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Author Topic: Which (natural) language should I learn?  (Read 9464 times)
Dansker
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March 27, 2012, 08:13:54 PM
 #21

It all depends on where you are in the world, and where you would like to go in the world.

So take a good look at a map, and a better look at the peoples that speak the different languages, and learn the one that fits you best, both in taste and possibly geographically too.

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March 28, 2012, 12:33:08 AM
 #22

Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn. There are few difficult sounds to pronounce, it's widely spoken, beautiful, with much exposure and many resources (TV, books, net). If you can write Spanish you can speak it, if you can hear it you can read it. Few languages share that bijective property. Spanish has one of the easiest learning curves and does not get difficult until you learn very advanced (beyond conversational) grammar.

Learning any romance language (French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Italian, Catalan, etc) will help when learning any other romance. Learning any language at all will give you the mental tools to learn others.

Ease is not the only criteria for learning a language, but if you do plan to learn several languages, starting with an easy language can be a good strategy. I do not think that learning the tones of east Asian languages is a huge barrier. I learned a great deal of Thai (five tones) just listening to audio on repeat while I slept. The Thai people are extraordinarily encouraging and if you can handle being laughed at with, anyone on the street is an enthusiastic teacher. After some Thai, picking up conversational Lao (six tones) was cake. The tonal ear will help with others like Vietnamese (6) and maybe even Cantonese (with nine tones!).

Chinese characters are incredibly difficult will be time consuming to pick up, but learning them can be a fascinating endeavor. Perhaps more rewarding and motivated if you are actually in China (simplified) or Taiwan (traditional). Considering you intend to learn Japanese, you could start with the ~2000 tōyō and jōyō kanji which are shared between Chinese and Japanese (and are essentially the only Chinese characters used in Japan). Japanese has a few distinct sounds and predictable vowels. Mandarin Chinese has a few more phonemes and the added beauty of four tones.

In my opinion, the most fascinating languages are polysynthetic found primarily in the Arctic (Greenlandic) and in native American languages (Navajo, Mayan). But I don't imagine they'll be among your first picks if you're already undecided.

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March 29, 2012, 07:18:05 PM
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Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn. There are few difficult sounds to pronounce, it's widely spoken, beautiful, with much exposure and many resources (TV, books, net). If you can write Spanish you can speak it, if you can hear it you can read it. Few languages share that bijective property. Spanish has one of the easiest learning curves and does not get difficult until you learn very advanced (beyond conversational) grammar.

Learning any romance language (French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Italian, Catalan, etc) will help when learning any other romance. Learning any language at all will give you the mental tools to learn others.

Ease is not the only criteria for learning a language, but if you do plan to learn several languages, starting with an easy language can be a good strategy. I do not think that learning the tones of east Asian languages is a huge barrier. I learned a great deal of Thai (five tones) just listening to audio on repeat while I slept. The Thai people are extraordinarily encouraging and if you can handle being laughed at with, anyone on the street is an enthusiastic teacher. After some Thai, picking up conversational Lao (six tones) was cake. The tonal ear will help with others like Vietnamese (6) and maybe even Cantonese (with nine tones!).

Chinese characters are incredibly difficult will be time consuming to pick up, but learning them can be a fascinating endeavor. Perhaps more rewarding and motivated if you are actually in China (simplified) or Taiwan (traditional). Considering you intend to learn Japanese, you could start with the ~2000 tōyō and jōyō kanji which are shared between Chinese and Japanese (and are essentially the only Chinese characters used in Japan). Japanese has a few distinct sounds and predictable vowels. Mandarin Chinese has a few more phonemes and the added beauty of four tones.

In my opinion, the most fascinating languages are polysynthetic found primarily in the Arctic (Greenlandic) and in native American languages (Navajo, Mayan). But I don't imagine they'll be among your first picks if you're already undecided.


Quoted because it needs to be said again!

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March 29, 2012, 09:17:34 PM
 #24

You forgot Quichua spoken by a large portion of the South American Natives

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March 29, 2012, 09:23:48 PM
 #25

French. It's simple, light to the senses and Quebec is amazing.

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March 29, 2012, 09:33:19 PM
 #26

Learning a language is always a good idea, as it helps to communicate. ... uhm to and with whom?

I would strongly advise against German. The grammar is a nightmare: it has three
genders (Masculine, Feminine, Neutral) and four cases (Accusative, Dative, Genitive
and Nominative), ...
It´s even worse! Natur and grammar can´t agree genderwise. Read "A Tramp Abroad" by Mark Twain to be profoundly convinced. 

... and is spoken by a rather tiny fraction of the world population (Germans and Austrians).
Bugger! You forgot Switzerland ... although ä klisigs Chuchichäschtli is pretty ununderstandable to any native german.
Once you come along northern Germany make sure to know what "Feudel und Leuwagen" is. It is something like "42 and towel" so to speak. But rarely anybody who knows what a Gummmere or Naggebuzzle is will know what you are talking about and vice versa.
Nevertheless german helps you very well through all of europe from Portugal to Montenegro as well as from Norway to Sicily. It is spoken in Belgium and northern Italy, of cause Luxembourg and ... check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_language
So far so good, but why bother whilst your english is good enough to by some Schrippen.

Have you considerd Latin or Sanskrit? Ok ... just kidding but still those two have a purpose of their own.
Russian? .... ja nje gawarju pa ruski ... which is the german way to say: I don´t speak russian.
Keep ya ljoobljoo tey ya in mind, the most important sentence in any language.  Grin

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March 29, 2012, 09:58:12 PM
 #27

German is good because it's a good step towards many other Germanic languages. It's not harder than Russian. As with many other languages with complex grammars (basically all major European languages have much more complex grammars than English) the grammar variation allows to make more constructions and you can express more memorising fewer morphemes.

All important languages are similarly complex. Languages are shaped by the complexity of culture and thought, and that's similarly complex for all peoples of the world. However, it's much easier when you have more common ground.

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March 29, 2012, 10:55:18 PM
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I also can't think of any Spanish literature ... which might interest me.

Gabriel García Márquez' "El amor en los tiempos del cólera" is the most beautifully written book I've ever read. It's a pleasure in English, but...

A few lines of Pablo Neruda's poems will make most latin women wet and gringo chicks will wonder what power you wield.

German is good because it's a good step towards many other Germanic languages.

And it is consistently structured, unlike say, English.

All important languages are similarly complex. Languages are shaped by the complexity of culture and thought, and that's similarly complex for all peoples of the world.

What does this mean?

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March 29, 2012, 11:09:47 PM
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What does this mean?

It means that any common language is similarly rich and complex when taking all variables into consideration. Difficulty adjusts to human capability. As areas of the language grow other areas get deprecated.

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March 30, 2012, 02:00:09 AM
 #30

Gabriel García Márquez' "El amor en los tiempos del cólera" is the most beautifully written book I've ever read. It's a pleasure in English, but...

I've read the English translation of that. It is very good (though kind of strange). So I guess I would be interested in some Spanish literature.

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March 30, 2012, 02:41:47 AM
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So I guess I would by interested in some Spanish literature.

Italian, the closest to Latin of modern romance languages, is directly based on 13th century aristocratic Florentine. Dante Alighieri gathered the various dialects of Tuscany to produce what he thought was the most beautiful language for his poetry, La divina commedia in particular.

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March 30, 2012, 04:18:36 AM
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Russian has been pretty fun so far...  Grin



(Not super practical though. Spanish and french are my "practical" suits as of now.)

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March 30, 2012, 04:33:14 AM
 #33

Quote
Have you considerd Latin or Sanskrit?

One of my favorite songs is partially in Sanskrit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJ-posN4vRc

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March 30, 2012, 10:19:38 PM
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If you're willing to sign up with Facebook, then Spanish Hour is running a promo on Spanish Preperation as a freebie.

http://www.spanishhour.com/clep.html
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March 30, 2012, 10:31:13 PM
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Remember, theymos only has a choice between five languages, and it's only for two semesters. I still feel that it's only a choice between German and Chinese, for having a rudimentary handle on either one of these would enable him to pursue his major/career much gooder.

~Bruno~
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March 30, 2012, 11:04:55 PM
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If you're willing to sign up with Facebook, then Spanish Hour is running a promo on Spanish Preperation as a freebie.

http://www.spanishhour.com/clep.html
Thank you very much! Just enrolled! It looks like it's way easier to learn with a french background. Gender and number work the same way!  Grin

I feel funny doing this training in english.
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March 30, 2012, 11:10:13 PM
 #37

I wouldn't take Chinese if I was only doing two semesters and didn't have a pressing need for it. Personally I took Spanish, cause I'll actually use it.

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March 30, 2012, 11:24:27 PM
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I wouldn't take Chinese if I was only doing two semesters and didn't have a pressing need for it. Personally I took Spanish, cause I'll actually use it.

+1
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March 30, 2012, 11:46:42 PM
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If you're willing to sign up with Facebook, then Spanish Hour is running a promo on Spanish Preperation as a freebie.

http://www.spanishhour.com/clep.html
Thank you very much! Just enrolled! It looks like it's way easier to learn with a french background. Gender and number work the same way!  Grin

I feel funny doing this training in english.

NP, it looks a lot like DuoLingo at first shake, but haven't had enough time to really get my hands dirty.

Anyway, they have a sister site for CLEP tests for college credit. Link in the sig.
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March 31, 2012, 12:45:29 AM
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I wouldn't take Chinese if I was only doing two semesters and didn't have a pressing need for it. Personally I took Spanish, cause I'll actually use it.


Now why the hell am quoting BadBear? Oh yea, I remember. Fuck Spanish, albeit your reasoning for not taking Chinese is valid. That leaves only German.

I present my case via a YouTube video. Everybody else feel like presenting their case as well via the same, please do so. That said, my best argument for theymos to take German for two semesters. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urAz1T5hxsA

Don't forget to include an image when stating your case.



~Bruno~
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