What languages can you speak, write, or read?

I only know English, though I did take a little French in junior high school, and some Spanish in high school. I can make some basic sentences in Spanish, understand some phrases, and can usually understand or guess the meaning of simple billboards or advertisements in Spanish. I consider myself moderately proficient at French pronunciation. For example, I can often pronounce wine names, types, or labels correctly.

Second question: Why do you have an interest in language?

I think I like language for the sound of it. Most of my language skills are in my ears. I know when something sounds right, even if I don’t know why. My biggest challenges with English are remembering certain rules of punctuation, and remembering the names and functions of the parts of speech. I suck at diagramming sentences. However, I know when something sounds confusing or poorly worded.

I love to listen to poems or audiobooks, too, especially if they are well read, and performed by a British person. I also memorize and recite poems all the time, and I think it must be for the pleasure of hearing them inside my own head once again.

I also appreciate language for its emotive qualities. I can read a sonnet by Shakespeare and be moved to tears, and I think how incredible it is that a man can write a short verse, and some 400 years later it can affect me—or anyone for that fact—to the point of tears. That is the magic of language.

Tags: bilingual, language, reading, speech, trilingual, words, writing

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Replies to This Discussion

I also switch to mental Spanish for counting.

Interesting you should say that. It seems to me that I read somewhere that people can only do math in their native tongue. During WW2, French resistance fighters in Paris would make new recruits solve math problems out loud in French to make sure that the person was not an undercover German spy. Or at least that is how the story goes. I can't swear certitude on that.
Shibboleth and lollapalooza were words for spy recognition. Shibboleth was used by the Hebrews in ancient times, while Lollapalooza was used by American servicemen against the Japanese in WW2. There is a funny comic online somewhere which demonstrates usage of the word for prisoner interrogation. The original comic is from an American serviceman's manual from that era.
Wow. I knew about shibboleth, but I never heard that about lollapalooza.
I suck at doing arithmetical operations in every language, but often I do it in Portuguese and sometimes in Italian. I was born in Brazil but I went to Italy when I was 2, and came back when I was 15. But I only got interested in math when I was 19 so probably that's the reason why I "can" do it in both languages.
Fortunately math is more interesting than that.
I also switch to mental Spanish for counting

It seems everyone switch to their first language for counting. I've been told this many times.
French is my mother tongue.

I'm from, and still live in that little bit of Catalonia that belongs to France, but teaching local dialects to children was discouraged when I was a kid, and only elders used to speak it. Now the Catalan language is on a revival, but I don't know enough of it to even ask for directions when I'm lost. Ditto with Spanish.

I started to learn German and Latin at 11, for 4 years, but, due to a complete lack of practice, I've almost forgotten what I knew of both. Except for a few opera and lieder parts I've memorized.

I started to take English courses at 13, but I wasn't really interested in languages then, and I was rather bad at it. It wasn't until my early 20s that I started to read English litterature, first for job reasons (technical litterature it was - I've been a software programmer for 15 years), then by taste (Shakespeare, to name only one, looks so much better untranslated). I believe that today I can read and write English pretty well for a non-native (at least that's what I've been said, although it may just have been courtesy), but speaking and even listening to it is still a problem.

As I grow older, I regret to have been so lazy with learning languages. I wish I could at least understand Italian (operas!) and Portuguese (I'm a fado, bossa-nova, and MPB addict), the two sexiest European languages in my opinion - to the ear, that is. I'm also a fan of West-African traditional music, especially Malian music, so I wish I could also understand Bambara (so sweet!). And I wish I could at least read Russian, German, Spanish and Arab authors in the original.

I also wish I could read English better. It's not always easy for me to grab all the subtleties of Keats, Shelley, Whitman, or even novelists. Although it varies a lot, depending on the author's style. Eg, I believe I miss less in Hemingway than in Faulkner.

By the way, it seems to me that English evolved less than French over the times: I've found unmodernized versions of Chaucer or Malory easier to read than, say, Chrétien de Troyes.
Thanks for sharing, Jaume. A few corrections though:

literature, not litterature

at least that's what I've been told not at least that's what I've been said

on the author's style, e.g., I believe I miss not on the author's style. Eg, I believe I miss

than French over time; I've found not than French over the times: I've found

I think your English is pretty damn good, to be honest. Like you, I would like to learn more languages, especially Japanese.
literature, not litterature

at least that's what I've been told not at least that's what I've been said


Aye, blame my French for polluting my English. Those I knew, but they still resurface from time to time.
What languages can you speak, write, or read?

I'm only fluent in English. In middle-school and high-school I took Spanish and German. Independently I learned to read/write a little Irish Gaelic, but found that without a native speaker around I kept shifting everything into half English half Spanish pronunciations.

I can read things like PSAs on the bus in Spanish. When I hear people speaking Spanish I understand a word here and there. I also hear a lot of words that sound familiar but the meaning is lost. I'm much worse with German. I only had a quarter of it. I know a handful of words and phrases, most of which I picked up from listening to industrial music.

I can count from one to ten in Spanish, German, and Japanese. Counting(1-10) is the easiest thing for me to learn and retain. I wonder if this has anything to do with my mother teaching me one to ten in Spanish while I was learning to count in English. Are numbers easy for most people?

I'd like to learn more Japanese, they have the best television.

Why do you have an interest in language?

I'm in love with story telling. I've felt this way most of my life. I tend to view words in the same way an artist views paint. With words you can transfer an image, idea, or emotion. You can take your readers to an alien landscape, or show them the darkness that resides at home. To learn or borrow new words is to improve the medium. This grants the author the ability to improve precision, and create new modes of expression.
With words you can transfer an image, idea, or emotion. You can take your readers to an alien landscape, or show them the darkness that resides at home. To learn or borrow new words is to improve the medium.

What a beautiful and accurate way of saying it.
I'm much worse with German. I only had a quarter of it. I know a handful of words and phrases, most of which I picked up from listening to industrial music.

To me, this means that you know why "Ohne Kleider ohne Schuh/
Siehst du mir bei der Arbeit zu/
Mit den Füßen im Zement/
Verschönerst du das Fundament/
Draußen wird ein Garten sein/
Und niemand hört dich schreien" is kinda fucked up.
English on all three. I know some spanish from my classes in high school, and I know it better than the incompetent teacher I had for the last spanish class I had. I had a french class in middle school that I was forced into. I tried to learn some German a year or so ago. I've read a load of little tidbits about odd things found in various languages including Japanese, Russian, and Chinese. In addition to my experiences with real languages, I speak a fairly damned impressive amount of Al Bhed--yes, the language from Final Fantasy X.

Yht, du bnuja ed, E cyo drec eh dryd jano myhkiyka. Depending on how I feel, it comes across sounding a little like Russian, Japanese, Italian, German, or a Native American language.

Overall, I speak English, burst into Spanish sometimes 'cause it's the only language in which I can say what I want to say in such a way that by the very fact of my saying what I say (using Spanish words) I convey how very out-of-it I am, and ponder the mechanics of thought through the lens of the requirements or lack thereof between different languages.

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