Languages, anyone?

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CRAndersen
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Languages, anyone?

Post by CRAndersen » Thu Apr 28, 2016 4:46 pm

I enjoyed languages at school - and back in the 1960s we never really expected to use them a lot. They were a kind of accomplishment, especially useful for anyone like me who was hopeless at music AND sport!

Languages can still be a highly satisfying accomplishment - there is another kind of melody in French, Italian, Spanish, or whole new insights into our own language through Latin, even German, and my adopted language, Danish. You don't know your own language until you have learnt someone else's... Surprising numbers of different languages are spoken in London.

And no, everyone does NOT speak English... Google Translate is pitiful when you really want something reliable and comprehensible in many languages. It simply cannot cope with the cultural side that makes language fascinating.

There are 24 official languages in the EU, plus Gaelic, Welsh and all the others spoken around Europe, and something like 6000 languages in the world. A handful of theses are taught at school, and then you can go on to learn others at uni either in the UK or elsewhere, preferably both.
There are not enough native speakers of English to meet needs for translators and interpreters in lots of languages, and you work in business, diplomacy, research - any field that interests you. A german client of mine takes the approach 'If I want to sell you something, I will learn your language. If you want to do business with me, you should learn German!'

Linguists can join the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL) and/or the Institute of Translators and Interpreters (ITI), and get more information about the possibilities from them.

I have been translating since 1998, freelancing since 2003. I translate from Danish into English, and am something of a generalist, but specialise in medical work (research, medical records for various purposes including insurance, patient information, correspondence about putting pharmaceuticals on the market... ) some law and a fair amount of marketing, museums, and a fascinating mix of this and that. Technical translators are usually in demand.

Nowadays people are advised to specialise, but practically any subject field needs translators and interpreters, so there is plenty of scope.
It is not always the most lucrative of professions, but you can certainly make a living from it. Most of my colleagues find it very satisfying.

sejintenej
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Re: Languages, anyone?

Post by sejintenej » Fri Apr 29, 2016 5:29 pm

My grand daughter taught me how poor GCSE French is: she had just passed and spent a week of evenings with a group of French kids just "hanging out" in our local town. They didn't speak English but she decided that she learned more French in that week than she had learned in all the years at school. She is now working in the (respectable) entertainment industry just outside Paris.

I learned French in the mid /late fifties at CH and never spoke a word. I showed the paper to a man brought up in France and a trainer in SOE during the war; his comment was that he would have had problems with the paper! He had previously met my French teacher and was scathing. Coming to France it took me three years to understand the local brogue / dialect.

IMHO knowledge of the local way of thinking, of doing things etc is essential and for that you really need to be immersed in the country clear of people who speak your language. That way I learned Spanish (on the counter of a bank there!) Portuguese (working in two lawyers' offices there) and a dialect of Norwegian (working there) and picked up each easily.

BTW went to a wedding in Tonder (close to German border) and if they spoke a bit slower I had no problems talking to the bride's family and making myself understood.

Had two years of one to one German in London - total failure
I wish the buck stopped here. I could use a few.

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J.R.
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Re: Languages, anyone?

Post by J.R. » Sun May 01, 2016 12:00 pm

sejintenej wrote:My grand daughter taught me how poor GCSE French is: she had just passed and spent a week of evenings with a group of French kids just "hanging out" in our local town. They didn't speak English but she decided that she learned more French in that week than she had learned in all the years at school. She is now working in the (respectable) entertainment industry just outside Paris.
I couldn't agree more. After 'doing' French at school to the bitter end, my extended trip to the South of France during the year of the Sorbonne Riots was a complete eye-opener to me, language-wise. I had to wonder if my French teachers had EVER actually been to France !!
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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Mrs C.
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Re: Languages, anyone?

Post by Mrs C. » Wed May 04, 2016 7:01 pm

If only the current pupils would see languages as important!
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sejintenej
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Re: Languages, anyone?

Post by sejintenej » Thu May 05, 2016 6:40 am

Mrs C. wrote:If only the current pupils would see languages as important!
One of the non-quebecois states in Canada ran an experiment. For a complete year nothinig whatsoever inside every school was in English - everything was French; notices, teaching, school books, conversations etc. At the end of the year it was decided that the pupils had 90% of the French language ability of native French speakers and they had not fallen behind in other subjects

British Colombia did another experiment - they taught CPR to all older pupils and claim that 1000 lives were saved in a year as a result. Certainly I have used some of what I learned in the Civil Defence section of the CCF.
I wish the buck stopped here. I could use a few.

sejintenej
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Re: Languages, anyone?

Post by sejintenej » Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:56 pm

Just rereading ChristineAndersen's opening post the "international" London bank I once worked for had about 600 head office staff. There was the official translator (German and Dutch), a Frenchman and a Brazilian who were accepted as understanding another language and, after they paid for lessons, I got included with Carioca. What a joke! Two of us got sent on a business trip to Italy and met the board of a very large company; neither of us spoke Italian and none of them spoke English. We had to make do with French which neither of us had any practical experience of!

I moved to a foreign bank in London - my secretary was the only person in 30 who was NOTbi-lingual and half a dozen could carry out phone conversations in five different languages. OK, I'm not sure in one case that Maltese is too useful in business!

Like me you may hate / fear /be terrorisedby them but Languages are ESSENTIAL.
I wish the buck stopped here. I could use a few.

CRAndersen
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Re: Languages, anyone?

Post by CRAndersen » Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:09 pm

It's so sad when people hate or fear languages, and even worse to feel terrorised by them. Latin at CH was no fun, although I have been enormously grateful for it in my later career.

Languages should be fun, especially now that electronic aids are everywhere, and people travel as never before, so they can hear the real thing. We learn our own language as babies, and there is a phase where small children love playing with languages. It can be stretched right into the 80s and beyond in some cases - my father was a mathematician who had to work with languages, and he played with words all his life.

I've been thinking about this again after a holiday back in the UK with family. I actually learnt a lot of French from Miss Mercer, who taught History. The French teacher had been ill (sorry, can't remember her name!!) and finally left less than a year before our O Levels. Miss Mercer was a character, and I loved her, which helped. She took over our French as an emergency measure, but she had lived in France, and she taught us a lot of little tricks and unofficial rules. She read real French to us and skated very hastily through Whitmarsh, the official textbook.

I think most people passed. She certainly saved my French, and I got a C, the highest grade I got for anything at O level... I left CH under a cloud and took French A level at the Grammar School and Tech.

You would be surprised how often Danes turn up around the world, but statistically, there are still many millions who do NOT speak Danish, so at least one language is absolutely necessary for Danes - and if you can speak Norwegian and a little German, you would be able to understand the folks from Tonder.

Ignore anyone who tells you that you can't learn languages as an adult. You will probably always have an accent, but you can certainly learn enough to make conversation, get about, read newspapers and books, and above all, make friends.

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jhopgood
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Re: Languages, anyone?

Post by jhopgood » Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:20 pm

CRAndersen wrote:
Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:09 pm
Ignore anyone who tells you that you can't learn languages as an adult. You will probably always have an accent, but you can certainly learn enough to make conversation, get about, read newspapers and books, and above all, make friends.
I would agree.

I have probably mentioned this before on this site, but here goes again.

I did Latin, French and German to "O" level, failing miserably at German, but getting good passes in French and Latin.

After CH I did an engineering apprenticeship, and took a degree in Engineering. Rather than go back to the factory to complete my apprenticeship, I got into the British Volunteer programme, and after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, ended up in Costa Rica teaching in a vocational college workshop. Prior to Costa Rica all the Central American volunteers did a two month language course in Guatemala. Latin helped me a lot.

I was about 23 at the time.

Back in the UK I swapped jobs and married a girl from Costa Rica. I joined the Bank of London and South America, who decided that as I was already fluent in Spanish, was not going to Germany and could understand Portuguese, I should learn French.

Not sure whether having "O' levels had any influence, but I became quite fluent and upset my teacher when I announced that I was going to Cali, Colombia. She confused it with Calais, France, and complained to the bank that her best student would not use the language she had taught me.

Apart from 4 years in Amsterdam, where I did Dutch evening classes and can still understand a bit, I have now spent about 40 years in Spanish speaking countries, and have been interviewed 3 times on the local TV. Once in Valencian, but my replies were in Spanish.

I am trying to learn Swedish so that I can converse with my grandchildren, but it is a bit of a struggle. I can get the gist of the newspapers, and people if they speak slowly, but as in Holland, find that most speak English, as there are more English speakers in the world than Dutch or Swedish.

However, if I were still working and had to deal with non english speakers in other countries, I would definitely make the effort to learn their language, at least to basic conversational level. After all, they do it for the english speakers.

Learning a language, as with everything, gets more difficult the older you get, but is not impossible. The key is to get over the increasing feeling of embarrassment, which also comes with getting older.

I have never been clear of the role of CH in my language skills, but CH did teach me that everything was worth trying, at least once.
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sejintenej
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Re: Languages, anyone?

Post by sejintenej » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:45 am

jhopgood wrote:
Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:20 pm

I am trying to learn Swedish so that I can converse with my grandchildren, but it is a bit of a struggle. I can get the gist of the newspapers, and people if they speak slowly, but as in Holland, find that most speak English, as there are more English speakers in the world than Dutch or Swedish.
I'm surprised; Norwegian is by far the easiest foreign language I have come across and it seems very close to Swedish nd Danish; certainly they can understand each other.
jhopgood wrote:
Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:20 pm
However, if I were still working and had to deal with non english speakers in other countries, I would definitely make the effort to learn their language, at least to basic conversational level. After all, they do it for the english speakers.

Learning a language, as with everything, gets more difficult the older you get, but is not impossible. The key is to get over the increasing feeling of embarrassment, which also comes with getting older.

I have never been clear of the role of CH in my language skills, but CH did teach me that everything was worth trying, at least once.
I'm often amazed at how other Europeans are so fluent in other languages. I worked with a Dutch team in Holland and the only common language was Portuguese - none of them admitted to English. Earlier this year in a Costa Coffee I was served by a girl from one of the small Baltic states. Following a conversation with friends I didn't think and said tack så mycket. She immediately came back with "so you speak Swedish" in English!!!!

For me the difficulty is local patois. I'm back home in France ; their accent in French is a bit like broad Glaswegian to an Oxford don. Between themselves they speak Occitan or patois which is beyond me when spoken

I have written it before - my "patron" was brought up in France and interviewed my CH teacher, pronouncing him incapable in French. I had no help at home but somehow passed O level.
I wish the buck stopped here. I could use a few.

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J.R.
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Re: Languages, anyone?

Post by J.R. » Tue Jul 11, 2017 2:32 pm

David, (above), mentioned patois.

I spent many holidays in my teen years in Guernsey where I still have relatives today.

My Uncle liked a pint, and often frequented a local pub used by Island fishermen who spoke Guernsey patois which I found fascinating. I also remember well on my earliest visits that the speaking of German was frowned upon, even treated with suspicion, this being only a decade or so after WWII and the occupation of the Islands.
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

sejintenej
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Re: Languages, anyone?

Post by sejintenej » Thu Jul 20, 2017 8:31 pm

J.R. wrote:
Tue Jul 11, 2017 2:32 pm
David, (above), mentioned patois.

My Uncle liked a pint, and often frequented a local pub used by Island fishermen who spoke Guernsey patois which I found fascinating.
Check out Vieu bleu's website which is in Jerrois. I can just about understand it and it demonstrates why Ontario residents can't understand modern French. (Modern French is based on five patois from around Paris. Breton (if it can be called a French patois) is even more difficult (impossible) to understand but seemed to have links to Devonian. Incidentally the "national anthems" of Brittany, Kernow and of Wales have the same music
J.R. wrote:
Tue Jul 11, 2017 2:32 pm
I also remember well on my earliest visits that the speaking of German was frowned upon, even treated with suspicion, this being only a decade or so after WWII and the occupation of the Islands.
Working in Norway in the sixties they also hated the tyskes (Germans) for the same reasons. I wonder if our word "tyke" has the same origin.
I wish the buck stopped here. I could use a few.

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LongGone
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Re: Languages, anyone?

Post by LongGone » Sun Jul 30, 2017 5:06 pm

sejintenej wrote:
Thu May 05, 2016 6:40 am
Mrs C. wrote:If only the current pupils would see languages as important!
One of the non-quebecois states in Canada
Please! We have provinces, not states.
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If an egg falls on a stone: alas for the egg

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