Your relationship to languages -- first and second
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
12-11-2011, 02:06 PM
RE: Your relationship to languages -- first and second
1) Dutch
2) English
3) French: talking, understanding but almost no reading and definitely not writing (damn Frenchies make everything so complicated)
4) an eetie-beetie German

Observer

Agnostic atheist
Secular humanist
Emotional rationalist
Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-11-2011, 02:13 PM
RE: Your relationship to languages -- first and second
(12-11-2011 01:21 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  In dreams, i can speak it reasonably well. Anybody else have this? I think it's like being under hypnosis; memory that's normally suppressed comes forward.

It makes me think of simulation. Simulation is different than imagination in that what is simulated actually leads to real-world knowledge. I have been accused of "knowing kung fu" because of this. Dreams are yet to be fully rationalized, but dreams could be random information partially recovered from memory and reprocessed.

[Image: klingon_zps7e68578a.jpg]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-11-2011, 02:17 PM
RE: Your relationship to languages -- first and second
Fun fact about French:

Did you know that, when you translate a Dutch or English book into French, it becomes 1/4 to 1/3 bigger? French words contain in average more letters. So francophone people get more value for their book-price. Big Grin

Observer

Agnostic atheist
Secular humanist
Emotional rationalist
Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Observer's post
12-11-2011, 04:20 PM
RE: Your relationship to languages -- first and second
(12-11-2011 08:00 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  As most of you know, English isn't my first language. I have been immersed in it for forty years now, I think, dream, curse in English, but it still isn't the same as my first language: Hungarian. I will never be as natural and spontaneous in English as I am with the language I grew up with.

I still have trouble with proper use of tenses, like 'present perfect' and 'past perfect' sometimes. You see, tenses are a lot simpler in Hungarian. I also have difficulty with prepositions -- I often mix up 'to' and 'for' -- again, no prepositions exist at all in Hungarian: we have suffixes attached to the end of the word for that purpose.

This morning my wife ever so casually said: "..and I thought that maybe I had been a bit hasty..." and I envied her. Nary a pause to think about the tenses. I get it right, usually, but sometime I have to think about it for a split second, before saying it.

So I started wondering about how others on this forum feel about it.

If English is your first language -- how do you recognize non-native English speakers from their writing? What are the most typical mistakes even fluent second-languagers make?

If English is not your first language, what do you have most difficulties with in the language and how do you try/succeed in overcoming those difficulties?

Nice thread, Zat. Smile

I love languages. I’ve studied quite a few, some in depth, some superficially. And I've taught ESL in three countries. (Peterkin: I agree with everything you said about ESL.) As my languages go, I can get along fairly well in a few of them, but I wish I had the mastery of a second language that you have of English, Zat. In all the posts of yours I’ve read, there have only been one or two instances (which I don’t remember) where I thought I saw something that betrayed the fact you’re not a native speaker.

In Internet writing it’s sometimes hard to tell if an error is the result of native-speaker carelessness or the imperfect understanding of a second-language learner. For example, suppose someone writes: “I’m oppose to that.” (I see that sort of thing all the time.)

There are at least three possible explanations for the error:

1. It’s the result of a second-language learner’s imperfect understanding of English grammar. (What makes it tricky is that in normal conversation, “oppose to” and “opposed to” sound exactly the same.)

2. It’s a typo from a native speaker of standard English who knows it should be “opposed” but hasn’t proofread his or her writing.

3. It’s the writing of a native speaker who has significant non-standard elements in his or her English.

Without seeing more of the person’s writing, it’s impossible to tell which it is.

It’s especially interesting to me to see the kinds of errors English learners make because of interference from their native language. You mentioned the lack of prepositions in Hungarian, Zat. I’m also thinking of languages that don’t have articles (a/an, the), like Russian. So a parody of a Russian speaker’s imperfect English might be, “Take book and put on desk.”

I also see words like “information” used in the plural, as if they were count nouns: “Thank you for all the informations.” You can’t do that in standard English, but you can in Spanish: informaciones, the plural of información, is a perfectly good word.

I got an e-mail today from a friend in Germany whose English is excellent. But this time he wrote, “I hope this weren’t too many questions.” I think you can do something like that in German (es waren . . . ?). And of course if you substitute “there” for “this,” the English sentence is fine.

Something else I find interesting is trying to determine someone’s nationality from how they write. There are the obvious spelling differences, of course: neighbor (USA) vs. neighbour (UK, Canada, Australia, . . . ), center vs. centre etc. Also the well-known differences in vocabulary (elevator vs. lift, trunk of a car vs. boot of a car, cookies vs. biscuits, . . . ). But there are more subtle differences in vocabulary and grammar as well. For example, I don't believe most Americans have even heard of the word “whilst”—we say “while.” But “whilst” is the usual way to say it in the UK. If “whilst” appears in someone’s writing, it’s almost certain the person isn’t American.

I heard a story about a British traveler who was on a U.S. plane about to arrive at his destination, and the flight attendant announced over the P.A. system, “We’ll be landing momentarily.” The Brit got very concerned, because for him, “momentarily” could only mean “for a moment,” not “in a moment,” which was what the American flight attendant meant.

Here’s a subtle grammatical difference I find interesting:

Suppose someone asks, “Did you mail my letter?” Some possible responses are:

A. I would have mailed it, but I forgot.
B. I would have, but I forgot.
C. I would have done, but I forgot.

Americans can say A and B but not C. (We can say “I would have done it,” but that’s different.) Brits, however, can say C with no problem.

Ain’t language fun!

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes cufflink's post
12-11-2011, 04:45 PM
RE: Your relationship to languages -- first and second
A is almost certainly a transplanted-American.
B is a mature American or a Canadian
C is definitely an educated Brit... Imagine what an uneducated one, from various parts of the country, or even different parts of London, would say!
D American or Canadian teenager: Wha-dever --- hey! where's the roll-eyes smilie?

About the longer French translation: there is also the construction of sentences, which very often have an extra word or two, plus spaces. And yet, most bilingual government publications seem to be about the same size. Are they stealing content from the French version?

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Peterkin's post
12-11-2011, 05:04 PM
 
RE: Your relationship to languages -- first and second
(12-11-2011 04:20 PM)cufflink Wrote:  I wish I had the mastery of a second language that you have of English, Zat. In all the posts of yours I’ve read, there have only been one or two instances (which I don’t remember) where I thought I saw something that betrayed the fact you’re not a native speaker.

Thanks for the kind words, cufflink.

Being a second-language-speaker has one aspect no native-speaker will ever have experienced:

When I was in Hungary, till the moment I left, I NEVER had to think about speaking, writing, communicating -- I just spoke. It was automatic, natural, not something to think about.

Don't get me wrong, I strove to speak eloquently, clearly, convincingly, but I was not thinking of the language, I was thinking of the concepts and the best choice of words to use -- never of grammar!

I wrote a lot of poetry back home, some of it published, and I never felt anxious: would anyone find something un-Hungarian in what I wrote?

When that ex-friend asked me if I wrote my English poems in Hungarian, and then translated them to English, it really hurt. It touched on the sensitive spot of not being, ever, 100% sure if I said things the right way, that sounded naturally English.

I guess all immigrants share this kind of insecurity, whether they admit it or not.

After 40 years living in Canada, I don't think I will ever outgrow it.

Most of the time it doesn't bother me, I feel quite confident in expressing my thoughts in my adopted language, but sometime I catch myself wondering: what it must be like having lived all your life in one culture, in one language.

I will never know.

But, you are right cufflink, language is a lot of fun! Smile
Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Zatamon's post
12-11-2011, 06:59 PM (This post was last modified: 12-11-2011 07:04 PM by houseofcantor.)
RE: Your relationship to languages -- first and second
Cufflink asks, "Did you mail my letter?"

A

It's in the mail. Wink
It's fun, but it is also intellectually mind expanding. I know three universal languages: Art, Mathematics, and Love. People who restrict themselves to one language often miss out because their concepts are inexorably entangled to the words of a single language.

Wanna talk about a suckbag French speaker? C'est moi! But I took that stuff all through High School; and if I were to end up in Quebec for a coupla months, mais oui, je parle francais. Wink

[Image: klingon_zps7e68578a.jpg]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-11-2011, 08:19 PM (This post was last modified: 12-11-2011 08:34 PM by cufflink.)
RE: Your relationship to languages -- first and second
(12-11-2011 06:59 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  Wanna talk about a suckbag French speaker? C'est moi! But I took that stuff all through High School; and if I were to end up in Quebec for a coupla months, mais oui, je parle francais. Wink

Except I'm not so sure they parle français in Quebec. Big Grin I've heard that when movies are shot in French in Quebec, they're shown in France with French subtitles, which pisses off the Québecois to no end. But them's fightin' words, so I'd better keep my bouche fermée.




(12-11-2011 05:04 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  I guess all immigrants share this kind of insecurity, whether they admit it or not.

After 40 years living in Canada, I don't think I will ever outgrow it.

Most of the time it never bothers me, I feel quite confident in expressing my thoughts in my adopted language, but sometime I catch myself wondering: what it must be like having lived all your life in one culture, in one language.

Well, if you've had to sacrifice a sense of complete security, I hope you feel that the perspective you've gained from being bilingual and bicultural has been worth the price. I suspect you can see and understand things in both your original and adopted homes that people who have lived in those places all their lives can't.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes cufflink's post
12-11-2011, 09:25 PM
 
RE: Your relationship to languages -- first and second
(12-11-2011 08:19 PM)cufflink Wrote:  Well, if you've had to sacrifice a sense of complete security, I hope you feel that the perspective you've gained from being bilingual and bicultural has been worth the price. I suspect you can see and understand things in both your original and adopted homes that people who have lived in those places all their lives can't.

Very well said, cufflink! Smile

Of course I can see that.

But why can't I have EVERYTHING? Big Grin
Quote this message in a reply
12-11-2011, 09:40 PM
RE: Your relationship to languages -- first and second
(12-11-2011 08:19 PM)cufflink Wrote:  Except I'm not so sure they parle français in Quebec. Big Grin I've heard that when movies are shot in French in Quebec, they're shown in France with French subtitles, which pisses off the Québecois to no end. But them's fightin' words, so I'd better keep my bouche fermée.

I'm going by what I remember. Never been there, but met some who drifted south to Vermont when I used to hang there... like Monique... (shivers)

I have no intention of going to France, but I'm thinking there's more of them Moniques up there. Wink

I've heard people say, "French is a beautiful language," but as a guy trying to speak it, sounds like a "stuck-up language." But when girls speak it... voulez-vous--- nuff o' that'. Jezz. Memory lane. Johnny about to wreck his convertible on those curves. Big Grin

[Image: klingon_zps7e68578a.jpg]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: