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The Rosetta Stone

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DrFrylock, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. DrFrylock

    DrFrylock
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    It's ancient Egypt week here at TiB because, well, I said so.

    The ancient Egyptians had an evolved written language that was lost for years until we found the Rosetta stone and did a lot of clever deciphering. We may have never deciphered it at all if the Egyptian culture hadn't lasted long enough to coexist with other, more modern cultures.

    FOCUS: What languages do you speak? How well? When have your language skills come in handy?
     
  2. ghettoastronaut

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    1) English. The modern lingua franca and the natural language of the human being. How is this not useful?

    2) French. Job-related. I speak it... okay-ish. I did ten weeks of rather intensive French schooling this summer and by all objectives measures I speak it really damn well for someone who only took ten weeks of it. It has limited utility because I don't speak it well enough and confidently enough to interact with French people without either me not having any clue what they're saying and/or me fucking my the accent so badly that they automatically revert to English. I can read it fairly well, though, depending on the source. Typical Quebec newspapers aren't much of a challenge, Slate.fr contains too many fancy and European words, and I'm working my way through La Peste by Camus with considerable success and some help from my Bescherelle and Google translate.

    On this topic, though, learning it was strange: I hated it in elementary and high school and I'm amazed that I passed because not only do I not remember any of it from high school, I don't even remember understanding it back then. So I sit down to the assessment at the beginning of my French course where an instructor speaks increasibly complex phrases to you and you respond/translate. And while my French didn't come back per se, I responded a hell of a lot more than I could. Most of it was interspersed with Italian, though.

    3) Italian. I used to speak it mildly functionally. It's probably now gone and been replaced by French. I learned it as an elective in first year of university; something changed in me between high school and university because while I sucked at and disliked learning French, I really excelled at Italian. Somehow, it all made perfect sense: nouns having genders (which the Italians do with far greater economy than the French), conjugating verbs, agreements between noun and verb, various past and future conjugations, etc. It came in useful in Munich when, sitting next to a guy from Milan during the Champions League final who spoke little English, I was able to kinda sorta translate his drunken commands to the bartender and he was so enamoured with me that he bought me some beers. Said my Italian was terrible, though. The annoying part about this is that, since my dad is Italian and speaks it, people always ask if I learned it from my family. And then they'll ask which regional accent I speak it with, or whatever. Also, when my dad's family speaks Italian, I can't understand a fucking word of what they say, so. And for those of you wondering, yes, most of the reason why I picked up French so quickly is that it's extremely similar to Italian in grammar and verb conjugation, although the vocabulary is on the whole pretty different.

    4) I speak enough (useless) German phrases to add comedy to a given situation. RAUCHEN VERBOTEN! KEIN TRINKWASSER! WO IS DER AUSGANG?
     
  3. iczorro

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    I used to be fluent in French, to the point that a couple times I found myself thinking in that language. But it's been a decade, and I only remember rudimentary shit now.

    I'm sure if I were to live in an environment where it was the predominant language, I'd pick it up again in a couple weeks.
     
  4. NoMames

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    Being the son of one of the most world renowned English speaking Communications scholars, I talks English okay.

    However, I started learning basic Spanish when I was 9, and I have taken every Spanish class available in school. When it comes down to it, for a non-native speaker in the US, I doubt you'd find someone who speaks it as well as I do without having spent long term in a Spanish speaking country, though my girlfriend (who is from a Spanish speaking South America country) tells me I need to "stop speaking fucking Mexican" weekly. It came in handy though the second time I was arrested and had a Mexican cell mate for a day, who loved me because I wasn't a typical racist southerner, and we had good talks about soccer and beer.

    And my MB name is a Mexican saying, so that has to triple the quality of my language skills, right?

    Anti-Focus: I've never taken French in my life, and the only things I can say in French are "yes" and "French, if you please." I tried to test out of French and still get credit, but instead I tested in to French 305 at my current school. If only I could say "No, I surrender" I'm sure I'd have a French degree by now.
     
  5. Rabbit B.

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    French: I started studying 2 months ago. I bought a text bookish book and study it almost every day. What I've found incredibly helpful though is using interpals.net. I went on there and found about 4-5 french people who were willing to speak with me in french and correct my abundant grammatical mistakes. It's improved my reading by leaps and bounds, but I still can't listen to french and understand it. I'm going to try to watch some dialogue videos, but I don't know how much it'll help.
     
  6. Noland

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    I had 6 years of middle and high school Spanish and 2 years of college Spanish and I can get by speaking in infinitives and nouns.

    Although I can flawlessly find a bathroom, order drinks, and curse like a sailor.
     
  7. hiphopguru

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    I'm fluent enough in American sign language. Although I'm not sure if you say "speak" as the correct term for this one?
     
  8. Disgustipated

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    A bare smattering of Japanese from high school.

    I don't remember much German, mainly because we didn't learn much as the teacher was Polish and would always leave class crying as the nasty kids would ask her to tell them stories about the Nazis (I'm not making this up). I can still count to ten, and with proper enunciation and accent such that a mother of an ex of mine (who was German) assumed I was German.
     
  9. Deepinit

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    Hebrew - I was born in Israel, then moved to the States when I was 4. While growing up my mother refused to speak to me and my brother in English. The result: At 29 I have no accent but I'm only conversationally fluent. That is, when in Israel, I sound like I'm from there but since my vocabulary doesn't include slang or modern terms I'm taken to be a little 'special'. Of course then they'll hear me revert back to English and realize I'm not an idiot, I was just out of the country for 25 years. I'm then praised for speaking as well as I do.

    Sadly there's not much it's really helped me with other than buying a falafel. I once hooked up with a girl who wanted me to speak Hebrew to her while we were fucking. The problem is the Hebrew word for 'yes' is 'ken'. Never would've really thought much about it had I not met my first year roommate...Ken. Because up until that point I'd never met a Ken before. So this girl is asking me to talk dirty to her in Hebrew, which I failed at (no slang remember) and responds to me by saying ken over and over. I rolled with it for about ten minutes before I couldn't take it and reverted back to English. Besides, 'Filthy Whore' rolls off the tongue way nicer than 'Zona', 'Frecha', or Shar'mootah do (Bitch, Slut, Whore respectively).
     
  10. Lasersailor

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    In 7th grade we had the teaser courses in all the different languages available. German was the only one I didn't outright fail.

    I used to be very good at it. I even had a couple dreams in fluent german way back when. But now my skill has waned. I can read german, and hear german fine. But it'll take me 10 minutes to form a cogent sentence.


    When has this become useful? Once. During my thesis I accidentally stumbled on german engineering article. So, 6 years of studying, for 15 minutes worth of work.
     
  11. Primer

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    Try being an English only speaker in nearly any part of Quebec, it's fucking terrible. Last time I was there, I just had my Quebec friends speak for me and they told everyone that I am a mute, I just winked and nodded at a lot of people.

    Focus: As the great Korben Dallas would say; Whoa, lady, I only speak two languages, English and bad English.

    I've tried learning other languages but it's almost a lost cause on me. Teach me math, science or how to cook a rabbit but teaching me how to ask for Mushroom soup in French is a lost cause.
     
  12. Angel_1756

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    Other than English and high-school French, I speak enough Cantonese and Mandarin to identify myself, order dinner, locate a bathroom, and say "Mom, I'm sorry, please stop hitting me, I'll never do it again".

    The boyfriend, when he gets a few beers into him, adopts a thick East Coast accent, which I consider to be basically another language. "So, I was talking to Dan the other night, and <sip beer> lard tonderin' jeez by, he's back on the pogey!"
     
  13. Maltob14

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    I speak English very best bro. I also speak ay-rab which makes life so much easier at the Al Qaeda annual picnics.
     
  14. Samr

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    Like many others here on the board, I speak English. Professionally, I know the language well enough to be a primary editor for the company.

    - In school I had to pick a language to "learn," and living within smuggling distance of the Mexico border I naturally picked Spanish. I used to say I was fairly fluent, but not because of schooling. At various points in life I've been in environments where I needed to speak, or at least understand, spanish on a decent level; when you're in a place like that, you pick it up out of necessity. In my opinion, a new language is best learned in the real world, not from a book.

    - We used to have a ranch hand who was deaf. Though most of our communication with him took place on a sheet of paper, as a basic human sign of respect I took it upon myself to learn sign language. Surprisingly, I picked it up rather quickly, to the point where we were able to handle all of our conversations through signing -- if I didn't know a specific word, I'd either spell it out or work my way around it, and I understood the vast majority of what he said, though it was simplified for me.

    The opportunities to use sign language are rare and accordingly I am not as fluent in it as I once was, but I can proudly say I once attempted to (and failed to) pick up a deaf chick. At least the intent was there. I gave it my best effort.

    I'm about to graduate with a degree in public speaking/speech communications, and not surprisingly learning ASL has helped me TREMENDOUSLY when I get up in front of people and talk.
     
  15. scotchcrotch

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    I had a teacher in high school talk me into joining his after school Latin class, claiming it'd help me in my pursuit of pre-med college aspirations.

    My parents laughed at the idea, and rightfully so told me I was wasting my time.
     
  16. GcDiaz

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    Español is my native tongue, though you wouldn't know it from hearing me speak it now. Seems like acquiring English fluency somehow turned my Spanish to shit, where pronunciation is involved. Read it, write it, hear it? No problem. Speak it? I damn near stutter, unless I pace myself enough to sound like a student.
     
  17. Prefontaine

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    I'm fluent in Spanish when drunk. Fluent in Texican when sober.
     
  18. rbz90

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    I come from a pretty diverse family, where everyone at one point immigrated to a different country. As a result I can speak quite a few languages.

    I am fluent in Bulgarian and Russian and I'd venture to say my English is if not fluent pretty close to it.

    I also started taking Spanish in grade 8 and haven't stopped since (I'm 20 now) so while not fluent I can speak it pretty well.
    I gotta be honest knowing Bulgarian is only helpful when I go to visit relatives otherwise I only speak it with my parents.
     
  19. kuhjäger

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    Certain people in my family have language skills. It skips generations. For example I have an uncle who was 100% fluent in: Irish, German, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) French, and Russian.

    He enlisted in the Navy as a submariner. When the brass found out about his language skills, he was immediately taken off regular submarine duty and put onto the fast track to be an officer.

    I have an aunt who is a professor of Spanish as well.

    As for myself, I seem to have gotten the ability as well. Besides english I can:

    Speak, read, write Spanish. I had definitely lost quite a bit of it from non use until I moved into a predominantly Mexican area, and I was around it all the time.

    I am fluent in all forms of German.

    Swedish I can speak, read, write, however I still have problems with listening. It is a more tonal language than most people are used to, and sounds get blended into one another that make it a bit hard for me to distinguish them.
     
  20. Harry Coolahan

    Harry Coolahan
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    I have a knack for languages.

    I speak: native French. Modern Standard Arabic (have passed off as a native Arabic speaker a few times). At one point was fluent in Spanish, it's pretty rusty right now though. Pretty basic Farsi. I can understand Italian, Moroccan, and Berber to varying degrees, have never formally studied them though.

    Given that I'm 20 years old and still in school, my language skills are probably the only quantifiable skill I have. I'm anticipating my Arabic will help me get a job in the Middle East next year. In the meantime, it's made traveling easier and more interesting, women love it (especially the French), and I think it's improved my memory and abstract/concrete thinking skills.