The Joys of Speaking a Foreign language

Brotherton Lad

LE
Kit Reviewer
I have been practising my thank you speech - to be delivered before any Veltins, Warsteiner or Erdinger is taken. I am throwing myself on the hosts good nature early!
Halloumikid
Ich druecke dir die Daumen.
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
I have been practising my thank you speech - to be delivered before any Veltins, Warsteiner or Erdinger is taken. I am throwing myself on the hosts good nature early!
Halloumikid
Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!
 

BarcelonaAnalPark

LE
Book Reviewer
For amusement I watch a young american guy by the name of "xiaoma' on YouTube who is a polyglot but specialises in Chinese dialects, he is able to learn a language within a week.
How the **** is it possible?

There are certain constants across nearly all languages. Such as pronouns, verbs, nouns, tenses, etc. What humans talk about is also broadly similar across all cultures, based on wants, needs & desires; food, water, s$xxx, etc.

When looking at a new language it's broadly a case of learning the important stuff to get the vitals. If you cracked that in 2 weeks then you can get by.
 

sirbhp

LE
Book Reviewer
i dont know if the mob still does , but back in the day they had language schools for Russian an Arabic. How long were the courses and how well could folks speak the language ? I ask because most school kids do a french or German or even Spanish selection at school but very very few come out fluent after five years of it .
 

DaManBugs

LE
Book Reviewer
Rubbish! Hals und Beinbruch.
Which is equivalent to saying: "I hope you break your neck and leg" (even without the "Bindestrich" after "Hals"). I believe it was originally used in "artistic circles" in German-speaking countries and, roughly, corresponds to the English expression: "I hope you break a leg".
In the meantime, the German term has found favour in general to mean: "Good luck!"

MsG
 
i dont know if the mob still does , but back in the day they had language schools for Russian an Arabic. How long were the courses and how well could folks speak the language ? I ask because most school kids do a french or German or even Spanish selection at school but very very few come out fluent after five years of it .
I did the colloquial Arabic course back in the lat 1980s before the Gulf became a place of interest to the army. The course lasted 10 or 12 weeks and would have been well out of my depth on arrival in Oman if I had ever ended up getting there. I was about mid table in capability so not an outlier.

It would have been a very steep learning process on arrival at the Armour School but many before and after me managed it so I am sure I would have coped eventually.

I would have been alright if called upon to play bridge, as I spent most Wed afternoons during conversation practice with one of the instructors playing with the local bridge club, all bidding etc and conversation being conducted in Arabic, still got creamed by the old blue rinse set though.

@Brotherton Lad is your man for comment on the length and breadth of the Russian courses.
 

Brotherton Lad

LE
Kit Reviewer
I did the colloquial Arabic course back in the lat 1980s before the Gulf became a place of interest to the army. The course lasted 10 or 12 weeks and would have been well out of my depth on arrival in Oman if I had ever ended up getting there. I was about mid table in capability so not an outlier.

It would have been a very steep learning process on arrival at the Armour School but many before and after me managed it so I am sure I would have coped eventually.

I would have been alright if called upon to play bridge, as I spent most Wed afternoons during conversation practice with one of the instructors playing with the local bridge club, all bidding etc and conversation being conducted in Arabic, still got creamed by the old blue rinse set though.

@Brotherton Lad is your man for comment on the length and breadth of the Russian courses.

The interpreter course was 18 months full time with a fortnight in the apartment of a Russian family. In St Petersburg, in my case. Lovely wife who thought nothing of washing in front of me in her underwear. Her husband was away in Kazakhstan and had posted his mother in as a chaperone. She thought everyone to the West spoke a language called European.

In the olden days students would spend time with White Russians in Paris. This reminds me of a waiter in East Berlin (Koepernik) who had learnt his English by reading Dickens. It was like listening to your great grandfather.

Autres pays, autres moeurs.
 

Mufulira42

Old-Salt
The interpreter course was 18 months full time with a fortnight in the apartment of a Russian family. In St Petersburg, in my case. Lovely wife who thought nothing of washing in front of me in her underwear. Her husband was away in Kazakhstan and had posted his mother in as a chaperone. She thought everyone to the West spoke a language called European.

In the olden days students would spend time with White Russians in Paris. This reminds me of a waiter in East Berlin (Koepernik) who had learnt his English by reading Dickens. It was like listening to your great grandfather.

Autres pays, autres moeurs.
Irrc that the optimum method of language teaching was a 'sleep-in' dictionary and the lessons stayed taught and the melody lingered on!
 

Brotherton Lad

LE
Kit Reviewer
Irrc that the optimum method of language teaching was a 'sleep-in' dictionary and the lessons stayed taught and the melody lingered on!

I often still leave the radio on overnight. I remember the Russian officers we hosted at Beaconsfield were intrigued by the 4 yard long wave antenna out of the kitchen window. Used to get the Russian service of the Vatican and that of New Zealand just the once.
 
Which is equivalent to saying: "I hope you break your neck and leg" (even without the "Bindestrich" after "Hals"). I believe it was originally used in "artistic circles" in German-speaking countries and, roughly, corresponds to the English expression: "I hope you break a leg".
In the meantime, the German term has found favour in general to mean: "Good luck!"

MsG
Thanks. God spare me Academics. It’s actually quite jocular and the exact opposite is meant, nor is it recent. It was used in Military circles.
 
Despite my best efforts to learn foreign languages, I have failed miserably. My brain simply is not wired for the capability. I do, however, have the ability to sound as if I speak several, even if it's utter gibberish. I can also read French (and Deutsch to a degree) aloud with an almost flawless accent, despite not understanding a bloody word of it. The missus speaks French and German.

I have therefore adopted the Welsh approach: make shit up.

Oo la la. Mon dieu. Apres moi le fromage Rodders!
 

DaManBugs

LE
Book Reviewer
Thanks. God spare me Academics. It’s actually quite jocular and the exact opposite is meant, nor is it recent. It was used in Military circles.
The saying has a very interesting history and, probably, stems from a Jewish tradition, believe it or not. Here's an article I found about it:

MsG
 

DaManBugs

LE
Book Reviewer
Despite my best efforts to learn foreign languages, I have failed miserably. My brain simply is not wired for the capability. I do, however, have the ability to sound as if I speak several, even if it's utter gibberish. I can also read French (and Deutsch to a degree) aloud with an almost flawless accent, despite not understanding a bloody word of it. The missus speaks French and German.

I have therefore adopted the Welsh approach: make shit up.

Oo la la. Mon dieu. Apres moi le fromage Rodders!
To quote from your post: "... I have failed miserably. My brain simply is not wired for the capability". That, in my opinion, is nonsense. You've already learned your native language (which I assume is English), thus proving that you most certainly have the ability. In fact, having done it once and made a success of it, there's no reason to suppose that you can't learn a second or third language, or even more if you wish. What's stopping you is you!

The principle is the same with anything you learn, be it a subect at school, a trade or whatever, your personal attitude is decisive. You can either say to yourself: "I can't do this" or you can say: "I can't do this yet" and both times you'll be right. Your "problem" (for want of a better term) is that you expect immediate success in your endeavour. In addition, you hear folks around you speaking other languages. What you don't "hear" is just how much work and dedication they've put into it. It's not for nothing that folks say: "Practice makes perfect".

As if that wasn't enough, there's also the factor that you're loath to make mistakes because you believe it makes you look stupid. But believe me, mistakes are the best way of learning. I know that sounds paradoxical but if you're unsure of an expression and use it, you'll always have that nagging doubt. Was it correct or were folks just too polite to point out the mistake(s)? However, if you actually make a mistake with it and it's corrected, then you know the right form for certain and no longer have to worry about it.

What you shouldn't underestimate is the extra work involved in learning a language. It's not something you can do when the mood takes you. It will always be an additional effort that you have to work into your life agenda. What you'll get out of it is the enrichment of your life through learning about a different culture, because you can't learn a language without learning about the culture on which it's structured and which heavily influences it. Go for it and the best of luck!

MsG
 
Despite my best efforts to learn foreign languages, I have failed miserably. My brain simply is not wired for the capability. I do, however, have the ability to sound as if I speak several, even if it's utter gibberish. I can also read French (and Deutsch to a degree) aloud with an almost flawless accent, despite not understanding a bloody word of it. The missus speaks French and German.

Hows your singing

People with a good ear for music tend to be much better at languages - People like me who are charitably called tone deaf* will struggle as you just dont distinguish the sounds as well.

Gets harder as you get older as well




*And not so charitably told their singings like a cat with its balls trapped in a dustbin
 
Hows your singing

People with a good ear for music tend to be much better at languages - People like me who are charitably called tone deaf* will struggle as you just dont distinguish the sounds as well.

Gets harder as you get older as well




*And not so charitably told their singings like a cat with its balls trapped in a dustbin
A theory held for years. However, the ‘good ear for music’, and particularly singing, really refers to the ability to pick up and replicate the tonal qualities of a spoken language - accents if you like.
It is perfectly possible to learn and speak a grammatically/vocabulary correct form of a language, but to never be able to sound remotely like a native.
Brit friends of ours in Italy had lived and worked there for about 25 years. Their Italian grammar and vocabulary were perfect, but as soon as they opened their mouths there was no way anybody could mistake them for being from other than ‘oop North in the UK.
As to the point made above about making mistakes. It is an adult Brit trait to consider a mistake makes them look foolish. Error!
For the most part - stand fast bloody arrogant Parisians, especially waiters - your interlocutors will help out in recognition of you making an effort to speak their language.
The Italians have a saying, drummed into children at infants and primary school - my two will tell you that: ‘Chi sbaglia, impara’.
‘Those who make mistakes, learn’ or , more loosely translated as ‘Learn from your mistakes’.
 
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The saying has a very interesting history and, probably, stems from a Jewish tradition, believe it or not. Here's an article I found about it:

MsG
Ah yes. The other source could have been that it was quite common for trainee cavalrymen in the Austrian/Prussian armies too break limbs and not infrequently necks whilst learning to ride not to mention circus performers on the trapeze or high wire. A Toungue in Cheek “Viel gluek dammit “if nothing is expected as an out come. “Ich drueke Mir die daumen” would be if you were sitting an examination or some such. First day in the office, new undertaking or some such Hals und Beinbruch Quite jocular. It just depends on the mood.
 

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