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What languages do you speak?

Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 9:41 am
by lance
Hello all,

A new thread a new topic. So what languages do you speak?

I consider myself an interesting case. My dad's side of the family are mainly Mexican-Americans. My dad, grandfather, uncles all had Spanish as a first language. My brother and sister both have learned Spanish. My mom knows Spanish and French. Do I know Spanish? :oops: Um, well, no. I didn't take a foreign language until 9th grade and that was German. This was sort of what my peers were doing, German was in. I took three years in high school and three years in college. I don't really remember much since I haven't had call to use it.

Cincinnati was founded by Germans and Irish but there are not that many German speakers left. There is a growing hispanic population here though. My wife is fairly fluently in French.

So what languages do you know?


Lance Man

Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 12:02 pm
by fnordboy
Cool thread.

English :) of course, I can get by with spanish, wouldnt say fluent exacltly but I know enough to hold up my part of the conversation (though I haven't used it much these days). I grew up in a predominantly hispanic community, though I am caucasian, and picked up a lot just from being over at friends houses and i took a year or two of it in HS, but you quickly learn that everythign you learned in class is bull, nobody talks like that.

I have been slowly but surely learning Japanese. I can read some kanji and know basic words. I haven't taken any courses on it yet, but plan to in the near future. Right outside of my area there is a booming asian population mainly Koreans and Japanese. I figure I should take advantage of the resource.

Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 12:09 pm
by loveme

of course i've studied 2 languages (+ my maternal language) at school: english and spanish.And i even spend one year in faculty try to learn a little bit more these 2 languages, but in fact i can't understand a word of spanish, i don't know exactly why, even if i studied it during 5 years i just remember 2 words : "estrella" and "gato"....

i'm not really good at english, it is really frustrating because i'm interesting in your culture, i love watching tv series in there original versions or read books in english, and forum like this fact understand isn't a problem (most of time), but i've got difficulties to express myself, because of vocabulary , grammar, conjugation,cultural references....this is why one of my objective is to be as good in english as i can; and i'm sorry not beeing better, i suppose it's a bit boring to read my post....i few years that would be easier, i promess you!!

Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 12:47 pm
by starbug
Yeah, cool thread :)

I speak english (obviously), school-based French (I got good marks but since then the lack of use of it means I am pretty rusty), about 7 words of Spanish. I'm trying to get back into French using the 'teach yourself' book I bought to get me through the exams at school, as I now think it is really important to be able to communicate in more than one language. I also took latin classes at school for about 6 weeks but since it was technically optional and scheduled for 8am I dropped out. :hammer1:

If you want impressive on languages, there's my dad. More or less fluent german, OK hebrew, ancient greek (!), sanskrit, and pretty good latin. Bits of swahili too... a pretty weird collection. :crazyeyes:

Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 2:19 pm
by Natasha (candygirl)
Great thread topic Lance!

I obviously speak English (duh). I studied French in middle school, high school, and college. To be fair, Ishould admit that my first year of French (in eighth grade) our teacher suffered a nervous breakdown and we ended up with a parade of substitute teachers, none of whom spoke any French, so we were usually told by said substitutes to either act as though it was a study hall period - which was really weird since we didn't have study hall at that school - or to do an exercise that we had done months ago since we were stuck on chapter three for about half the year until the school found a sub who could speak French and then had to try to catch us all up on the entire year so that those of us going to the high school next year wouldn't be totally behind.

I only took one semester of French in college because although I tested into intermediate French, the skill level in the class was varied. One girl in particular really held us back because she knew nothing about grammar whatsoever and we ended up doing a lot of review because she kept asking stupid questions. My poor French professor was going nuts because she wanted us to read essays on existentialism and discuss philosophy in French. Whenever we attempted this, the aforementioned girl would interrupt with some really stupid questions about grammar or vocab. The entire semester I was frustrated and bored. As much as I liked French, I knew that another semester dealing with that kind of idiocy combined with the fact that we weren't doing nearly as much French as I thought, convinced me to quit after only one semester.

Although I'm definitely not fluent, I can converse verbally - one of the graduate students I worked with last year was from Canada so she spoke French, as does one of our post-docs (who is from France) so I get to practice (but they do speak English most of the time).

I also took three years of Italian in college, but I haven't been called upon to use it anywhere besides restaurants. Our class used to go out to dinner every once in a while, and the restaurant owners and waiters loved coming to our table and listening to us babbling in Italian. Most of the people in my class had already gone abroad for at least a quarter so they were pretty fluent. Maybe they were all laughing at my Italian! :D My sisters love my Italian knowledge so that I can decipher the menus for them. My youngest sister doesn't even try to pronounce anything on the menu - she just points and says, "I'll have that."

My first year in Italian was hilarious because my college, everyone has already learned at least one language, none of which include Italian. Because Italian is Latin based and very similar to French and Spanish, we got lots of mispronunciation or right answers in the wrong language. All of my Italian teachers were Italian (and moved to the United States as adults) and knew multiple languages as well, so sometime when we accidentally answered in the wrong language, they nod because gave the right answer and they recognized it, then they would shake their heads and say, "No, in italiano!" Hee!

Both of my sisters studied French in high school so every once in a while when they want to say something secret in front of my parents, they mumble something in French. It's usually garbled (it's been a long time since any of our French courses), but we understand the gist.

My boyfriend is learning how to swear in multiple languages - any chance he gets! He used to work with a Filipino guy who taught him all kinds of gutter slang so he likes to bust it out every once in a while. He never learned how to conjugate verbs or anything, so his cursing usually comes out something like "eat ass of monkey." His theory grammar isn't THAT important as long as people understand what you are trying to say.

Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 2:31 pm
by Megs
candygirl wrote: He never learned how to conjugate verbs or anything, so his cursing usually comes out something like "eat ass of monkey."
That's my favorite quote of all time. Easily. I will have to use that today. "Eat ass of monkey!"


Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 2:48 pm
by lance
Cool responses!

My wife has informed me that she and her sister both took French. There dad has tried to take French by using those audio cassettes. Apparently his French is badly pronounced that the two sisters were howlingly on the floor with mirth :D

Oh well, he's still trying though.

Candygirl your boyfriend used his opportunity to learn a foreign language just to learn curse words?


:wink: Of course when I learned German none of us looked up curse words on the first day of class.



Lance Man[/b]

Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 3:07 pm
by Natasha (candygirl)
Well, not just curse words. Insults too. (refer to "eat ass of monkey")


I don't think he had any desire to learn Tagalog by the book since the chances of us ever going to the Philippines is pretty low.

We also have the Wicked books for Italian and French (all the naughty slang they don't teach in class) - very handy.

Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 4:24 pm
by SanDeE*
I of course speak English too. I took French for four and a half years through high school. And how can you live in the United States and not know just a little bit of Spanish, at least a couple words? Anyway, I'm a musician, so I'm always looking at words in Italian. That's (sort of) considered the musical language when it comes to written parts and articulations. Dolce, ostinato, rubato, pesante, etc. So I guess I only know descriptive and musical terms in Italian, and some in German and French too. Does that count a little?

Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 4:27 pm
by Natasha (candygirl)
Kristin wrote:So I guess I only know descriptive and musical terms in Italian, and some in German and French too. Does that count a little?
That reminded me of all the songs we learned in choir that were in other languages - mostly Latin but one year we learned a Hannukah song too - so my entire knowledge of Hebrew is limited to "ya ba bim bom" and "hanerot halalu" and I don't even remember what that means!

I grew up in southern California, so I picked up a little Spanish - just enough to order beer in Tijuana.


Sorry I didn't disclose my vast Spanish and Hebrew knowledge earlier - I was going with the languages that I learned well enough to use in extended conversation (I have "donde esta el bano?" down cold though!).

Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 4:49 pm
by Sascha
Besides German (obviously), I speak more or less English and French. My French is pretty bad although I live partially in France, but I never had much fun with learning languages. I had *very* bad grades in languages in my early high-school years. It got better at the end of high-school, when I had a few years Latin behind me and finally understood some of the "principles" of the Roman languages (Once you know Latin, it's far more easier to learn French and English).

My English teacher was a lazy, always drunken wanna-be-rockstar, so he did nothing much else than playing us some songs from the Beatles and we had to transcribe them. Or we would watch some Monty Python tapes. Grammar? Only in your wildest dreams. But we always had a great time - he was incompetent as a teacher, but a pretty good singer and guitar player :-)

When we finally got a satellite dish at home and MTV UK started airing "The Real World USA" weekend marathons all over Europe, I was hooked. They also had a VJ named Ray Cokes, his call-in show was a must-see. Around the same time "The Simpsons" were broadcasted over here for the first time (one of my first CDs was Bart Simpson's "Deep Deep Trouble" ;-)). So I learned English by watching TV. And now you know why my grammar in my postings is so bad... :-o

Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 6:15 pm
by fnordboy
starbug wrote:<snip> sanskrit, and pretty good latin. Bits of swahili too... a pretty weird collection. :crazyeyes:
Can't resist a movie quote:

"Sanskrit? You're majoring in a 5,000 year old dead language? Hmmm... Latin, best I can do. Phys Ed? Get out of here... I mean, no, really get out of here."

- PCU :)

Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 6:38 pm
by Natasha (candygirl)
"You're wearing a t-shirt of the band you're going to see tonight? Don't be that guy."


Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 7:46 pm
by fnordboy
candygirl wrote:"You're wearing a t-shirt of the band you're going to see tonight? Don't be that guy."

Everytime I go to a show and see some moron wearing that bands shirt I always say that line. One of the classics.. definitely. :lol:

Posted: Apr 3rd 2003, 11:13 pm
by doodles444s
I speak english, french (4 years in high school and a year in college) and I know a little latin (I took a year in high school). I have been speaking minimal french all my life with some friends of the family. (the father's side of the family lives in France and they speak french in their home)