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Levels of Liberal Linguistic Logic & Lunacy - Grin with cat attached
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Levels of Liberal Linguistic Logic & Lunacy Feb. 15th, 2009 08:34 pm
1) Refusing ever to leave the UK because the water tastes funny elsewhere (distinct, on various axes, from holidaying in the UK for financial, environmental or other reasons)

2) Travelling overseas, but TALKING ENGLISH IN A VERY LOUD AND CLEAR VOICE, 'cos the locals should speak english and are just being stubborn, damnit.

3) Holidaying strictly in anglophonic (yes I made that up, I think) countries because you only speak english and feel guilty that you can't speak local anywhere else.

4) Holidaying only in various Western European countries because you happened to learn a bit of the language at school.

5) Sticking to Western Europe but venturing into a few more countries where the languages kinda sound a bit like the ones you already learned, possibly also picking up the "$newLanguage in 24 hours" audiobook.

6) Venturing further afield, possibly to Greece or Russia where the alphabet's a bit different and the language family's quite distinct.

7) Trying to learn an ideographic language with new cultural references & up to three new alphabets to get your head around, with the vague idea you might go there sometime. This level may also just qualify as nuts.

So, yeah... I've been wandering around these levels over most of my life, with a current linguistic score somewhere as follows:

English (UK): Mother tongue, give or take my ability to get my tongue in a complete knot.

French: Fluent; studied since I was about 8; numerous holidays, exchanges, and a year of my degree spent in Paris.

Spanish: Learned as a regular GCSE and used on occasional holiday.

Latin: Studied at school to a fairly low level.

Norwegian: Learned a few words when I went on holiday at about 9? Forgotten all, I think.

Welsh: Used to be able to pronounce most of it right and sing the national anthem. Never knew what much of it meant.

German: Fluent. Studied in my final year at school and during my Uni degree; studied a year of my degree in Karlsruhe.

Irish: Fascinated by the language and mythology, utterly baffled by the pronunciation, got nowhere reasonably fast.

Italian: Learned a few words for recent holidays. Still have a habit of speaking Spanish instead.

Japanese: Learned a little specialist vocab for Aikido and food. Learning more recently after getting fascinated and deciding to make it this year's hobby (not intended as an insult). webcowgirl's ability to speak Mandarin & Japanese in restaurants is also quite inspiring.

Portuguese: Learned a little prior to a recent holiday. Still bemused by the fact that weekdays don't have names.


For most of the languages I've learned recently I bought the Earworms Learning audioguides, which are generally pretty good. It's all I really used for Portuguese for example, although I also had a couple of phrasebooks.

For Italian I have 2 volumes of the Earworms and the Berlitz Premier Italian (although I never finished the latter).

For Irish I have a Hodder & Stoughton teach yourself course with *tapes* which was frankly grossly underused.

For French, Spanish and German I used to have the huge Collins bilingual dictionaries, but those all went to Oxfam a few months back when I realised I never opened them and needed the space they took up. A couple have returned to me as iPhone apps.

For Japanese I've got quite a selection. I started off with two volumes of Earworms, then bought the Oxford "Take Off in Japanese" set, which is pretty good as a basic intro (and easy to follow) but almost ignores the Kana. I also got fascinated with Kanji via webcowgirl's copy of Read Japanese Today and then tried to start learning those, and various Kana via the iPhone flip apps and Undefined Fire's charts.

webcowgirl also recently bought me a copy of the more business-oriented Japanese for Busy People, which also seems very good, but as it's the Kana version I can't yet read the Japanese part well enough to use the book!

So, the next step's going to be a combination of Kana study and the Oxford guide until I can make the "Busy People" version more useful again. I've just ordered a couple more Kana books which may help.

One particular problem I'm having with Japanese is that of holding more than two concepts at once; I'm used to holding both the English and foreign forms of words in my mind together, but adding in the Katakana, Hiragana and/or Kanji versions to the mix is a bit of a brain-melter.

(How many people I know actually speak or read Japanese, anyway?)

From: dreamsewing
Date: February 16th, 2009 - 04:28 am (Link)
To answer your FB question about how many languages. Well, I pretty much fail at that considering how much travelling I do. Or perhaps because of; 15 countries in 5 years.
So English & French, though my written French is horrid as it is a childhood language, never learned how to write properly. Also terribly lazy about finding the accents on an english keyboard.
Latin in school.
For the rest, it is just enough to order food and travel by public transport; Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese.
A few words of Korean, Chinese, Russian, Scots Gaelic.
I used to have travel-able Greek, but it seems to have disappeared.

To be honest I found Hiragana & Katakana pretty useless in Japan. They are excellent for learning how to speak, so it depends upon whether you are learning for speaking fluency, or for actually being there. T & I can go through the Kanji cards I have and sort out the most used ones, and I have some Gothic Lolita magazines to read/look at as well if that's your thang.
Le petit sejour sera agreeable, le pluspart de nous parlent assez bien Francais, donc pas besoin de "babysit"-er moutons perdus ;)