View Full Version : Foreign Languages

2006-03-08, 22:08
after a recent discussion here, i got thinking about something. how many of you speak another language? (and no, Turk and our other former British Commonwealth brethren, English only counts once... no dialects... I'm fluent in two dialects of Southern, and they don't count either. :biggrin:)

(p.s. this is also an experiment to see if i can actually set up a poll. thanks for indulging me...)

2006-03-08, 22:32
(wow. it worked.)

my parents both speak german, and mom speaks two other languages as well, plus english (4 total), though she can only write 3 of them. i can speak it (german) better when drunk, or at least after i've been using it a day or two, but can barely read or write it. it's a very tedious process for me. makes me wonder about KLeth, Blackdog, and a few others, who have to labor through it with every post... you have my admiration for that... (dad's been here 50 years, and still counts in german.)

i can also understand most canadian and british, some australian, some scots, and some new jersey-ese... and my wife says i'm bi-lingual since i can understand most southern (i explain that by saying i was a foreign exchange student in Alabama many years ago. it WAS a world away from the rural new york i grew up in.) :biggrin:

another thing i'm wondering in my poll is about arabic... years ago, when we had two corps in germany and a division in korea, almost all soldiers who'd served in either country could speak SOME of it... and frequently did, back here in the states, just to keep in practice... i knew one guy who often sought out our dutch liason officer on post just to keep up with the dutch he'd learned while stationed in the netherlands. guess it helped that so many of them had korean and german wives... so, is that happening with our deployment in iraq? are soldiers picking up arabic through being there?

2006-03-08, 22:37
Hey Seeker, I sort of feel left out here...how about the question: I only care to speak english.


2006-03-08, 23:05
I used to speak a passable spanish and spent 2 months driving around Mexico with the little woman and the baby (who is now 34) back in the 70's, but don't use it enough to be fluent anymore inspite of denver's 20+% Hispanic population. I can get along fine in a restauraunt or market, but have to translate in my head instead of hearing it the first time.
I'm opting out of your poll, as I don't think I'm fluent in but one tongue. and that, barely.

Just Jeff
2006-03-09, 00:21
I could pick up Spanish quickly again if I used it for a while.

I don't think troops are picking up too much Arabic. Maybe a few phrases, but with the different alphabet and a whole slew of sounds that we don't have in English, it's not as easy to just pick it up. I keep asking the AF to let me stay an extra year in Monterey to learn it, but they've been putting me off. Can't figure that one out. "We need Arabic speakers like crack addicts need a fix." "Teach me. I'm already here." "No." That's the military.

English is a Germanic language, so it's pretty easy for English speakers to pick up German. And many of us took some sort of Romance language in school - so Spanish and such are often pretty easy to pick up as well. I was conversational pretty quickly in Italian because I knew Spanish - once you recognize a few key differences in the sounds, many of the words are basically the same, and the structure if almost exactly the same. I didn't put that in the poll because I think I've forgotten almost all of it, though.

2006-03-09, 00:31
I grew up with two languages, because my parents are finnish. In school we (my brothers and me) kept secrets by speaking finnish as everyone else only knew swedish, but at home that didn't work so we picked up english. My parents still don't speak english. A third language is one of the options in swedish schools (all study english) so I chose german.

In my post-school years i've studied japanese, nyanya (an african language) and recently spanish (because of the trip to south america last year). Some years ago i even contributed to an artificial language project called ninu, a simple travel tool, basically. It's almost ready for public use, as far as i know.

Languages are fun because they let you understand and be part of the things that happen.

Two old men sit on a bench next to a small village road when a big black limo stops right in front of them. The side window glides down silently and a stranger looks out from the darkness inside.

"Parlez-vous franšaise?"

The old men look at eachother and finally shake their heads.

"Habla Espanol?"

Again the two men shake their heads.

The man inside the car looks confused and concerned, but tries a third time, this time the question takes more effort.

"Sprechen Sie Deutsch?"

A third shake is the only answer the men can give the stranger inside the car. So he waves and the window starts sliding up again.

"Grazie. Ciao!"

The two old men watch the limousine disappear into the sunset in a silent dustcloud.

"Maybe it's time to study another language, George."

The two sit on their bench as the warm afternoon turns to chilly evening, thinking about the stranger in the huge black car. Finally they get up to go home, still in amazement about the days events.

"About that fellow, Benny."

"Yeah, what about him?"

"I don't think it's such a good idea to learn another language."

"So that's why you've been so quiet this afternoon. Why not?"

"That fellow in behind those tinted windows apparently knew three foreign languages, maybe more..."


"...And he couldn't talk to us anyway."

2006-03-09, 00:54
I know a bit of German, some Spanish, a smattering of Thai, a handful of French words, and a few Itailian swear words, but the only language I can claim fluency in is English. (and often I'm not real sure about the fluency)

Strangely, back in my drinking days I had 2 conversations with foreign women and had no problems understanding them or being understood.
One was with a Mexican woman; I can see how my memory might have opened up under the influence of alcohol, allowing me to communicate, as I have learned and forgotten quite a bit of Spanish. However the second was Japanese and I have no knowledge of that language.
It wasn't me having drunken fantasies either as my friends commented on it, as did both women when I met them at later dates, and I could no longer communicate with them. -The Japanese girl became very distressed about it.

Touched the universal mind? Wish I knew how I did it.

2006-03-09, 01:56
I am fluent in Danish(95%) and English(90%), which is company langauge. I have no problem communicating verbally and in writing with Norweigans and Swedes (The colonies :rolleyes: ). Then I speak some German but read it quite well ("Ein Mass vom fass" helps the verbal skills :biggrin: )
I'm also able to read some flemmish.

2006-03-09, 08:37
I'm only 50 miles from the Quebec border, so for some of my neighbors and friends, French is the primary language. I sometimes watch French-Canadian TV to try to keep up.

john pickett
2006-03-12, 18:48
In the opinion of my wife, (M.Ed., Total 25 years teaching mostly high school English and Spanish as well as occasional college) I am barely literate and almost unable to communicate any comprehensible thought in English; my only language. :bawling:
John Pickett

Just Jeff
2006-03-12, 19:20
Well, I'd have to disagree because I understood exactly what you said in that post - your wife's name is Mr. Ed, which is fitting because she's a teacher. :p

2006-03-13, 09:04
Though I really wish I could...

2006-03-13, 11:37
A broken English of a sort (Nova Scotian Canadian) and Quebec French, which is not the same as the language spoken in Paris. Then again, neither is most of the French spoken in France!



2006-03-13, 18:05
Besides english, I can speak German. While in Germany I enjoyed "ein Mass vom Fass" and I can honestly say my german improved significantly while in the beer garden.

Wir wollen frei beir! :biggrin: Sofort!

2006-03-13, 21:54
ein bier bitte, una cervaza por favor, leayn mas e do, una birra per favore, bia sòt
German, Spanish, Scottish, Italian, Thai

About the only Scottish I know (I'm Scottish descent), The only non swear words I know in Italian, and just the word beer in Thai (I can't remember any complete sentences or the word please)

This post (not counting the time I spent trying to remember when I was off the computer) took me over an hour - didn't want to cheat and look things up.

2006-03-14, 05:35
Just wish that I'd paid more attention to high school French as I go Brussels quite a bit with my work. I can order beers there (and they are very nice beers there, it must be said) but that is about it. "Une [name any good Belgian beer] s'il vous plait." Problem is they often bring these little glasses of it -- I then have to say "une grande biere". But I don't think that is the real French word for it.