how many languages...

Sanja   Monday, September 13, 2004, 14:52 GMT
Bosnian (Croatian, Serbian) - native
English - pretty good, but I still have to improve a lot of things
Mxsmanic   Tuesday, September 14, 2004, 03:04 GMT
One fear I've had is that I might diminish my proficiency in French if I learn a third language. Can anyone who has learned a large number of languages confirm or deny a basis for this fear?

In general, it's more important to me to maintain proficiency in French than to learn additional languages, so if I have to choose between the two, I won't learn any more languages.
Steve K   Tuesday, September 14, 2004, 03:17 GMT

I respect your perspective on language learning. I ask you to believe me. The more languages you learn, the better you get at languages. I studied in France for three years in the early 1960's, after growing up in Quebec where I had French as a second language in school. I studied Mandarin full time for close to a year in 1968, but ewas still getting started on languages. I remember that for a long time I thought Russian sounded like Protuguese.

Now I have learned more languages. I speak French and Mandarin better now than when I left France or Hong Kong.

Speaking foreign languages is a skill. The more you do it, the better you get. Go for another language. You will enjoy it, and you will lose nothing. You will confuse your French at first, especially if you learn another Romance language. But when you need to focus back on French, get together with les copains, watch a movie, listen to an audiobook and you will be back on track, and do better than ever. I do not think that anything can disturb the languages that I have mastered. I keep books and audiobooks around just to be sure. Or for Italian I just go to

After a nine year stay in Japan where I learned Japanese, when I got back to Chinese, it was a little difficult at first. But soon I was ahead of where I was before. On the other hand I keep CDs of my favourite Chinese storytellers and stand up comics around to prevent me from getting rusty.
Dulcinea del Toboso   Tuesday, September 14, 2004, 03:47 GMT
English (my native language)
Russian (reasonably good - and which I began learning at age 14)

Norwegian and Icelandic (only fair, as I've studied them only a few years)
Hungarian (I can only say simple things)
Arabic (again, only simple things)

I would love to learn Greek. I am currently studying the evolution of the Greek language. But I am afraid to study it to any great proficiency, because I feel I should put more effort into at least one of the other languages above.
henry   Tuesday, September 14, 2004, 06:08 GMT
Mandarin--native language
English--first foreign language, used every day, with my boss and colleagues
German--second foreign language, seldom used.

Anyone want to learn Mandarin? Maybe I can give you a hand.
Damian   Tuesday, September 14, 2004, 06:43 GMT
<<anyone who actually enjoys speaking this language should have all ten fingers smashed with a hammer)>>

There goes our dear David sweetly "provocative" as ever......I'm sure he's quite a pussy cat really.....just a wee bit full of that weekend "pissing about with his mates" bravado which hasnae worn off yet. ;-)

How can you be so unpleasant about the Italian language? A touch of Anglo Saxon Phillistinism? Just chill out a bit,'re a wee bit of a joker are you not? You don't really mean what you say most of the time. I enjoy our postings for that reason alone. Have a good one.
Mxsmanic   Tuesday, September 14, 2004, 18:33 GMT
Lately I've thought a lot about learning Mandarin, but I don't know if I'd really be up to the task (I do show a lot of aptitude for languages in tests, but Mandarin is quite a challenge for a native English speaker).
Steve K   Tuesday, September 14, 2004, 19:18 GMT
Mandarin has two main difficulties

1) Chinese characters... which is just a lot of work, a lot.
2) Tones which takes time to master or at least get close to.

Note that all Chinese tones also exist in English except that we use them for emphasis in a sentence rather than to distinguish the meanings of words.

Essentially the sounds of Mandarin are quite similar to the sounds of English. Word order is quite similar too.

If you learn Mandarin it is essential to ignore any and all explanations of grammar and just work from phrase patterns.

If you wait 6 months we hope to offer Mandarin Chinese at The Linguist.
Javier   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 04:32 GMT
I speak spanish arabic kurdish and english
Juan   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 13:20 GMT
I know two languages fluently: Spanish and English. I have a passing interest in French because I may one day visit France and there are several other countries that use it also. Other than that perhaps a basic knowledge of Brazilian will suffice. It may come in handy while walking down the streets of Rio de Janerio. ;-)
Damian   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 13:27 GMT

<<a basic knowledge of Brazilian will suffice. It may come in handy while walking down the streets of Rio de Janerio. ;-) >>

hee hee!...Brazilian....that's quite amusing! I intend to study Swiss one day, or perhaps Bavarian. ;-)
Steve K   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 14:13 GMT

Brazilian Portuguese is quite distinctive from the language of Portugal. Although even the Brazilians refer to their own language as Portuguese, Juan is telling us which version of Portuguese he wants to study. Thus by using this term he makes his point. What has this to do with Swiss or Bavarian?
Sanja   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 14:18 GMT
Isn't Bavaria in Germany?
Damian   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 14:27 GMT
Jawohl, Sanja! ;-)
Damian   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 14:34 GMT
Steve K: thanks for that. LOL

<<What has this to do with Swiss or Bavarian?>>
Steve K!...never mind! I could refer back to another topic on this forum right now, but I'll give it a miss.