). I know students who can bumble their way through life in a foreign country without having stepped in a classroom to learn it (ME!), :D

I think "knowing" a language implies you can hold a decent conversation to communicate and make your point known. I think anyone who has had to function in a foreign language can also agree that if you can talk on the telephone/order at a drive-thru properly, that's another milestone :p Face-to-face communication through gestures and symbols (with verbal language) can sometimes give people a false impression of their linguistic ability.

I believe I "know" French, I have a knowledge of the language, because I live in a French community, can communicate with my son's daycare, the grocery store, the gas station. I certainly don't consider myself fluent as my skills are not developed enough to take a non-French language subject course in French, or to continue my career (as a 911 operator, so the language standards are very high).

Language teachers tend to rank people on a 0-10 scale, 0 being completely non-functional/no exposure and 10 having enough skill to do your PhD on English language (verbal, written, etc.), even the majority of native speakers cannot reach "10" fluency.

But on a whole I do agree with you, I said I speak English/French only. I took 2 years of Japanese in high school and 1 semester of Mandarin in university but I can't claim to know it because I cannot function at a basic level.

09-15-2011, 10:30 AM
That is a good question!

"Knowing" to me is almost nothing less than being able to have a casual conversation with a stranger in their native tongue.

It's why I wrote High School Level Spanish. I can still actually read a decent amount of it, and could certainly get the gist of a story or news article. And I could get directions or ask some simple questions... or... okay eavesdrop on the lady who cleaned at work when she had conversations with other women at the office, and feel proud that I picked up that she was talking about her kids or her family or something.

Not to... actually eavesdrop mind you. I didn't really care to hear what was going on with her family. I just liked being able to pick up words and phrases. And then get excited about remembering something.

But reading bits and pieces, picking up the gist of a conversation is not "knowing" to me in my mind. I still have a harder time with hearing/saying than I do with writing/reading.

09-15-2011, 10:57 AM
Hebrew (fluent), English (native), and some French.

09-15-2011, 11:28 AM
Seconded, although I don't teach. I had 2 years of German in high school, and the semester of Spanish in 8th grade that I mentioned. That's about as good as I get. :-/

Are you a CODA?

09-15-2011, 12:02 PM
English: Native
French: Two years in high school; I think I slept through most of these years.
Spanish: One semester in college; Remember so much more than French.
Urdu: Picked up a bit here and there over the past couple of years; I could get by for a day or two if I woke up and found myself in Pakistan. ;)

09-15-2011, 06:39 PM
English: native
German: Studied in high school and college; used to be able to have (simple) conversations, but I've lost almost all of it. I keep telling myself I should brush up on it.

I'd like...well, I'd like to learn every language, but I don't think that's going to happen. ;) I would especially like to be able to speak reasonably fluent Spanish, since I think that could be very helpful to my career.

09-15-2011, 09:29 PM
Native language: English
Have a B.A. in Spanish (yet I don't consider myself fluent, only conversant)
Serbo/Croatian - conversant with lots of gramatical errors when speaking, but I understand almost everything. My husband is from Croatia and he and my mother in law speak Croatian in the home (my older son is fluent - younger son understands it but doesn't speak it).

09-15-2011, 10:48 PM
I'm conversant in German, as I took four semesters of it in college. Other than that, just my native language, English

09-15-2011, 11:16 PM
Native language is English. I took three semesters of Mandarin because my college didn't offer Japanese and I barely remember anything except for a few simple sentences and vocab words. I want to learn Japanese but I don't really like language programs like Rosetta Stone, I prefer traditional classes.

French, on the other hand, I've been studying since I was 11 or 12. I am passionately in LOVE with French, but I need an advanced language partner or 1 on 1 course to get past where I am now :/ I call myself proficient because I can hold conversation ok and read and write well, but I definitely comprehend the language much better than synthesize it >_<

I went to Montreal for a few days this April and was in heaven listening to people and reading signs :) If I could I would run away to France, but it's not a practical option for me.

09-16-2011, 11:57 AM
I grew up in the US so English is my first languange, but I lived in a household with my parents, my granaprents and an uncle who all spoke Portuguese daily. So I grew up speaking Portuguese, but I don't necassarilly consider myself fluent because I don't practice it everyday now.

I'm also conversant in Spanish and know bits of Italian and German.

09-18-2011, 11:55 AM
I'm equally fluent in both English and Spanish, as my parents are of the former and I grew up in Spain, attending the local school since nursery :)

I'm also conversant in Catalan (one of the secondary languages in Spain) and French (6 years of it at school and a lot of family trips there).

09-20-2011, 12:00 PM

I figured - same here. :)