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About gubernaculum

  • Birthday 09/11/1972


  • Currently studying
  • Native tongue
  • Fluent in
    English, French, Dutch (semi-fluent)

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  1. At secondary school back in my homeland of the UK, between the ages of 12 and 16, I attended German classes. When it came to sitting my final exams before leaving school and going to college, I passed my German course with reasonably high marks. In fact, all the languages I studied at school level (French, German, Spanish, Latin and Ancient Greek) resulted in me passing the final examinations easily. Unfortunately, as the other posters on this thread can attest, if you do not keep using a language, you start to lose it fairly rapidly. With the exception of French which I began learning at a sufficiently young age to retain, I soon started losing my grammar, vocabulary etc in these languages after leaving secondary school. The final nail in the coffin of my German-speaking ability came years later when I moved to the Netherlands for a couple of years in my late 20's. Despite the reluctance of the majority of Dutch people to teach me their language, I was able to attain a reasonable amount of spoken and written fluency in Dutch. However, since then, whenever I try to speak a bit of basic German, it comes out as Dutch! Many fundamental words are very similar to German and much of Dutch grammar is exactly the same as German. An example of this is the way verbs are conjugated with all three plural forms being the infinitive of the verb. I offer my apologies to any native Dutch speaker out there who may take this offensively. I know the history between the two nations may have left many older Netherlanders feeling somewhat hostile toward their neighbours to the East and to them all I can say is "Geef ons onze fietsen terug!".
  2. As I have mentioned in a previous reply to another topic, I have a bit of an interesting reason for learning a second language. Being a lifelong chronic asthmatic and living on a farm where every harvest season would result in a wave of life-threatening asthma attacks, my parents and health specialist were forced to consider an unusual course of action to deal with my condition. At the time (around 1982/83), in my home area of the UK, there was a charity run by a local newspaper which raised money to send kids like me with asthma and cystic fibrosis to Switzerland and France for high altitude treatment. Basically, they would be sent to a residential clinic for a period of time -- anywhere from a month to a year -- where they could breathe easier due to the better air quality and lack of allergens. In this manner I was sent to a clinic called 'Le Nid Soleil' in a small ski resort town called Font Romeu. Nestled in the French Pyrenees close to the Spanish border and the tiny country of Andorra, Font Romeu at 1800m was of sufficient altitude to be considered effective for patients with breathing difficulties like mine. I was sent there with one other English kid (with whom I did not get along) and no family members. All the other children at the clinic were Francophone with no knowledge of English; indeed even my school teacher there was barely able to string together a sentence in my mother tongue. In this immersive situation and needing to make friends, I soon began to acquire French as my second language.
  3. When I was 10 years of age my asthma had become such a life-threatening problem that my chest specialist in the UK gave my parents a radical option in terms of treating my illness. I was sent to the Eastern Pyrenees area of France, to a small ski resort town called Font Romeu, for 9 months of high altitude treatment. They say that beyond a certain altitude, the dust mites that cause problems for so many asthma sufferers can no longer survive and at 1800m, Font Romeu was of sufficient altitude as to be an effective location for just such a purpose. Being one of only two English speakers at the residential clinic and with all the other kids being barely able to speak one word of my native tongue, I was put in the position of needing to learn French quickly if I was to have any kind of a life over there. Happily, the language came to me quite rapidly and, due to the immersive nature of the experience, I was able to retain it right up until the present moment. It is definitely true that a young brain is able to learn a foreign language much better than an old one!
  4. The next language I would like to learn would have to be Japanese. I relish the prospect of learning a language that uses a non-Latin alphabet as, up until now, all the languages in which I have dabbled have used the same alphabet as my mother tongue, English. On top of this, I have always admired Japanese culture and I long to return to Japan since having my passion for the place affirmed during a brief stopover on my way to Australia a few years ago.
  5. Here's a random word that popped into my head: un bocadillo - a sandwich When I was learning Spanish in school back in the UK of course we were taught Castilian -- which is only natural given the proximity of Spain to Britain. However, since moving to North America, I never hear a trace of Castilian from anywhere. I was so disappointed while visiting Guatemala last year that I could not find reference to a 'bocadillo'. Oh well, I'll just have to bide my time until I am next in the Iberian Peninsula!
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