View Poll Results: What languages can you speak?

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  • English

    88 94.62%
  • French

    29 31.18%
  • German

    52 55.91%
  • Other European language such as Welsh, Scots, Irish etc.

    20 21.51%
  • Icelandic

    2 2.15%
  • Swedish

    11 11.83%
  • Norwegian

    12 12.90%
  • Italian, Spanish, Portuguese

    18 19.35%
  • Other

    17 18.28%
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Thread: How Many Languages Do You Speak?

  1. #21
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    The foreign languages I know are English, Latin, and French. I also understand Dutch texts largely, because it's so close to German.

    Quote Originally Posted by Guest
    German and swedish are very similar at least most of the times.

    The only problem i think we have with the german language, is that for us Swedes, germans kind of speak backwards.

    /M
    Ah yeah, you mean the assertion of a sentence coming at its end. We also love to tear sentences and words aparts and clinch long sentences with these single elements, and we generally have manifold ways of constructing sentences in a most convoluted way. That can drive foreigners crazy.

    An average sentence, in a German newspaper, is a sublime and impressive curiosity; it occupies a quarter of a column; it contains all the ten parts of speech -- not in regular order, but mixed; it is built mainly of compound words constructed by the writer on the spot, and not to be found in any dictionary -- six or seven words compacted into one, without joint or seam -- that is, without hyphens; it treats of fourteen or fifteen different subjects, each inclosed in a parenthesis of its own, with here and there extra parentheses which reinclose three or four of the minor parentheses, making pens within pens: finally, all the parentheses and reparentheses are massed together between a couple of king-parentheses, one of which is placed in the first line of the majestic sentence and the other in the middle of the last line of it -- after which comes the VERB, and you find out for the first time what the man has been talking about; and after the verb -- merely by way of ornament, as far as I can make out -- the writer shovels in "haben sind gewesen gehabt haben geworden sein," or words to that effect, and the monument is finished. I suppose that this closing hurrah is in the nature of the flourish to a man's signature -- not necessary, but pretty. German books are easy enough to read when you hold them before the looking-glass or stand on your head -- so as to reverse the construction -- but I think that to learn to read and understand a German newspaper is a thing which must always remain an impossibility to a foreigner.

    Yet even the German books are not entirely free from attacks of the Parenthesis distemper -- though they are usually so mild as to cover only a few lines, and therefore when you at last get down to the verb it carries some meaning to your mind because you are able to remember a good deal of what has gone before. Now here is a sentence from a popular and excellent German novel -- which a slight parenthesis in it. I will make a perfectly literal translation, and throw in the parenthesis-marks and some hyphens for the assistance of the reader -- though in the original there are no parenthesis-marks or hyphens, and the reader is left to flounder through to the remote verb the best way he can:

    "But when he, upon the street, the (in-satin-and-silk-covered-now-very-unconstrained-after-the-newest-fashioned-dressed) government counselor's wife met," etc., etc. [1]

    1. Wenn er aber auf der Strasse der in Sammt und Seide gehüllten jetzt sehr ungenirt nach der neusten Mode gekleideten Regierungsräthin begegnet.
    That is from The Old Mamselle's Secret, by Mrs. Marlitt. And that sentence is constructed upon the most approved German model. You observe how far that verb is from the reader's base of operations; well, in a German newspaper they put their verb away over on the next page; and I have heard that sometimes after stringing along the exciting preliminaries and parentheses for a column or two, they get in a hurry and have to go to press without getting to the verb at all. Of course, then, the reader is left in a very exhausted and ignorant state.

    We have the Parenthesis disease in our literature, too; and one may see cases of it every day in our books and newspapers: but with us it is the mark and sign of an unpracticed writer or a cloudy intellect, whereas with the Germans it is doubtless the mark and sign of a practiced pen and of the presence of that sort of luminous intellectual fog which stands for clearness among these people. For surely it is not clearness -- it necessarily can't be clearness. Even a jury would have penetration enough to discover that. A writer's ideas must be a good deal confused, a good deal out of line and sequence, when he starts out to say that a man met a counselor's wife in the street, and then right in the midst of this so simple undertaking halts these approaching people and makes them stand still until he jots down an inventory of the woman's dress. That is manifestly absurd. It reminds a person of those dentists who secure your instant and breathless interest in a tooth by taking a grip on it with the forceps, and then stand there and drawl through a tedious anecdote before they give the dreaded jerk. Parentheses in literature and dentistry are in bad taste.

    The Germans have another kind of parenthesis, which they make by splitting a verb in two and putting half of it at the beginning of an exciting chapter and the other half at the end of it. Can any one conceive of anything more confusing than that? These things are called "separable verbs." The German grammar is blistered all over with separable verbs; and the wider the two portions of one of them are spread apart, the better the author of the crime is pleased with his performance. A favorite one is reiste ab -- which means departed. Here is an example which I culled from a novel and reduced to English:

    "The trunks being now ready, he DE- after kissing his mother and sisters, and once more pressing to his bosom his adored Gretchen, who, dressed in simple white muslin, with a single tuberose in the ample folds of her rich brown hair, had tottered feebly down the stairs, still pale from the terror and excitement of the past evening, but longing to lay her poor aching head yet once again upon the breast of him whom she loved more dearly than life itself, PARTED."
    Source: Mark Twain: The Awful German Language
    Man ſei Held oder Heiliger. In der Mitte liegt nicht die Weisheit, ſondern die Alltäglichkeit.

    SPENGLER

  2. #22
    Senior Member Náttfari's Avatar
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    Icelandic (which gives me comprehension of Faerose)
    English
    Danish (which gives me comprehension of Norwegian and Swedish)
    German (learning for one year now (got a 10/10 on my oral exam))
    This autumn I start Latin, and next year Ancient-Greek.

  3. #23
    Member Theudanaz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thiudans
    Now I am reading a few books to keep it interesting:

    A Handbook of Germanic Etymology, by Vladimir Orel
    Hêliand (in Old Saxon)
    Procopius: Anecdota & The Wars (Loeb editions)
    Paris Manhattan (Essays on Art) by Peter Wollen
    Moderator: sorry these are books I'm reading, not languages (shouldn't have split from original thread). :redface:

  4. #24
    Senior Member HIM's Avatar
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    I am pretty fluent in English. I have also been studying German for the last six years. I haven't taken a class in almost a year though. My school sucks and only offers German at 7:30 in the morning and I have trouble getting to class by noon sometimes! However, I still independently study it by reading over materials and listening to Rammstein. I also just bought a book on Swedish and would very much like to learn that language as well.
    Should the subduing talisman, the Cross, break, then will come roaring forth the wild madness of the old champions, that insane Berserker rage, of which the northern poets sing. That talisman is brittle, and the day will come when it will pitifully break. The old stone gods will rise from the long-forgotten ruin and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes; and Thor, leaping to life with his giant hammer, will crush the Gothic cathedrals!

    ---Heinrich Heine

  5. #25
    Member Theudanaz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Náttfari
    Icelandic (which gives me comprehension of Faerose)
    English
    Danish (which gives me comprehension of Norwegian and Swedish)
    German (learning for one year now (got a 10/10 on my oral exam))
    This autumn I start Latin, and next year Ancient-Greek.
    Excellent work! Sounds like you are doing well.

    You should find ancient Greek easy since it has the same number of cases and genders as Icelandic. Latin has a few more cases, but is more regular than ancient Greek. Oh yeah, I studied classics in the university.

    I can read German, Low Saxon, Dutch, Norwegian/Nynorsk, Danish, Swedish, Old English, Old Saxon, French, Italian, Spanish (need a dictionary sometimes). Can only really speak English, German, Dutch, and a bastardized Scandinavian mix of Swedo-Norwegio-Danish. 3:

    I am studying Suomea right now, and want to learn Latvian & Lithuanian next.

  6. #26
    Senior Member HIM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thiudans
    Excellent work! Sounds like you are doing well.

    You should find ancient Greek easy since it has the same number of cases and genders as Icelandic. Latin has a few more cases, but is more regular than ancient Greek. Oh yeah, I studied classics in the university.

    I can read German, Low Saxon, Dutch, Norwegian/Nynorsk, Danish, Swedish, Old English, Old Saxon, French, Italian, Spanish (need a dictionary sometimes). Can only really speak English, German, Dutch, and a bastardized Scandinavian mix of Swedo-Norwegio-Danish. 3:

    I am studying Suomea right now, and want to learn Latvian & Lithuanian next.
    That's out of contol!! How did you manage to accomplish such a feat? Old English text in VERY confusing.
    Should the subduing talisman, the Cross, break, then will come roaring forth the wild madness of the old champions, that insane Berserker rage, of which the northern poets sing. That talisman is brittle, and the day will come when it will pitifully break. The old stone gods will rise from the long-forgotten ruin and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes; and Thor, leaping to life with his giant hammer, will crush the Gothic cathedrals!

    ---Heinrich Heine

  7. #27
    Member Theudanaz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HIM
    That's out of contol!! How did you manage to accomplish such a feat? Old English text in VERY confusing.
    Yes, especially all the little "th" words, and the way the sentence can be so convoluted or appear vague. Basically I used a mixture of Sweet's OE primer, and other books, and read and re-read the syntax sections *many times*. Then read everything I could get my hands on and did composition exercises to confirm/compare it. After a while it can be as easy as Gothic or Old Norse. Easier actually, because through conflation there are fewer inflectional possibilities (-e, -a, -ne, -an, -um, -re, -es, -as) though they have more uses.

  8. #28
    Senior Member Rehnskiöld's Avatar
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    Well I speak english rahter good I'd say (I was going to take the cambridge certificate but it's too expensive amongst other things) other than that I speek german poorly, french even more poorly and latin extremely poorly!

    This autumn I start Latin, and next year Ancient-Greek.
    How nice, latin is kind of a nice language, it's a little bit tricky but it's exciting also. I thought I could feel the windblows of history when I ill learned it.

  9. #29
    Senior Member Náttfari's Avatar
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    Old Icelandic
    Þat mælti mín móðir
    at mér skyldi kaupa
    fley ok fagrar árar,
    fara á brott með víkingum,
    standa upp í stafni,
    stýra dýrum knerri,
    halda svá til hafnar,
    höggva mann ok annan.

    Anglo Saxon
    Þæt mælede mín módor
    þæt me scolde ceapian
    flæge and fægra ára,
    faran aweg wið wícingum,
    standan úppe in stefnan,
    stíeran deorne cnear,
    faran swá tó hæfene,
    héawan man and óðer.


    I might also add that I have studied Gaelic to a small extent.

  10. #30
    Member Theudanaz's Avatar
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    flata *bojada aiflei meina flatei mis bugjan wildedi
    *flawi jah fagra-airos du faran mifl weikiggam,
    standan ana *stabnjon stiurjan *diuri-knarru
    haldan du *habanai haggwan hvanoh manne.



    flæt gemælde mín módor flaet mé sceolde ceapian
    flég and fægra ára, flaet ic fare mid wícingum (and/or wíde)
    stande æt stefnan, gestiere deorne cnearr
    healde swa to hæfene heawe mann and oflerne.

    Anglo Saxon
    Þæt mælede mín módor
    þæt me scolde ceapian
    flæge and fægra ára,
    faran aweg wið wícingum,
    standan úppe in stefnan,
    stíeran deorne cnear,
    faran swá tó hæfene,
    héawan man and óðer.


    I might also add that I have studied Gaelic to a small extent.[/QUOTE]

    Ooh. This still confuses me. Seems to have got very twisted over time.

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