Which is harder (not a comparison of languages)

Guest   Fri Sep 14, 2007 11:54 pm GMT
No, this is not yet another which language is harder than another question. Well not as such, although maybe it's related.

I was just wondering which is harder. To learn a foreign language to a near native level, or to master your own language to an extremely high level.

I would have thought the former. That's because in a way it is just learning a corresponding form of expression as opposed to a greater form of expression. What do you think?
Guest   Sat Sep 15, 2007 1:18 am GMT
>>What do you mean by "extremely high level"? <<

Yes you're right, that's hard to define. I suppose what I mean is when you read something that someone has written and you think their vocabulary and the way they put words together is extremely eloquent and something you aspire to, yet don't feel you could produce yourself. In short they use the language to express themselves extremely well.

I just thought of this because I read something one of my friends had written, which in my opinion was extremely well written, and it made me think that my command of the English language wasn't quite as good as his. So then I started thinking that I have managed to learn German to a high level, I have got my head round all the grammar and can speak and write German reasonably accurately. Not to the same level as I can English, granted, but I have little doubt that were I to live in Germany, among German people for a year or so, I would be near (general) native level.

Yet having lived in the UK all my life I seem to have reached a certain standard of English, which I am unlikley to exceed unless I really put my mind to it. Yet some others clearly do exceed it.
Guest   Sat Sep 15, 2007 1:34 am GMT
>>I expect you could have written any of the sentences in your friend's text; it's the total balance and flow among the sentences and the appropriate word choices that make them seem better<<

Well that's the thing, I don't think I could have written them, unless it was a bit of a fluke. I think he simply has a better command of the language. And what you say in your second sentence is true, balance, flow, word choices etc, that's what I'm talking about, they result in a a better use of the language in my opinion. It's actually very hard to achieve that. But I suppose that leads on to the question of whether a higher intellect simply finds ways to express itself, or whether anyone can learn to express themselves in, shall we say, more eloquent ways.
Guest   Sat Sep 15, 2007 2:08 am GMT
Obviously, that person read a lot when growing up and had good education.

But to an extent, it is a creative thing but also intelligence. And probably, even natural gift. And not all intellects are good expressing themselves (some scientists etc).
Guest   Sat Sep 15, 2007 10:32 am GMT
One thing that surprizes me a lot: how the hell people could write a novel or something in their native language at the age of seven or eight year olds. There had been such novelists in the history of language. I am not sure how people could be extremely intelligent at such a young age with not highly qualified education to begin with.
Rodrigo   Sat Sep 15, 2007 3:44 pm GMT
Maybe it's related to the question, but very few writers write in a second language, or even more in two languages parallely.
Guest   Sat Sep 15, 2007 7:24 pm GMT
<<One thing that surprizes me a lot: how the hell people could write a novel or something in their native language at the age of seven or eight year olds.>>

Some people just have amazing abilities. Some can play the piano like a pro at the age, and we've all seen those numerical prodigies on TV who can (for example) do prime factorizations of 10000-digit numbers in their heads almost instantaneously? This is something that the fastest computers still have a hard time with.
Guest   Sat Sep 15, 2007 7:32 pm GMT
I'm just glad I'm stupid ^^!