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Thinking of learning a new language.


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Hey I'm thinking of learning a new language just for fun.I heard for English speakers that German is a good choice because they share more in common then other European languages.I saw that Daniel Gentile's site had German as a option so if you read this can you tell if it is any easier than other languages like French or Spanish?

Edited by Andrew
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Hey I'm thinking of learning a new language just for fun.I heard for English speakers that German is a good choice because they share more in common then other European languages.I saw that Daniel Gentile's site had German as a option so if you read this can you tell if it is any easier than other languages like French or Spanish?

 

I think it's an entirely subjective thing. It really depends on the affinity you have for the particular language. Personally I think I would have an easier time learning German than say French. English may have it's roots in Germanic languages but the similarity really ends there in my opinion. My wife who has taught herself French has a harder time with German which she will need to try and teach to my homescooled son. I can listen to spoken German and feel like I can almost understand it but learning the grammar of languages that have many more genders and cases than we use in English is daunting to say the least. Spanish is probably the easiest for English speakers to pick up.

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If you live in the US Spanish will probably end up becoming the dominant language sooner then later.

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I would suggest Spanish, I myself speak quite a bit of Brazilian Portuguese (understand more then a I speak).

Spanish is a good spring board to Portuguese and if you are good at languages you can pick up other romance languages (Italian and French)

For instants, I was searching through bladesmithing websites and I came across a French Canadian site and I could read much of it.

 

So in short, Spanish would be a good way to go.

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I studied French and Japanese in highschool and college. French, Italian, Spanish and Portugese are relatively similar- similar rules for conjugation, sentence structure, even words. Aside from learning Latin and Greek someday (and brushing up onthe French and finally mastering Japanese) I would learn the Spanish they speak in Spain and springboard from there. My cousin studied "Spanish" in highschool for four years (and was a good at it) she said she had a hell of a time in Spain- almost like they were speaking a foreign laguage! She came to find out that the "Spanish" we're taught in America is more like "Mexican".

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_language

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You could try Latin, I'm on my second year and am amazed at all of the root words that come from latin, granted its not spoken too often but will build up your knowledge of English by leaps and bounds.

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Languages are fun. As a kid, I picked up a smattering of several Slavic tongues and Yiddish from living in my neighborhood of immigrant coal-miners, brick-yard and foundry workers. My grandparents and great-grandfather spoke French instead of their native Ukrainian around the house. Go figure.

Spanish is a major part of our culture here in the Southwest. It's also a beatiful language, IMHO.

Mark Twain had a great essay entitled "The Ferocious German Language", which is both accurate and hilarious. I like German: despite its ferocity, it's logical and has few exceptions to its rules. Sentence structure is reasonable, unlike Latin-based languages. Yoda used it, and if it good enough for a Jedi master was, it for me good enough is.

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Thanks for reminding me about that essay Charles, I found it online under "The Awful German Language" and it was very entertaining! :D It explains why I was having so much trouble trying to translate the scholarly book I have in German on the viking age swords (three hours spent with a good German dictionary to only vaguely translate a two sentence paragraph!) The hyphen-less 'made' up words explain a lot, these words are not in the dictionary and when you break them down into their root words these individial words can often mean up to a dozen different un-related things based on their combination with other words and modifiers, the subject matter, case and gender! That book on the swords is littered with these. :lol:

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Ha ha... up here there's no Spanish to speak of and the best bet for a using language would be Quebecoise... errr... French. It cracks me up when I go to some national bank's ATM here in Vermont and they have Spanish as an option and not French. (Hint: "Verd-mont" = Green Mountains.) According to the census there's about 5000 "Hispanics," in Vermont and I don't think most of them actually speak Spanish.

 

I think about German though, just as an entry into Old English and Old Norse; never mind the scientific, historical and metallurgical texts...

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I studied French and Japanese in highschool and college. French, Italian, Spanish and Portugese are relatively similar- similar rules for conjugation, sentence structure, even words. Aside from learning Latin and Greek someday (and brushing up onthe French and finally mastering Japanese) I would learn the Spanish they speak in Spain and springboard from there. My cousin studied "Spanish" in highschool for four years (and was a good at it) she said she had a hell of a time in Spain- almost like they were speaking a foreign laguage! She came to find out that the "Spanish" we're taught in America is more like "Mexican".

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_language

 

That depends Kris.

 

Point given, there are so many vices in Latin American "Castillian" that it becomes rather troublesome to get to a concensus as to which is proper. Just as it happens in English with all the alternative slang from all the countries in the Commonwealth and outside it.

 

I would tell you as a Spanish speaker since I was 1 y.o (yeah started speaking at that age), that Spaniards do have a tonne of crap in modern spanish. I recently made a rather heavy essay on Castillian Ortography for Uni and addressed some of their egocentrical approach to the languages.

 

I agree there are so many stupid things going on in Latin American spanish but if you were to use it as a tool then your best bet is to learn a variant of Spanish used in Latin America as it comprises the majority of Spanish speakers worldwide, and it's not as if you cannot be understood by reasonable spanish speakers anywhere in the world, after all Jesus (Hernandez) and myself understand each other perfectly despite our different backgrounds.

 

My main considerations for learning a language are:

 

*That it respects etymological roots for words/names/names of places/etc in their original languages as much as possible.

*That it has not derived too far from its language source

*That it applies sense over inflexible rules and does not wish to enforce them further than it is sensible.

*That its phonems are as close to the written stuff as possible (for languages written in non cyrilic, or other distinct graphic alphabets)

 

Spanish does not comply with any of those much at all... for example...

Edinburgh in Spanish will be Edimburgo, because of a rule regarding consonants that precede the B. Thus changing the sense of the original Dun-Edin in Scottish Gaelic.

Words deriving from Latin such as Ferrum, Fili, etc for no better reason than perhaps boredom changed in Spanish to H (Hierro, Hijo, etc).

In Latin V was pronounced "UV" (Think Vini, Vidi, Vici and pronounce it as if you were in Wikipedia Wini,Widi, Wiki and you got as close to the proper pre-Ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation as you can get), that is why in English and other languages you still pronounce its double form as Double U. In Spanish however has two variables, in Spain is the same as any V and is not "labidental" as they call it in Latin America, thus making the language even crappier than it already is.

In Latin America the Z is not pronounced correctly, however Spaniards suffer from what I call overzealousness or perhaps "Z-Diarrhea" as they will pronounce C, S and Z in most cases as the same phonem, thus rendering their usage of these characters flawed.

 

Needless to say I could go on and on and on. Don't get me wrong it's a beautiful language to write poetry and prose with, but the way it is used lends itself for abuse. Most translations of books in other languages to Spanish tend to be horrendous to say the least and the egocentrical approach of its speakers tend to allow them to commit all sort of linguistic atrocities.

 

I much rather prefer in that respect Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and French in that order if you were to stay closer to the source, much more honest languages (with the exception of French and a bunch of stupid phonems it possesses).

 

German, Norwegian, Swedish, etc cannot be said are close to what Saxon and other germanic languages were in the past, they have evolved quite a bit from their source. However I have heard from Norwegian friends that Norwegian is actually one of the easiest languages in the world to learn over English, and in my opinion English is extremely easy despite the atrocious phonetic system which lends itself for the confusion it causes even on the most expert native speakers.

 

These languages however don't suffer from the same vices that English does, which can be illustrated by Dubbya's stunner (What is the french for Entrepeneur?). In Britain in particular a lot of people are amazed when a well read and literate Continental citizen speaks with words that usually are beyond the daily lexicum of regular joes and wonder how they achieved "such a good english", such occasions usually lend themselves to put them in their place and show them the etymological way to their ignorance. Let's not forget after all that it is a language made almost entirely of borrowed words.

 

I think you should weigh the reasons why you want to learn a language, be it pleasure or as a tool to use in your work or prospective improvement to your skills. If it is just as a pleasurable challenge I recommend a language outside the usual European Palette and go for something Asian, if it is for business then in the U.S you are safe with any European choice to be honest. Either way as most English speakers you have a hell of a lot of work ahead of you to learn a different language, it's a fact that native english speakers are rather poor at learning languages, and that is not due to intelligence but the hodge podge of things that make English what it is.

Edited by Hÿllyn
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@CProkop/ Guy Thomas: now you´ve really got me rollin on the floor, crying tears from laughter over that essay - it describes the german language about perfectly, though I never got to see it that way as a natural speaker.

As complicated as it may seem german gives you the opportunity to be very unmistakably precise about what you´re saying (it is said to be one of the philosophers languages next to latin).

 

Four cases in german, five in latin? Try russian - they have six!

Did it together with english at the university in Heidelberg for one and a half year but as being absolutely grammar-resistant I had no chance getting along with it (while it´s one of the most beautiful sounding languages to me and I had no problems pronouncing it).

 

Speaking german, english, french and some crumbs of italian and latin (gotta love that language!), spanish will be the next thing for me.

 

 

Christoph.

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Hyllin mentioned that Norwegian is often considered to be an easy language for English speakers to learn. I've tried a few Norwegian language instruction CDs and I have to admit it seems much easier to pick up than the German I have tried and to the ear it seems even more familiar than German. Despite the French and Latin influences on English that's probably to be expected as the roots of English seem to have more in common with the Scandinavian languages (barring the language of Finland of course) than other continental Germanic languages.

 

You know, given my penchant for using parentheses so much in my writing perhaps I might not have as much trouble with German as I think I might! :D I do think it is true that native English speakers have more trouble with learning other languages due to the general nature of English but I can't help but think that geographical and cultural isolation has a lot to do with it as well.

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Here's another language gem from Samuel Clemens: :D

 

In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language. -Mark Twain

 

I have simply the worst time with French though I do seem to provide a lot of amusement for my wife. Here's another from Steve Martin: Those French, they have a different word for everything...

 

French and Italian are beautiful languages. I love to hear songs in German however, it just tickles something in my inner ear! (written as the lyrics and tune to Nena's incredibly rythmic 99 Luftballoons in the original German floats through my brain...)

Edited by Guy Thomas
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For Christ's sake, Andrew, forget about German.

Not only it is very difficult to learn but it is getting progressively more useless.

It was in vogue during World War 2 (makes sense, huh?), then it got displaced by Russian (in East Europe) and English (in West Europe).

Ten years ago it was still somehow popular in the European union but newest researches show that it is at the bottom of the chart of foreign languages being taught in EU schools.

It is a b*tch to learn too. Yes, it may share same roots with English but it is still like nothing else you've seen til now - it has cases and it has great many complex words consisting of roots of other simple words and you have to do a linguistic analysis anytime you meat a new word and try to guess its meaning.

 

Spanish is your best choice - a whole continent (South America) speaks it and from what I hear it seems that it will slowly but surely dominate the Southern US too.

It is hugely based on Latin, so many words will coincide with their 'English' equivalents (because English uses way too many Latin words for a language belonging to the Germanic group)

 

I want to learn Polish... and the old language of Ireland before the English got there.

Ouch! :D

I had an Irish professor and he told me that no more than 2000 people speak the old Gaelic in Ireland. It is a dying language. Maybe the Breton language (a Celtic language as well) in France is more popular.

Polish is a living hell even for people whose own language is from the Slavic group.

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my mother tongue is swiss german, some kind of a german dialect that most germans hardly understand. however, in school we have to speak and write high german, newspapers, a lot of tv programmes etc. are in high german as well. despite the fact that high german is very common here, many swiss german speakers are in serious trouble as soon as they have to say or write a simple german sentence, because the german grammar is a little bit different from the swiss german grammar, and known to be much more complicated than that of languages like italian, french, spanish, or english, dutch etc.

 

i know a lot of people who had to learn german at school, and every one says it was a major and unparalleled nightmare. no wonder that most of our french and italian speaking compatriots (who all went through that nightmare at school) refuse persistently to say a most simple swiss german sentence like "grüezi" ("hello")...

 

just an example, that gives you an idea how sentences can be split and encapsuled (one sentence, one colour):

 

Während er durch die Stadt, deren Strassen, die wegen eines Ausfalls eines städtischen Kraftwerkes, das schon vor langer Zeit hätte saniert werden sollen, dunkel waren, schlenderte, überlegte er sich, ob er das Angebot seines Freundes, den er seit Jahren nicht mehr gesehen hatte, annehmen sollte.

 

in english, word by word:

while he through the city, the streets of which, that because of a failure of a power station, that a long time ago should have been renovated, were dark, walked, he considered, if he the offer of a friend of his, who he hasn't met for years, should accept.

 

even yoda wouldn't master this, i think :)

hans

Edited by Hans Holzach
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