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February 6, 2017 6:31 pm  #21


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

Really? I never heard any German in her either.

I don't know if any of you have played the role-playing game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim? It takes place in Skyrim, the home of the Nords. A people that is heavily influenced, in terms of landscape, culture and architecture, by Norse/Viking culture - yet a lot of the native Nords speak like Arnold Schwarzenegger.


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February 6, 2017 6:34 pm  #22


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

Vhanja wrote:

Really? I never heard any German in her either.

I don't know if any of you have played the role-playing game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim? It takes place in Skyrim, the home of the Nords. A people that is heavily influenced, in terms of landscape, culture and architecture, by Norse/Viking culture - yet a lot of the native Nords speak like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Haven't played the game but the accent thing sounds funny!

John's "therapist" has supposedly a German accent. Ariane sez so! http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png

She does speak with a peculiar lilt but it's so soft I'd think she was Italian or something...


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February 6, 2017 6:39 pm  #23


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

She does have a German twang to me.
No, they all always conversed in English.
My old neighbours (when I was a young girl in England) used to endlessly amuse us.  For instance the wife was always saying: 'The sun, it always shines in Germany.' This used to have us in hysterics of laughter!


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February 6, 2017 8:36 pm  #24


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

Like Nakahara said, Czech and Slovak are very similar and other Slavic languages are easier to learn/understand as well for Czech speakers, especially Polish: we had a Polish guide in Auschwitz - we didn't understand all but we understood the important things. And learning Russian was so much fun - when we didn't know the word, we just tried to say the Czech word with Russian accent and sometimes it worked. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png


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February 6, 2017 8:45 pm  #25


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

Being English I understand...well pretty much only English haha. I obviously know some French words that we use but not enough to understand the language properly. I've forgotten nearly all of the French I learnt in school apart from some random (really useful!) sentences like "dans ma trousse il ya un stylo", not sure why that one stuck in my brain.

Slightly off topic but on the subject of languages I studied (sort of) Korean for a while so I know some very basic phrases but I've probably forgotten a lot of that as well.


                                                                                                                      

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February 6, 2017 9:57 pm  #26


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

I can understand Dutch quite well but I am not sure that goes for all Germans. My dialect is related to Dutch which makes understanding much easier. 


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February 6, 2017 10:43 pm  #27


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

This is an interesting topic!
I speak English and French (as some of you already know) and took two Spanish classes in high school so I know a little. A year and a half ago I was somehow able to stumble through some Spanish conversations with athletes when I volunteered at the Pan Am Games for a week. French has similarities with Spanish, so that made some of it easy to learn. When watching Italian movies, I find there are words similar to Spanish ones. I have also noticed that some German words are similar to English equivalents, like the word for good.


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February 7, 2017 6:57 am  #28


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

Indeed and accent wise, we from the North of England are supposed to be some of the best German speakers!


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February 7, 2017 7:35 am  #29


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

I can imagine - the Northern English pronounciation is sometimes quite similar to the German. 


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"To fake the death of one sibling may be regarded as a misfortune; to fake the death of both looks like carelessness." Oscar Wilde about Mycroft Holmes

"It is what it is says love." (Erich Fried)

“Enjoy the journey of life and not just the endgame. I’m also a great believer in treating others as you would like to be treated.” (Benedict Cumberbatch)

http://up.picr.de/28609194so.png

 
 

February 7, 2017 9:31 am  #30


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

Yeah, both English, German and Scandinavian have Germanic roots, so several words are similar. 

I can't remember the name of the place, but there is a place in England that has a dialect heavily influenced by Norwegian. It's quite fascinating. 

Also, isn't it the Scots who use the word "baern" for children? That's similar to the Norwegian "barn", which means the same.


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February 7, 2017 11:25 am  #31


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

Vhanja wrote:

Also, isn't it the Scots who use the word "baern" for children? That's similar to the Norwegian "barn", which means the same.

Isn´t it a direct borrowing from Old Norse? It influenced northern parts of Britain quite heavily during Middle Ages. This paper has a nice list of borrowed words in its conclusion and the list is certainly not exhaustive, there were certainly more words borrowed:

http://www.academia.edu/227732/Lexical_imposition_Old_Norse_vocabulary_in_Scottish_Gaelic

P.S. What about an Icelandic language? Do Scandinavian speakers understand it too?


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February 7, 2017 11:36 am  #32


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

Icelandic is as close to Old Norse as we get. I am unable to understand spoken Icelandic due to the way the pronounce the words, but if I read an Icelandic text, I can perhaps understand the gist of it with some effort.

Last edited by Vhanja (February 7, 2017 11:39 am)


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February 7, 2017 11:54 am  #33


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

I tried to learn Icelandic but gave it up as a lost cause because the language seemed to exist completely outside of my frame of reference. Now I know why! It was the wrong frame of reference! :D *pokes Vhanja*


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February 7, 2017 12:19 pm  #34


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

Haha, yes, I think it would be the same for me if I were to learn Slavic languages - I have no frame of reference, no words I can recognize. Languages like English, German or Latin-based are much easier because I can recognize a lot of the words.


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February 7, 2017 4:28 pm  #35


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

Yes Scots and those from the North of England(East Coast) use 'bairns' for children.
I lived in Shetland for 5 years and their dialect is a mix of Scots and old Norse.


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December 17, 2017 11:05 pm  #36


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

Vhanja wrote:

Nominative, Accusative, Dative, Genitive etc. German has eight, doesn't it?

No, German has only these four. ;)
Latin has got five.
EIght would be too crazy, but I think Finnish has a lot of cases. Eight or nine...

Interesting topic. Understanding other languages has not so much to do with the direct neighbours most of the time. Most important is, that it is the same or related language family, I think.

I am German and German is my only mother tongue. I learned English AND Latin from quite an early young age on (~10 years old). Later, I also had some French in school and a tiny tiny tiny tiny bit of Spanish. I'm in my mid-twenties now, the only other language I use regulary now, is English. (Apart from German of course)

As a German, I am totally lost when it comes to understanding slavic languages.
Really.
I, and I bet 99% of all Germans, don't understand or could identify a word. I really wonder why. Although Poland and Czech Republic are direct neighbours. And it doesn't matter if spoken or written. I could as well try to listen to Chinese or Russian and understand just as much. Which would be nothing! ;) (Although from what I know, many pupils in the old GDR, when Germany was divided, had to learn Russian and Germans who grew up in the GDR might understand and speak some Russian. ;))
I noticed a tiny difference with Croatian, though. I think Croatian can be classified as a slavic language. I was there on holidays once, and there were a least some phrases that sounded a little bit familiar or in general, easier to understand. For instance I remember "Dobre dan" or something like that, which meant "good day" or "guten Tag". So "dan=Tag". yeahhh. I think Croatian is a bit influenced by the neighboured Italian (=the roman language group), as well as maybe some of its neighbours like Slovenia or Serbia.
Still, I am almost as lost as with the slavic languages.

I am more or less fluent in English, obviously. Not a surprise, as I had it for years in school and as it is a Germanic language and heavily influenced by Latin. Much more than German was influenced by Latin. I guess English is not that difficult to learn for Germans.

Now, what about the other Germanic languages?

Dutch obviously is similar to German, nontheless, it still isn't that easy to understand as you might think it is. So I would say if you read or listen to Dutch, you would definitely know what they are talking about, while being far from understanding all of it and VERY far from speaking a word of Dutch. What I experienced is, that Dutch people are FAR more capable of understanding and speaking German. (They are even better in English, but hey, Dutch is really not that far from English. )

The Scandinavian languages... Not easy to understand for Germans as well.  Those languages are not thaught in school. Although I can imagine that in the far north of Germany in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, you can also learn Danish in school, for example. But it is not common. While reading and listening to the Scandinavian languages, you will find some familiar words. But listening to a conversation, I am NOT sure, I would know what they are talking about in general... Dutch would be easier for sure. As I don't have much experience with Danish, Swedish and Norwegian, I can't tell which language would be the easiest to understand.

Now to the Roman language group... As I wrote above, I had Latin for some years, and later French. I can't tell if it mostly because of Latin, but although I never learned Italian, Portugese or Spanish (only had a handful of hours in Spanish), I understand these languages surprisingly good!!! Especially if it's written. I think in the end, it all helps: Latin, some years of French in school and English. French is obvious, because these roman languages are quite similar, French will help understanding the others. And yes, English as well! that's what I think: Enlish has so many Latin based words in it, that it will help you understand the other romanic languages. Speakers of Italian, Spanish and Portugese tend to speak super fast and often times I really don't understand much. That's why I would prefer written. If they speak very slow and clear and use "easy" words, I am sure I understand what the are talking about. And for sure better than the Scandinavian ones, even when spoken fast, although family wise, the Scandinavian ones should be closer to German.
But I think in the end, this effect comes from the languages I was thought. the focus clearly is on English, Spanish and French here in German schools. I had enough French to understand at least what a conversation would be about, or whats written in the newspaper and speak some very simple lines (enough to go on holidy there. ;)). With the others, especially Italian and Spanish, whether spoken or written, I would at least better understand what it is about, than when it comes to Scandinavian languages.

What would be interesting to know is, which language a person would understand best, if they never lerned any other language at school. So that the basis would only be their mother tongue. Maybe I would then understand Danish better than French for example.


A good and easy way to test your language skills, I think, is to read a little instruction manual for some device. You can very easy compare the same content.
What is more: If I read the same thing in German and KNOW what the text is about, I suddenly begin to understand more from the other languages, I can identify more words and their meaning for example. And this works interestingly with both: The Roman AND the Scandinavian languages.

Last edited by Rache (December 17, 2017 11:20 pm)


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December 18, 2017 11:59 am  #37


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

As Rache said. I'd just like to add a few things:

Understanding a spoken foreign language is more difficult than reading (easiest), writing or speaking it! Because it's fast (no way to look something up), you have no control over the content, and not everybody uses standard language correctly (yes, speaking is actually easier, because you decide what you say - you just need to get over your fear of making mistakes, which is not something that's encouraged or taught at schoool, unfortunately).

Being from the south of Germany (Germany has a "language divide", like France, only in Germany the southern version has turned into the standard version, in France the northern) I have no hope in hell to understand a Dutch speaker. A friend of my grandmother's from Hamburg, however, could converse with a Dutch person in their native languages (Plattdeutsch and Dutch, respectively) if they both took it slow. I can sort of decipher a simple Dutch text or list of ingredients (for exapmple on a food package), but oral Dutch sounds completely foreign. Same thing for Scandinavian languages - it's easy enough to figure out that "luft" and "vatten" in a Swedish service station mean "Luft" and "Wasser" (air and water), but there's no way I could understand a Swedish speaker.

The thing that cracks me up every time is that French and English have so many problems with the other's language - when about half the vocabulary is practically the same. That's something I noticed after becoming really competent in English, when I started to relearn French as an adult. And it's completely logical - when Willy crossed the channel in 1066 he brought his language...

Unfortunately this seems a well-guarded secret amongst both French teachers in England and English teachers in France (or possibly they don't even realize - the general level of foreign language teaching at school is abysmal).

 

December 18, 2017 10:20 pm  #38


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

Quite interesting conversation here!
I' m  native Russian speaker, but I speak also fluently German, a bit Italian, and learned English by myself. For me it's much easier to understand speaking English (as well as to read and write) than to speak. I' m totally embarrassed  to make a mistake, so the best way for me to speak free is to do it being  not fully sober.
Also, I like to "decipher" new  words I got to read or to hear.  Here a very nice one , for  example, as I was reading my favourite English poet from XVII century - " asunder".  I just loved it. Sounds quite like the German " auseinander". (And it's correct.)
Really enjoyable game , but I love languages in general. So I try to keep my Russian (writing at least) alive while speaking mainly German, Italian just for fun and improving my English as well.

Last edited by DramaQueen (December 18, 2017 10:22 pm)


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December 18, 2017 10:42 pm  #39


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

Yes, it is a fascinating topic. I speak French as a foreign language and can derive quite some words from Latin, Spanish, and Italian.
 


------------------------------
"To fake the death of one sibling may be regarded as a misfortune; to fake the death of both looks like carelessness." Oscar Wilde about Mycroft Holmes

"It is what it is says love." (Erich Fried)

“Enjoy the journey of life and not just the endgame. I’m also a great believer in treating others as you would like to be treated.” (Benedict Cumberbatch)

http://up.picr.de/28609194so.png

 
 

December 19, 2017 7:31 am  #40


Re: Understanding neighbouring languages

You know how notoriously lazy we Brits are, so lazy I can't even bothered to see what I've already said on this subject!
But to re-cap: learned French and German in school...long regretted not also doing Latin, still want to learn it.
Learned Welsh when I lived in Wales, did a year of Scots Gaelic and since a semester of Polish.
Out of interest: our primary school kids are taught French and Mandarin.


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