Calling all knowers-of-languages

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Since I’m buried under mountains of linguistics revision at the moment, in the place of a proper piece I’d like to ask anyone who sees this post a question: what languages do you speak, and what is unique about them?

If, like me, you only speak English, then by all means tell me what you love or hate about it. But studying linguistics and making friends of different nationalities at university has made me really interested in foreign languages – I want to know what makes other languages weird and cool, or what makes English weird and cool relative to other languages. Leave a comment, and let me know!

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9 thoughts on “Calling all knowers-of-languages

  1. Adam

    Whilst nowhere near fluent in anything but English, I have taught myself light conversational skills various languages as well as a high school education in French and Mandarin Chinese.

    The order of familiarity is as follows:
    French
    German
    Black Speech of Mordor
    Mandarin
    Esperanto

    • Wow! I don’t know which of those is cooler, although I do think the whole concept of constructed languages like Esperanto (and the Black Speech, I guess) is really interesting. Is there anything you particularly like/dislike about any of those languages?

      • Adam

        Gah, it seems my phone only posted half my reply.

        French – I love the way it sounds. It’s the “language of love”, amongst other things. I dislike the fact all nouns are gendered and the changes made to words based upon tense, plurals etc.

        German – Where do I begin with German? It’s a fun sounding language. All nouns are capitalised, which is odd. I don’t consider pronouns like myself to be in the same category as newspapers or ducks. But I do like the way they combine words to fit a purpose.

        Black Speech – Sounds great. Sounds just bloody brilliant. When I first started picking it up there were only a handful of words, but some cunning linguist was hired for the recent Hobbit films to expand the language. It’s difficult to explain what it is I like about it. Possibly the lack of words leading me to be more creative. The addition of new words might dampen my interest, though. Who knows.

        Mandarin – The only language I’ve looked at without a Germanic or Latin influence. It’s bizarre. It’s a lot simpler in places than English, with only one or two additional words per sentence to show tenses in some cases. Being a tonal language it is fun to speak. Writing was always good fun. Our teacher once let us use brushes and ink. Other than being a pain in the ass to get into, it’s pretty good. I wish I could remember more than the few phrases that have stuck in my head. I should look into it again.

        Esperanto – Saluton, mia nomo estas Adamo, mi parolas Esperanton! Constructed languages are fun. Esperanto is notoriously easy to pick up. I need to learn some more before I can really pass judgement on it, but so far I’m enjoying it.

        Whilst I only speak a little of each language, I try to learn as much as I can before I get bored and move on.

  2. Hey 🙂 I was brought up with English as my main language, but also spoke German from very early on also. From toddler-age I was adding in some French. From age 6 I was using some Thai phrases when at my uncle’s restaurant to communicate with staff. By age 8 my German was good enough to only require parts of my skiing lessons in Austria to be translated (and to order my lunch in German). Once I was in secondary school, I began formal instruction in French (y7) and German (y8). I briefly studied some Latin in y10 or 11. At age 16 (first year of 6th form college) I began to learn British Sign Language. Over the years I have also learnt a smattering of Arabic, KiSwahili, Nepalese, Spanish (Cuban), Norweigan and Dutch due to a habit of globetrotting. I now have IB German/French qualifications, and coming to the end of a degree in English Language & Linguistics, am part way through my Level 3 BSL qualification, and am still expanding my Thai vocabulary.
    I love all my languages, they each have their perks and their sticking points, but are all highly interesting!

    • Nice. That’s such an eclectic mix of languages. I also didn’t realise that we did nearly the same degree – I’m studying English Language and Literature technically, but there’s been quite a lot of linguistics.

  3. Dramine

    I speak English fluently, of course, since it is my first language, but I also, if I brushed up on it a bit, can speak Spanish fluently. I am currently studying Ancient Greek as well. I know a smattering of a bunch of different languages, but nothing that would truly allow me to communicate.

    What I hate about English is the fact that there are so many words, yet for so many different things, there still isn’t a word, and it isn’t as beautiful to convey an idea when you have to do it in such a roundabout way. I read a list of several words a while back which took an entire sentence to explain in English what was conveyed in one word in another language. This is why I want to learn so many different languages. They are my passion and so very beautiful.

    Spanish is a language which I both love and hate. I am enthralled with the way that it sounds, and yet, I hate that it is so similar to English. Perhaps it was merely the way that I was taught it, but other than word order in some places and differences in the ways some verbs are used, it translates nearly directly to English. However, I do love the fact that with Spanish and other Romance languages you can leave the subject to be assumed since the verbs implies it already.

    I plan, in the future, when I have more time, on learning more languages from around the world. Russian, Japanese, and Arabic all hold my interest, as do many of the European languages. I want to learn French, Italian, Swiss, German, Russian, Japanese, Arabic, Egyptian, Turkish, Mandarin Chinese, Gaelic, Hindi, Latin, and any other language which catches my attention. I believe that once you have a method for learning languages, they become much easier to acquire, and what is truly difficult about learning a language isn’t so much learning the structure and vocabulary, but learning the word associations (as the English associations with childlike compared to childish).

    As for languages which aren’t spoken as daily, normal speech, I want to learn Klingon and Tolkien’s languages (Quenya, Sindarin, Goldogrin, Khuzdul), as well as any other fictional ones that I can get my hands on (for example, I would love to learn the Ancient Language from Paolini’s Eragon series).

    Among my many language goals, I would like to design my own at some point, perhaps incorporating it into a book or book series that I write.

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