The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

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The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » May 19, 2017 7:16 pm

Are you learning a new language or did you grow up speaking more than one? Are you interested in linguistics or etymology? What are your favorite tools or resources for learning? This thread is for all things related to languages!

I'm currently learning Modern Greek. I became interested in learning Greek a few years ago when I started exploring the Greek concordances on Biblehub.com and lost many hours of my life in the process. ;)) Last year, I saw that the free language-learning site Duolingo offered a course in Modern Greek and I jumped at the chance to get my feet wet. My dream is to learn to read Ancient Greek, but the core of the language has largely remained the same over the millennia and even now I'm sometimes able to read simple verses in the New Testament. So cool!

I've found that I really enjoy learning a new alphabet... watching a stream of mysterious symbols slowly transform into sounds with meaning is an awesome experience. Beyond learning Greek, I'd love to study Russian, Korean and Mandarin Chinese. I gave Russian a try earlier this year, but my brain didn't take to learning two languages at once very well. ;)) I've heard that it's better to go with two completely dissimilar languages if you are wanting to learn more than one at a time, so I'm hoping to start on Korean at some point this year. :)
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby hmj97 » May 19, 2017 8:47 pm

Ahh I love that you made this a thread! May I ask where the title came from? My mom went to the local Irish store and got me a pack of Irish tea with an Irish tea mug for Christmas. The little package of Irish tea bags has 'Gift of the Gab' written in bold green font. I always thought it was an Irish thing! (Still working up the courage to go back in there and speak to the 2 workers there [they're a mother-daughter team from Ireland] in Irish!)
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » May 19, 2017 9:06 pm

hmj97 wrote:Ahh I love that you made this a thread! May I ask where the title came from? My mom went to the local Irish store and got me a pack of Irish tea with an Irish tea mug for Christmas. The little package of Irish tea bags has 'Gift of the Gab' written in bold green font. I always thought it was an Irish thing! (Still working up the courage to go back in there and speak to the 2 workers there [they're a mother-daughter team from Ireland] in Irish!)


I thought of the idea for the title when looking up idioms related to talking and languages, but I have known about the phrase itself for years and years... I can't remember where I first encountered it! There's a good chance I picked it up from my mom... she's always tossing out some idiom or turn-of-phrase that I've never heard of before. I always wonder how she keeps busting out new ones after I've known her for two+ decades. ;)) From what I can tell online, it's a British, American and Australian saying. The word gab dates back to the late 1700s and is related to the word "gabble"—so neat. :D

I would love be able to speak to someone in their native tongue! The other day I was taking out the trash and I was pretty sure I heard a family that lives in my apartment complex speaking in Korean. Really cool, but I don't know enough of the language yet to say for sure, nor to try to speak with them even if I could pluck up the nerve. ;))
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Lady Arwen » May 19, 2017 10:53 pm

I grew up with a good dabble of languages, myself. My mom was an ASL interpreter, so I had a decent chunk of that, and while I grew up in an English/Spanish speaking community (ok, that's oversimplifying, but those were the predominant ones), my mom was quite intent that I take French and not Spanish in school. I ended up doing both for a while, which resulted in having a basic proficiency in French and basic eavesdropping proficiency in Spanish. I'm currently working on getting my ASL back up to par, and working on reading and writing Chinese. A lot of my coworkers and friends are multilingual, but few of us seem to have much overlap besides English, which is fine. It makes travel so much easier. ;))

I'm also a huge fan of Duolingo, although I've also used Rosetta Stone, and it's pretty good too. If you use Duolingo, I highly recommend getting the Tinycards app, and following Duolingo on there. The flashcards are great for filling loose minutes. I tend to use it most on public transportation. Chineasy, which is what I do my Chinese work through, also has decks on Tinycard.

I also really enjoy listening to music, which I've heard is a language learning tool, but for me it's just fun. Whenever I go on trips with my dad, he likes to try to guess the language by the intro music. :P

I do believe I have begun rambling, so I suppose I shall call it mortereve. Can't wait to hear from you all!
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Ryadian » May 20, 2017 8:24 am

The Rose-Tree Dryad wrote:I'm currently learning Modern Greek. ... I've found that I really enjoy learning a new alphabet... watching a stream of mysterious symbols slowly transform into sounds with meaning is an awesome experience. Beyond learning Greek, I'd love to study Russian, Korean and Mandarin Chinese. I gave Russian a try earlier this year, but my brain didn't take to learning two languages at once very well. ;)) I've heard that it's better to go with two completely dissimilar languages if you are wanting to learn more than one at a time, so I'm hoping to start on Korean at some point this year. :)


I... wow. I am impressed. :-o And hmj97, I noticed in the Getting To Know You thread that you know a wide variety of languages, too! When did you two start learning them?

Despite being a linguistics major, the only language that I can speak at all other than English is Spanish. ;)) I started taking Spanish in high school because I had to pick a language, but I quickly discovered that I actually really enjoyed it. Now that I'm older, my main regret is not learning another language before I was 15, since 14 and younger would've been the ideal time. :( I've never fully mastered Spanish (despite having a minor in it ;)) ) - I can read it pretty well, but I have a problem parsing the words correctly when I hear it. ;)) My Spanish-speaking co-workers from my first job assured me that my Spanish was pretty good, but I'm still not sure whether or not they were just being polite.

My dad had a computer program called Greek Tutor, so I did learn a small smattering of Greek that I can no longer reproduce, since this was nearly 20 years ago. ;)) I also took a semester each of German and Portuguese in college, though I kept confusing them with Spanish and I can't remember much of either of them. I can also sometimes read Italian, French, and other Romantic languages just because of how similar they are to Spanish. Hearing them is another matter entirely. :P


The Rose-Tree Dryad wrote:I would love be able to speak to someone in their native tongue!


I've done this a couple of times - once or twice on a couple of mission's trips (once to Mexico, once to Los Angeles), and I was terrified both times. ;)) One of those times, I spoke to the man in Spanish and he spoke to me in English, so we both got to practice our language skills and speak in a language the other understood. ;)) When I worked at a restaurant, I also had the opportunity to take orders from some people in Spanish, which was also terrifying but kind of fun. They were very understanding and seemed to be more impressed that I could speak Spanish than they were annoyed by any hiccups. ;))
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby hmj97 » May 20, 2017 1:01 pm

I... wow. I am impressed. :-o And hmj97, I noticed in the Getting To Know You thread that you know a wide variety of languages, too! When did you two start learning them?


I'm 20 now, but I started learning languages when I was 18 (about 5 months after I graduated high school). It's so funny how it came about, too. I was taking that first year off from college to figure out what I wanted. So I wasn't going to school, but I had just gotten a part-time job a couple weeks prior. I was just bored with life, you know? I was working a small part-time job and doing nothing else, so I was bored. One morning (that fateful morning :)) ) I was laying in bed and checking out different language translation apps on my iPod. After an hour or so of playing around with that, I was thinking, "You know, why not just learn the language myself? It'd fill up my time and I'd be less bored, too!"

I'd been following this Russian photographer on social media for a couple years, so I suppose, naturally, I started with learning Russian (it wasn't until a few months later that I found out I was part Russian). A few weeks later, I started learning Swedish (purely because I've always known about my Swedish heritage and what better way to connect to your heritage than learn the native language?). A month or so after that, I added French. At first, I gave up after seeing just one single word where the spelling didn't match the pronunciation. :)) A couple weeks after that, I came back to French, telling myself that I was up for the challenge (I have a love/hate relationship with French :)) ).

A couple months after adding on French, I added Arabic. That was definitely an interesting one! My dad, who was in the military, spent some time deployed across the Middle East. He has a couple really interesting stories from when he was in Saudi Arabia, too. I think that's what was originally rooted in my desire to learn Arabic (and I had the hardest time whether to choose a specific dialect or go for MSA [Modern Standard Arabic], but I chose MSA). I heard Skandar Keynes had been learning Arabic, which piqued another bit of interest for me. And then there's that whole 'forbidden fruit' aspect. How weird (more like suspicious), in today's world, does it sound for a white American who has no Middle Eastern ancestry to be learning Arabic? I don't know, I guess I just find it fun to learn a 'suspicious' language (even though I'm so embarrassingly far behind on it). It's like wanting to learn a 'banned' language just because it's banned. Oh my gosh, these last few sentences sound so weird. :))

So it was just those 4 languages until last July/August (2016), and that's when I added Irish. The driving force behind why I wanted to learn Irish was because I'm a huge fan of Celtic Woman (the female Irish singing ensemble). I found out about them sometime in (I think) 2010 and I'd been a massive fan ever since. It's fascinating that here in the US, there's an overwhelming amount of Americans who are of Irish descent (Irish Americans come in second [in terms of population] after German Americans), yet the vast majority of them don't care to learn the Irish language. Even in Ireland, the Irish language isn't spoken by native speakers as much as English is, so it's really special that Celtic Woman are able to bring awareness to the Irish language by doing some of their songs in Irish. Even without knowing about Celtic Woman, I'm sure I would've started learning Irish at some point anyway, since I kinda have a thing for endangered or lesser-known languages. :D Funny thing with Irish for me is the pronunciation compared to the word's spelling is even worse than it is in French, but for whatever reason, I can tolerate Irish. With French, the spelling vs. pronunciation bothers me, but with Irish, I can put up with it. :))

A couple months after that, I started learning Mandarin Chinese. Mostly due to the fact that a Chinese character was introduced on one of my favorite TV shows (that's literally all it takes to get me to learn another language :)) ), but also because there was a Chinese girl at my work. I'd also started learning the basics of Korean a few months prior, but gave that up because I thought that adding Korean to my list of languages I was learning would just make for too many languages at once. But then I went and added Chinese, soooo... :))

Then I started learning Hungarian not long after starting Chinese. I'd had this song by Hungarian singer Janicsák Veca on my iPod for about 4 years, and I never knew anything of what the song said. I didn't know the English translation nor did I know the words sung in Hungarian, but I wanted to know, so I looked up the lyrics for the song one day and added them to my iPod, not knowing I'd eventually feel the biggest urge to learn Hungarian because of it. :)) Oops.

And now I often have to restrain myself from learning Japanese, German, Hindi, Telugu, Gujarati, Greenlandic... The list goes on (though I especially want to learn Hindi and Telugu sometime). :)) I need to exercise better self-control with languages. :))

It's cool though, I never thought I'd be learning 7 languages at once, originally borne out of boredom. I've always been into history, culture and travel, so languages just goes with it all. I'm disappointed that I didn't start learning languages much earlier than I did (especially considering the exposure I already had to other languages), but better late than never, right? If I ever give up on acting, working for the UN is a solid backup plan! :D
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » May 24, 2017 10:13 am

Lady Arwen wrote:I'm also a huge fan of Duolingo, although I've also used Rosetta Stone, and it's pretty good too. If you use Duolingo, I highly recommend getting the Tinycards app, and following Duolingo on there. The flashcards are great for filling loose minutes. I tend to use it most on public transportation. Chineasy, which is what I do my Chinese work through, also has decks on Tinycard.


Ooh, I will definitely check out that app! It sounds great. :D Should've paid more attention to Duolingo's plugs about it. ;))

Ryadian wrote:I... wow. I am impressed. :-o And hmj97, I noticed in the Getting To Know You thread that you know a wide variety of languages, too! When did you two start learning them?


Thank you! (Although at this point I'm a lot of linguistic ambition and not a whole lot of actual skill. ;)))

I believe I started studying Greek concordances back in 2013, and I started on the Modern Greek course on Duolingo last August or September... that's when I first noticed that Duolingo offered a course on it. I created an account on there in 2015 and I devoured a bunch of French quizzes at the time, and dabbled in German and Dutch as well, but my reasons for learning those languages were too abstract or tenuous to ultimately hold my interest. "Maybe I'll visit Paris one day / maybe I'd be interested in reading untranslated French and German literature / I should see how much Dutch I remember from when I randomly included a Dutch character in a story I wrote a decade ago."

Because I've had an enduring interest in Greek because of Bible study and Greek philosophy, though, it's been easy to stick with learning that. Writing in another alphabet also keeps my brain happy and engaged, for some reason. ;)) I'm also fairly confident Korean will be able to hold my interest because a) occasionally I'll watch Korean drama and I'd like to turn that into "edutainment" if possible :P, and b) the more I read about the situation in North Korea makes me feel like I want to do something to help those people... I have no idea what that would be at this point, but learning the language can't hurt. Mandarin Chinese, on the other hand, fascinates me because it's a tonal language and it's so utterly different from English... it really challenges my brain in a new way. And it's spoken by over a billion people! I just feel like that's too many people to not be able to communicate with. :P

And I think I know how you feel about learning Arabic, hmj97... I feel a little bit the same way about learning Russian. There's a tendency for people to associate Russia with hacking and Cold War era spies, but I usually think of things like our awesome Russian mod wild rose, Russian Orthodoxy, Fabergé eggs, Tchaikovsky, Russian novelists, and 1997's Anastasia, which I saw when I was but a sapling. The actual reason that I'm driven to learn Russian is a lot nerdier than any of those things, though. :P There's a rather obscure theory of personality type called Socionics that was developed in the Soviet Union in the 70s and 80s and I'd like to be able to read untranslated materials about it because I find it really interesting. :-B ;))

Ryadian wrote:I've done this a couple of times - once or twice on a couple of mission's trips (once to Mexico, once to Los Angeles), and I was terrified both times. ;)) One of those times, I spoke to the man in Spanish and he spoke to me in English, so we both got to practice our language skills and speak in a language the other understood. ;)) When I worked at a restaurant, I also had the opportunity to take orders from some people in Spanish, which was also terrifying but kind of fun. They were very understanding and seemed to be more impressed that I could speak Spanish than they were annoyed by any hiccups. ;))


That is so cool!! :D (Even if each experience was a little terrifying. ;))) Despite not being 100% fluent in Spanish, it sounds like you still have an excellent grasp of the language. And it's so widely spoken! You could travel through Central America and down the western coast of South America and get along much better than the vast majority of people touring those areas. One of the reasons why I like the idea of picking up extra languages is it could make traveling more immersive and it would open up possibilities to teach English in another country... I don't know if I'd ever actually do that, but I love having it as an option. (And then there's always the option of teaching English online, too!)

hmj7 wrote:I'm disappointed that I didn't start learning languages much earlier than I did (especially considering the exposure I already had to other languages), but better late than never, right? If I ever give up on acting, working for the UN is a solid backup plan! :D


And then there's also the possibility of acting in foreign film industries! I don't know much about what working in them is like, but it sounds like it could be pretty cool.
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby hmj97 » May 24, 2017 6:45 pm

And I think I know how you feel about learning Arabic, hmj97... I feel a little bit the same way about learning Russian. There's a tendency for people to associate Russia with hacking and Cold War era spies, but I usually think of things like our awesome Russian mod wild rose, Russian Orthodoxy, Fabergé eggs, Tchaikovsky, Russian novelists, and 1997's Anastasia, which I saw when I was but a sapling. The actual reason that I'm driven to learn Russian is a lot nerdier than any of those things, though. :P There's a rather obscure theory of personality type called Socionics that was developed in the Soviet Union in the 70s and 80s and I'd like to be able to read untranslated materials about it because I find it really interesting. :-B ;))


Yeah! I was talking about it with my dad sometime last year and he compared it to learning Russian back before the Soviet Union disbanded. I think he said he knew someone in the early 90s who'd taken a college course in the Russian language, and back then, it probably did seem really suspicious for an American (with no family in Russia or any Russian ties in general) to be either learning about the history/culture of Russia, or learning the Russian language. Even with everything that's been going on lately with Russia and the U.S., some of the kids at work jokingly call me a Russian spy... 8-| I can't say I'm one of those but I do think it'd be super cool to play a spy in a movie! Speaking of...

And then there's also the possibility of acting in foreign film industries! I don't know much about what working in them is like, but it sounds like it could be pretty cool.


That'd be so neat but so intimidating because I'd likely need to be fluent. And fluency takes a painfully long time to achieve! Funny I should mention that, because when I first started learning languages, the end goal was fluency, without a doubt. Now I'm a lot more relaxed on it. Fluency would be nice (and it's still somewhat of a goal), but I've learned to just have fun with it all. My life's picked up quite a bit since then, so I don't have all the free time I used to (not that I mind). Really, that whole idea of doing a few films in a foreign country is so exciting! I toyed around with the idea a couple Christmases ago about studying abroad in France and doing some film and theatre work there completely (or almost completely) in the French language. Of course, when I brought up the idea of studying abroad to my parents, they wouldn't have it - and understandably so, with how unsafe many countries are right now. Georgie Henley did a Q&A video a few months ago for her upcoming short film, 'Tide' (posted on Vimeo), where she said she's currently working on writing another short. Maybe she can write part of the dialogue in French and do an online casting call accepting submissions from both US and UK actors? And then cast me? Oh, the dream... :)) Really though, it'd be so neat to eventually have a few foreign films under my belt. I have this whole, elaborate idea for a feature film set in the Swedish countryside (and that whole idea came just from watching the Swedish trailer for 'Brave' :)) ), and then another idea for a period drama set during one of the British Invasions of Ireland (based on the song 'Galway Bay'). And then another that's similar to the love story in 'Dances with Wolves'. So many ideas, so little time (especially because I want to star in each of them and I can't stay 20 for the next 30 years if I want to write, produce, direct and star in them! :)) ) and, especially, so little money. :((
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Arwenel » May 24, 2017 11:52 pm

Interesting that this thread should start up just when i start working on Spanish again ... I'm also using Duolingo for that.

I don't even want to think about how many times i've picked up Spanish and then dropped it again over my life. I'm still nowhere near fluent or even conversational.

I am capable of having a conversation in ASL. I've had a few opportunities to practice with deaf people, which certainly helped. There was a short period of time where i actually interpreted for a deaf lady during church services -- just during the songs, though, which was exhausting enough.

Other languages i've attempted to learn and then dropped like a hot potato are Esperanto and German. At some point i'd like to actually learn those, and French.
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Lady Arwen » May 25, 2017 11:31 pm

Rosie wrote: Mandarin Chinese, on the other hand, fascinates me because it's a tonal language and it's so utterly different from English... it really challenges my brain in a new way. And it's spoken by over a billion people! I just feel like that's too many people to not be able to communicate with.


Chinese is *fascinating*, just on the written side. Plus, despite being tonal, there is so much regional variation that some argue it should be classified as several different languages in the same family.

hmj wrote:when I first started learning languages, the end goal was fluency, without a doubt. Now I'm a lot more relaxed on it. Fluency would be nice (and it's still somewhat of a goal), but I've learned to just have fun with it all.


I think that's the best way to look at it, especially when one considers how many levels of fluency there are. I'm just happy getting around without much of an issue, although I do find code switching to be an interesting thing to navigate. It's both helpful and annoying--helpful because no one minds when you suddenly switch because you've forgotten how to say something, annoying because every now and then someone switches on you while you are still thinking in the first language, and you feel a bit silly when you don't catch on right away.

I toyed around with the idea a couple Christmases ago about studying abroad in France and doing some film and theatre work there completely (or almost completely) in the French language. Of course, when I brought up the idea of studying abroad to my parents, they wouldn't have it - and understandably so, with how unsafe many countries are right now.


I would definitely encourage you to do at least a semester. Perhaps in Ireland or outside of the capital in UK, which can sometimes be considered "safer" by parents. Once you're in Europe, it's quite easy to travel around, and cheap if you know how to. Plus, a good grasp of either French or German on top of English makes it pretty simple to get around. Anyway, not to make a shameless plug or anything, but the lads in Ireland are quite easy to get on with.

Arwenel wrote:I am capable of having a conversation in ASL. I've had a few opportunities to practice with deaf people, which certainly helped. There was a short period of time where i actually interpreted for a deaf lady during church services


Yeah, interpreting--or even teaching and signing--takes a lot of energy. I still think ASL is one of the best languages for people to take as a second language, especially if they're not particularly interested in traveling. Some of my students are planning on doing that next year, so maybe I'll be able to get a little bit of practice in with them. Good luck with keeping up with your Spanish this time around!

Anyway, I'm pretty much toast right now, so I think I'm going to stop for
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Gymfan15 » May 26, 2017 2:12 am

I never thought I'd ever have anything to do with a thread like this, but here I am...

I've been living in Taiwan for the past few years and in that time I've casually studied Chinese (although most of my language learning has come from immersion instead of classes or books). Last week I took the official Taiwan Chinese proficiency test for reading and listening and I passed Level 1! So I'm officially somewhat bilingual in Chinese. ;) I can't handwrite at all (I can type a bit) and my speaking is so-so but my comprehension is fairly decent.

For those of you who know the difference, I only know traditional characters and I don't speak any Taiwanese at all. ;))

I never thought Chinese would be a language I'd learn but living in Asia makes it awfully convenient. ;) I think most people get freaked out by the tones and characters but honestly once you get past that it's really not a difficult language...the grammar structure is not complicated and you don't need a HUGE vocabulary base in order to communicate.

I'm moving back to the States this fall but I'm toying with the idea of coming back in the spring to do language school full-time for six months or so. Now that I've gotten a basic level of Chinese I think I'd like to improve it so I can use it outside of Taiwan.
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Varnafinde » May 26, 2017 9:08 am

My mother tongue is Norwegian.

In Norway, school kids start learning English as a second language at a fairly early age. When I was a child, we started learning it at the age of 11 (which would be in 1966 ;) ), but these days I think they start at the age of 7 or 8.

Then it's common to start learning a third language around the age of 13 or 14. German is a common choice, as it's perhaps even more closely related to Norwegian than English is - but French or Spanish are common, too, because they are probably even more widely spoken than German.

Movies for children are usually dubbed to Norwegian, but imported movies for adults have Norwegian subtitles instead - and most of those movies are English, either British or American. So we get exposed to English a lot ... :)

hmj97 wrote:A few weeks later, I started learning Swedish (purely because I've always known about my Swedish heritage and what better way to connect to your heritage than learn the native language?).


That's very interesting! Swedish is very close to Norwegian (and so is Danish). In Norwegian text books with literature samples, a few samples of Swedish and Danish stories or poems are usually thrown in - and usually a small word list at the end, with the less common words translated into Norwegian, is all we need to understand it.

Have you done much reading in Swedish? And have you tried reading any Norwegian? You might understand it! :D

Some linguists say that Swedish, Norwegian and Danish aren't really separate languages. If we went by the language definitions we use elsewhere in the world, they would be seen as dialects of one language.

Lady Arwen wrote:I would definitely encourage you to do at least a semester. Perhaps in Ireland or outside of the capital in UK, which can sometimes be considered "safer" by parents. Once you're in Europe, it's quite easy to travel around, and cheap if you know how to. Plus, a good grasp of either French or German on top of English makes it pretty simple to get around. Anyway, not to make a shameless plug or anything, but the lads in Ireland are quite easy to get on with.


During my college days, I did a one year course of English Language and Literature for Overseas Students at Exeter University in Devonshire in South-west England. A few years ago they were still running a similar course. In my days there were mostly American students, but a few Europeans as well, and a handful of Japanese.

Exeter is a fairly small city, with the University within walking distance from the City Centre - I love the place. (I first thought of studying at Newcastle, but the guy who told me about Exeter said that Newcastle was great if I wanted to study fog and mist and rainy weather - which Exeter doesn't have a lot of ;) ).

Talking about acting - we had some Shakespeare plays as part of our curriculum. Before we started lectures about King Lear, we were shown a movie of it. I hadn't read it, so that movie was my first meeting with King Lear.

The movie was in Russian (which I don't know at all), with English subtitles :-o
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby waggawerewolf27 » May 27, 2017 5:50 am

Varnafinde wrote:Then it's common to start learning a third language around the age of 13 or 14. German is a common choice, as it's perhaps even more closely related to Norwegian than English is - but French or Spanish are common, too, because they are probably even more widely spoken than German.


Now that takes some thought. I used to have a Webster's English dictionary, many years ago where the flypapers showed a tree of how many European languages are related. According to that Webster's dictionary, English is most closely related to Dutch or Flemish, West German languages, unlike the North German languages spoken in Scandinavia. But some linguists say that Norwegian and Danish have had more impact on English than one would expect, despite its original Germanic beginnings.

Interestingly, Norwegian is still said to be spoken in the Orkneys, a group of Scottish islands closer to Norway than they are to London. And the Viking presence in much of the British Isles has been well-documented. At one time fully half of England was under Danish law - the area called "the Danelaw", with York, once called Jorvik, as its capital. At one time the whole of England, not too different from what it is today in area, was ruled by Sweyn Forkbeard and his son, Canute as he was called in England, but Knut as he was called in Denmark.

And English shows it, too. Yes the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, who probably came from somewhere near Jutland, spoke a Germanic language called Anglo-Saxon when they settled in England after the Roman withdrawal of 410 AD. But then, when the Vikings came, English started to use words like knight, knee, kneel, knife, knowledge and knack. As well as a whole bunch of words like sky, skate, skein, skim, or through, though, throw, three (the Germans use drei, not three), and thorough. All of which use combinations of consonants that I understand are more used in Scandinavia than in Germany or the Netherlands.

I did learn a year of German to pass a Bachelor of Arts degree, and Germans, like the French, and many other nationalities, can't say "th" as it is used in English. I don't know about Norwegians or the Danish. Varnafinde, I'd be most grateful if you would enlighten me. :)

For all its dominance as a major World language, English was never the only language spoken in the British Isles. Some languages such as Manx and Cornish have died out, but Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic (Erse) have undergone a revival. I'd love to learn Scottish Gaelic, just to broaden my non-Gaelic but Scottish-born husband's education, :ymdevil: but I'm getting too old to remember anything for long. :( By the way, these are Celtic languages, not too dissimilar in structure to the Latin spoken by their Roman would-be conquerors, but completely different from German.

And oddly, there was a period of at least two or three centuries, from 1066 AD onwards AD, when it was Medieval French that was spoken by the ruling class in England, and that circumstance, as well as long rivalry with France, has also marked what is called Modern English.

Rose-tree Dryad wrote:Last year, I saw that the free language-learning site Duolingo offered a course in Modern Greek and I jumped at the chance to get my feet wet.


Great! Do enjoy yourself, learning Modern Greek. :) The year beforehand, in 2015, the master of ceremonies on board the ship which took us to attend the Anzac Centenary, was teaching us a little traveller's Modern Greek whilst it was underway, from Laurion in Greece to Istanbul. Like Arabic and Russian, Greek uses a different alphabet to the Latin one, to write in, but in the case of Greek, it is a bit easier, and I can transliterate the words so long as the letters are upper case. In any case I lived for some time in an area amongst Greek immigrants, where if the local chemists displayed signs in Greek script, to say Hellenikon Pharmakeion, they meant Greek-speaking pharmacy. Or Greek-speaking chemist. Despite the Greek alphabet, Greek looks a lot easier to learn than Turkish or Hungarian, both of which use the Latin alphabet.

Danny, the MC, was actually a Romanian, and the lesson we had was really entertaining and enjoyable. :D He reminded us that there are so many words in English that have Greek suffixes and prefixes, that learning Modern Greek isn't as unfamiliar as it might seem for an English-speaker. Medical terminology uses Greek-based words quite extensively, and to some extent, mathematics and science as well. And Greek-based words like television, telephone, polygon, hexagonal, physics, psychology etc, are about as numerous as the Latin based words which occur not only in English, but also in many other European languages.
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby hmj97 » May 27, 2017 10:14 pm

I would definitely encourage you to do at least a semester. Perhaps in Ireland or outside of the capital in UK, which can sometimes be considered "safer" by parents. Once you're in Europe, it's quite easy to travel around, and cheap if you know how to. Plus, a good grasp of either French or German on top of English makes it pretty simple to get around. Anyway, not to make a shameless plug or anything, but the lads in Ireland are quite easy to get on with.


I'll have to spend a year (I think it's a year? If not, it's a semester) abroad in order to fulfill my major anyway (I'm studying international studies). Going a bit off-topic here, but I'm really reconsidering how I'm going about college. It bothers me so much that I'm required to take classes (such as math) and pay a thousand dollars for them - classes I'll never need. I agree, basic understanding of the fundamentals of math is vital to functioning in society, but I don't, nor will I ever need to know how to graph polynomial functions or solve quadratic equations in order to be an actor or work abroad with foreign cultures and languages. But if I ever want my degree, I don't have a choice. X( (I've always been bad with math, so I like to bag on it whenever I can. :)) ) But back to your original statement about studying abroad - if, for whatever reason, I don't end up spending some time abroad through an academic program, you can bet I'll be globetrotting on my own time at some point. I'm such a travel bug, I couldn't imagine not traveling. And getting to travel to different countries and getting the chance to communicate with the locals in their native language = priceless.

That's very interesting! Swedish is very close to Norwegian (and so is Danish). In Norwegian text books with literature samples, a few samples of Swedish and Danish stories or poems are usually thrown in - and usually a small word list at the end, with the less common words translated into Norwegian, is all we need to understand it.

Have you done much reading in Swedish? And have you tried reading any Norwegian? You might understand it! :D


Interesting! Swedish, Norwegian and Danish are indeed incredibly similar (though I'd also throw Faroese and Icelandic into the mix). I once read this cool comparison chart of the first 3 languages and I think it mentioned that written Swedish has more in common with written Norwegian than written Danish, but spoken Norwegian has more in common with spoken Danish as opposed to spoken Swedish? If I ever find it, I'll post it here! If you ever want a language with a lot of untouched history, give Icelandic a try - their orthography hasn't had any major changes in at least the last 400-600 years, so many Icelanders can easily read old scrolls from centuries past. Also (I'm in a fun fact mood :)) ), the ð and þ in Icelandic used to also be present in the English language, but was eventually taken out due to lack of usage. I've never purposefully tried reading Norwegian, but I have run across it at times. Honestly, I don't fare too well with it. :)) Hopefully I'll get to a better point with it once I'm more advanced in Swedish. I'd love to learn Icelandic too, but the 2 languages are too similar to learn simultaneously. I've tried looking for programs that teach you Icelandic through Swedish (as opposed to learning Icelandic through English [my native language], which makes it a lot easier to get Swedish words mixed up with Icelandic words, if that makes sense), but I haven't had any luck finding any. Bummer. :((

Exeter is a fairly small city, with the University within walking distance from the City Centre - I love the place. (I first thought of studying at Newcastle, but the guy who told me about Exeter said that Newcastle was great if I wanted to study fog and mist and rainy weather - which Exeter doesn't have a lot of ;) ).



Fog and mist and rainy weather??? I'd be in heaven! :D The Pacific Northwest in general has such a reputation for having a similar climate to that of England and Ireland (and I'd assume the rest of Great Britain - I can't imagine Cornwall having a drastically different climate than London :)) ) I'm even more excited now to move back to Oregon next summer! I've missed the fog and the rain - so cozy! :D

Talking about acting - we had some Shakespeare plays as part of our curriculum. Before we started lectures about King Lear, we were shown a movie of it. I hadn't read it, so that movie was my first meeting with King Lear.


Fun! I've never done Shakespeare but I'd love to give it a strong go someday! I've always been intimidated because of the dated language and trying to work past all that to be able to understand the text in full, but I wouldn't mind taking a Shakesperian acting class sometime.
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » May 30, 2017 2:25 pm

Playing catch-up, so my apologies for the lengthy post... ;))

Arwenel wrote:Other languages i've attempted to learn and then dropped like a hot potato are Esperanto and German. At some point i'd like to actually learn those, and French.


Ooh, I'd be interested in dabbling in Esperanto at some point. Apparently it's supposed to be easier than learning English, although obviously I don't remember the process of learning English. ;)) On the other hand, I do remember reading years ago about the man who created the language. L.L. Zamenhof (what a cool name!) wrote this in a letter from 1895 describing his motivations to create a universal language:

    "The place where I was born and spent my childhood gave direction to all my future struggles. In Białystok the inhabitants were divided into four distinct elements: Russians, Poles, Germans and Jews; each of these spoke their own language and looked on all the others as enemies. In such a town a sensitive nature feels more acutely than elsewhere the misery caused by language division and sees at every step that the diversity of languages is the first, or at least the most influential, basis for the separation of the human family into groups of enemies. I was brought up as an idealist; I was taught that all people were brothers, while outside in the street at every step I felt that there were no people, only Russians, Poles, Germans, Jews and so on. This was always a great torment to my infant mind, although many people may smile at such an 'anguish for the world' in a child. Since at that time I thought that 'grown-ups' were omnipotent, so I often said to myself that when I grew up I would certainly destroy this evil."

Which leads me to another thought...

Lady Arwen wrote:Chinese is *fascinating*, just on the written side. Plus, despite being tonal, there is so much regional variation that some argue it should be classified as several different languages in the same family.


Oh my. ;)) Ah well, more challenge! :-bd I have a particular interest in learning to read Chinese, and those thoughts are somewhat similar to L.L. Zamenhof's ideas that led him to create Esperanto, though perhaps ultimately more practical than idealistic.

A few years ago, I read that Cantonese is spoken southern China and Mandarin in northern China and that these languages are largely unintelligible to one another, but Cantonese and Mandarin speakers can communicate with each other just fine if they have a pen and paper because they use the same logographic writing system! When I discovered that, I thought "Well, everyone should just learn how to read and write Chinese and then everyone will be able to talk to each other, and we'll have world peace." :ymhug: And then I remembered that I thought the internet was going to help bring about world peace, too. :P And the Tower of Babel. ;)) But still, how cool is that? With China rising as a world superpower, too, I'm sure that we'll need more readers and writers of the language as time goes on... I want to be one of them!

I know you've been using Chineasy for learning Chinese characters, Wren... what resources are you using to learn Chinese, hmj97? (And Gymfan, too, although I believe you said you mostly learned through immersion.) I know that Busuu.com offers a course in Chinese, but I've haven't tried using that site yet. Thinking about signing up for it soon, though, because they still have the launch date for the Korean course on Duolingo as 12/31/99. /:)

Gymfan15 wrote:I never thought Chinese would be a language I'd learn but living in Asia makes it awfully convenient. ;) I think most people get freaked out by the tones and characters but honestly once you get past that it's really not a difficult language...the grammar structure is not complicated and you don't need a HUGE vocabulary base in order to communicate.


That's one thing that I've found interesting about learning languages is that some languages seem a lot more "economical" than others. I don't know if it's just because I didn't get very far with Russian, but it seemed like they could say a lot in just a few syllables. ;)) It's also strange for me to think that in Chinese, they probably don't have a bunch of words that essentially mean the same thing the way we do in English because their written language is logographic... I mean, would they even have thesauruses in China? :-?

Varnafinde wrote:Some linguists say that Swedish, Norwegian and Danish aren't really separate languages. If we went by the language definitions we use elsewhere in the world, they would be seen as dialects of one language.


Oooh. That sounds like a three-for-one deal to me. :D Among those three languages, is there one that seems like more of a middle point than the others, or are they all equally different? (Trying to figure out which one would offer me the most of an edge over the other remaining two, should I decide to learn one at some point!)

waggawerewolf27 wrote:Interestingly, Norwegian is still said to be spoken in the Orkneys, a group of Scottish islands closer to Norway than they are to London.


That makes a lot sense to me, because when I'm following etymological links in family names, my Scottish ancestry might ultimately imply Norwegian ancestry at some point in the very distant past, but I'm still researching. (Briefly wandering a bit off-topic, but I actually started on this very fascinating journey into family history because of you mentioning the ancient overkingdom of Dal Riata on another thread, so thank you for that! :ymhug: We really need a thread for discussion about ancestry. ;)))

wagga wrote:For all its dominance as a major World language, English was never the only language spoken in the British Isles. Some languages such as Manx and Cornish have died out, but Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic (Erse) have undergone a revival. I'd love to learn Scottish Gaelic, just to broaden my non-Gaelic but Scottish-born husband's education, :ymdevil: but I'm getting too old to remember anything for long. :(


Oh, that's only because you're already storing so many thousands of facts about history in your brain! ;) I'd also love to learn some Scottish Gaelic, just because of my aforementioned Scottish ancestry. :)

wagga wrote:Medical terminology uses Greek-based words quite extensively, and to some extent, mathematics and science as well. And Greek-based words like television, telephone, polygon, hexagonal, physics, psychology etc, are about as numerous as the Latin based words which occur not only in English, but also in many other European languages.


That's very true! Τηλέφωνο and τηλεόραση for telephone and television, and ψυχή means psyche, or soul... and the Greek pronunciation is so much prettier than ours. It sounds so airy and makes me think of the wind. :D

hmj97 wrote:If you ever want a language with a lot of untouched history, give Icelandic a try - their orthography hasn't had any major changes in at least the last 400-600 years, so many Icelanders can easily read old scrolls from centuries past.


I already have an interest in medieval Iceland, so that would be very cool to try to learn at some point! Especially if it meant reading some of the Sagas in their original language... that would be pretty awesome. I do follow the YouTube channel of an Old Norse specialist and translator (who also dresses like a cowboy; a bit of cognitive dissonance there ;))); I bet you might enjoy some of his videos. He'll discuss Icelandic as well as other ancient Scandinavian languages, while I usually watch his videos talking about ancient myth.
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Lady Arwen » May 30, 2017 5:31 pm

(I'm trying to do headings by language, rather than quoting everyone, because it was getting really long that way)

Regarding Chinese:
I agree, Rosie, and that was partly why I started working on Chinese (actually, I originally started it as part of working on a much larger research project that involved 19th century Chinese newspapers, but that's an entirely different story). I was further inspired to keep working on it when I was in Japan, as I could actually figure out some basic stuff, since the Japanese stole a portion of their writing system from Chinese (kanji). And I realized that, since my primary use for Chinese is reading based, it wouldn't hurt to learn to write it, too. That way, no matter where I am, it will make sense. ;)) But yeah, basically the best thing about Chinese is the use of logograms...unlike other languages, where you get to play with phonetics to learn anything -__-

Anyway, busuu looks interesting, and I may need to check it out and add it to my linguistic artillery.

Regarding Korean:
One of my coworkers taught herself Korean, and is now largely fluent. If you're looking at learning that, Rosie, I can bug her and see if she can resource share--although she did start learning about ten years ago, so some of her sources might be outdated.

Regarding Greek:
One of the things I find fascinating about Greek is that, unlike most other languages, it is both a parent language to so many other languages, and a living language. So many other languages fall into one category or the other, but Greek is just hanging out, chilling with both crowds. I suppose nowadays you could say the same about Hebrew, but that one took quite a lot of work to revive, and I don't think it has had as much of an impact on the development of other languages as Greek has.

Regarding Icelandic:
Iceland is dropdead gorgeous. The population is also smaller than my hometown, so...I suppose you would experience the opposite sort of problem than you would with Chinese. I guess it would be somewhat like learning Klingon--only a very few people are going to understand you, so you can gossip about people behind their backs and they will never know :P
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