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About PeterPen

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    Language Newbie


  • Currently studying
    English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Hungarian
  • Native tongue
  • Fluent in
    English, French, Italian,
  1. Poetry is essentially untranslatable. I have tried many times, but you never manage to do justice to the text 100%. Translating poetry consists of recreating the poetry in the other language. It is a creative act, more of an adaptation, you are rewriting the poem. If you are a poet, you can translate poetry by creating your own poem about the subject in the original poem.
  2. Has it ever happened to you that you inadvertently use an idiom from your native language in a foreign language, and the person has no idea what you are talking about? Or they completely misunderstand what you are trying to say and take it literally? I found a great video about what our life be like if we took all idioms literally. Enjoy
  3. Electronic dictionaries are the best. I remember the old days when I used to have to go through a huge dictionary, trying to find the word I was looking for. It was time-consuming. I try not to use a dictionary too much, and instead let intuition fill in the blanks. I like to read a lot, even if I don't understand everything, but the fact that I'm exposed to the language helps me remember the words subconsciously.
  4. Even if you are a very intuitive learner, I think you have to know the basics before you just dive into the language. At least this has been my experience. As soon as I know basic Spanish, for instance, I can just dive into it and read books, watch movies, read websites in Spanish, and expand my knowledge of Spanish. You would have to learn the basics, at least. Especially since it's a very hard language, like Greek or Hebrew.
  5. The longest I've spent trying to learn a language was 9 hours, for about three days in a row. I tend to learn a language more intuitively, so I like being exposed to the language through books, music and movies, and I soak it all up like a sponge. It's not about learning words. So in a way I am always learning a language, especially when I'm in a foreign country.
  6. Yes. I've been in a long term relationship with an English woman for 5 years, and then embarked on a whirlwind romance with an Italian woman for another 3 years. All I can say is I can speak fairly good English and Italian right now. There is no better motivation than learning a language because the person you love speaks it.
  7. Do you think poetry is allowed to break some grammar rules? In order to express the inexpressible, sometimes you have to bend the language (Of course I don't mean elementary grammar mistakes.) I remember this story. Tagore translated his first book of poems into English, and because he wasn't a native speaker, he was insecure about the translation, so he asked a friend to correct it. The friend, who was not a poet, made a few corrections. Some time later, Yeats read Tagore's poems, and said he did not like a few words, complaining that the poem does not flow well. When Tagore checked the
  8. It is very difficult to name your best book. There cannot be only one. Some of my favorite books are The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, The Book of Mirdad by Mikhail Naymi. I also love Dostoevsky, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jorge Louis Borges. I don't really have a favourite book of all time.
  9. If you are Italian, it is definitely easier to read body language. In Italy, it is the norm, people use various gestures, which can be quite funny sometimes. When in Italy, you have to watch your body language. If your chin itches, and you scratch it in a certain way, you might be inadvertently communicating "Go to hell" This is a very funny video about Italian body language
  10. The most suitable language for swearing is your native language. There is no better feeling like swearing in your own language. Somehow swearing in a foreign language, it does not feel the same. Funniest languages for swearing - maybe German or Chinese. They sound very funny.
  11. Having done a fair amount of translations, any professional translator will tell you - you have to translate true to meaning, always. If you translate the word, but the meaning changes -- it's not a good translation, because the meaning is altogether different. It is impossible to translate word by word in a different language and to preserve the meaning. Languages are simply differently constructed. If the meaning is not the same, the translation is bad. So I always translate the meaning. A literal translation is a bad or sloppy translation in my book. If you do a legal translation an
  12. I have always loved the different English accents, and I always try to speak in different accents. I lived in the UK for a few years, so I was exposed to various accents: Liverpool, Manchester, Yorkshire, Cockney. I also love other English accents like the Aussie accent, the Kiwi accent, Texas, New Yorker of Italian origin, South African. I find the accents quite funny. I love the way the English language can bend in so many ways. It is also funny to hear a non-native English person speak with an accent: there is a funny Indian accent, Nigerian and so on. Do you like accents? Which are yo
  13. The best way to work on my vocabulary is to read. There is no better way. It is not even important if I understand every word. I usually read something I'm REALLY interested in, so my mind will be eager to understand and remember all the new words. If I read a book or an article, and a word comes up several times, I am really curious what the word means so I look in the dictionary. As soon as I have found the meaning, I will remember that word forever. Just reading, anything, without worrying if I understood everything. You can better understand a new word from a context. If I just memori
  14. I started learning English aged 10, at school. But I find that the best way to learn English is to dive into the language, to read books, watch movies and listen to music. Of course, reading the lyrics to my favorite songs helped. When I learn a language, I am like a sponge. All I have to do is read stuff that I am interested in, or watch movies, documentaries in that language, and very soon I am able to think in that language. My method of learning new languages has always been intuitive. I never memorize words, I seldom use the dictionary. If I read a book and I encounter the word "
  15. I'm trying to learn German. I speak English, French and Italian fluently, a bit of Spanish. I find it hard because German has composite words. In a way, it is easier, because you learn 2 words instead of three. Hand - hand Shoe - schuh Glove - handschuh - a shoe for the hand I find German to be a really poetic language in some cases. Some of the composite words have a poetic value. A lot of words sound a lot like English. Once you get the hang of composite words, it is pretty easy. I traveled to Germany once, but it is quite hard to understand the spoken language. And some of the
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