I cannot express all my emotions in English

Chris   Tuesday, November 11, 2003, 08:31 GMT
Do any of you native English speakers feel like you sometimes have a thought/emotion/idea/etc that you would like to express written or orally but there is no word for it in English?

I feel that my fluency in American English (my native tongue) is quite good, to the point where I often trip up other native speakers who say that in my academic and or/personal writing I use too many "twenty-dollar" words, or words that I could substitute something simpler for. I think I do this because I feel like the average American English speaker (can't vouch for UK/Australia/every other English speaking country) has a generally lousy vocabulary, weak grasp of grammar and needs very few linguistically difficult devices for their day to day life. I also think that few Americans ever learn another language unless they are forced to for college (such is my case, I'm being forced to learn Spanish to graduate), are in love with someone who is not a native English speaker, or plan to travel. Very few Americans seem interested in learning another language in order to enrich their powers of expression. Maybe this is because it takes one so long to reach a level of fluency where they can "safely" use idioms, slang and things that exist only in that language that most people just give up before then.

Getting back to my main point...do any of you ever want to learn another language because you feel you could express yourself as a human more efficiently and/or you really love the sounds and rhythms of another language?
A.S.C.M.   Tuesday, November 11, 2003, 17:37 GMT
Ahem, Chris, you are indeed getting on my nerves. Bah! I wonder at your tendency to bash up your own nationality and go about trying to learn from the British.

I think I can express all of my sentiments using English, though I'm perhaps best at displaying the contemplative, melancholy, excited, and angry sentiments. I do speak British English but I think that my American classmates can express themselves equally effectively. I appreciate the German and French languages and I was, in fact, born in Germany. However, English is still my language of preference.

In what part of the U.S. do you live? In my neck of the woods (West San Jose/Cupertino, California), everyone who attends high school is forced to learn a foreign language as a requirement for university admission. Moreover, most children can already speak two languages even before they attend high school, since the student population in my community is something like 60% Asian, 30% White, 10% Latinos. In general, the average student at my school is every bit as intelligent as his/her counterpart in a good British school.
Miguel   Wednesday, November 12, 2003, 20:55 GMT
The main reason by which I'm trying to study english is because of the importance of the language, I mean you cannot go anywhere without english, you use it for work, when you travel around the world..
mjd   Wednesday, November 12, 2003, 21:02 GMT

"Getting back to my main point...do any of you ever want to learn another language because you feel you could express yourself as a human more efficiently and/or you really love the sounds and rhythms of another language?"

I would have to opt for the latter of the two choices. I don't feel English hinders my expression at all, as it's my native language and the language I feel the most comfortable with. My interest in Portuguese stems from the language, sounds, literature, etc., not the need to express myself more thoroughly.
Juan   Wednesday, November 12, 2003, 23:11 GMT
Well in a few circumstances it does have a pretty limited vocabulary. But only in a few.
A.S.C.M.   Thursday, November 13, 2003, 00:39 GMT
It's so like Chris to start a thread and then leave it forever. He seldom or never replies to our responses. What sort of conversation is this?
Clark   Thursday, November 13, 2003, 05:15 GMT
Chris, I once said to one of my English uncles that the Americans do not use as "proper" vocabulary as the British. But I then thought about what I said, and then I told him that I was wrong; the Americans (and Canadians too) just use different words to express the same things; much as people do with foreign languages. Just because I say, "there is some tension between them" as opposed to a British person saying, "there is some animosity between them" does not mean that I have amore limited vocabualry, it just means that I speak a different version of the same language.

As for the learning language issue, I learn French because I have a connection to France via heritage/genealogy (my g-grandma was half French). I originally took French because my choices for high school in the art category was art, theatre, Spanish or French. Since I hated art and theatre, and at the time I was not to keen about Mexicans, I took French. Then I started to get interested in language and genealogy, and there you have it; I am hooked on one of my true loves; the French language (sorry for the grammarians out there who have just read this last sentence of mine :-)

A person who learns a language just to be able to think on a "higher level" needs to really think about it first. For one, learning a language might be fun for some people (like me), but it is not the easiest thing. One must study and memorise vocabulary, etc. But more importantly, one will find that one can say ANYTHING in their native language. There will be things like a word in a foreign language that has the same meaning grammatically as a word in one's own native language, but the actual meaning is a bit different. For example, "merde" means "shit" in French. But in French, "merde" is not as strong/offensive as the English "shit."
A.S.C.M.   Thursday, November 13, 2003, 05:24 GMT
Hello, Clark:

I agree that "animosity" isn't more proper than "tension". The connotation of "animosity" is simply more extreme than "tension".

I would definitely say that "they don't like each other" is not as proper as "there is some tension between them".
wingyellow   Thursday, November 13, 2003, 05:42 GMT
You can say my anger, grieve or excitment is beyond words. Sometimes you use metaphors instead of just adjectives to describe emotions.

As a Chinese, I cannot use English to describe the interpersonnal relationship of a Chinese family or distinguish between my love toward my wife, my parents and my friends because of the cultural difference.
Clark   Thursday, November 13, 2003, 06:23 GMT
Exactly, Wingyellow. One's native language is the best way to be able to express ones' thoughts without fear of not being able to think of a word. I mean, one may stumble trying to think of a word that fits the context, but that is not the same as not being a native speaker and trying to think of any word with the certain meaning.
Clark   Thursday, November 13, 2003, 07:00 GMT
Can someone please translate this for me;

"Chercherait à irakiser le conflit pour s'en désangager."

The reason I ask is because I have talked about how flexible English is in creating new words on the spot from existing words, or making nouns into verbs or other stuff like that. If I am not mistaken, I think the French language can do something similar. When I saw "irakiser" I thought to myself that the French are creating verbs from nouns as well.
Californian   Thursday, November 13, 2003, 07:53 GMT
I love learning new languages because they all sound so much more beautiful to my ears than American English.

I am rather good at French (4th year of study in honors course) and hope to learn Welsh, Swedish, and Italian before I die.
Hythloday   Thursday, November 13, 2003, 11:53 GMT
I don't think you should learn another language, you should just act more like a man and stop being so emotional, you big wuss!
A.S.C.M.   Thursday, November 13, 2003, 17:23 GMT
What the .... do you mean "just like Chris?" I've only started a few topics here. No one ever said it was true love. ;) College is tough...I can't come here every day. I'll respond to all the other shite later.
I meant to A.S.C.M.   Thursday, November 13, 2003, 17:25 GMT
What the .... do you mean "just like Chris?" I've only started a few topics here. No one ever said it was true love. ;) College is tough...I can't come here every day. I'll respond to all the other shite later.