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The Power of the Glave
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've always had an interest in other countries and cultures. Especially history. Because of this, I've been thinking about learning a foreign language. However at 66 years, I don't know if it's practical. Or more importantly, if one has the ability to learn something like a new language in your later years.

I took a year of German in high school. Did ok at it, but it's so long ago that I've forgotten the basics.

As an ardent amateur historian, I've often wanted to learn Latin. After all, for centuries Latin was the universal language among educated persons. Right through the Middle Ages until nearly modern times. Also, learning Latin would be a good leg-up on getting an idea of the other languages derived from it. Such as French, Spanish, and Italian.

Plus, it would be really cool to talk like Julius Caesar. After I pass my Latin language exam, I could shoutout "Veni! Vici! Victi!"

Not that I would need to become super-proficient in any language. But just enough to get by in most daily and common conversations. It's said that in ordinary day-to-day conversation, only knowledge of about 500 words or phrases is usually good enough to get by.

I've often thought Russian would be good to learn about.

It's said that Chinese and Japanese are especially difficult to learn.

With the Internet, there now exists a HUGE amount of resources out there to learn a new language.

Has anybody else on SB ever tried this? How has it worked out for you?

As I'm approaching retirement, I will soon have the ability to travel overseas. Would be great to be able to speak and read passably in some of the countries I visit.

So---is there an advantage to learning another language?

Thoughts? Opinions?
 

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Super Moderator
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15,267 Posts
Honestly, the best way to learn a language is to know someone who speaks it and have conversations with them. We currently have a foreign exchange student from Germany living with us and I am picking up the language that way. Submersing yourself in the language seemed to help Bert Kreischer learn Russian.

 

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Premium Member
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342 Posts
lots of good apps for your computer or smart phone. I think everyone should be able to communicate in a couple of languages, but then my wife and I love to travel and it never hurts for me to use my passable Italian, halting Spanish, limited French or horrible German to communicate. That and gesticulating seems to get me by everywhere I have been.
 

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Indefatigable
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21,623 Posts
I started teaching myself just enough French, German and Italian in HS (we didn't have any language classes) in order to read foreign cook books and sewing patterns. A French room mate in college helped more than anything and only after that did I decide to take actual courses in French. In early adult hood I discovered New Orleans and then greater LA and my use of French took a turn. Now, I still read it well, but anyone who speaks "proper" French will screw up their nose at my dialect.
I didn't learn any Spanish until I moved to NYC, then I learned by immersion. When I left NYC I didn't think I would have much use for it, but that turns out not to be the case. I shop in a Hispanic market often now so I get to practice on a regular basis.
The one language I regret not learning is my own Native tongue, Cherokee. My grandparents and older relatives COULD speak it but refused. They had it beat out of them and that alone should be enough motivation for me to learn it now. And you would think that would be easy in OK, but it's not. I tried the electronic versions and found out I was completely lost when trying to converse with a native speaker. I took a few classes before the pandemic, but they are all canceled now. The library is trying to get classes started on Zoom again and if/when that happens I will try again.
Overall - YES, learn any language you can, you never know when it will be helpful and it is fun.
 

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Storyteller
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3,395 Posts
"Speaking a language" IMO

Knowing enough of the language to:
Obtain/purchase food
Get basic directions (past where is the toilet)
Avoid getting into a fight.
Not that hard.

Reading food labels or menus, comprehending transportation schedules/cost or dealing with 'authorities' - much more difficult.

I do pretty good Spanglish, having grown up on the border in SoAZ. My youngest son is a wonder - writes and speaks Japanese, was good enough at Arabic to earn a Commendation from the Corps.... Pretty handy for sorting out IED caches or chatting the local urchin's..on where not to walk.

A second language can be learned from a PC - but is best to 'practice' said language with a native speaker to avoid stepping in it...
 

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401 Posts
My Dad was a MSGT in the Army and spoke pretty good German. My Mom was a German telephone operator and spoke pretty good English so I learned German and English at the same time growing up. I went to German schools for 1st and 2nd grade and then we came back to the States. After only a week in 3rd grade in American schools and they put me in the "retarded class". Yeah, they really did call it that back then. They said I had a speech defect.

I can still see the special retarded class teacher. Tall, slender, blond, young. She was pretty. I hated her! She would read a section of a story and then pick a student to tell her in their own words what she said. She picked me. Then she picked me again. She'd never picked anybody else twice in a row.! Then she came over and stood next to me. I was really close to tears because she was picking on me!!! Then she started asking me questions about my family and stuff.

I was ready to just jump and run out of school and far away when she started laughing at me!!! The she said "You don't even realize that you're doing it do you"? Do what? She explained to me that I didn't have a speech defect. I was switching back and forth between English and German! It was normal in our family because we all spoke the same languages. It turned out that her Mom was an American soldier and her Dad was German and she grew up with both languages too. I wasn't retarded after all!!! I went back to regular school but had to see her once a week to help me learn how to think and speak in one language at a time. I loved her. (I told my Dad that and he agreed that she was pretty)

In 1972, we moved back to Germany, just my Mom, brother and I. (Dad died in '67) We arrived in Rotterdam by ship and traveled to Southern Germany by train. Mom told my brother and I to scrounge up a taxi or a bus or something to get us up the mountain to our new home in a little village. No problem. We spoke German, right? Except nobody else spoke German! They spoke a dialect there that was called Alamanisch and it was like a whole, new foreign language that we had to learn before we started school! We learned it in record time because we had to.

In German schools, English is a required subject but we didn't have to take it. Instead we had to take French. I learned a little but have forgotten it all since. I do still speak German and Alamanisch though. I still remember all of the tricks that retarded class teacher taught me for switching back and forth so I often switch my thinking to German or Alamanisch just to keep in practice. Yes, you can learn a foreign language by studying it and listening to tapes but to make it flow, you have to immerse yourself in that language.
 

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Born 120 years too late.
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6,396 Posts
MAKE IT SPANISH
because with our "enlightened border policy" in a few short years half of South America will have crossed over and they will pass a law that English will be the 2nd language and Spanish the primary one.
 

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785 Posts
Learning a language is probably good exercise for the brain.
Some are more useful than others.

People from Montreal who grew up speaking french find that people in Paris pretend not to understand a word they say.

A young man who was born in Japan, went to Japanese schools and college, and spoke fluent Japanese found that people in Tokyo couldn't understand what he was saying.
Because he was 6'2" tall and black.
 

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MAKE IT SPANISH
because with our "enlightened border policy" in a few short years half of South America will have crossed over and they will pass a law that English will be the 2nd language and Spanish the primary one.
Yeah that's the truth!!! I learned enough in my thirty years with the Sheriff's Department to get by on the job and also to be able to start a fight. That's important! Just chuckle and say "No juevos, Puto"! Trust me. The fights on if it's a male!
 

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Scapegoat of the Universe
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3,391 Posts
I know enough to get my face slapped.

Learned Japanese by watching Anime.
Learned some Russian by watching '80s Action Flicks.
Still get confused on Mandarin and Cantonese (Shaw Bros Kung Fu Theater)
Don't know any Native Klingons.


But I am fluent in Grunt and Point.
 

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lots of good apps for your computer or smart phone.
Duolingo is pretty great, anyone else using it? It's a free app but it's worth paying a few bucks a month for the ad-free version, in my opinion. If you already know a little of something (like for me, Spanish from years ago in high school) you can take a placement test so you don't have to start over from scratch. They offer a huge variety of languages & it's easy to use, I recommend it.
 

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Pisticus Veritas
Very Prepared!!
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36,674 Posts
Considering the fact that America is about to be taken over by Mexico and South America ... learning street Spanish is a no brainer.
 

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Being from central and Southern California, I have a solid foundation in Spanish. But that one has never interested me much.
I started the process of learning Russian, and so far it’s been going well, even if it’s not very practical. As a survivalist I think Chinese would be ideal, but that one is far beyond my capability.
 

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Padre in the woods
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2,806 Posts
Can't speak for me, but my friend who was British and emigrated married a young lady from the Ukraine. She is teaching him the Ukrainian language which they feel will be good if SHTF and one would like to tell the other something without letting someone else know what's going on.

I've always thought Ojibwa or another Native language to this region would be the most covert, but from what I understand their language does not translate well to thinks you and I would deal with. Barring that, I would say Russian or Ukrainian might be the most covert in this region. However, two of the guys who work at the shop had long enough tours in the Middle East that they speak Arabic fairly well. I can't think of any communities north of Dearborn MI which would have Arabic skills. Perhaps Flint?
 
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