Is Your Significant Other A Foreigner? Do You Speak His/Her Language?

Discussion in 'Off Topic Chat' started by Cortian, Mar 21, 2018.

  1. Cortian

    Cortian No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    At all?

    What brought this up was this comment by @BrentC:

    That sounds familiar.

    My wife is Dutch. I spent a good amount of time in the Netherlands forty years ago, when we first met, and became more-or-less "conversationally fluent," but haven't used it since. We've been married over 25 years, but we speak English in the home, so... I know some phrases, and can pick some stuff up, but that's about it.

    We're going to the Netherlands the end of next month. I'm currently taking two on-line courses twice a day to try to get back to at least conversational ability by then. I don't need to. English is spoken widely there. I want to. TBH: I'm mildly embarrassed I don't know the love of my life's native tongue.

    I hoping I can stick with it after I return and become entirely fluent. It is said learning a language is good for the brain. One of the things that can help ward off or slow down dementia. I've also read knowing more than one language makes you smarter and able to more easily learn new things.

    I took two semesters of Spanish in high school and a semester of French just before that trip to the Netherlands forty years ago. Spanish would be handy. French I think is the most beautiful language. If I stick with it, become thoroughly fluent in Dutch, perhaps I'll pick up French and/or Spanish again.

    Btw: My wife was, at one time, fluent in Dutch, English, German, French and Spanish.


     
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  2. pixmedic

    pixmedic The Mustached Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    my wife is Canadian so all i had to do was familiarize myself with beer, hockey, and curling.
     
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  3. BrentC

    BrentC Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I have tried learning languages. Myself I'm half Italian half Scottish. Since my father never spoke Italian my mother always spoke english at home. I took the required French classes in school, grade 3 to grade 8 and still can't speak French. Also took Italian classes one year and nothing stuck. I believe I am one of those people that need to be immersed in it to learn it. I would love to learn a second language, especially Portuguese since a lot of my wife's relatives don't speak english.
     
  4. BrentC

    BrentC Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    What!! A Canadian in Florida never heard such a thing.
     
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  5. Gary A.

    Gary A. Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Do you know what you call a person who speaks three languages ... Trilingual.

    Do you know what you call a person who speaks two languages ... Bilingual.

    Do you what you call a person who speaks one language ... an American.
     
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  6. Cortian

    Cortian No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Might be more a case of "use it or lose it."

    I never was any good with Spanish, but my only exposure to it was in class. Contrast that with...

    In my one semester of French, as an adult, I was just beginning to get to the point I'd sometimes "think in French." I had non-course reading material in French. I listened solely to Radio Canada 540, which is a Canadian French language radio station I could get when I lived more to the east, and eventually found myself understanding a lot of what was said if I stopped concentrating on it. Essentially I was doing my best to immerse myself. Then I got sent to the Netherlands. That was the end of that.

    Enough of it "stuck," however, that, when, years later, a close friend was getting married in Quebec City, and a bunch of American friends and family, including me, were invited: I grabbed my French learning materials and got to it. I ended-up being the resident translator, being as many French speakers in parts of Quebec, and parts of other Canadian provinces, either speak no English or refuse to admit to it.

    As I said: I was once more-or-less "conversationally fluent" in Dutch. I came back here. Stopped using it. Lost it. And though I've been married to a native Dutch speaker for over 25 years, I still cannot even understand, much less speak, much less write, much Dutch--because we don't use it around the house.

    We're using it more now. My plan is to eventually speak only Dutch in the home. In addition to studying two courses two times a day, I also keep a Dutch talk radio station streaming on my tablet or in my truck, and I've some reading material I'm tackling.
     
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  7. limr

    limr Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Language is a funny thing and it definitely atrophies. For those of you who took it at school, I would guess you're right in your estimation that you couldn't really speak it now, but how much can you still read and figure out if you had to?

    I took 5 years of French in high school, and then another semester of composition in college. The first time I went to France, I knew I was very rusty and didn't expect to be able to speak or understand well. My strengths were always more in written language, but even so, the language classes you generally find in high schools don't focus as much on the oral/aural skills. They were starting to change when I went through, but if you were taking classes in the 70s or earlier, the main focus was on grammar, repetition drills, memorization, and writing. This is not a recipe that fosters good conversational skills ;)

    Still, a lot came back to me and I was able to have simple interactions with people in French. And the longer you stay, the more will come back.

    This is in direct contrast to my experience with Turkish, which I learned through the necessity to speak it in my everyday life. I was never very good at reading it, and certainly not writing it. Again, because I haven't used it for years, I've forgotten a lot of it.

    My biggest regret is not trying to learn Portuguese earlier in life. My parents spoke it at home when my oldest sisters were young, but once my sisters went to school, my mother decided to switch the home language to English. This was a time when people discouraged bilingualism in children and my mother wanted to avoid the initial confusion she saw my sisters go through as they sorted out which language was which. So by the time I came along (the 5th child), we were all speaking English at home, though my parents still spoke Portuguese with each other sometimes. I always wanted to learn, but didn't insist on it, and now I wish I had. I learned it as a second language as an adult by taking classes and moving to Portugal, but I would not consider myself fluent. I try to keep in practice, but it's hard.

    @Cortian I applaud your effort! I would love to learn Dutch. Maybe one day. I've always thought that I'd be an expat again one day, so perhaps the Netherlands will be my next stop ;)
     
  8. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    My wife speaks some sort of language, not sure what it is but it does include a little spit. I usually don't understand it, just say yes dear a lot. Seems to work.
     
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  9. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    o_O
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
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  10. limr

    limr Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Could we manage to get through this without any more tired tropes about Americans or women, please?
     
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  11. limr

    limr Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    And why is that funny, exactly?
     
  12. otherprof

    otherprof TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I’m terrible at learning languages, but have been making some surprising progress in Spanish using Duolingo online. It is free, offers stories and podcasts in addition to lessons, and covers many languages. I chose Spanish because we spend about half the year in Los Angeles and because Spanish seems to me the most regular language I’ve encountered, both in spelling and grammar. If I hadn’t grown up speaking English I’m sure I could never learn it.
     

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