can you recognise an English accent in a foreign language?
<<Never met a native speaker of English who spoke a foreign language fluently... ;-)>>
Wow. Hello, my name is Brian. What's your name? I live in the United States. English is my native language and I am fluent in Spanish.
There you go, bud. Now you can tell everybody that you've met a native English-speaker who is fluent in another language, and an American to boot!
"Many Continental Europeans are familiar with a number of Languages, and are probably fluent in at least two, three or four in many cases....."
It's *usually* two maybe three languages top. People who "fluent" in much more than that are often just fluent in dialects of the same language, such as Dutch/Flemish or Swedish/Norwegian.
Again I said "usually". Of course there will be exceptions, but as a general rule, most people who claim to be "fluent" in several languages are often *not* fluent in most of them.
I do. They just can't speak my languages in a higher pitch, and it applies to learners of any age. They just can't sound that native. That's not entirely impossible, but very few do achieve that and I haven't met any who has reached that high level.
A single slip of the tongue already betrays them when I can detect a slight decrease of pitch. Indeed, in that sense, I do assume that my languages sound more feminine acoustically because very few learners can manage it. And yes, that could be similar to the Japanese analogy of not having Japanese blood to speak Japanese perfectly.
And why? Why do normal American men (and any other male Anglophones) speak in such a high pitch in their own native language naturally, and I in a low when I speak my accented English? And why is it the reverse when some of them happen to be speaking my language and when I speak my own?
There must be a certain je ne sais quoi in both famous schools of languages that make our languages so funny to speak. But my discovery might suggest that, when you speak a language well, like if that's your native, you tend to be able to produce more high-pitched speech, even if you are a man and your natural pitch is very low.
"Again I said "usually". Of course there will be exceptions, but as a general rule, most people who claim to be "fluent" in several languages are often *not* fluent in most of them"
This is always difficult to judge, but sometimes in the United States, I find that those who "know" a language have a very different idea about what fluency means. When you talk to them, you find out that they have an academic background or spent one to three months overseas (gettin' fluent...).
<<Why do normal American men (and any other male Anglophones) speak in such a high pitch in their own native language naturally>>
Xie, as always your post is fascinating to read. I haven't seen your posts for awhile. Glad you're back. I am a native speaker of American English and I speak in a pitch that is so high only dogs can hear it. Being a native speaker, I can speak English really well, which is like you said, the reason I'm able to produce such a high pitch. The problem is now I'm stuck with this high pitch that humans cannot hear. Only dogs can hear it and maybe birds. It's hard to tell because birds don't really listen and they don't obey. For example, if you see a bird on a tree in your yard and you say to the bird, "Bird, make me a peanut butter sandwhich", the bird will not follow your instructions. I don't know if the bird is unable to hear me or whether he's ignoring me or if he can hear me but doesn't understand English. Birds migrate after all and he may be a foreign bird without language training. Most likely though, if I had to guess, I'd say the bird is obstinate. Not like monkeys, but still...
Most of the time, it is very obvious to me, even when I don't understand the target language.
The Ns and Ts are all wrong; the vowels are dipthongized when they should be monopthongized, and the Rs are trilled the wrong way.
Very obvious, indeed.
<<Wow. Hello, my name is Brian. What's your name?>>
Brian....you have to admit, that anglophone people who speak a foreign language fluently are quite rare, so its not at all suprising that somebody has never met one.
There are tonnes of them. Just walk into the nearest university's foreign language department or even a high school one and you're bound to find ENglish speakers fluent in another tongue. >>
At the average highschool/university, 0% of the students learn to speak with any facility - even at prestigious schools.
Theres actually people who have DEGREES in foreign languages, that cannot speak the language they majored in.
Language education here is DISMAL all-around, and bi-lingualism is not common.
<<Language education here is DISMAL all-around, and bi-lingualism is not common>>
Language education in high school or even university isn't going to get you to fluency. But there's still a huge number of bilingual speakers in the US who are bilingual because their parents came here from another country and taught their children the language of the old country.
Unfortunately a lot of these people are poor and don't have the opportunity to travel to other countries and impress people with their bilingualism. They speak two languages in their own communities. In Cali we have tons of second generation Latinos and Vietnamese, Koreans, Armenians, Iranians and the list goes on and on. In fact in Southern California alone there are approximately one million Iranians and virtually all of them are bilingual. In the Amish communities of Pennsylvania German is still spoken and English is a second language. But again, the Amish aren't likely to show up in Marseilles so you wouldn't know about them.
The face of the US has changed drastically in the last 20 years. The image of the US as a primarily Anglo gene pool is an outdated one. For those who believe immigrants are confined to Los Angeles and New York, think again.... As an example, Columbus, Ohio's near west side is now predominantly Latino, first generation immigrants and obviously this is a bilingual community.
So even if we limit our discussion to recent immigrants and their children, we're still talking about a substantial number of Americans who are fluent in at least one language other than English.
For those Americans who are not first or second generation immigrants, and who grew up speaking only English in their homes, you have to remember that the US has a very large land mass. Until the last 20 years, you could start in the middle of the country and drive for two days without encountering another language. It's a rare person who can become fluent in a new language from learning it in school. Europeans don't become fluent in foreign languages by attending classes. Those who know several languages have family members who speak another language or they live near another country's border. In Belgium you drive for an hour and you're in France, Germany or Holland. By contrast you can fit all of France inside the state of Texas. In Europe there's more opportunity to practice the language you learned in the classroom by virtue of geography alone.
"Brian....you have to admit, that anglophone people who speak a foreign language fluently are quite rare, so its not at all suprising that somebody has never met one."-Guest
What is this? The joke of the week? You have to be kidding! Where do you live that you have never met an anglophone who speaks a foreign langauge well?
<<What is this? The joke of the week? You have to be kidding! Where do you live that you have never met an anglophone who speaks a foreign langauge well?>>
I agree. Anglophones aren't known for their foreign language abilities, but there are definitely plenty of them out there who speak another language fluently or proficiently. There are 400 million of us; we're not all monolingual. ;)
He was referring to the professors and teachers, not the students.
Think about it, every high school has at least 10, so in a big city there are at least 100 high schools, so there are a thousand such speakers.
"At the average highschool/university, 0% of the students learn to speak with any facility - even at prestigious schools."
Debatable. I think the percentage is low for high schools, but not necessarily-it also depends on the language.
"Theres actually people who have DEGREES in foreign languages, that cannot speak the language they majored in."
Oh yes, this is sometimes true.
"Language education here is DISMAL all-around, and bi-lingualism is not common."
I don't know where "here" is, but I've met many bilinguals and I live in the southern part of the US.
Guest is right... I minored in German and I can get around, but I've hardly mastered the language.