Languages, anyone?

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CRAndersen
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Real Name: Christine Andersen nee Salisbury

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
It’s okay if you disagree with me. I can’t force you to be right.

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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!
The best way to forget your troubles is to wear tight shoes.

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.
It’s okay if you disagree with me. I can’t force you to be right.

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.
It’s okay if you disagree with me. I can’t force you to be right.

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