Learning languages can affect your mother tongue?
If you are an English speaking person, and speak another language, do you feel that this other language affects your normal speech? Like spelling problems, intonation or pronunciation, etc.
Or if you're a non-native English speaking person, do you feel that English has affected your native language, or other languages you speak?
For example, My mother tongue is Spanish. I learnt English long ago, and I've just finishd Italian. Sometimes when speakig Spanish (not so often) I have a strange intonation, like a foreign accent; and sometimes use strange expressions. Or When speaking English, I sometimes have an Italian intonation (specially if I speak shortly after having a word with an Italian). And When I speak Italian, at first I have an RP English intonation.
What are your thoughts?
There is a process in linguistics called "interference" where syntax and pronunciation from one language (usually the native language) interferes with another. I remember meeting a man from the Peoples Republic of China once (about 20 years ago now) who said to me "I stay with an American house" when he really meant to say "I'm staying with an American family." In the Chinese and Vietnamese languages people use the same words for "family" and "house" .
I noticed the same phenomenon with English, when I was majoring in English at university. As both lectures and seminars were conducted in English, plus we also had to do extensive reading, I often ended up thinking in English rather than Hungarian, my mother tongue. By "thinking" I mean that when I was speaking Hungarian, I often remembered the English word for a thing or concept more easily than the Hungarian one. I guess the same thing happens when you come back home after having spent a longer amount of time in a foreign country (I have no experience of this, since I've never spent a substantial amount of time aborad, speaking just a foreign language, but other posters may have something to say about this).
On the other hand, English (or any other language) has never actually affected the way I spoke (accent, manner of speaking, etc.).
Well I've met French guys, who said that since they learnt Spanish, when travelling around South America (as almost nobody here speaks French) they spent most time speaking Spanish to locals. And they confessed to have problems with "R" sound in French (which is different from Spanish). And also their intonation changed a bit.
There was another which was rather interesting. It was a bloke from New Zealand, he was one of my English teachers. As he spent about 6 months living in Peru, he learnt Spanish very quickly. He was very intelligent I must say, an excellent teacher. And then after about 5 months of pure Spanish, he made a lot of spelling mistakes. or as Easterner says, he could think of the Spanish word before getting the English word. Or even when in the class, he was making an explanation and some Spanish words would pop up. Something like: "OK we read this passage, and you tell me the palabras (words)... "palabras" I mean words which are new to you."
It seems that he did have problems as well as the French people. What do you think of this?
Well in my country the native people are the Maoris and I myself have Maori ansestry. Im my family we have always spoken a sort of 'pigeon english' entwining the two languages. The way I pronounce the Maori I speak has a great affect on my spelling of English because the way you spell and speak words in Maori is well it has been ingrained into me. I also find when talking I can often switch between languages and my accent will change to suit.
=> Well I've met French guys, who said that since they learnt Spanish, when travelling around South America (as almost nobody here speaks French) they spent most time speaking Spanish to locals. And they confessed to have problems with "R" sound in French (which is different from Spanish). And also their intonation changed a bit. <=
I know what you mean, Dutch expats have it too in an extreme way, Dutch people are very good at learning languages, but since that Dutch isn't exactly much spoken in the world, Dutch expats have virtually nobody to talk to and practically loose their 'native sound' in Dutch in a matter of years and develop an accent that's extremely weird, to a point where you wouldn't recognize it as Dutch anymore ....
Neither here, nor there. When you are IN studing english then some words from your own languages disappeared and you exchange this words with english words. I say something like 'Shte ti townat kolata' (that means 'They will tow your car", or for exaple Otivam da hvana busa - I'm goin to catch the bus. Some words just disappeared from my own language, I even don't try to translate english words in my own language, I use them. Then I realised that I'm neither here, nor there.
>...do you feel that this other language affects your normal speech? Like spelling problems, intonation or pronunciation, etc. [Pete]
I haven't noticed any problems with intonation or pronunciation, but sometimes there's some interference with spelling. For instance, I find myself substituting an 'e' for the second vowel in 'feminine', as in the Spanish 'femenino'. I'm pretty sure that problem comes from having seen the Spanish spelling many times. The other Romance languages I'm familiar with have an 'i' there: 'féminine' (French), 'feminino' (Portuguese), 'femminile' (Italian).
<<I know what you mean, Dutch expats have it too in an extreme way, Dutch people are very good at learning languages, but since that Dutch isn't exactly much spoken in the world, Dutch expats have virtually nobody to talk to and practically loose their 'native sound' in Dutch in a matter of years and develop an accent that's extremely weird, to a point where you wouldn't recognize it as Dutch anymore .... >>
Yes I absolutly agree with this. Dutch people are excellent at language learning. Once I met a girl who spoke amazing English (not a novelty, most dutch people do) and I made a compliment, saying that How come every Dutch person speaks such a good English? She said: "Perhaps because Holland is such a small country that nobody actually speak Dutch, but just English... (and then she laughed in a lovely way)"
Oh and I have a friend from Sweden, she speaks English just like a British person. I cannot place her accent since I'm not a native speaker but a lot of Brits have mistaken her for another Brit. That's cool, but not so good. Sometimes being nice, is not so nice. When she meets Swedish people, they say that now her spoken Swedish sucks! and pity upon her...
hahahaha that's a true story, and well, nothing is perfect. And the most worrying thing is that she hasn't been in England for a long time!! How can a non-native speaker go to England for a couple of months, and end up speaking like the Queen's dog caretakers??!!! Is that easy for Germanic people (Germans, Swedish, Dutch, etc)
I've mentioned this before in this Forum but when I was in a store in Amsterdam in 04/03 I needed some directions so I asked one of the assistants behind one of the counters for some help. She responded in flawless English and in an accent straight out of somewhere in Southern England. I immediately assumed she was English so I asked her from where in England she came but she said she had never been to the UK. I could hardly believe it.
The general standard of spoken English in the Netherlands is amazing.....better than in many areas of England itself. Ok Ok Adam.....I'll include Scotland in that so don't sound off again!
But foreigners do tend to speak the more formal type of English don't they? They don't normally lapse into colloquialisms and certainly not into local UK dialectal terms and expressions.
>>But foreigners do tend to speak the more formal type of English don't they? They don't normally lapse into colloquialisms and certainly not into local UK dialectal terms and expressions.<<
This kind of thing often "gives away" non-native speakers in many cases; that is, the fact that their speech sounds "learned" rather than truly native, as "perfect" as it may be. One must remember that such "perfect" speech is often a lack of a high level of competence *through a ful range of registers*, due to concentrating solely on being "correct", that is, very formal, rather than actually sounding like how the average person who speaks the target dialect or dialect group speaks on an everyday basis.
Learning other languages does affect the way you speak your native one. It's usual for me to mix an odd Russian word into my Ukrainian speech and the other way round, but that's sort of normal since most people here regard both languages as their native; I do get some stunned looks though when I insert Serbian words into my Ukrainian or try to build some strange English-borrowed grammatical structures in my Russian. My accent does not seem to be affected much, though.
=>"Perhaps because Holland is such a small country that nobody actually speak Dutch, but just English...<=
I suppose you mean that apart from a few countries Dutch isn't spoken in other places...because I can assure you we speak Dutch here.
I think if you sort our population to an older and a younger half, I think English has effected the younger Swedes because they watch more American TV-prgram and listening more to English music than the older Swedes do. So sometimes the youngsters find a good English word when they discuss but they have troubles to translate it to the real Swedish correspondence of the word.
"Or if you're a non-native English speaking person, do you feel that English has affected your native language, or other languages you speak?"
Well, in my case learning English just improved my native language skills.