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View Full Version : what language does Fed speak to Mirka?


Milan
06-24-2009, 05:47 PM
just wondering... he speaks english well...how did he learn it? He speaks Swiss German, German, French, and English....For sure 4 languages. What language does he speak to Mirka in. She is after all, Slovenian so she doesn't speak German or or French... Very interesting also how Americans just speak 1 language...Roddick, Fish, Blake, Querrey can't speak a word of any other language but English..the Brits and Americans just don't like to learn other languages..

Claudius
06-24-2009, 05:50 PM
She emigrated to Switzerland when she was two, so I'm guessing Swiss German?

IvanAndreevich
06-24-2009, 05:52 PM
His mother is South African, so her native language is English.

vtmike
06-24-2009, 05:55 PM
The language of Love...............;)

raiden031
06-24-2009, 05:56 PM
Very interesting also how Americans just speak 1 language...Roddick, Fish, Blake, Querrey can't speak a word of any other language but English..the Brits and Americans just don't like to learn other languages..

Why learn to speak a language that you will never use? The only other language most Americans would ever need is Spanish, and even coming into contact with hispanics is not all that prevalent for most people here.

dadozen
06-24-2009, 05:56 PM
Wow, this really is GENERAL pro player discussion:lol:

But I'd guess Swiss German.

dadozen
06-24-2009, 05:57 PM
Why learn to speak a language that you will never use? The only other language most Americans would ever need is Spanish, and even coming into contact with hispanics is not all that prevalent for most people here.

Lol. Typical.

jimbo333
06-24-2009, 06:02 PM
just wondering... he speaks english well...how did he learn it? He speaks Swiss German, German, French, and English....For sure 4 languages. What language does he speak to Mirka in. She is after all, Slovenian so she doesn't speak German or or French... Very interesting also how Americans just speak 1 language...Roddick, Fish, Blake, Querrey can't speak a word of any other language but English..the Brits and Americans just don't like to learn other languages..

The Brits do mate!!!

And most Americans only speak a version of English:twisted:

raiden031
06-24-2009, 06:10 PM
Lol. Typical.

I'm sure Fed (and/or his parents) learned French and German because he wanted to challenge himself and to be educated, not because it was the practical thing to do in order to communicate with the people around him. :rolleyes:

Serendipitous
06-24-2009, 06:11 PM
Chinese


10 chars

Claudius
06-24-2009, 06:12 PM
Chinese


10 chars


That gave me a good laugh!

canuckfan
06-24-2009, 06:38 PM
I'm sure Fed (and/or his parents) learned French and German because he wanted to challenge himself and to be educated, not because it was the practical thing to do in order to communicate with the people around him. :rolleyes:

Switzerland has 4 official languages, and different regions have different groups of people speaking different languages. It IS practical, especially in europe where so many countries and cultures are in such close proximity. You should be rolling your eyes at your own ignorance. Americans can get away with a single language becuase of the size and relative geographic isolation of the country, and strength of economy (don't need to move to find work).

Eph
06-24-2009, 07:28 PM
I'm sure Fed (and/or his parents) learned French and German because he wanted to challenge himself and to be educated, not because it was the practical thing to do in order to communicate with the people around him. :rolleyes:

In CH, at least in the German part, you learn (in school), haute German first, French by 5th grade, and you start English at 13 or so.

Swiss-German you pick up as you grow. You don't write Schweiz Deutsch as it's just a dialect. (A rather complicated one at that!)

roysid
06-24-2009, 09:56 PM
It's swiss-german

joeri888
06-24-2009, 09:58 PM
Defenitely Swiss-German. But they probably conversate in English too (for example if they are in the company of international people)

Commando Tennis Shorts
06-24-2009, 10:03 PM
I think it is a necessity thing. Americans don't need to speak another language in their business and personal lives, so why would they? Not saying it's right, but a lot of Americans probably think, "hey, most people in the world speak english anyway, so why would I learn anything else?"

Another thing to keep in mind is that in American schools, they don't stress learning another language. Kids don't usually start until they're in high school or later; by that time, it's too late in many cases to become fluent, whereas in other countries kids learn from a young age.

If people were smart, they'd start learning Mandarin Chinese RIGHT NOW, because not too far down the line, it will probably be the predominant language in international business

timnz
06-24-2009, 10:30 PM
just wondering... he speaks english well...how did he learn it? He speaks Swiss German, German, French, and English....For sure 4 languages. What language does he speak to Mirka in. She is after all, Slovenian so she doesn't speak German or or French... Very interesting also how Americans just speak 1 language...Roddick, Fish, Blake, Querrey can't speak a word of any other language but English..the Brits and Americans just don't like to learn other languages..

Slovakia is country to the north of Austria whereas Slovenia is country to the south of Austria. She is from Slovakia not Slovenia.

She emigrated to Swizerland when she was 2. Hence, you can be sure that they speak Swiss German to each other.

By the way, Roger's mother was Africaans - hence her native language is Africaans (which is somewhat similar to Dutch and Flemish (what they speak in the north of Belgium)) not English (though of course she speaks both).

joeri888
06-24-2009, 10:34 PM
Why learn to speak a language that you will never use? The only other language most Americans would ever need is Spanish, and even coming into contact with hispanics is not all that prevalent for most people here.

I think learning another language can be very good. To show interest in other cultures, in other people, and just to explore your horizons. I think it would be very good if American children learned to speak Spanish. Isn't it weird to have just ONE language you can understand, and not a single word in any other language. Americans could also learn some Latin as that's the origin of a lot of the English language.

Gorecki
06-24-2009, 10:50 PM
so far so good:

some posters want to remain ignorant because they are americans and dont need to learn other languages,

Mirka was reborn in slovenia

there is English and American wich acordingly seem to be different languages...

Gotta love these boards.. always a place to learn something new everyday!

theprophe
06-24-2009, 11:28 PM
so far so good:

some posters want to remain ignorant because they are americans and dont need to learn other languages,

Mirka was reborn in slovenia

there is English and American wich acordingly seem to be different languages...

Gotta love these boards.. always a place to learn something new everyday!

Speaking of ignorant, Mirka was born in Slovakia, not Slovenia, which has already been posted.

i hope you realize they are different countries

Gotta love these boards.. always a place to learn something new everyday..lol

illuminati
06-24-2009, 11:49 PM
what does 10 chars mean?

ms87
06-24-2009, 11:52 PM
Speaking of ignorant, Mirka was born in Slovakia, not Slovenia, which has already been posted.

i hope you realize they are different countries

Gotta love these boards.. always a place to learn something new everyday..lol

he was being sarcastic.

kOaMaster
06-24-2009, 11:57 PM
of course it's swiss german. roger federer grew up in basel, so he speaks the "baslerdeutsch", swiss german from basel

mirka grew up in kreuzlingen, so she speaks "thurgauerdeutsch", another swiss dialect.

as most swiss, they are fluent in german of course, since that is our actually "official" language in the german part.
and in school you learn both french (~5th grade) and english (7th grade) at least, so I guess they both can choose from either one if necessary ;)

@illuminati: 10 chars means that your posting has to contend at least 10 characters. some people just add "10 chars" to a posting like "lol"

raiden031
06-25-2009, 03:32 AM
Switzerland has 4 official languages, and different regions have different groups of people speaking different languages. It IS practical, especially in europe where so many countries and cultures are in such close proximity. You should be rolling your eyes at your own ignorance. Americans can get away with a single language becuase of the size and relative geographic isolation of the country, and strength of economy (don't need to move to find work).

My ignorance? Did I not just say the same thing as you? It makes sense for people in Europe to learn multiple languages, more so than people in the USA. So why should we be criticized for not learning multiple languages when we will never need to speak them?

EDIT: Also to add, I took 5 years of Spanish in school and can't speak a lick of it because nobody that I come in contact with speaks Spanish and so I have no opportunity to practice to learn to speak it fluently.

malakas
06-25-2009, 03:39 AM
you DO know that most european countries have only 1 official language,and Switzerland is an exception??It's not like we get out of border everyotherday so we need it to communicate with our neighbours.

Fed speaks with Mirka in swiss-Deutsch,and dirty talk in french.:p

Underhand
06-25-2009, 03:58 AM
The language of Love...............;)

Oh, l'amour...

http://img218.imageshack.us/img218/5227/cupido.jpg

Sentinel
06-25-2009, 04:11 AM
they speak in baby talk nowadays, so junior can also understand. ;-)

llama
06-25-2009, 04:30 AM
Why learn to speak a language that you will never use? The only other language most Americans would ever need is Spanish, and even coming into contact with hispanics is not all that prevalent for most people here.

Because language is a gift. If you travel to foreign countries you will soon learn that you are welcomed much more warmly if you at least TRY to communicate a bit in their native language - I always have to laugh at those tourists shouting slow English. DO YOU KNOW WHERE I CAN GET A CAB???
CAB?? TAXI?? CAR?? DRIVER??

gj011
06-25-2009, 04:39 AM
just wondering... he speaks english well...how did he learn it? He speaks Swiss German, German, French, and English....For sure 4 languages. What language does he speak to Mirka in. She is after all, Slovenian so she doesn't speak German or or French... Very interesting also how Americans just speak 1 language...Roddick, Fish, Blake, Querrey can't speak a word of any other language but English..the Brits and Americans just don't like to learn other languages..

How are Swiss German and German two different languages now?

This is like saying that English spoken in US is different language than English in Britain.

So according to that logic, Roddick, Fish, Blake all speak two languages at least.

malakas
06-25-2009, 04:41 AM
How are Swiss German and German two different languages now?

This is like saying that English spoken in US is different language than English in Britain.

do you speak german?If you spoke you would know.It's written mostly the same.And that's about the only simmilarity.

BMG
06-25-2009, 04:44 AM
"Old English"...the language of Hobbits in the Middle Earth.

pmerk34
06-25-2009, 04:44 AM
just wondering... he speaks english well...how did he learn it? He speaks Swiss German, German, French, and English....For sure 4 languages. What language does he speak to Mirka in. She is after all, Slovenian so she doesn't speak German or or French... Very interesting also how Americans just speak 1 language...Roddick, Fish, Blake, Querrey can't speak a word of any other language but English..the Brits and Americans just don't like to learn other languages..

It's more a matter of geography. The Unites States is a large country. European countries are much smaller and are closely surrounded by many different countries with a unique dialect so it makes sense practically.

gj011
06-25-2009, 04:51 AM
do you speak german?If you spoke you would know.It's written mostly the same.And that's about the only simmilarity.

Still the same language. Those are the two dialects of the same language

Say Cockney and how they speak in Oklahoma are quite different too, but you would not call them different languages.

malakas
06-25-2009, 04:56 AM
Still the same language. Those are the two dialects of the same language

Say Cockney and how they speak in Oklahoma are quite different too, but you would not call them different languages.

They are 2 different languages,meaning that even written a german speaker will not understand so much.Spoken..no way.It's like speaking giberrish german while eating food.(no offence to swiss :p )

It's like serbian and polish for example.

klementine79
06-25-2009, 05:08 AM
There is a certain cultural philosophy that is learned once a language is grasped and used properly. There is not only the practical aspect of communication-- but etymology also encompasses a broader understanding of psychology,history, politics and sociology.

As one who is bi-lingual and who has a wife who is tri-lingual-- I can attest that all languages are spoken at different times and sometimes together in the same conversation. It really depends on the mood and subject of conversation.

klementine79
06-25-2009, 05:10 AM
They are 2 different languages,meaning that even written a german speaker will not understand so much.Spoken..no way.It's like speaking giberrish german while eating food.(no offence to swiss :p )

It's like serbian and polish for example.

Yasou re malakas :).. pou eisai stin ellada akrivos?

malakas
06-25-2009, 05:26 AM
Yasou re malakas :).. pou eisai stin ellada akrivos?

geia sou klementine!:) ahh sto panemorfo kardistan!Esy athina?:)
wow lol einai pio polloi ellines edw pera apoti nomiza!:)

sureshs
06-25-2009, 05:34 AM
In the US, a year or two of a foreign language is usually the norm in high school, or starting in late middle school. Usually it is French or Spanish, but nowadays choices like Chinese, Filipino etc are also available.

Primary purpose of language is communication. If that is achievable, learning multiple languages is really not required. People become multilingual due to necessity, not choice. As far as a new language opening a window into the world is concerned, well and good, but it is the heart that needs to be opened up. Knowledge of many languages among the Western Europeans does not seem to have made them any less racist. Even if you know French, Spanish, German and Italian, you will still not have a clue about Mandarin or Swahili, and it says nothing about how you treat Algerian immigrants or anything else.

Aabye
06-25-2009, 05:54 AM
what does 10 chars mean?

It is just something people add to really short posts in order to reach the minimum number of 10 characters.

orangettecoleman
06-25-2009, 05:54 AM
The only other language most Americans would ever need is Spanish, and even coming into contact with hispanics is not all that prevalent for most people here.
LOL maybe if you're a rich white person playing tennis at a country club that's true. a large percentage of the people i've been around my whole life have been of Hispanic descent. i wish I would have learned Spanish years ago.

gj011
06-25-2009, 05:58 AM
They are 2 different languages,meaning that even written a german speaker will not understand so much.Spoken..no way.It's like speaking giberrish german while eating food.(no offence to swiss :p )

It's like serbian and polish for example.

I disagree here. Its like I said American English and English spoken in Britain or say Serbian and Croatian.

Serbian and Polish are like German and Dutch.

ATXtennisaddict
06-25-2009, 06:00 AM
I wish I could speak every language on earth. :(

malakas
06-25-2009, 06:00 AM
I disagree here. Its like I said American English and English spoken in Britain or say Serbian and Croatian.

Serbian and Polish are like German and Dutch.

An American can understand Australians and Brits.A Serb can understand a Croat and a Bosnian.
A German can't understand a Swiss.

Let's wait for a real swiss to chime in with his input.

Spidy
06-25-2009, 06:08 AM
I'm Swiss.

There is no one 'swiss german'. There are various dialects (of alemannic origin), the variation in words and pronunciation can be very strong, so its not even easy for swiss germans to understand themselves. For germans its nearly impossible to decipher what we speak.

galain
06-25-2009, 06:09 AM
I disagree here. Its like I said American English and English spoken in Britain or say Serbian and Croatian.

Serbian and Polish are like German and Dutch.

Respectfully, I would disagree. I live in Germany quite close to the Swiss border. I ran a workshop in Basel 2 weeks ago, with Swiss and German participants. While most of the workshop was done in German, we often had the Germans asking the Swiss to speak English because they had trouble understanding them. It was interesting for an English speaker to see.

orangettecoleman
06-25-2009, 06:12 AM
Different dialects of Chinese are mutually unintelligible from a spoken standpoint, but are considered dialects rather than distinct languages because the written language is mutually intelligible. Probably the same thing with German and Swiss German I would suspect.

malakas
06-25-2009, 06:18 AM
I'm Swiss.

There is no one 'swiss german'. There are various dialects (of alemannic origin), the variation in words and pronunciation can be very strong, so its not even easy for swiss germans to understand themselves. For germans its nearly impossible to decipher what we speak.

Switzerland is such an interesting country.Even from one cantone to the other,the atmosphere and the people seem different.It made a strong impression on me as a tourist.In Laussane the streets are more dirty,the people are more loud,there is some night life..Luzern is quiet,clean and everything is closed after 9.

anyway,maybe it's difficult for the people who don't know to understand how different swiss-german,and german are and sound.

gj011
06-25-2009, 06:43 AM
An American can understand Australians and Brits.A Serb can understand a Croat and a Bosnian.
A German can't understand a Swiss.

Let's wait for a real swiss to chime in with his input.

American would hardly understand Cockney, also there are parts of Serbia where I could hardly understand what they are talking about, but it is the same language.

gj011
06-25-2009, 06:44 AM
Different dialects of Chinese are mutually unintelligible from a spoken standpoint, but are considered dialects rather than distinct languages because the written language is mutually intelligible. Probably the same thing with German and Swiss German I would suspect.

Yes I think this is the case.

malakas
06-25-2009, 06:45 AM
swiss german are also written a bit different than german.

malakas
06-25-2009, 06:47 AM
American would hardly understand Cockney, also there are parts of Serbia where I could hardly understand what they are talking about, but it is the same language.

but cockney is only a part of english speakers from London.Not a whole country.And I have great difficulty to understand cypriots especially when they speak fast,but if they speak slow and clear I can understand them.
With swiss..the germans can't.
Anyway,I personally have some trouble understanding germans themselves,not to speak of swiss.But here came some swiss and said their opinion.

goober
06-25-2009, 07:08 AM
LOL maybe if you're a rich white person playing tennis at a country club that's true. a large percentage of the people i've been around my whole life have been of Hispanic descent. i wish I would have learned Spanish years ago.

Depends where you live. I lived in Socal and AZ. Yes there are a lot of hispanics there. But when I lived in various parts of the mid.west I didn't hear spanish spoken once. In Maryland where Raiden is from, you don't have to be a rich white person to rarely hear Spanish.

Even in Cali and AZ the majority of people don't speak Spanish and are not particularly inclined to learn.

sureshs
06-25-2009, 07:15 AM
Switzerland is such an interesting country.Even from one cantone to the other,the atmosphere and the people seem different.It made a strong impression on me as a tourist.In Laussane the streets are more dirty,the people are more loud,there is some night life..Luzern is quiet,clean and everything is closed after 9.

anyway,maybe it's difficult for the people who don't know to understand how different swiss-german,and german are and sound.

Need to go there to check on my Swiss bank money I have hidden there

pmerk34
06-25-2009, 07:18 AM
Depends where you live. I lived in Socal and AZ. Yes there are a lot of hispanics there. But when I lived in various parts of the mid.west I didn't hear spanish spoken once. In Maryland where Raiden is from, you don't have to be a rich white person to rarely hear Spanish.

Even in Cali and AZ the majority of people don't speak Spanish and are not particularly inclined to learn.

And this has what to do with tennis?

NickC
06-25-2009, 07:20 AM
GJ, have you ever lived with a native speaker of Swiss-German? I have, and even though I don't speak much German (I only know about 10 words total), I have also spent a great deal of time with Germans and I can tell that the two languages are completely different. You don't know what you're talking about. And German and Dutch are very different languages, in case you didn't know that.

BreakPoint
06-25-2009, 07:27 AM
How are Swiss German and German two different languages now?

This is like saying that English spoken in US is different language than English in Britain.

So according to that logic, Roddick, Fish, Blake all speak two languages at least.

Still the same language. Those are the two dialects of the same language

Say Cockney and how they speak in Oklahoma are quite different too, but you would not call them different languages.
Do you speak either German or Swiss-German? Then who are you to judge? No, they are not like American English and English English nor are they like Northern American English and Southern American English. Those are mostly just a different accent.

Swiss-German sounds VERY different from German. I speak some German but when I heard Federer talking in Swiss-German, I could not understand a word he was saying.

Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese Chinese are also "dialects" but they are totally unintelligible from one another. They might was well be Russian and French.

goober
06-25-2009, 07:31 AM
And this has what to do with tennis?

Lol what do any of posts on this thread have to do with tennis? I was responding to another post- if you bothered reading.

vive le beau jeu !
06-25-2009, 07:40 AM
you DO know that most european countries have only 1 official language,and Switzerland is an exception??It's not like we get out of border everyotherday so we need it to communicate with our neighbours.

Fed speaks with Mirka in swiss-Deutsch,and dirty talk in french.:p
mmmh... "dirty talk in french" ? http://l.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/mesg/emoticons7/39.gif
... is this a habit in greece also ? :rolleyes:

pmerk34
06-25-2009, 07:43 AM
Lol what do any of posts on this thread have to do with tennis? I was responding to another post- if you bothered reading.

And this has what to do with tennis?

malakas
06-25-2009, 08:09 AM
mmmh... "dirty talk in french" ? http://l.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/mesg/emoticons7/39.gif
... is this a habit in greece also ? :rolleyes:

it is a habit in all the world.:p

goober
06-25-2009, 08:13 AM
And this has what to do with tennis?

and what does your post have to do with tennis?

Are you part of the forum police- oh wait those are moderators.

goober
06-25-2009, 08:15 AM
It's more a matter of geography. The Unites States is a large country. European countries are much smaller and are closely surrounded by many different countries with a unique dialect so it makes sense practically.

what does this post have to do with tennis? lol ok hypocrite carry on...

Warriorroger
06-25-2009, 08:34 AM
The language of Love...............;)

damn you beat me to it :)

cknobman
06-25-2009, 09:09 AM
He speaks to her in tongues.

She considers it a religious experience.

pmerk34
06-25-2009, 09:15 AM
what does this post have to do with tennis? lol ok hypocrite carry on...

It's matter of geography my friend

RealityPolice
06-25-2009, 09:15 AM
How are Swiss German and German two different languages now?

This is like saying that English spoken in US is different language than English in Britain.

So according to that logic, Roddick, Fish, Blake all speak two languages at least.

There are many linguists who claim that certain dialects of British English and American English are sufficiently different as to be different languages, so this point may be valid.

gj011
06-25-2009, 09:18 AM
GJ, have you ever lived with a native speaker of Swiss-German? I have, and even though I don't speak much German (I only know about 10 words total), I have also spent a great deal of time with Germans and I can tell that the two languages are completely different. You don't know what you're talking about. And German and Dutch are very different languages, in case you didn't know that.

Serbian and Polish are quite different languages too, in case you didn't know that.

Anyway, people here do not make distinction between two dialects of the same language (that can be quite different to each other too) and two different languages.

Swiss German is a dialect of German language. Mandarin and Cantonese are dialects of Chinese language.

German and Dutch or Serbian and Polish are different languages.

RealityPolice
06-25-2009, 09:23 AM
Different dialects of Chinese are mutually unintelligible from a spoken standpoint, but are considered dialects rather than distinct languages because the written language is mutually intelligible. Probably the same thing with German and Swiss German I would suspect.

Dialectal variation has very little (if anything) to do with the written language.

The difference between "dialect" and "language" is much debated among linguists. The old salt "a language is a dialect with an army and a navy" is often used, but has little bearing in reality.

FWIW, those "dialects" of Chinese are usually considered separate languages; the dangerous-to-cite Ethnologue lists 14 languages as "Chinese," and most other sources I know of put this in the 12-19 range. (I'm not a Sino-Tibetanist, admitedly, so it's a bit out of my element.)

RealityPolice
06-25-2009, 09:24 AM
Serbian and Polish are quite different languages too, in case you didn't know that.

Anyway, people here do not make distinction between two dialects of the same language (that can be quite different to each other too) and two different languages.

Swiss German is a dialect of German language. Mandarin and Cantonese are dialects of Chinese language.

German and Dutch or Serbian and Polish are different languages.

Mandarin and Cantonese are different languages.

gj011
06-25-2009, 09:33 AM
Mandarin and Cantonese are different languages.

Well, I don't think everyone agrees with that.
You said you would even consider American and British English two separate languages in same cases, which I think is not widely accepted definition of a language.

I agree about one thing though. This is often a political issue. According to some language clasifications, I could claim that I speak 5 or 6 different languages, while in reality I speak only 2.

RealityPolice
06-25-2009, 09:40 AM
Well, I don't think everyone agrees with that.
You said you would even consider American and British English two separate languages in same cases, which I think is not widely accepted definition of a language.



I didn't say that I would claim that strawman up above, merely that there are those in linguistics who do.

I would guess that 90%+ of Sino-Tibetanist linguists would classify Mandarin and Cantonese as separate languages.

The usual test is mutual intelligibility. If they aren't mutually intelligible, they're separate languages. That's the blanket stance taken in linguistics; however, there are always exceptions.

canuckfan
06-25-2009, 10:32 AM
I'm sure Fed (and/or his parents) learned French and German because he wanted to challenge himself and to be educated, not because it was the practical thing to do in order to communicate with the people around him. :rolleyes:

Switzerland has 4 official languages, and different regions have different groups of people speaking different languages. It IS practical, especially in europe where so many countries and cultures are in such close proximity. You should be rolling your eyes at your own ignorance. Americans can get away with a single language becuase of the size and relative geographic isolation of the country, and strength of economy (don't need to move to find work).

My ignorance? Did I not just say the same thing as you? It makes sense for people in Europe to learn multiple languages, more so than people in the USA.

No, you didn't just say the same thing, as can be seen in the quotes above. You said fed learning other languages was NOT practical, but simply an educational exercise. That is not true at all; you incorrectly assumed it was so because that has been your experience in life. I'm not criticizing the fact you can't speak more than one language (even though being multilingual would teach you many things about the rest of the world).

malakas
06-25-2009, 10:37 AM
I didn't say that I would claim that strawman up above, merely that there are those in linguistics who do.

I would guess that 90%+ of Sino-Tibetanist linguists would classify Mandarin and Cantonese as separate languages.

The usual test is mutual intelligibility. If they aren't mutually intelligible, they're separate languages. That's the blanket stance taken in linguistics; however, there are always exceptions.

very interesting.But again many times italians and spanish can understand each other while speaking each their own language.The same with Norwegians and Swedes or the Slavs.Still they're considered different languages.

ChanceEncounter
06-25-2009, 10:48 AM
Different dialects of Chinese are mutually unintelligible from a spoken standpoint, but are considered dialects rather than distinct languages because the written language is mutually intelligible. Probably the same thing with German and Swiss German I would suspect.

You do realize that "Chinese" is not a language, right?

Chinese is a "family of languages" rather than a single language. You see "Mandarin" and "Cantonese," at least, recognized as 2 different languages, and you'll see it show up on the censuses as 2 different languages, because as you said, they are mutually unintelligible.

In linguistics, if two 'dialects' are mutually unintelligible to each other, then they are considered different languages. Since Swiss-German and German are completely unintelligible to each other, I have no issue with calling them different languages.

RealityPolice
06-25-2009, 10:51 AM
very interesting.But again many times italians and spanish can understand each other while speaking each their own language.The same with Norwegians and Swedes or the Slavs.Still they're considered different languages.

Yes. Languages within a single "sub-family" can have minor intelligibility, but it's not quite the same as intelligibility. There are also dialects that can be considered mutually unintelligible from each other--Seward Peninsula Inuit and East Greenlandic, or Erzya Mordvin and Moksha Mordvin, for example--yet are still considered the same language.

As I said, there isn't really an all-encompassing definition of "language" vs. "dialect," nor is there necessarily a rule about what constitutes "intelligibility." This is one of the trickiest areas of linguistics, even among experts. For myself, working with Athabaskan languages, I've seen them referred to as both dialects and languages numerous times, even within the same monograph.

There are times where linguistics can be an exact science. This isn't one of them. :)

maximo
06-25-2009, 10:51 AM
Federer speaks japanese with his wife.

orangettecoleman
06-25-2009, 11:11 AM
You do realize that "Chinese" is not a language, right?

Chinese is a "family of languages" rather than a single language. You see "Mandarin" and "Cantonese," at least, recognized as 2 different languages, and you'll see it show up on the censuses as 2 different languages, because as you said, they are mutually unintelligible.

In linguistics, if two 'dialects' are mutually unintelligible to each other, then they are considered different languages. Since Swiss-German and German are completely unintelligible to each other, I have no issue with calling them different languages.

That's absolutely true that Mandarin and Cantonese are regarded as separate languages. But maybe to use the example of Hakka and Hokkien, I think they are generally regarded as mutually unintelligible dialects of the same language. i definitely might be wrong, it's been a while since i studied this stuff.

orangettecoleman
06-25-2009, 11:15 AM
I honestly think this is the first interesting discussion in this forum I've seen in a couple years.

kOaMaster
06-25-2009, 11:19 AM
basically, swiss german is a dialect. that is true so far. it's not counted as an own language, there are no existing rules for writing (although you write it in chats, (e)-mails, sms etc.). and there are many swiss dialects that differ from each other a lot.

so gj011 is right when he says swiss german is no language.
but if you want to compare the situation and the comprehension for the language, you can by no way compare it to any english "dialect". just ask yourself the question: do you understand more or less what the other one talks about? if yes - and I hope that's the case in about all english speaking parts of the world - it's not comparable.
swiss german is easier to learn when you have well-founded german skills, but except from some southern germans, you have to learn something new. not just some words but also grammar!

I would compare it with the example sardian - italian. Or luxemburgish - german.

RealityPolice
06-25-2009, 11:42 AM
basically, swiss german is a dialect. that is true so far. it's not counted as an own language, there are no existing rules for writing (although you write it in chats, (e)-mails, sms etc.). and there are many swiss dialects that differ from each other a lot.

Once again, with feeling: writing has nothing to do with language classification.

so gj011 is right when he says swiss german is no language.
but if you want to compare the situation and the comprehension for the language, you can by no way compare it to any english "dialect". just ask yourself the question: do you understand more or less what the other one talks about? if yes - and I hope that's the case in about all english speaking parts of the world - it's not comparable.
swiss german is easier to learn when you have well-founded german skills, but except from some southern germans, you have to learn something new. not just some words but also grammar!

I would compare it with the example sardian - italian. Or luxemburgish - german.

Sardinian is a completely separate language from Italian, and Luxemburgish is entirely separate from German. Not sure if that's what you were intending to say.

BreakPoint
06-25-2009, 11:45 AM
Serbian and Polish are quite different languages too, in case you didn't know that.

Anyway, people here do not make distinction between two dialects of the same language (that can be quite different to each other too) and two different languages.

Swiss German is a dialect of German language. Mandarin and Cantonese are dialects of Chinese language.

German and Dutch or Serbian and Polish are different languages.

So what makes two languages "different languages"? If two people can't understand a word they are saying to each other and can't communicate at all, doesn't that mean they are speaking different languages? Does it matter if the two languages are German and Swiss-German or Mandarin and Cantonese or Serbian and Polish or French and Russian or English and Japanese?

vtmike
06-25-2009, 11:45 AM
Federer speaks japanese with his wife.

Is this your attempt at being funny? :confused: :?

malakas
06-25-2009, 11:48 AM
Yes. Languages within a single "sub-family" can have minor intelligibility, but it's not quite the same as intelligibility. There are also dialects that can be considered mutually unintelligible from each other--Seward Peninsula Inuit and East Greenlandic, or Erzya Mordvin and Moksha Mordvin, for example--yet are still considered the same language.

As I said, there isn't really an all-encompassing definition of "language" vs. "dialect," nor is there necessarily a rule about what constitutes "intelligibility." This is one of the trickiest areas of linguistics, even among experts. For myself, working with Athabaskan languages, I've seen them referred to as both dialects and languages numerous times, even within the same monograph.

There are times where linguistics can be an exact science. This isn't one of them. :)

ah I see.So this is also a matter of tradition and history and politics to what is named dialect and what a language.So,in the same way that these scholars say that swissgerman is a dialect of german,you can say that Ukranian is a dialect of Russian or that Slovakian is a dialect of Chech or that Serb and Croatian is the same language,no?:)

BreakPoint
06-25-2009, 11:51 AM
Well, I don't think everyone agrees with that.
You said you would even consider American and British English two separate languages in same cases, which I think is not widely accepted definition of a language.

I agree about one thing though. This is often a political issue. According to some language clasifications, I could claim that I speak 5 or 6 different languages, while in reality I speak only 2.

The difference between American and British English is mostly just a different accent and most Americans can understand most Brits and most Brits can understand most Americans. Not true at all between Mandarin and Cantonese. The words are pronounced VERY differently. A Mandarin speaker cannot understand a word a Cantonese speaker is saying and vise versa. Mandarin has only 5 tones while Cantonese has 9 tones. To a Mandarin speaker, the Cantonese speaker might as well be speaking Russian because they would understand just as much.

malakas
06-25-2009, 11:54 AM
Dialectal variation has very little (if anything) to do with the written language.

but why is that?A language isn't only spoken,it's also written.Surely the written form is as much important as the spoken form.In my ignorant opinion,spoken language changes and evolves much faster than written language.So from written language you can see more similarities between two dialects or languages,no?

RealityPolice
06-25-2009, 11:57 AM
ah I see.So this is also a matter of tradition and history and politics to what is named dialect and what a language.So,in the same way that these scholars say that swissgerman is a dialect of german,you can say that Ukranian is a dialect of Russian or that Slovakian is a dialect of Chech or that Serb and Croatian is the same language,no?:)

Well, there's truth to this. As I've said, there's a great deal of debate about where/when a dialect becomes a language. If we were to reclassify the Romance languages these days, perhaps there would be those in the field who would consider Italian and Spanish to be dialects of a single language, arguing that only tradition makes us consider them separate. (Doesn't make it right.)

The vast majority of linguists would classify Swiss German (as opposed to the Swiss version of Standard German--an important distinction) as a dialect, but Ukrainian and Russian, Czech and Slovak, and Serbian and Croatian to be separate languages. (I'm not a Slavicist, either. :) )

malakas
06-25-2009, 11:57 AM
The difference between American and British English is mostly just a different accent and most Americans can understand most Brits and most Brits can understand most Americans..

but can they understand an irish?:p My experience trying to understand them was traumatic to my confidence in my english skills.lol

malakas
06-25-2009, 11:59 AM
Well, there's truth to this. As I've said, there's a great deal of debate about where/when a dialect becomes a language. If we were to reclassify the Romance languages these days, perhaps there would be those in the field who would consider Italian and Spanish to be dialects of a single language, arguing that only tradition makes us consider them separate. (Doesn't make it right.)

The vast majority of linguists would classify Swiss German (as opposed to the Swiss version of Standard German--an important distinction) as a dialect, but Ukrainian and Russian, Czech and Slovak, and Serbian and Croatian to be separate languages. (I'm not a Slavicist, either. :) )

thank you for your input.:) Now I understand the world of linguists better!

kOaMaster
06-25-2009, 12:04 PM
Once again, with feeling: writing has nothing to do with language classification.

I'm not a lingust but I know that, just added this.



Sardinian is a completely separate language from Italian, and Luxemburgish is entirely separate from German. Not sure if that's what you were intending to say.

I tried to compare how actually "different"/far from german it is.

and no, luxemburgish is for sure a german dialect like swiss german and does not count as an own language. it is the exact same situation.

RealityPolice
06-25-2009, 12:08 PM
but why is that?A language isn't only spoken,it's also written.Surely the written form is as much important as the spoken form.In my ignorant opinion,spoken language changes and evolves much faster than written language.So from written language you can see more similarities between two dialects or languages,no?

I should clarify my point, as I wrote it poorly. While the setting of a standard literary language can mark a viable distinction between two closely-related languages, there have to be other reasons for considering the two to be distinct.

The type of writing involved can lead to a false division or equivalence. One can use different scripts to write a language (Mongolian has been written with four different scripts, each of which is completely unrelated to the others, and Linear B was used to write an early form of Greek; Hindi and Urdu are very closely-related, yet use Devanagari and Arabic as their scripts.)

Also, dialect distinctions are often lessened in writing; judging from the styles of the American posters on this board, it might be very difficult to tell if Phil (for example) is from New England, Texas, Wisconsin, or Iowa, or even from Wimbourne, Yorkshire, or Wessex. Sure, he might use regional lexicon, but that's something that can be difficult to notice. There's a smoothing effect in place in writing that may or may not be present in speech.

Additionally, only a (surprisingly) small percentage of the world's languages are written, so linguists have a tendency to rely much more on speech in classification.

Because written language has so many variables, linguists don't tend to use them as a primary referent in language classification.

RealityPolice
06-25-2009, 12:11 PM
and no, luxemburgish is for sure a german dialect like swiss german and does not count as an own language. it is the exact same situation.

No, it isn't. It's a Franconian language. :)

Luxembourgish is Germanic, but that's not the same as German.

http://www.ethnologue.org/show_family.asp?subid=91319

(Note that Ethnologue isn't the most authoritative source, but it agrees with several others that I have.)

kOaMaster
06-25-2009, 12:19 PM
I know - giving wikipedia as a source is not really clever, but there I read:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_West_Germanic_languages#West_Germanic

...

malakas
06-25-2009, 12:21 PM
I should clarify my point, as I wrote it poorly. While the setting of a standard literary language can mark a viable distinction between two closely-related languages, there have to be other reasons for considering the two to be distinct.

The type of writing involved can lead to a false division or equivalence. One can use different scripts to write a language (Mongolian has been written with four different scripts, each of which is completely unrelated to the others, and Linear B was used to write an early form of Greek; Hindi and Urdu are very closely-related, yet use Devanagari and Arabic as their scripts.)

Also, dialect distinctions are often lessened in writing; judging from the styles of the American posters on this board, it might be very difficult to tell if Phil (for example) is from New England, Texas, Wisconsin, or Iowa, or even from Wimbourne, Yorkshire, or Wessex. Sure, he might use regional lexicon, but that's something that can be difficult to notice. There's a smoothing effect in place in writing that may or may not be present in speech.

Additionally, only a (surprisingly) small percentage of the world's languages are written, so linguists have a tendency to rely much more on speech in classification.

Because written language has so many variables, linguists don't tend to use them as a primary referent in language classification.

wow didnt' know that only a small percentage of the world's languages are written..but I suppose the huge majority of the language used are also written,no?
ah I see,so it matters more the spoken form.But still script reveals a lot about the influence,history or the politics of the language and its speakers in my humble opinion.

RealityPolice
06-25-2009, 12:25 PM
I know - giving wikipedia as a source is not really clever, but there I read:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_West_Germanic_languages#West_Germanic

...

Right. It's listing Luxemburgish as a West Germanic language. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luxemburgish#Language_family

Wikipedia is OK as a leaping-off point for research. I've found that much of the linguistics work on there--at least regarding Uralic and Athabaskan, which are my concentrations--is decent, if not exceptional. Good for a superficial fact-check, but I wouldn't stake my career on it. :lol:

kOaMaster
06-25-2009, 12:31 PM
and now where is that further away from high german than the alemannic dialects?

RealityPolice
06-25-2009, 12:35 PM
wow didnt' know that only a small percentage of the world's languages are written..but I suppose the huge majority of the language used are also written,no?
ah I see,so it matters more the spoken form.But still script reveals a lot about the influence,history or the politics of the language and its speakers in my humble opinion.

Well, the vast majority of the world's population speak languages that have written forms, absolutely. But the huge majority of the world's languages are spoken by very small numbers of people. Kind of odd to think about.

What happens is that most people are multilingual, and write in a "majority" language, rather than creating a script representation for their first/native language.

Your opinion is correct on writing, though; the use of written texts has enabled us to trace the evolution of many languages (Old English>Middle English>Modern English, for example), and is very valid as a means of doing so. In fact, it's invaluable, as we'd have no way of seeing this evolution in action. And creating a literary language is a good way of both codifying a spoken standard and keeping a language from becoming extinct. But when linguists look at languages, 98% of the time, they start with the spoken form (unless the spoken form is extinct).

There's a great site for examining world writing systems, BTW:

www.omniglot.com

Easy way to kill a few hours. :)

RealityPolice
06-25-2009, 12:50 PM
and now where is that further away from high german than the alemannic dialects?

You'd have to define 'away' here. As I've said, the line between language and dialect is a blurry one. I'm not an Indo-Europeanist, or even a Germanicist, so I claim no expertise here; going from what I've seen on Wiki and elsewhere, the most obvious distinguishing characteristic is a heavy French influence on phonology and lexicon.

You'll notice that, throughout Wiki's links on the subject, they use the terms dialect and language interchangeably--sometimes, Luxemburgish is listed as a dialect and sometimes as a language. Ethnologue, Ruhlen's A Guide to the World's Languages, Volume 1: Classification, and Crystal's Cambridge Encyclopedia of Languages all have Luxemburgish as a distinct language.

malakas
06-25-2009, 12:53 PM
haha thanx RealityPolice for the interesting site!!!:D I'm very interested,as a hobby of course,on the history of indoeuropean languages.:)

now that I found you here lol,may I ask you something else too as a linguist.:p In your opinion which is the most difficult language for an english speaker? Also in your opinion is it right to say that english is a difficult language to learn?(to which I disagree) I'm sorry but I have these questions and finding a linguist around to ask is a bit difficult!

BullDogTennis
06-25-2009, 12:55 PM
english should be the universal language :) it takes a little of all languages anyhow. that and USA, and brittain speak it, so thats the best part of the world :) hahah jk about the last part.

BullDogTennis
06-25-2009, 12:55 PM
english should be the universal language :) it takes a little of all languages anyhow. that and USA, and brittain speak it, so thats the best part of the world :) hahah jk about the last part.

and most americans learn spanish, mostly bc of all the immigrants, but that doesnt help with a lot of the world.

vmosrafa08
06-25-2009, 12:57 PM
The language of Love...............;)

Of course!

Docalex007
06-25-2009, 01:02 PM
Once again, with feeling: writing has nothing to do with language classification.



Sardinian is a completely separate language from Italian, and Luxemburgish is entirely separate from German. Not sure if that's what you were intending to say.

That's not true at all. For some parts of the year I live in Germany close to the border of Luxembourg where they speak it and there are similarities! I can understand the main topics of discussion... but that's about it.

RealityPolice
06-25-2009, 01:19 PM
That's not true at all. For some parts of the year I live in Germany close to the border of Luxembourg where they speak it and there are similarities! I can understand the main topics of discussion... but that's about it.

It has nothing to do with "similarities." It has to do with differences. French and Portuguese have similarities, yet they're separate languages. English and Frisian have many similarites, yet are distinct languages. Finnish and Karelian have many similarities, yet they're distinct languages. In each case, it's the differences (their number, type, and degree) that make them distinct.

Just because two languages may have similarities that can lead to some passing intelligibility does not mean they aren't distinct languages. And the converse is also true.

Antonio Puente
06-25-2009, 01:40 PM
Lol. Typical.

It would be a waste of time and resources for Americans or Brits to learn another language, especially Americans. When you can travel 4,000-5,000 miles in any direction throughout North America and still speak English, and the rest of the world outside of Britain and Australia speaks American English with an American accent, what would be the point? Outside of learning Spanish, it would be impossible for an American to retain another language even if they did learn it. It's not Europe where you can learn French and use it regularly by taking a four hour trip. If the people of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan spoke different languages, Americans would be fluent in several languages just as Europeans are.

Gorecki
06-25-2009, 02:02 PM
Speaking of ignorant, Mirka was born in Slovakia, not Slovenia, which has already been posted.

i hope you realize they are different countries

Gotta love these boards.. always a place to learn something new everyday..lol

SARCASTIC? do you understand that ?

vbranis
06-25-2009, 02:13 PM
Sign language. Confusion led to Mirka's pregnancy.

galain
06-25-2009, 11:37 PM
haha thanx RealityPolice for the interesting site!!!:D I'm very interested,as a hobby of course,on the history of indoeuropean languages.:)

now that I found you here lol,may I ask you something else too as a linguist.:p In your opinion which is the most difficult language for an english speaker? Also in your opinion is it right to say that english is a difficult language to learn?(to which I disagree) I'm sorry but I have these questions and finding a linguist around to ask is a bit difficult!

malakas

I read somewhere quite some time ago that the US military (I think) had drawn up a comparison list of 'common' world languages and rated them in terms of difficulty (ie - length of time to relative proficiency) for an English speaker to learn.

The easiest in terms of time to use were Spanish and I think Malay/Bahasa Indonesian, Italian and French were on the next level up from that, Portugese somewhere around there with Dutch, then German (explains my difficulties with these bloody German cases!) and at the top was Korean.

That is just from memory. I didn't notice Greek on the list, and I was keen to see where the Finno Ugrian group would rank but I can't remember them either. Definitely remember Korean at the top. I think Russian was up there with the other north Asian languages too. If I have the time to go looking I'll post back here with a link.

orangettecoleman
06-25-2009, 11:48 PM
malakas

I read somewhere quite some time ago that the US military (I think) had drawn up a comparison list of 'common' world languages and rated them in terms of difficulty (ie - length of time to relative proficiency) for an English speaker to learn.

The easiest in terms of time to use were Spanish and I think Malay/Bahasa Indonesian, Italian and French were on the next level up from that, Portugese somewhere around there with Dutch, then German (explains my difficulties with these bloody German cases!) and at the top was Korean.

That is just from memory. I didn't notice Greek on the list, and I was keen to see where the Finno Ugrian group would rank but I can't remember them either. Definitely remember Korean at the top. I think Russian was up there with the other north Asian languages too. If I have the time to go looking I'll post back here with a link.

I took a couple of years of Korean and it was a PAIN IN THE ***. Interesting, but a pain nonetheless. The grammar is totally so different from English, which is what makes it difficult for English speakers. Interestingly, Korean grammar and Turkish grammar have a lot of coincidental similarities, and a Korean girl I used to date learned Turkish and said it was really easy for her to learn. Turkish is another of the languages considered most difficult for English speakers to learn.

Edit: the Korean writing system, Hangul, is the easiest thing in the world to learn. totally logical and phonetic. So difficulty in learning languages can mean a number of different things. Thai is grammatically simple but has a very difficult writing system that has a lot of divergences from the spoken language and requires a lot of interpretation on the part of the reader, as I understand.

mikro112
06-25-2009, 11:49 PM
just wondering... he speaks english well...how did he learn it? He speaks Swiss German, German, French, and English....For sure 4 languages. What language does he speak to Mirka in. She is after all, Slovenian so she doesn't speak German or or French... Very interesting also how Americans just speak 1 language...Roddick, Fish, Blake, Querrey can't speak a word of any other language but English..the Brits and Americans just don't like to learn other languages..

I think I read in the Q&A on his homepage that for him English is the first language. THerefore, I believe he and Mirka are talking in English.

mikro112
06-25-2009, 11:54 PM
It would be a waste of time and resources for Americans or Brits to learn another language, especially Americans. When you can travel 4,000-5,000 miles in any direction throughout North America and still speak English, and the rest of the world outside of Britain and Australia speaks American English with an American accent, what would be the point? Outside of learning Spanish, it would be impossible for an American to retain another language even if they did learn it. It's not Europe where you can learn French and use it regularly by taking a four hour trip. If the people of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan spoke different languages, Americans would be fluent in several languages just as Europeans are.

I don't understand why Americans are so ignorant. In today's globalized world, you're screwed if you are not willing to learn and speak at least 2 languages. I can understand your argument though, but still that is only an excuse for not being willing to learn more than only English. Although I have never been to England, I learned English and then I came to the US to get an MBA, which also improved my English (I'm from Germany). But you don't see many Americans who are willing to do that, do you?

orangettecoleman
06-25-2009, 11:56 PM
I think I read in the Q&A on his homepage that for him English is the first language. THerefore, I believe he and Mirka are talking in English.

Is English the lingua franca among the different language groups of Switzerland when they speak to one another? If so I would guess that Mirka probably learned English in Switzerland for communication purposes rather than German, French, or Italian.

Antonio Puente
06-26-2009, 12:27 AM
I don't understand why Americans are so ignorant.

Americans are not ignorant. Again, from an institutional educational perspective, it would be a complete waste of time and resources for them to learn another language. Ja, das ist richtig. If Germans could travel 5000 km in any direction and still speak German while the rest of the world outside of that area spoke German as a second language, very few Germans would waste their time learning English either. You are forced to learn English. Spaniards are forced to learn English. Europeans are forced to learn English to survive in the global economy. You didn't waste your time learning Finnish, did you? Similarly, learning German, Italian or Polish for an American would amount to little more than a novelty.

jamesblakefan#1
06-26-2009, 12:49 AM
I don't understand why Americans are so ignorant. In today's globalized world, you're screwed if you are not willing to learn and speak at least 2 languages. I can understand your argument though, but still that is only an excuse for not being willing to learn more than only English. Although I have never been to England, I learned English and then I came to the US to get an MBA, which also improved my English (I'm from Germany). But you don't see many Americans who are willing to do that, do you?

I was required to take three years of a foreign language class in high school in order to graduate. This is the way it is in a majority of schools here in America. Now, I understand learning it and being required to use it are different things. We do learn languages (French, Spanish, German) but because we dont use them on a daily basis, our knowledge of these languages arent reinforced.

I took 3 years of Spanish in high school. If I went to Spain right now, i'd be clueless. Not b/c I dont care, but bc we dont use those languages enough on a daily basis to really retain them after we learn them.

I dont think the problem is American ignorance, its the fact that the global economy still revolves around America and Britain. Being bilingual is an asset in America, but its not a necessity as it is in other countries

tahiti
06-26-2009, 01:13 AM
I don't understand why Americans are so ignorant. In today's globalized world, you're screwed if you are not willing to learn and speak at least 2 languages. I can understand your argument though, but still that is only an excuse for not being willing to learn more than only English. Although I have never been to England, I learned English and then I came to the US to get an MBA, which also improved my English (I'm from Germany). But you don't see many Americans who are willing to do that, do you?

It's true that if you travel within a radius and you don't need a language there's no point in learning it. Where Amercians are perhaps ignorant in not bothering to culturally enrich themselves. Those that speak multiple language or even just two realise that every expression, metaphor proverb or idiom exists in other language too, only different nouns or ideas are used. Small e.g. a bird in the hand is worth 10 in the air in one language and 2 in the bush in English. Other languages don't talk about killing 2 birds with one stone , they'll drop the kill and use softer words to describe the scenario.

Many Americans who travel rarely bother to learn even at least 50 words of the country they're going to. I don't know if that's ignorance or just disrepect to other cultures. Ignorance is thinking that because everyone uses English that everything that belongs to the "English speaking world is good." Compared to other cultures, English is poor. The UK and American average diets are the worst in the world and if you just take food as an example, a starting point for a peoples' culture, it says a lot.

kOaMaster
06-26-2009, 02:36 AM
I think I read in the Q&A on his homepage that for him English is the first language. THerefore, I believe he and Mirka are talking in English.

you are from germany and you say this nonsense? wow, didn't know we have neighbours like that.
lynette federer was south afrikan, but her mother tongue is africaans, not english.
robert federer is from basel, federer grew up in switzerland. why the heck should english be his first language?

Is English the lingua franca among the different language groups of Switzerland when they speak to one another? If so I would guess that Mirka probably learned English in Switzerland for communication purposes rather than German, French, or Italian.

that depends. with the french people you speak french/german, because that's each one's first language (french/german from 5th grade, in total about 8 years) and everyone at least understands it and can form a couple of sentences.
with italian it is a little bit more complicated, it is not a compulsory language at school although many choose it as a subject. italian speakers learn either french or german, but the geografical border is bigger and so is the language border. with those you might talk in english, could be easier.

and with the fourth, rhaeto-romanic it's easier, because all people are fluent in at least one other language, usually swiss german. rhaeto-romanic is too small live with only that language.

and for mirka's part: came to switzerland by the age of 2, shew grew up and went to school here. so she speaks swiss german, german, english and french at least too (and slovakian I guess).

pound cat
06-26-2009, 02:56 AM
I think learning another language can be very good. To show interest in other cultures, in other people, and just to explore your horizons. I think it would be very good if American children learned to speak Spanish. Isn't it weird to have just ONE language you can understand, and not a single word in any other language. Americans could also learn some Latin as that's the origin of a lot of the English language.


Travel outside of the country and a general curiosity about the world outside of the USA would help too. And no, they will not need winter clothes in any part of Canada in the summer.

Gorecki
06-26-2009, 02:58 AM
you are from germany and you say this nonsense? wow, didn't know we have neighbours like that.
lynette federer was south afrikan, but her mother tongue is africaans, not english.
robert federer is from basel, federer grew up in switzerland. why the heck should english be his first language?



that depends. with the french people you speak french/german, because that's each one's first language (french/german from 5th grade, in total about 8 years) and everyone at least understands it and can form a couple of sentences.
with italian it is a little bit more complicated, it is not a compulsory language at school although many choose it as a subject. italian speakers learn either french or german, but the geografical border is bigger and so is the language border. with those you might talk in english, could be easier.

and with the fourth, rhaeto-romanic it's easier, because all people are fluent in at least one other language, usually swiss german. rhaeto-romanic is too small live with only that language.

and for mirka's part: came to switzerland by the age of 2, shew grew up and went to school here. so she speaks swiss german, german, english and french at least too (and slovakian I guess).

Congole much? KOAMASTER or should i say KING OF ACES MASTER???

malakas
06-26-2009, 03:13 AM
I was required to take three years of a foreign language class in high school in order to graduate. This is the way it is in a majority of schools here in America. Now, I understand learning it and being required to use it are different things. We do learn languages (French, Spanish, German) but because we dont use them on a daily basis, our knowledge of these languages arent reinforced.

I took 3 years of Spanish in high school. If I went to Spain right now, i'd be clueless. Not b/c I dont care, but bc we dont use those languages enough on a daily basis to really retain them after we learn them.

I dont think the problem is American ignorance, its the fact that the global economy still revolves around America and Britain. Being bilingual is an asset in America, but its not a necessity as it is in other countries

do you think that in other countries people have a chance to use and practice foreign languages daily??It's the same situation.
People here seem to think that every european gets out of border every other day,and has to use foreign languages :rolleyes:

That's one of the reasons I post in this forum,to practice my english and not forget it.That's also the reason why I got to a german forum.

pmerk34
06-26-2009, 04:09 AM
Americans are not ignorant. Again, from an institutional educational perspective, it would be a complete waste of time and resources for them to learn another language. Ja, das ist richtig. If Germans could travel 5000 km in any direction and still speak German while the rest of the world outside of that area spoke German as a second language, very few Germans would waste their time learning English either. You are forced to learn English. Spaniards are forced to learn English. Europeans are forced to learn English to survive in the global economy. You didn't waste your time learning Finnish, did you? Similarly, learning German, Italian or Polish for an American would amount to little more than a novelty.

Wow, what a great post. Bravo! ( that's Spanish I think)

RealityPolice
06-26-2009, 07:45 AM
haha thanx RealityPolice for the interesting site!!!:D I'm very interested,as a hobby of course,on the history of indoeuropean languages.:)

now that I found you here lol,may I ask you something else too as a linguist. In your opinion which is the most difficult language for an english speaker? Also in your opinion is it right to say that english is a difficult language to learn?(to which I disagree) I'm sorry but I have these questions and finding a linguist around to ask is a bit difficult!

Well, you'd have to define "difficult," for starters. :)

Generally speaking, no language is truly harder than any other; most of the perceived difficulty comes from the (for lack of a better word) degree of difference from the speaker's native language. An English speaker learning Spanish is likely to find it easier than learning, say, Xhosa, for many reasons: the sound system of Xhosa is much different (including clicks and ejective sounds, which aren't found in English, as well as having phonemic tone), giving great difficulty in learning pronunciation; Xhosa is an agglutinating language (meaning that it creates words and sentences by adding prefixes and suffixes to a root form), so it's far different in the construction of sentences than Spanish would be to an English speaker. Add in the fact that an English speaker is likely to recognize many Spanish words, it's pretty obvious that the average English speaker will find Spanish easier to learn than Xhosa. (On the flip side, a Xhosa speaker would probably find Navajo easier than English, although he'd likely have had some contact with English already; that's a variable that can't be excluded.)

There are places you can find "ratings" about how difficult languages are. Those should always be taken with a grain of salt, as they don't take into consideration a huge number of factors. For instance, I started with four years of French, which I struggled with a bit (more out of laziness than anything). When I started Russian, I found it much easier than French, because I'd gotten a grammatical framework that I could transfer (in bits and pieces) to Russian from my French studies, and also because Russian has a large inventory of modified French lexemes. When I studied Finnish, I was completely at sea and barely learned anything at all, despite Finnish being fairly simple pronunciation-wise; the agglutinating grammar was too alien, and few of the words bore any resemblance to English/French/Russian words.

I've seen ratings that claim Finnish as the hardest European language, ranking with Mandarin and Hebrew. In each case, there's a variety of factors why Joe English-speaker would find these difficult. But some speakers might find Finnish easier than Italian or Swedish; individuals can't be shoehorned into categories so easily, and language that one might find difficult could be completely transparent to someone else.

Hope that isn't too evasive. :)

sureshs
06-26-2009, 07:45 AM
What is being left out by the multi-lingual enthusiasts is that usually it has a backdrop of conflict between the languages. You will find that in the places where people know 5 languages, 5 ethnic or other groups would have been fighting over which is superior and how to impose it on others. It is rarely that they have coexisted peacefully in the past. People in those places have to learn multiple languages either because the schools mandate them (as a truce between the linguistic groups) or it is needed for survival because one place will not speak another's language.

There may be a few people who are enthusiastic about learning many languages as a hobby, but not most. And most who do, learn them out of force or necessity, not to "understand another culture." That is a justification which is given later in life.

RealityPolice
06-26-2009, 08:05 AM
What is being left out by the multi-lingual enthusiasts is that usually it has a backdrop of conflict between the languages. You will find that in the places where people know 5 languages, 5 ethnic or other groups would have been fighting over which is superior and how to impose it on others. It is rarely that they have coexisted peacefully in the past. People in those places have to learn multiple languages either because the schools mandate them (as a truce between the linguistic groups) or it is needed for survival because one place will not speak another's language.

There may be a few people who are enthusiastic about learning many languages as a hobby, but not most. And most who do, learn them out of force or necessity, not to "understand another culture." That is a justification which is given later in life.

That's not entirely true. Language doesn't create the conflict (except in a very few cases). Conflicts of this nature are due to the collision of cultures; that the opposing cultures speak differing languages is not necessarily a given, nor is it an absolute that differing language groups will conflict. At the heart of the matter is a variety of cultural differences of which language is only a small part.

It is true that great harm has been done to minority cultures by means of forced assimilation, and language assimilation is a part of that. But to blame this on specifically on language differences (if that's indeed your point) is highly disingenuous.

sureshs
06-26-2009, 11:47 AM
That's not entirely true. Language doesn't create the conflict (except in a very few cases). Conflicts of this nature are due to the collision of cultures; that the opposing cultures speak differing languages is not necessarily a given, nor is it an absolute that differing language groups will conflict. At the heart of the matter is a variety of cultural differences of which language is only a small part.

It is true that great harm has been done to minority cultures by means of forced assimilation, and language assimilation is a part of that. But to blame this on specifically on language differences (if that's indeed your point) is highly disingenuous.

OK, substitute language by culture then. Doesn't make any difference to my point that the real reason for learning many languages in practice is not to acquire a broader world view, but just to cope with local differences. Given a choice, most people would not learn new languages. Even in the cases where they learn 5 languages in their childhood due to geography, they will not learn a sixth language in their adult life.

Frankly, many languages have a religious, cultural and emotional significance. They are useless for international communication or commerce. I used to think that speaking the same mother toungue was important in marriage, but I see many couples who communicate in a neutral third language and are doing great. For those who dive deep into the literature of a region, knowledge of that language is essential. But then there is much literature in all parts of the world too.

tintin
06-26-2009, 11:59 AM
I've heard Mirka speak to the French and Belgian players in French and she spoke it well last year at the USO

RealityPolice
06-26-2009, 12:52 PM
OK, substitute language by culture then. Doesn't make any difference to my point that the real reason for learning many languages in practice is not to acquire a broader world view, but just to cope with local differences. Given a choice, most people would not learn new languages. Even in the cases where they learn 5 languages in their childhood due to geography, they will not learn a sixth language in their adult life.

Frankly, many languages have a religious, cultural and emotional significance. They are useless for international communication or commerce. I used to think that speaking the same mother toungue was important in marriage, but I see many couples who communicate in a neutral third language and are doing great. For those who dive deep into the literature of a region, knowledge of that language is essential. But then there is much literature in all parts of the world too.

I agree with much of this. (I would argue that no language is useless for commerce if people are making transactions in it; my MA thesis examines the spread of reindeer terminology in the circumpolar north, and the fact that many peoples used existing [i.e. borrowed] terminology for the animals rather than creating their own--therefore enabling us to trace the spread of reindeer herding as an economic base.)

I might add that there are cultures (particularly in South America) where it is forbidden for a man to marry a woman who speaks his native language.

sureshs
06-26-2009, 01:16 PM
I agree with much of this. (I would argue that no language is useless for commerce if people are making transactions in it; my MA thesis examines the spread of reindeer terminology in the circumpolar north, and the fact that many peoples used existing [i.e. borrowed] terminology for the animals rather than creating their own--therefore enabling us to trace the spread of reindeer herding as an economic base.)

I might add that there are cultures (particularly in South America) where it is forbidden for a man to marry a woman who speaks his native language.

Must be their way of preventing in-breeding. Lots of cultures have similar injunctions.

Interesting thing about languages is that they evolve. In one particular case, I came across people who were extremely proud of their language and region and even militant about it. According to them, the language was used during a historical period of great cultural achievements, and somehow they were superior because of that. Everything in their culture was about language to them. Turns out that the version of the language that was used in that historical period was drastically different from the modern version. The old version was being used in places where the diaspora from those times settled and "froze" the language as it was, and it was difficult for the modern speakers even to understand it. Those people consider the speakers of the modern version to be impure and uncultured and themselves to be the true keepers of the language!

RealityPolice
06-26-2009, 01:26 PM
Must be their way of preventing in-breeding. Lots of cultures have similar injunctions.

Interesting thing about languages is that they evolve. In one particular case, I came across people who were extremely proud of their language and region and even militant about it. According to them, the language was used during a historical period of great cultural achievements, and somehow they were superior because of that. Everything in their culture was about language to them. Turns out that the version of the language that was used in that historical period was drastically different from the modern version. The old version was being used in places where the diaspora from those times settled and "froze" the language as it was, and it was difficult for the modern speakers even to understand it. Those people consider the speakers of the modern version to be impure and uncultured and themselves to be the true keepers of the language!

That's actually happened in Quebec, too--the French Canadians I know consider their specific dialect of French to be "purer" than the French spoken in France, and yet the French language academy takes great pains to rid the language of most foreign influences.

It's a losing battle--we can't prevent language change/evolution no matter how we try (or not). Odd, the things people feel about language. :)

malakas
06-27-2009, 01:50 AM
Well, you'd have to define "difficult," for starters.

Generally speaking, no language is truly harder than any other; most of the perceived difficulty comes from the (for lack of a better word) degree of difference from the speaker's native language. An English speaker learning Spanish is likely to find it easier than learning, say, Xhosa, for many reasons: the sound system of Xhosa is much different (including clicks and ejective sounds, which aren't found in English, as well as having phonemic tone), giving great difficulty in learning pronunciation; Xhosa is an agglutinating language (meaning that it creates words and sentences by adding prefixes and suffixes to a root form), so it's far different in the construction of sentences than Spanish would be to an English speaker. Add in the fact that an English speaker is likely to recognize many Spanish words, it's pretty obvious that the average English speaker will find Spanish easier to learn than Xhosa. (On the flip side, a Xhosa speaker would probably find Navajo easier than English, although he'd likely have had some contact with English already; that's a variable that can't be excluded.)

There are places you can find "ratings" about how difficult languages are. Those should always be taken with a grain of salt, as they don't take into consideration a huge number of factors. For instance, I started with four years of French, which I struggled with a bit (more out of laziness than anything). When I started Russian, I found it much easier than French, because I'd gotten a grammatical framework that I could transfer (in bits and pieces) to Russian from my French studies, and also because Russian has a large inventory of modified French lexemes. When I studied Finnish, I was completely at sea and barely learned anything at all, despite Finnish being fairly simple pronunciation-wise; the agglutinating grammar was too alien, and few of the words bore any resemblance to English/French/Russian words.

I've seen ratings that claim Finnish as the hardest European language, ranking with Mandarin and Hebrew. In each case, there's a variety of factors why Joe English-speaker would find these difficult. But some speakers might find Finnish easier than Italian or Swedish; individuals can't be shoehorned into categories so easily, and language that one might find difficult could be completely transparent to someone else.

Hope that isn't too evasive. :)

hi realitypolice!Thanx for your answer,thought you had forgotten me!:p

Yes I know,that's why I tried to..trick you inaway into answering me with your opinion..I also have read the study galain mentioned,about the staff of the american embassys,and if I remember correctly they put Basque first and then Hungarian/Finnish as the hardest from Europe.Also Korean and Japanese from other parts of the world.
What makes an impression to me,is that these languages have a long history behind them and are extremely successful languages (spoken for centuries by millions of people).Now,from my own experience and in my ignorant opinion,I believe that languages have the tendency to become easier and simplify by the passing of centuries.Like in German and Greek,where you can synthetise as many words you want,there is a tendency to make the grammar easier and over-explain in a way.The wealth of the words increases but the grammar with so much use,becomes easier and easier.
A very hard language would be dysfunctional and with the income of immigrants and immixtures and synchotism of the nearby cultures it would become simplier and simplier.
But these languages have stayed extremely complex grammatically.
I can understand that with Basque,but it suprises me about the others.
You may claim that a language isn't complex when it's the mother tongue,but I don't think so.Now with so much improved education and I rarely see people who can use their language properly(I don't claim to be one to use it right either) and all these centuries where primar education was scarce it would be thousands times worse..Maybe of course they were even harder,and these the easier versions of them that we have nowadays.

Interesting that you found French difficult.I,after studying of course English first,found them very easy.(But did the mistake and left them,so now they have left me too.:rolleyes: )German on the other hand will always remain a torture..[I figured out why Germans speak slower and less,it's because they have to think of the grammar first..:p ]

malakas
06-27-2009, 01:52 AM
Must be their way of preventing in-breeding. Lots of cultures have similar injunctions.

Interesting thing about languages is that they evolve. In one particular case, I came across people who were extremely proud of their language and region and even militant about it. According to them, the language was used during a historical period of great cultural achievements, and somehow they were superior because of that. Everything in their culture was about language to them. Turns out that the version of the language that was used in that historical period was drastically different from the modern version. The old version was being used in places where the diaspora from those times settled and "froze" the language as it was, and it was difficult for the modern speakers even to understand it. Those people consider the speakers of the modern version to be impure and uncultured and themselves to be the true keepers of the language!

was it Greece?? lol That's true in every ancient language imo.
but ironically like we had nothing better to do,we actually had almost a civil war over the modern language:roll: like 100 years before.

kOaMaster
06-27-2009, 03:20 AM
the only language learning I struggled a lot (and if it's only for half a year) was arabic. japanese, alright, the european languages, well, once you've learn a couple of them, it's pretty easy to learn a new one. at least structural. creol, swahili & shona, not too complicated either.
(I'm not "good" at those languages, some of them I can't speak anymore or just kow some basic sentences)

but arabic, no idea. just didn't get it with the pronunciation, the writing, the grammar. did it for a half year, 3-4h a week and I think I got almost nothing out of it, haha.

malakas
06-27-2009, 03:24 AM
the only language learning I struggled a lot (and if it's only for half a year) was arabic. japanese, alright, the european languages, well, once you've learn a couple of them, it's pretty easy to learn a new one. at least structural. creol, swahili & shona, not too complicated either.
(I'm not "good" at those languages, some of them I can't speak anymore or just kow some basic sentences)

but arabic, no idea. just didn't get it with the pronunciation, the writing, the grammar. did it for a half year, 3-4h a week and I think I got almost nothing out of it, haha.

wow eerrhhmm..how many languages you speak??:shock: lol
thank you for making me feel complete useless :p

kOaMaster
06-27-2009, 03:45 AM
swiss german, german, french, english and some italian & swedish.

malakas
06-27-2009, 03:52 AM
swiss german, german, french, english and some italian & swedish.

hi Roger.:) Apart from your language skills,you also make me feel useless with your tennis.I hate you.

RealityPolice
06-27-2009, 08:39 AM
hi realitypolice!Thanx for your answer,thought you had forgotten me!:p

Yes I know,that's why I tried to..trick you inaway into answering me with your opinion..I also have read the study galain mentioned,about the staff of the american embassys,and if I remember correctly they put Basque first and then Hungarian/Finnish as the hardest from Europe.Also Korean and Japanese from other parts of the world.
What makes an impression to me,is that these languages have a long history behind them and are extremely successful languages (spoken for centuries by millions of people).Now,from my own experience and in my ignorant opinion,I believe that languages have the tendency to become easier and simplify by the passing of centuries.Like in German and Greek,where you can synthetise as many words you want,there is a tendency to make the grammar easier and over-explain in a way.The wealth of the words increases but the grammar with so much use,becomes easier and easier.
A very hard language would be dysfunctional and with the income of immigrants and immixtures and synchotism of the nearby cultures it would become simplier and simplier.
But these languages have stayed extremely complex grammatically.
I can understand that with Basque,but it suprises me about the others.
You may claim that a language isn't complex when it's the mother tongue,but I don't think so.Now with so much improved education and I rarely see people who can use their language properly(I don't claim to be one to use it right either) and all these centuries where primar education was scarce it would be thousands times worse..Maybe of course they were even harder,and these the easier versions of them that we have nowadays.

Interesting that you found French difficult.I,after studying of course English first,found them very easy.(But did the mistake and left them,so now they have left me too.)German on the other hand will always remain a torture..[I figured out why Germans speak slower and less,it's because they have to think of the grammar first..:p ]

No, I haven't forgotten. :)

The logical thought would be that languages do simplify, but this isn't necessarily true. They change, but every change brings with it variation rather than (necessarily) simplification. Sure, in some ways they simplify: lexemes become obsolete, phonological variations disappear, syntax loses structures. But they also gain lexemes and syntactic structures, and even new sounds arise from language contact (the /s/ in "measure," pronounced /zh/ by most people, didn't exist in English until the invasion of the Normans into England, for instance ). English borrows huge amounts of lexicon all the time, and invents it when necessary (all languages do this, but English is very quick to borrow words... and [I]loan them, too.)

Languages do sometimes undergo "simplification" programs, and spellings are relatively easily standardized. But these will eventually lead to a recomplexification as new lexical and syntactic forms arise, and dialects tend to diverge as much as they get swallowed up. That's the nature of languages--and why historical linguistics is my favorite sub-branch of the field.

I'm not going to claim that a language isn't complex because it's one's mother tongue, but all it's a tenet of psycholinguistics that children, no matter their mother tongue, learn their L1 (native language) at basically the same rate. Sure, the specifics vary, but there are stages of child language acquisition that are pretty much universal. That's not my area of expertise--Mrs. RealityPolice knows it much better than I do--but decades of research lead to this conclusion.

As for my French, it was the first language I ever took, but even though I found it relatively difficult, it made the learning of other languages easier. I studied Finnish before I ever got into linguistics, and I can look back at the experience and say, "Man, I wish I'd studied linguistics before taking Finnish." Arabic was the most difficult, although we didn't go into the grammar a great deal Alas, I've forgotten most of each of the nine languages I've studied, and would consider myself a monolingual linguist. (My bosses know close to forty languages each, and can converse in them at a fairly conversational level. Of course, thirty or so of those languages are within the same close-knit family, but still.)

malakas
06-27-2009, 09:11 AM
No, I haven't forgotten. :)

The logical thought would be that languages do simplify, but this isn't necessarily true. They change, but every change brings with it variation rather than (necessarily) simplification. Sure, in some ways they simplify: lexemes become obsolete, phonological variations disappear, syntax loses structures. But they also gain lexemes and syntactic structures, and even new sounds arise from language contact (the /s/ in "measure," pronounced /zh/ by most people, didn't exist in English until the invasion of the Normans into England, for instance ). English borrows huge amounts of lexicon all the time, and invents it when necessary (all languages do this, but English is very quick to borrow words... and [I]loan them, too.)

Languages do sometimes undergo "simplification" programs, and spellings are relatively easily standardized. But these will eventually lead to a recomplexification as new lexical and syntactic forms arise, and dialects tend to diverge as much as they get swallowed up. That's the nature of languages--and why historical linguistics is my favorite sub-branch of the field.

I'm not going to claim that a language isn't complex because it's one's mother tongue, but all it's a tenet of psycholinguistics that children, no matter their mother tongue, learn their L1 (native language) at basically the same rate. Sure, the specifics vary, but there are stages of child language acquisition that are pretty much universal. That's not my area of expertise--Mrs. RealityPolice knows it much better than I do--but decades of research lead to this conclusion.

As for my French, it was the first language I ever took, but even though I found it relatively difficult, it made the learning of other languages easier. I studied Finnish before I ever got into linguistics, and I can look back at the experience and say, "Man, I wish I'd studied linguistics before taking Finnish." Arabic was the most difficult, although we didn't go into the grammar a great deal Alas, I've forgotten most of each of the nine languages I've studied, and would consider myself a monolingual linguist. (My bosses know close to forty languages each, and can converse in them at a fairly conversational level. Of course, thirty or so of those languages are within the same close-knit family, but still.)

wow!!40 languages!I didn't even imagined there were people who spoke so many!lol
I see..so the languages always go under these patterns of simplification and at the same re-complexification.But humans never before in the history of mankind were so educated,and never before was communication so easy,fast,and usual between one another.Perhaps this century will be the revenge of the written language,and it will be interesting to observe how this will affect their evolution.:) Thank you for your input and the nice interesting conversation.:)

llama
06-28-2009, 06:54 PM
[QUOTE=Antonio Puente;3604135]It would be a waste of time and resources for Americans or Brits to learn another language, especially Americans. When you can travel 4,000-5,000 miles in any direction throughout North America and still speak English, QUOTE]

That's not exactly accurate. If you travelled to Quebec or parts of the Maritime Provinces or parts of the Province of Manitoba, you' probably need some French. (Especially in Quebec, where it is illegal to have English signage)