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Everything posted by littlebelgianwriter

  1. I am currently studying Turkish in Bèta with Duolingo. I think it is so cool. It works for me!
  2. I am pretty much convinced it was either 'Animal Farm' or '1984', both by George Orwell. I must have been 15 or 16 at the time, because I was in the 4th year at secondary school. 1984 sort of frightened me, because it was 1980 when I read those books and 1980 came pretty close back then. I sort of was glad that we did not live in that type of society back then and that we, at that time, were living in a relatively free country. I remember wondering about the main character and I asked myself how it was possible that he was able to get all tangled up in Big Brother's web without even noticing it. Nowadays, I feel that our society has developed into a society that comes closer and closer to the one portrayed in 1984. However, I wonder how many people are really aware that this is happening? Therefore, reading this book at some point of the high school/ secondary school should be made compulsary in my view. I found this book to be very useful indeed.
  3. Well, I really would like to join this discussion. At the moment, I am experiencieng a similar problem. Prior to reading these messages, I wanted to start a thread 'No longer fluent in your native language?!'. I guess that sums up how I am feeling today. I pretty much grew up as a bilingual Belgian (Dutch speaking mother, and French speaking father), and since I live in Flanders, I received my primary, secondary and tertiary education in Dutch. But, I kept speaking French on a daily basis. However, I have always been able to speak French on a daily basis up until +/- 2008. I made use of my French proficiency mostly in a professional capacity. Now, there are language laws being enforced in Belgium, which means that in both in Flanders and in Walllony, civil servants are asked/ required/ forced ... to speak either only Dutch or only French (depending on the part of the country you find yourself in), even if the person you are talking to does not speak the language! I think that is so stupid! I have always worked as a social worker and mostly I was able to find some way around this, until these laws were really applied effectively. Then, I was still able to speak French with my dad, but he passed away 4 years ago. I have not spoken French regularly since then. And, today, I am starting to feel the consequences. I find myself to be no longer as fluent as I thought I was. I frequently have to consult grammar books and dictionaries that I did not need before. I read a lot of French though, whenever I get the chance, but it is not the same as talking or writing myself.
  4. You are right to say that Google Translate has improved a lot over the last few years. Mostly, it will provide a translation that is accurate in terms of meaning. However, it still does not sound fluent, and it will not pick up subtleties and certain aspects of syntax which may be of vital importance to the comprehension. Mostly, Google Translate can be used for personal use, when the translation is not needed for commercial or official purposes. However, I would not recommend to send a letter that is translated by Google translate to a business relation or the authorities. Secondly, some languages are better translated by Google Translate than others. It would all depend on the language used, the difficulty of the topic and the circumstances.
  5. Yes, As a matter of fact I do. I suppose there are/were some language geeks in my family. I will start with my parents. My mother knew Dutch, French and English. My dad knew French, Dutch, English and German. My aunt knows Dutch, French, English, German and Spanish. My uncle, a retired university professor knows French, Dutch, English, Esperanto, German, Finnish, Russian and additionally he studied Latin and Greek while studying. It is safe to say that he is fluent in French, Dutch, Esperanto and English. My parents attempted to bring me up bilingually. I know Dutch, English, French and German. I have got basic knowledge of Serbo Croat and Turkish. Currently I am studying Spanish, and I would like to know basic Japanese at some stage. We all must have been bitten by some sort of language bug.
  6. Hello Evakes, Thank you for posting this interesting information. A long time ago, I studied Ancient Greek at school. Therefore, I am still able to read the Greek alphabet and to understand basic written Modern Greek. I also appreciate your transcription of the Greek characters. Am I right to say that in Modern Greek, 'v' is being pronounced as 'b'?
  7. Well, all these mistakes make me think of the Dutch 'Lassie toverrijst' debacle. Lassie is a brand of parboiled rice that only takes a few minutes to cook, and it is never sticky. It is often called 'magic rice' and 'quick boiling rice' It is very popular in the Netherlands because the Dutch do not like their rice to be sticky at all. Quite a few years ago, the 'Lassie' firm tried to get popular in Japan. What they failed to do was, to change their slogan! So they actually tried to sell the Lassie brand in Japan, using the slogan: "Quick and never sticks" Well, what they did not know at the time was, that the Japanese do not like their rice to be dry at all. In fact they like sticky rice and even prefer it. Albeit to make riceballs I suppose. You cannot make rice balls out of sticky rice. The Lassie people should have known ...
  8. Well, in my native language Dutch, we also say "een kat een kat noemen" which is the literal translation. I also knew of the French version because French is my paternal language. I would prefer the cat version. To me the spade version makes no sense It means, to be straightforward and not to beat about the bush, sort of 'spit it out'! Yes, saying can be a bit nonsensical at times. But they do make languages more fun! Maybe we could have a corner where we explain some of the sayings in our native languages to the world?
  9. That is what my late mother used to say when I first started my German studies. That used to be the case whenever I was studying grammar out loud, such as rows of exceptions such as: Christ, Fink, Fürst, etc. When I was stressing like that, I suppose it would have sounded aggressive to any listener. However, dependant on the circumstances, German can be really soft spoken. It would depend entirely upon the circumstances and the speaker. I find that German poetry sounds really soft when spoken out loud. Rock like Rammstein will sound aggressive, but then and again, hard rock will sound rough in any language. I find it interesting to hear that German sounds aggressive to Chinese speakers. In my country, there are a lot of people that think that Chinese sounds aggressive as well. Maybe, it comes all down to personal taste?
  10. Yes! I have also read Chaucer at college. By the looks of it, it is a popular author who is a part of the English curriculum in many countries and in many high schools and universities around the world. Though it now has been 30 years since I last read some of the stories, they did make me more aware of what life was like during the time the tales were first written. At the time I read the stories, I thought they were worthwhile reading and even conveyed a sense of humour. However, I would not exactly define them as light reading I had to read them as a part of a subject called 'Old English Literature' at university, and I am convinced that I actually liked them because the professor that taught that subject, had a great sense of humour. Apart from the Canterbury Tales, we were also taught in another subject about the 'Decamerone' which is the Italian counterpart of the Canterbury Tales. In fact, I think I remember that Chaucer's work was based upon that.
  11. Language related sayings? I would have to give this some thought. I know of one, it is in French, but primarily used in Belgium I suppose. "Pour les flamands, la même chose." (For the Flemish, the same applies) It is used by the Flemish and the Walloons alike to point out that for instance a manual, guideline, rule or something similar is only explained in French and not in Dutch. Mostly, it is said jokingly. However, it has been a long time since I have heard anyone say that. Due to language rules, national documents are mostly in 4 languages: Dutch, French, German and additionally English. On a regional level, language laws are now prevalent. Because of this, e.g. civil servants in Flanders are not supposed to speak French while dealing with clients; not even when the client does not speak Dutch at all. Because of this, I would say that the saying no longer applies in Belgium and that nowadays, the situation is mostly the other way round. Another one is: "De vogel zingt zoals hij gebekt is" The bird sings the way that it is allowed by the shape of its beak" It means: a man's speech is shaped by his convictions. Sometimes I wonder whether that would not be the other way round: that by speaking one language, that could well influence the way you think of another language.
  12. In my view, that is so true. I guess that is the main reason why students would want to abandon Latin after some time. However, other than in some churches and in the Vatican, to my knowledge, there is no use for spoken Latin in this day and age. That said, there are some ways to make Latin stick in my opinion. I remember reading Asterix comics during my Latin classes in my country. That really got me interested and helped me a lot. You cannot really expect a teacher to speak Latin in class. Latin is mostly used for scholarly purposes and as a base for romance and other languages. When it comes to living languages, I do believe one should learn those languages in such a way that no language other than the one you are studying is spoken. It may seem impossible at first, but you could start by learning words that are related to words that you already know in another language. When I first started studying English, my teacher only spoke English to us. By doing so, in my experience, I quickly started thinking in English, and I am convinced this added greatly to my proficiency.
  13. I am glad that I am not alone here. When I was in primary school, my parents once had to fill in a form about my 'milestones'. It seems that I was a bit on the late side for a few things, but then and again, progressed faster than other children. This resulted in funny situations! At age 3, I suddenly started to talk. But, unlike other children, I instantly was able to produce entire sentences. According to my mother, one day, I just joined in a conversation my mother had with a neighbour by saying: Hi, Mrs. Meuleman! Of course, Mrs. M. was surprised and asked how I knew her name. I reportedly responded by saying: I know your name, because that is what my mother calls you. Apparently, I was one of those kids who wait to do things until they can do them perfectly.
  14. Well, First of all, I do not think that English is a backward language, in the sense that there is no such thing as a backward language. A language is a means of communication. How can that possibly be stupid? In my view, the initial post focussed on English syntax. It may seem reverse in comparison to other languages, but, then and again, I guess most languages will seem like reverse in comparison to other languages. Each language has got its own peculiarities. I believe that is what we are here for: to learn about all peculiarities in any language that we might be learning about. Therefore, there is no such thing as a backward language!
  15. It is great that this forum has got a Facebook page. I just found out about your page and instantly liked it on Facebook. I will share it, so more people can find out about this great forum!
  16. That is so true in my opinion! You need some degree of fluency in order to be able to translate accurately. In my view, you have to be able to think in the language you are translating to, or at least have some idea of how are sentences are made up in the target language at hand. For me, it works this way: when I am writing English, I think in English, when I am writing French, I think in French, when writing Dutch, I think in Dutch. That way, you are able to avoid weird sounding syntax. That is the most important to me: that a translated piece has got a natural feel to it. And even if you think in the language you are translating to, you might want to look up certain words in a dictionary. When you do, make sure you compare the words in the dictionary to one another and the context you are about to use them. Sometimes it makes sense to google the sentence you are about to construct. Usually Google provides plenty of useful texts where the same sentence or part of it, is being used. By Google, I mean the search engine and how it can be used in the target language, and not Google Translate.
  17. In most of the languages that I know, the adjective would be placed before the noun as it is done in English. When learning basic French as a small girl, I was told that in French the adjective goes after the noun. That would be: la voiture rouge. However, when you want to put a different stress and meaning on your words when placed in a sentence, it could well become: la rouge voiture. When I do this, it comes kind of naturally to me. However, I would like to know the rule for this one day.
  18. Bonjour, Je suis littlebelgianwriter (petite écrivain belge) et je suis une belge presque bilingue. Le néerlandais est ma langue maternelle et le français et ma langue paternelle. J’ai 49 ans et je voudrais bien communiquer en français ! Je suis heureuse de faire votre connaissance !
  19. In my view, this is a complicated topic. There may be a number of reasons for this. Let me start by pointing out that in my view there is no such thing as being to dumb to learn a second language. I have known a few people that generally were not very smart, but nevertheless were able to communicate in several languages. It was a bit like a 7 year old speaking 4 languages. All the languages spoken by those people were spoken at a basic level. However, there can be very smart people with a generally high IQ that still are not able to communicate properly in a second language. This happens when a person has got no talent at all to learn a language. One has to have a certain feeling for it. When that talent just is not there, it can be difficult to learn a second language. Of course there are people that are too lazy to learn a new language, due to laziness or lack of interest. This may also be the case when somebody has been unfortunate enough to have a bad teacher at some point.
  20. In my view, this kind of software can be helpful. Dependant on the software you use, it also provides some basic grammar rules at times. As you read the rules, you are able to learn them by hard and apply them on the situation at hand. That way, you can determine whether you really need to correct your text or not. As pointed out before, grammar and spellcheckers sometimes point out mistakes that are not mistakes at all and sometimes real mistakes are overlooked because some words are not in the glossary. In my view, it is always good to know the rules yourself and to apply them accordingly. However, checkers may help you to find mistakes that you would otherwise overlook.
  21. When I first learned how to read (age 6 or 7), I just loved to read subtitles, and I always tried to combine the words I read with the words I heard. That way, I learned my first words of English and enlarged my already existing basic French vocabulary. I know that in a lot of countries voiceovers are commonly used instead of subtitles, but I found it a fun way to pick up words in a foreign language. We also have Spanish TV on cable here and sometimes I put on the 888 subtitles for the deaf in order to pick up words too. Has anyone else tried this here?
  22. I call French my paternal language, since my late dad was brought up in French, and I was taught French by my parents from age 3 onwards. I also studied Latin at highschool level and now that I am learning Spanish I find both to be very helpful indeed. Latin is at the origin of both Spanish and French and to me Spanish seems to be influenced by both. However, I can understand that knowing another Romance language may be confusing at times. When words sound similar, it can become confusing because they do not necessarily have the same meaning in related languages. Sometimes it can be helpful, at other times confusing. I suppose it can be regarded as a personal thing too.
  23. As a matter of fact, I use Duolingo both as an app as on their website on my pc. Just like you, I use it to learn Spanish. I started fairly recently and have gotten to level 6. I like it, because the app allows you to learn wherever and whenever you want. As I do not have a microphone on my pc, I like the app, because it enables me to practice the pronunciation. However, with the app you do not have the opportunity to make any translations exercises. At first I used Duolingo to practice translating to French. That way I discovered I could learn Spanish from scratch using the same program. It seems a bit too easy at first, but it also works proactively so building a vocabulary and learning grammar come naturally.
  24. Thank you linguaholic, for your welcome. Well, I have been looking around here during the last few days and meanwhile I have posted my first messages here. I find this forum to be very interesting and I am sure that I will be spending a lot of time here, whenever I can. I would be happy to help out others where I can, so please count me in on that account.
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