How many languages / What languages do you speak?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Giambattista, Feb 26, 2007.


How many languages are you fluent in?

  1. 1

  2. 2

  3. 3

  4. 4 or more.

  1. JonVonD Registered Member

    German - native
    English - pretty much native
    French - expert
    Russian - fluent
    Hungarian - expert/intermediate
    Persian - fluent
    Mandarin Chinese

    and scores of others, but these are the ones that I am pretty much able to think and converse readily;

    With German, English, Russian, French, Hungarian and Persian; it's pretty much simultaneous in that most words or phrase or thoughts I can translate immediately in between one another; so things like.....
    I think it's great that you're learning our language; I can fairly readily translate to

    Ich freue mich daran, dass du unsere Sprache lernst.
    Я рад тому, что ты занимаешься нашим языком.
    Én örülök, hogy tanulod a nyelvünket.
    Je suis heureux, que tu apprends notre langue.
    من خوشحالم که تو زبانمون درس میخوانی
    *note - all of these are in the informal mood and the Persian writing reflect oral forms of Iranian Tehrani dialect*

    Kazakh, Turkish, Japanese and Chechen and the other require me to brush up on stuff before I start trying to readily translate

    I'm also fairly familiar with Thai, Hindi and Urdu; mainly their writing systems; I've played around with Uzbek and Finnish, Tohono O'odham and Navajo.
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  3. Idle Mind What the hell, man? Valued Senior Member

    It is mandatory up until Grade 8 in BC. After that, you're free to choose another language if the school offers it, but it depends on the availability of teachers. You need to complete a second language up until Grade 9 to graduate, and up to Grade 11 was recommended for post-secondary acceptance.

    My high school offered German, Japanese and Spanish as alternatives to French when I attended, but I'm not sure if that's still the case (I know the German teacher I had has since retired, and I don't know if they simply dropped the course or found a replacement).
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Is English mandatory in Quebec? When I was there I encountered a surprising number of people who didn't understand it. Of course this was more than 30 years ago, perhaps things have changed.
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  7. Idle Mind What the hell, man? Valued Senior Member

    No, Quebec is not a bilingual province, and French is the official language. I would wager they have a similar requirement of learning English up until around grade 8 or 9, then not having to continue much past there.

    The percentage of people that speak or understand English in Quebec seems to change from city to city. In Montreal, chances are you'll find a more bilingual culture. But in smaller towns and Quebec city, there is a much stronger bias towards French.

    Interestingly, the only officially bilingual province in New Brunswick.
  8. mekafushka Registered Member

    I speak English and Sindhi. Sindhi is the language spoken by the people of the Sindh province in Pakistan (where I was born). I think it's a very beautiful language. I find Urdu (the other language spoken in Sindh) to be crude. My sister will be teaching me how to read and write it soon.

    Apart from that I know rudimentary French since I live in Canada. I chose to continue it past 9th grade, though.
  9. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member


    let's see,
    english, french, arabic, a beginner at japanese, and in this schoolar year i'll be learning spanish

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  10. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member


    oh oh, and I DID creat my own alphabet, no one can understand it but me.
    reason i did it: i have no idea.
    anyway i can use it very well, and read it very well.
    i'll show it to you later, tomorrow, after that, who cares, i'll show some to you, now, i'm going to sleep

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  11. Ja'far at-Tahir Grand Ayatollah of SciForums Registered Senior Member

    Farsi, Arabic, English.
  12. Kat9Lives Registered Senior Member

    Slovak - 1st language
    French - 2nd language
    English - 3rd language
    Japanese - begginer
    want to start Italian and Spanish
  13. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member


    ah, you're like me; but i'm starting spanish alone

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    and my first is arabic
  14. Moran Registered Senior Member

    Are those three languages? I guess mathematics is included therein

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  15. dmdiannemorales Banned Banned

    I speak English language, it's my way on reaching other people.
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    If those are hash marks, then "111" means three. Of course it could be binary, in which case he speaks seven languages. Or decimal for one hundred eleven.

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    And what other languages do you know?
  17. Gremmie "Happiness is a warm gun" Valued Senior Member

    1) English: Fluent.

    2) Spanish: Fluent.

    3) French: Not quite fluent, but, on a scale of 1-10 I'd say 7.5

    4) Italian: About the same as my French..7 or so.

    5) German: So-so..Haven't had call to speak the language in a while..5'ish
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    It's my own invention but it's fairly useful, and at least for this board I highly recommend The Fraggle Rocker Powers-Of-Three Fluency Scale. It focuses on the size of your vocabulary, but in order to use that many words you have to have a command of grammar and syntax at a comparable (but far less easily measured) level. The correlation of vocabulary size with a child's age is based on my own limited, informal research.
    • 0: 1 word. If you know less than one word then just round up from minus-infinity to 0.

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    • 1: 3 words. I think this is qualitatively different from knowing one word, but it's only one point so... eh!
    • 2: 10 words. You can pick your favorite foods off of a menu, give a simple greeting or thank-you, recognize an insult (but hopefully not give one), etc.
    • 3: 30 words. You can put a few important sentences together with vaguely correct grammar, and get yourself out of the most common kinds of trouble.
    • 4: 100 words. You understand the most basic principles of grammar and, with a lot of arm-waving and some really patient natives, you might get around the capital city.
    • 5: 300 words. A tourist who tries not to embarrass himself, you can ask questions and say a little about yourself.
    • 6: 1,000 words. This is the level of a 5-7 year-old child, depending on how precocious he is. You've taken a class or lived among the people. You have a good grasp of grammar although you make a lot of mistakes, and you can carry on a simple light-hearted conversation.
    • 7: 3,000 words. This is the level of a 7-9 year-old child, and of most people who have studied the language for two years in high school or one year in college; also of an immigrant who's spent a year working very hard to learn it from conversation. Your grammar is quite good and you can discuss things that interest you, as long as the listeners are very patient and helpful. Depending on the country, you might be able to get along for an extended period, or even hold down a simple job.
    • 8: 10,000 words. This is the level of a 9-14 year-old child. Most people who study a foreign language formally don't get much beyond this unless they emigrate and work in the country. Your grammar is almost flawless but you still can't understand so many of the words flying around that you feel a little left out of conversations and have to ask for help rather often.
    • 9: 30,000 words. This is the level of a university-graduate native speaker who got very good grades. You are very articulate and can produce and understand very complicated sentences. You may have a profession in which communication is one of the most important skills. You know many words that the average person doesn't know, but you still occasionally run into words you don't know, usually in specialties. Most intelligent, educated people rank somewhere between 8.5 and 9.0, but many are beyond 9.0.
    • 10: 100,000 words. This is the level of William Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, Jean-Paul Sartre and Jorge Luís Borges. You are a great orator and/or writer who inspires people with your command of the language. By the time you die there are words in the dictionary attributed to you. My scale handily stops here. Many of us can reasonably claim to have a score higher than 9.0, perhaps even much higher, but you'll probably never meet anyone personally who's close to a 10.0.
    So, if you're 7.5 in French on this scale, it means you have a vocabulary of six or seven thousand words and really good grammar, but you have trouble following conversations on serious topics. From your comments, I'd probably adjust that closer to 8.5.

    The advantage of an exponential scale is that it reflects the fact that the more you know, the faster you learn even more. Also, it has wide steps in the middle range where most non-natives fall, and this is also where communication, motivation and learning problems are clustered so it's handy to be able to distinguish among them.
  19. EmptyForceOfChi Banned Banned

    Add Basic conversational Arabic, Aramaic, Japanese to my list.

  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Wow, I've never met anyone who can speak Aramaic.

    Aramaic is a Northwest Semitic language, closely related to the Canaanite languages (Hebrew, Phoenician, etc.), in the Afroasiatic language family, which includes the Berber, Chadic, Cushitic, Egyptian, Omotic and Semitic branches.

    Aramaic was, variously, the vernacular, official and/or religious language in the Middle East for three thousand years, from the Babylonian era to the Ottoman era. Much of the Bible was originally written in Aramaic. The Aramaic abjad (an alphabet with no vowels, suitable for the Afroasiatic languages in which vowels are not phonemic) was the basis of most writing systems in the region. Since this includes the Phoenician abjad, this makes Aramaic the ancestor of the Greek, Roman and Cyrillic alphabets.

    As Arabic gained prominence in the region, Aramaic is now regarded as an endangered language. Nonetheless it still has close to half a million speakers, scattered in disparate communities, and is the liturgical language in many of the Eastern Christian churches in Asia. Lacking a cultural center, it has diverged into dialects that are still intercomprehensible. Fortunately, information technology is a new force for cohesion, standardization and survival: There are websites in Aramaic and at least one word processor supports the language.

    Like Greek and Chinese, Aramaic is one of the oldest languages that has had a more-or-less unbroken evolution from its ancient to its modern form.
  21. paygan Registered Member

    I put 2 but I need to practice my French up to get fluent again.
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I just posted a Sticky with a fluency scale we can all use on this board.
  23. valsartan Registered Senior Member

    I'm native of the Philippines, of course, I can speak and understand our native language which is Filipino. I can also understand another ethnic language from our country but can't speak it because I have issues with accent and intonations. I also speak English pretty well. I can also understand some Latin and Spanish words and phrases because my parents used to teach me some of them when I was a kid.

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