27 votes

What languages do you speak?

I'm always curious to see what languages people speak, especially given that most communication on sites like Tildes happens in English and as such it doesn't always come up.

At one point, I was pretty fluent in Spanish, but it's been about 4ish years since I've used it with any frequency and as such I am very rusty when speaking. I can still read and write it pretty well however. The big thing is that I have trouble these days recalling vocab I knew like the back of my hand... I should read more to stay sharp.

I also took some French in college and can read it at a beginner-intermediate level, basically enough to understand threads on not super complex topics. I can write too, but require a dictionary for anything remotely complex. Speaking I'm shit however - despite having great teachers I always had a tough time with pronunciation.

34 comments

  1. [3]
    aymm
    Link
    You might find more answers in the census results. I personally speak German (natively), English (fluently), and I'm currently learning Swedish. I did learn bits of French and Spanish in school,...

    You might find more answers in the census results. I personally speak German (natively), English (fluently), and I'm currently learning Swedish. I did learn bits of French and Spanish in school, but don't remember much of that

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      cat
      Link Parent
      I'm Swedish and got curious as to why you're learning Swedish. Are you planning on going/moving here? Unless you just do it out of pure interest I really see no use in knowing Swedish outside of...

      I'm Swedish and got curious as to why you're learning Swedish. Are you planning on going/moving here? Unless you just do it out of pure interest I really see no use in knowing Swedish outside of Sweden.

      1 vote
      1. aymm
        Link Parent
        Can't really say, the language has fascinated me for a few years now. Back in school I had to learn an additional language (French in my case) and didn't want to and I've always sucked at doing...

        Can't really say, the language has fascinated me for a few years now. Back in school I had to learn an additional language (French in my case) and didn't want to and I've always sucked at doing so. So learning a language purely based on interest was something I wanted to try. When I moved in with my housemates a while ago, there were two big Sweden fans among them (they're siblings and the entire family is that way) and that finally tipped me over to try. It's also close-ish to my native language (German). I'm not exactly planning on going there, but I can absolutely see myself going to Sweden for a vacation. (In fact, I went with my parents when I was a kid)

  2. [3]
    ThatFanficGuy
    (edited )
    Link
    I'm a native Russian speaker. English is my second language, and one I speak most often these days. My thought process most often goes in English, as well. How I picked it up, even I don't...

    I'm a native Russian speaker.

    English is my second language, and one I speak most often these days. My thought process most often goes in English, as well. How I picked it up, even I don't remember. Teachers in both unis asked me about it, and all I could do is shrug and relate to them the concept of osmosis.

    German's my third-best language, though by a considerable margin. It currently hangs somewhere between A2 and B1. I can get a gist of what you say if it's simple enough, and I can maybe decypher a complex sentence, given a minute or two. I'm a confident speaker – up to a point where I either miss a grammatical structure or a lexeme necessary to express my thoughts. Haven't spoken it in any capacity for three years. Would love to pick it up and improve it eventually.

    At various points, I tried Latin (basic uni course), Gothic (ditto), Icelandic (a few basic self-taught lectures), Norwegian (maybe A1 if I sharpen it before the conversation), Romanian (a few words), French (ditto), Portuguese (ditto), and Japanese (kana; dropped it when time came to study thousands of kanji).

    Together with those, I'd like to eventually give a shot to Dutch, Afrikaans, Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic, Korean, Māori, and Navajo and any number of other North-American Indian languages; and look into Gaelic, Old Norse, Farsi, and the Egyptian hieroglyphics.

    Oddly enough, even though I'm not that interested in Spanish (it's a cool language, but I have a certain aversion to it), I can decypher some of the speech due to the compound Romano-Germanic languages comprehension.

    EDIT: added Portuguese to the list

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      Similarly, native Portuguese speakers can understand Spanish reasonably well, but native Spanish speakers are not as good at understanding Portuguese. Don't really know why.

      Oddly enough, even though I'm not that interested in Spanish (it's a cool language, but I have a certain aversion to it), I can decypher some of the speech due to the compound Romano-Germanic languages comprehension

      Similarly, native Portuguese speakers can understand Spanish reasonably well, but native Spanish speakers are not as good at understanding Portuguese.

      Don't really know why.

      4 votes
      1. ThatFanficGuy
        Link Parent
        ...oh yeah, I had Portuguese lessons. Thanks for reminding me.

        ...oh yeah, I had Portuguese lessons. Thanks for reminding me.

        4 votes
  3. cwagner
    Link
    German (native) and English (fluent) are the only languages I know enough to call it speaking ;) I live in Germany but most of my day-to-day is English (all books, shows, movies, devices are in...

    German (native) and English (fluent) are the only languages I know enough to call it speaking ;)

    I live in Germany but most of my day-to-day is English (all books, shows, movies, devices are in English), my wife and I plan to eventually speak more German at home to improve hers (she’s not a native), but English is the lazy option. German is pretty much for going to the store and work-chats (I work from home) only.

    6 votes
  4. [3]
    emdash
    Link
    So, seems like an appropriate time to air this question: outside of growing up with a second language, how does one learn a second language effectively? I've started learning Spanish on the...

    So, seems like an appropriate time to air this question: outside of growing up with a second language, how does one learn a second language effectively? I've started learning Spanish on the Duolingo app for the past few weeks, and although it seems like a good nucleation point for further study, what's the best course of action once Duolingo no longer serves a purpose? Do classes help in any meaningful way?

    Or is it only possible to really become fluent in a second language if you participate in a society that uses it daily?

    6 votes
    1. ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      Usage matters. The second best option behind physical immersion is informational immersion. Start reading newspapers in the language, watch IPTV regularly, and write things, no matter how stupid....

      Usage matters. The second best option behind physical immersion is informational immersion. Start reading newspapers in the language, watch IPTV regularly, and write things, no matter how stupid. Just reading, just watching: picking up the tones, and the speech patterns, and maybe recognizing words and phrases and sentences. The writing you do, you can give to native speakers to check for errors, though the point is to force your brain to use all that theory you picked up and form something of value using it.

      If you can, join a forum in the target language: this will help you get acquainted with the slang and the regular spoken use. Simply read at first, and eventually start participating in the conversation. If possible, join a voice-chat place, like a Discord server, where the target language is spoken.

      Classes are good when they immerse you into the language from the get-go. I picked up German real quick when our teacher (mostly) stopped speaking Russian during uni classes. Otherwise, you'll still be left fumbling with it from the side of your native language.

      3 votes
    2. sandaltree
      Link Parent
      Listen. Listen. Listen. I noticed a huge improvement in my mindset when I started listening to Japanese podcasts daily. You need to get in the framework of the language instead of just "studying"...

      Listen. Listen. Listen. I noticed a huge improvement in my mindset when I started listening to Japanese podcasts daily. You need to get in the framework of the language instead of just "studying" and this has helped me immensely. It is also very easy to do for example while commuting. The sooner you can get to native material the better.

      2 votes
  5. Nexu
    Link
    English (native) and Spanish (semi-fluent). Next on the list is Russian.

    English (native) and Spanish (semi-fluent). Next on the list is Russian.

    5 votes
  6. [6]
    mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    Portuguese (native), English (autodidact). My English writing is pretty good for a non-native, but I don't get many chances to speak it so my accent is very thick.

    Portuguese (native), English (autodidact).

    My English writing is pretty good for a non-native, but I don't get many chances to speak it so my accent is very thick.

    4 votes
    1. [5]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      Oh, now I want to hear it.

      accent is very thick

      Oh, now I want to hear it.

      3 votes
      1. [4]
        mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        You would probably find it similar to a Russian/Romanian accent. Portuguese and Russian/Romanian have many similar phonemes. Listening to those languages is weird for me, I feel like I should...

        You would probably find it similar to a Russian/Romanian accent. Portuguese and Russian/Romanian have many similar phonemes. Listening to those languages is weird for me, I feel like I should understand but cannot recognize a single word.

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          ThatFanficGuy
          Link Parent
          So, I heard a bit of both Portuguese and Romanian in my time. When I first read your comment, I went "No, that's not right at all!". Then I listened to the Wikitongues' representation of...

          So, I heard a bit of both Portuguese and Romanian in my time. When I first read your comment, I went "No, that's not right at all!".

          Then I listened to the Wikitongues' representation of Portuguese, and... damn. Not Russian – that much I'm sure of – but Romanian? Surprisingly close. I'd still be able to tell them apart – it isn't as close as you're implying, to my ear – but when you put it through that lens, it's oddly close.

          4 votes
          1. mrbig
            Link Parent
            Romanian is definitely closer to Portuguese than Russian, so your impression makes perfect sense. Not that Russian isn't similar, but it might require more familiarity with Portuguese to see it.

            Romanian is definitely closer to Portuguese than Russian, so your impression makes perfect sense. Not that Russian isn't similar, but it might require more familiarity with Portuguese to see it.

            3 votes
        2. Nexu
          Link Parent
          When I overhear Portugese conversations, I ALWAYS think I'm hearing Russian.

          When I overhear Portugese conversations, I ALWAYS think I'm hearing Russian.

          4 votes
  7. Kuromantis
    Link
    Portuguese (native, born in Brazil) and English (secondary, near fluent/C1, learned via loads of 2007-2014 YouTube as a toddler, which is now maintained by Reddit and Tildes, which is practically...

    Portuguese (native, born in Brazil) and English (secondary, near fluent/C1, learned via loads of 2007-2014 YouTube as a toddler, which is now maintained by Reddit and Tildes, which is practically my entire Internet existence, which bugs me since anything that I don't talk about here or on reddit could just taper off which could be a lot of stuff, and also I almost never speak this English, which is always a pain.)

    I also tried German but it isn't easy even with the help of knowing English (which is also mixed with Latin) and I really couldn't learn the third gender of German and since this was just a suggestion from my 6th grade grammar teacher which I took because all I knew about German was that ä, ë, ö and ß were real I dropped off. I only really remember the numbers and days of the week.

    A go at Spanish seems cool and not too hard to try given that my native language is Portuguese but then again that's what I said about German and Spanish probably has an absurd amount of accents given it's spread.

    Also picked up a few probably made up words and honorifics from anime but it's only that much which is not a lot.

    4 votes
  8. [3]
    xstresedg
    Link
    I'm a native English speaker. I know bits and pieces of French, and then a few small words in Nederlands, Japanese, and Spanish. Unfortunately, nothing fluent beyond English. Even though I was...

    I'm a native English speaker. I know bits and pieces of French, and then a few small words in Nederlands, Japanese, and Spanish. Unfortunately, nothing fluent beyond English. Even though I was taught French for nine years, I didn't gain the ability to speak it.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      I'm in a similar position. It wasn't a requirement in American high schools, but I took 3 years of French. When I'm in France, I can do simple things like order from a menu and ask directions, and...

      I'm in a similar position. It wasn't a requirement in American high schools, but I took 3 years of French. When I'm in France, I can do simple things like order from a menu and ask directions, and mostly understand the gist of what's said back to me. But beyond that, I'm lost. I actually work with a number of French and French Canadian people, and when they talk to each other in French, I understand about every 10th word. Though, when the French talk to the French Canadians, I gather they have some trouble understanding each other, too!

      1 vote
      1. xstresedg
        Link Parent
        Yeah, as I understand it, Canadian French differs a bit from France French, as do the different French languages spoken in the US (i.e. Louisiana French). But it's the same as English. Some areas...

        Yeah, as I understand it, Canadian French differs a bit from France French, as do the different French languages spoken in the US (i.e. Louisiana French).

        But it's the same as English. Some areas of the US speak a different English than the rest of the US, same as in Canada. There's English and then there's Newfoundland. And then even in England, there's different dialects depending on where you grew up/live.

  9. just_a_salmon
    Link
    English is my native language. I took a few years of German in grade school, which means that I can barely form a sentence now. I’m learning Norwegian with Duolingo.

    English is my native language. I took a few years of German in grade school, which means that I can barely form a sentence now. I’m learning Norwegian with Duolingo.

    3 votes
  10. Homicide
    Link
    Other than English, I can speak Turkish and German. Tried to study Mandarin a few years back only to realize that it's an impossible task to achieve for someone as lazy as I am given how difficult...

    Other than English, I can speak Turkish and German.

    Tried to study Mandarin a few years back only to realize that it's an impossible task to achieve for someone as lazy as I am given how difficult the language is.

    3 votes
  11. [2]
    intuxikated
    Link
    Malayalam is my native language, its a south indian language. English is my 2nd language. But I am not very good at it I can read, write and watch English movies without subtitles.

    Malayalam is my native language, its a south indian language. English is my 2nd language. But I am not very good at it I can read, write and watch English movies without subtitles.

    3 votes
  12. sandaltree
    Link
    In addition to my native language I've been on the Internet since I was like 6, so I absorbed English through forums, games and by voraciously reading books. I took German (10 years) and Swedish...

    In addition to my native language I've been on the Internet since I was like 6, so I absorbed English through forums, games and by voraciously reading books. I took German (10 years) and Swedish (6?) in school, but I haven't used them in years so my speaking is super rusty. Reading and listening I can do alright, but I'd definitely have to spend some time to get back into it.

    I've been studying Japanese seriously for a year, and currently reading my first book slowly but surely. Living in Japan for half a year really accelerated my learning and got me over a bump I always felt I couldn't get over. I'm finally starting to have a comfortable amount of kanji under my belt so I don't have to look them up so often. I still have ways to go with my vocabulary, though.

    3 votes
  13. Eric_the_Cerise
    Link
    OH NOES! Somehow, I missed the 2nd (this time for reals) census. Crapatouie. My glorious Hungarian language has gone completely unrepresented on Tildes. Sad-face. At any rate ... English (native),...

    OH NOES! Somehow, I missed the 2nd (this time for reals) census. Crapatouie. My glorious Hungarian language has gone completely unrepresented on Tildes. Sad-face.

    At any rate ... English (native), Hungarian (moderately proficient, somewhere in the Bs), German (formerly quite proficient, now quite rusty, working on it), and Spanish (like the German).

    3 votes
  14. Odysseus
    Link
    I speak English as my native tongue, I grew up speaking Japanese and now it's the main language I use at work. I used to live in Sweden, so I speak a bit of swedish, but nothing to call home...

    I speak English as my native tongue, I grew up speaking Japanese and now it's the main language I use at work. I used to live in Sweden, so I speak a bit of swedish, but nothing to call home about. My girlfriend is trying to get me to learn Russian, but I'm not getting too far on that front

    2 votes
  15. grahamiam
    Link
    Native US English (incl. a southern accent that only comes out when I'm on the phone with family or have had a few drinks). Conversational Spanish mostly limited to present tense that I picked up...

    Native US English (incl. a southern accent that only comes out when I'm on the phone with family or have had a few drinks). Conversational Spanish mostly limited to present tense that I picked up from college classes, in-laws, and living in Texas. Currently living in Taiwan and learning Mandarin, but it's going very slow. I work full-time in a 90% English environment and summoning the energy to do more than a handful of hours per week of working on the language is rough. Mandarin is difficult in part because there's basically no link between how a character is written and how it's pronounced, but understanding the character shapes can be really rewarding, and learning word combinations with funny literal translations is also great. For example, the word for popcorn is 爆米花, which literally means "exploding rice flower."

    2 votes
  16. aphoenix
    Link
    English is my native language. I can have acceptable conversation in French. I can ask and answer basic questions in Spanish, enough so that if I were lost I could become un-lost in a situation...

    English is my native language. I can have acceptable conversation in French. I can ask and answer basic questions in Spanish, enough so that if I were lost I could become un-lost in a situation where Spanish was my only recourse for communication. I used to have a smattering of Greek, Welsh, and Cantonese, though all of those have suffered from many years of non use.

    2 votes
  17. reifyresonance
    Link
    The only language I can really speak fluently is English. I've taken classes in German, Spanish, Latin, and 5 years of Mandarin (&lived in China) but I don't practice or it doesn't stick. I have...

    The only language I can really speak fluently is English. I've taken classes in German, Spanish, Latin, and 5 years of Mandarin (&lived in China) but I don't practice or it doesn't stick.
    I have however been able to devote enough time to the conlang toki pona that I can communicate decently in it 🙃

    2 votes
  18. Silbern
    Link
    English is my native language, which I can read and write 100% fluently. I inherited some knowledge of German from my mother (and am actually a dual US/German citizen), enough to read and...

    English is my native language, which I can read and write 100% fluently. I inherited some knowledge of German from my mother (and am actually a dual US/German citizen), enough to read and understand at a somewhat comfortable level, but speaking and especially writing are very challenging. I'm currently learning Japanese, though I'm not very good at it and can only really read and write pretty basic sentences. If I stay in Honolulu after university, I'd like to learn some Hawaiian, given that it's the native language of the state, though I'd rather worm on my other 2 first.

    1 vote
  19. ShilohMizook
    Link
    Just English. I've dabbled in Spanish and Esperanto, and German, Irish, and Farsi to a much lower extent, but never put in more than a few months of work into any.

    Just English. I've dabbled in Spanish and Esperanto, and German, Irish, and Farsi to a much lower extent, but never put in more than a few months of work into any.

    1 vote
  20. mat
    Link
    English (native), a passable amount of French and some German. Although Germans are notoriously annoying for noticing my accent and replying in English - I want to practice my German dammit! (I...

    English (native), a passable amount of French and some German. Although Germans are notoriously annoying for noticing my accent and replying in English - I want to practice my German dammit! (I know, you guys want to practice your English, it's cool, we can have a dual-language conversation)

    I speak both English and French to my kid, just to confuse him.

    Also Python, javascript, php, smattering of C and a little Lua. I'm interested in the idea that one thinks in computer languages and that the mode-shifting which happens in your brain may be similar to that which happens during shifting between human languages.

    1 vote