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Language poll

What languages other than English do you know, or want to learn, and why? I don't expect answers as long as what I type below.

For me, I used to know enough Latin to barely pass the Catullus/Horace Advanced Placement Exam, plus a big of Greek, but have forgotten nearly all. This was due to my parents, especially my mother, trying to replicate their own classics training and interests. She never did really teach me how to read and pronounce French words, which might have been more useful.

I've been desultorily self-studying Spanish and Japanese for embarrassingly long. Spanish, starting back in California, as I figured it was an obvious second language in the US, especially with Spanish radio stations. Now, the facts that I have friends in Chile, and Latin American seems to be up-and-coming in social democracy and economic growth, help too. Japanese, because of all that anime, though less because I specifically wanted to understand the anime, and more because I thought "you have to listen to a language a lot to really learn it, and my enthusiasm for foreign (or any) movies is generally low, but I'm voluntarily watching 6 hours of subbed anime a week..." Also, trying a non-Indo-European language was appealing. F*ck grammatical gender.

If I wanted more, Chinese, French, and German would probably be the next tier, in no particular order. Population and economic strength, utility for possible Canadian or French immigration, Germany's economic strength, plus the strong cultural weights of all three. Absent any actual migratory need, Chinese and French would probably make the most sense, leveraging my kanji and Latin/Spanish knowledge.

Sign language has a bit of interest, for being weird in making use of space.

Not a language, but I've taught myself Morse code, largely so I might have a post-stroke communication channel.



Feb. 10th, 2011 07:13 am (UTC)
A little French. Some small ability to decipher written Italian/Spanish.

I committed to translate ~20,000 words of Russian for the latest Bujold bilingual ficathon. I have no formal Russian training, and only a small amount of vocabulary that I've picked up on the fly. But this has not actually stopped me...

(I've been translating for about a year, and the Russians all tell me I'm very good at it. But my actual understanding is minuscule)

As for desired languages - Norwegian, Finnish, and German would be high on the list for ancestral reasons, but I don't have too much in the way of language aptitude.
Mar. 3rd, 2011 06:45 pm (UTC)
So how do you translate? Painful looking up of most words and decipherment of grammar?

(That's largely how I got through Latin IV.)
Mar. 3rd, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC)
It helps that it's fanfic and I know the character voices, setting, etc. I find that once I can get to the word salad point I can tease out the meaning - just on pure vocabulary, I can get my error rate down to one every couple hundred words. Which is good, because my grammar is nearly hopeless.

Having a high active/passive English vocabulary also helps a lot.


Damien Sullivan

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