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Almost all of you people out there in not-USA land (and many many right here,) have a big amazing thing that you all can do. So far I cannot. Many many of you speak two or more languages.

I can kinda-sorta do Spanish, but only in the most passive way. I can understand a little, but I would not inflict my words on anyone in return. (I once had to act out 'cat litter' in a store.)

So this week I am starting in to fix that!

I found a super cool web teaching thingie. I am now working my way through early lessons. It is set up like a video game, to reward you with bells and stickers when you learn well. There is a cute little owl who weeps when you do wrong.

I have found, that for me at least, it seems to hit the same reward spot as playing a game online. I am stupidly happy to do hours of grammar and vocab drills.

i can now say in Spanish 'The cat drinks milk,' or 'You are not a woman' or 'You are a man' or 'The boy writes a letter' and other such things.

If I can get to a point where I can actually talk sense, it may make me more employable. New York is pretty well bi-lingual.

But guys, it is hard! I keep getting  word endings wrong. I know I am making lots of mistakes. It would have been so much better to learn all this when I was 14 and people were jumping out of  the bushes to teach me things.

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( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
ashley_pitt
Feb. 1st, 2013 03:14 am (UTC)
i will not buy this record, it is scratched
Good for you! I speak English tolerably and in German I can say that you look funny in your sunglasses.
But I fell over laughing at your subject line.
eglantine_br
Feb. 1st, 2013 03:42 am (UTC)
Re: i will not buy this record, it is scratched
I just watched the whole skit again on youtube. Just as funny as ever. I especially liked the policeman.
bluejayfic
Feb. 1st, 2013 06:46 am (UTC)
Languages are hard. And speaking is harder than listening. (For me, reading is easier than either, but that's not true for everyone.) But fortunately, using your passive vocabulary (listening and reading) can also improve your active vocabulary (writing and speaking), and not necessarily just by adding words you've heard a lot. You get a feeling for the language, and adding a singular ending on a verb with a plural subject starts to feel wrong. Eventually.
I'm bilingual from childhood, seeing as English isn't my first language (I consider it my native language, but not my first language, if that makes any sense). It's never felt like an accomplishment, just something useful. Except that then, I started learning French in school, and went, "Why is this hard? This was easy 7 years ago!" And of course, the older I got, the harder it got... now I'm learning Hebrew, and after 5 months in Israel, I still can barely say anything. (Listening is easier, but I still don't understand unless the context is clear. Fortunately, Israelis talk with their hands a lot. I'll miss that when I go back to the US.)
eglantine_br
Feb. 1st, 2013 12:34 pm (UTC)
All the children here and most of the adults are bilingual at least. I am awed.

I can listen to Spanish on the street any time I like. And were I to try to speak it, the people here would be kind.

I can read it some-- but slowly. And that is by guessing at English words that are Latinate.
anteros_lmc
Feb. 1st, 2013 08:50 am (UTC)
Well done you! I can barely speak one language never mind more! I am of a generation that was not taught grammer at school, not sure why, I believe it was thought to put children off learning languages. However it you don't understand the grammar of your own language it makes it rather tricky to learn any other languages! So I have English (without grammar), plus a smattering of Latin and Gaelic. Useful huh?! Actually Gaelic is very useful if you're fluent, lots of jobs in teaching and media. Considering I'm already struggling with daughter's Gaelic homework though, I'm a very long way from fluent. I'm good at talking to dogs in Gaelic though! And just in c se you ever need it here is "my hovercraft is full of eels" in Gaelic: ha mo bhàta-foluaimein loma-làn easgannan. Sadly I have no idea how to translate "my nipples explode with delight" :}
eglantine_br
Feb. 1st, 2013 12:24 pm (UTC)
How about 'bouncy-bouncy?'

I don't have English grammar either-- or spelling. I think it is a 1970s thing. We were supposed to have a new world with free love, overalls and no grammar.

And it shows. I am ok at picking up new words-- I just cannot use them for anything without sounding unintelligible.

But as of last night I can talk to dogs too. I can say 'You are a dog.' or 'The dog drinks water/milk/wine'

I can address a horse 'you are a horse.'
'the horse eats apples/rice/chicken'
amaraal
Feb. 1st, 2013 10:23 am (UTC)
Allow me to disagree about the age it is said you learn languages easier! Now that I'm an adult I understand the 'trick' much better and easier then back in elementary school :) Maybe for children it is easier because they give a shit about grammar!
All Indo-Germanic languages have the same source. Latin and Greek. If we'd learn at least let's say 1000 words in Latin and Greek we'd have no problems at all understand French, Spanish, Italien, etc. German is a bit different from English so far, as English has inhabited words from the Kelts. But over 60% of all nouns are similiar :) Just saying.

PS: A friend from the US once told me, that she has a Stanley :) I thought it to be a certain kind of mind, or something :) But actually she meant a doll :)
PPS: Your subject line is priceless :)
eglantine_br
Feb. 1st, 2013 12:30 pm (UTC)
If I had been permitted to learn Latin when I asked to do it, life would be easier now.

But I am already finding friendly words that seem similar to English ones.
amaraal
Feb. 1st, 2013 08:56 pm (UTC)
Latin
Yip! Things we regret later when we have the opportunity to learn them :) Latin is such a beautiful language. I could kick myself today, that I refrained to learn how to play an instrument when my parents offered me to pay for it... *sighs*

Go on learning Spanish! I'm into Romani at present... uuuuuhhhh! Things we do for writing a good fic.
charliecochrane
Feb. 1st, 2013 10:57 am (UTC)
What I love about Spanish is that you can say the milk drinks the cat and mean the cat drinks the milk. El gato. Leche. Can't remember drinks but knew it once. Biba?
eglantine_br
Feb. 1st, 2013 12:28 pm (UTC)
Beben yup. Like imbibe. I can see that knowing lots of English words already is a help.

Of course that does not help with gender or endings. I don't want to see the milk drink the cat, that is scarey.
veronica_rich
Feb. 1st, 2013 01:04 pm (UTC)
I've all but given up learning any other language, only retaining tiny bits of Latin and French, but what is the site?
eglantine_br
Feb. 2nd, 2013 02:57 pm (UTC)
It is called duolingo. I like it.
bauhiniakapok
Oct. 3rd, 2016 01:52 pm (UTC)
I had a brief burst of enthusiasm for brushing up my Spanish with duolingo but it got swamped by Richard Sharpe and then fanfic. There is just too much good stuff out there waiting to be read, all interconnected, this author recommending that one who recommends still another, and the need to also read what your favorite characters read... But there is that vague desire to once again try reading Don Quixote in Spanish, because reasons. There is a comfort in reading an Indo-European language - all those lovely cognates. We learned a lot of Greek and Latin root words in high school and they are a great help with Spanish. They don't help me at all with Mandarin, more's the pity. Well, there are Baba (Papa), Mama, and Bibi (baby). They comfort me.

I always wanted bilingual children, well at least since studying early childhood language acquisition in university. I think my kids are awesome. They are equally comfortable in English and Mandarin, and can understand some of their hometown Chaozhou dialect. Now that my eldest is in fourth grade, she has Cantonese as a school subject. She has been hearing it around her since birth, but we (well, my husband) didn't use it in the home because we didn't want to confuse her with too many languages at once. Today I heard her speak Cantonese for the first time, very shyly - my friend asked her her name, age and grade in Cantonese, and she answered. At this point she understands less Cantonese than I do, after hearing it for sixteen years. She will probably outpace me within two months.

Edited at 2016-10-03 01:57 pm (UTC)
eglantine_br
Oct. 3rd, 2016 01:59 pm (UTC)
MY niece speaks Mandarin, sister in law is from Beijing. And most of my daughter's friends speak Spanish. That has to do with where in Brooklyn we live. It always amazes me to hear people speak a second, (or third, or etc,) language. It is like you are walking with them, and they pull out wings and fly.

Have you heard any clips of IG speaking Welsh?
bauhiniakapok
Oct. 4th, 2016 12:41 am (UTC)
Yes! Taneisin, I think he was reciting. And I saw Jamie's interview in French too.

My Sharpe obsession led me to read Bernard Cromwell's Warlord series about (not) King Arthur. It brought home that the Britons were what is now Welsh, when the Saxons were the invaders. So I loved listening to Ioan's words.

There is a Russian website called podelise which has many books for free. That's where I read the Warlord trilogy, and some POB. If you google or yahoo search for the title of the book you want and "podelise," you can find some free books there. I think of it as my digital library, since I don't have access to a good English library here.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )