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Something that's bothering me - Page 3 - UniLang

Something that's bothering me

This is our main forum. Here, anything related to languages and linguistics can be discussed.

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Yasna
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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby Yasna » 2015-02-04, 17:30

Vlürch wrote:I'm tired and kinda rambling, so feel free to ignore this post if it didn't make any sense.

Please put this at the top of your post next time.
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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-02-04, 19:14

Meera wrote:Hey David, I agree that less is more with languages. If you want to do twenty langauges like Yasna said you are dabbling not really learning. I think it is much better to know one language really well than to do twenty of them and know only the basics. I have made this mistake before and I think many otehrs have as well. Even the best polyglots can't perfect twenty languages at the same time, for example when you look at the ones on youtube many are only strong in one or two and the rest they are pretty poor in. I think it is best to focus on maybe one or two at the most three. It's not a race to master them all and you will have your whole life to learn them. If I could redo my language learning I'd probably only focus on one until I mastered it and then move to another language, it might be slower but I think they pay off is much better.

To be fair, I think I agree with most of this, but like I said, it's not necessarily true that doing twenty languages is just dabbling. It can involve quite a bit of concentrated effort, and it can pay off (and in my case at least definitely has). Besides, it kind of depends on which languages you're doing as well; some languages require a lot more effort to learn than others, especially when there just isn't much recorded data on the language that is publicly available. And sure, there are polyglots out there who only speak one or two languages very well, but there are also polyglots who speak lots of languages at least fairly well. There are even parts of the world where it is normal to speak a lot of languages well (and in any case, multilingualism is the international norm anyway).

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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby Meera » 2015-02-04, 19:56

vijayjohn wrote:
Meera wrote:Hey David, I agree that less is more with languages. If you want to do twenty langauges like Yasna said you are dabbling not really learning. I think it is much better to know one language really well than to do twenty of them and know only the basics. I have made this mistake before and I think many otehrs have as well. Even the best polyglots can't perfect twenty languages at the same time, for example when you look at the ones on youtube many are only strong in one or two and the rest they are pretty poor in. I think it is best to focus on maybe one or two at the most three. It's not a race to master them all and you will have your whole life to learn them. If I could redo my language learning I'd probably only focus on one until I mastered it and then move to another language, it might be slower but I think they pay off is much better.

To be fair, I think I agree with most of this, but like I said, it's not necessarily true that doing twenty languages is just dabbling. It can involve quite a bit of concentrated effort, and it can pay off (and in my case at least definitely has). Besides, it kind of depends on which languages you're doing as well; some languages require a lot more effort to learn than others, especially when there just isn't much recorded data on the language that is publicly available. And sure, there are polyglots out there who only speak one or two languages very well, but there are also polyglots who speak lots of languages at least fairly well. There are even parts of the world where it is normal to speak a lot of languages well (and in any case, multilingualism is the international norm anyway).


In my opinion yes it is dabbling, unless you have you are very good at linguistics and even then it is unlikely that you will ever master fifty plus languages. And in my post I meant meant master. I mean completely master it where you can survive in the country, read things without dictionaries, and not have to translate in your head, use google translate, subtitles etc. It is probably impossible to do this in twenty plus languages, I think it'd even be hard to do with ten languages. You'd probably never get past the basics and not be able to have a conversation above "How are you?" "what's your name?". This is especially true if you haven't mastered any language yet or have no foundation of any language. For example if you knew Italian really well it probably wouldn't be hard to learn Spanish and Portuguese. But I was trying to say the pay off is probably better being really good at one or two than only being able to say greetings. And as I said in my post I wish I learned this lesson earlier because I would probably really know a lot more languages than I do now and not have to rely on crutches like dictionaries and grammar books. For example about three years ago I studied Turkish intensely and got pretty far in it, maybe an intermediate level. I could have conversations with people and even read/write in it pretty well. Anyway I started getting wanderlust for Farsi/Persian, Indonesian and some other languages. Well when I started doing them my Turkish suffered a lot even when I was doing it for the same amount of time. I soon realized I couldn't write half of what I could before, I got confused between Turkish and Farsi suffixes. if i just would Turkish more I probably would be pretty fluent by now. I know everyone is different and that some people may be able to learn many languages. But in my opinion doing tons of languages at the same time is not a realistic goal if you really want to master the language and get past the basics.
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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby dEhiN » 2015-02-05, 6:29

Meera wrote:If you want to do twenty langauges like Yasna said you are dabbling not really learning.

I'm not even sure what the difference is here; perhaps it's a matter of perspective and personal definition, but to me you could do twenty languages and still be learning them. For the sake of realistic constraints like time and general human ability, you would probably either be learning all twenty really slowly, or having to concentrate one only a few while have the majority be side projects where you learn the odd word or two every so often.

Meera wrote:I have made this mistake before and I think many otehrs have as well.

Why do you consider this a mistake? Because you personally want(ed) to perfect a language before moving on, and from that point of view doing several simultaneously is detrimental?

Meera wrote:Even the best polyglots can't perfect twenty languages at the same time, for example when you look at the ones on youtube many are only strong in one or two and the rest they are pretty poor in.

You've used this argument before Meera but I think you're assuming here that all of the Youtube (or as I call them public) polyglots want to perfect every language they are working on. What if they are completely happy and satisfied being strong in one or two and pretty poor (or I think more likely passable) in a bunch of others?

Meera wrote:I think it is best to focus on maybe one or two at the most three. It's not a race to master them all and you will have your whole life to learn them.

As you wrote that's your opinion. But who said I'm out to master all of them? (Ok well my signature does say I want to speak all the languages of the world. But I know it's a pipe dream and not realistic.)

Meera wrote:And in my post I meant meant master. I mean completely master it where you can survive in the country, read things without dictionaries, and not have to translate in your head, use google translate, subtitles etc.

Thanks for clarifying this.

I hope my responses aren't harsh nor did they hurt you Meera. But as I wrote in my initial post, your type of response is a response I feel like I see a lot in the language learning community. If someone says they are doing many languages at one time, others start talking about how it's better to do one or a few languages because then you can master the language. Or they talk about how if you want to master a language, then do only one or a few.

And I think that's true - it's better to focus on one thing if you want to learn to do it really, really well than multiple things.

But my post came out of frustration because I was wondering why the assumption by many within the language learning community that it's better to choose to master a language than to be passably competent in several? I like the responses that say "this is me and what I like/prefer, you're free to do what you want".

I don't know, maybe I just have my own filters on, and more people in the language learning community are respectful of each person's individuality and differences in desires and goals.
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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-02-05, 7:00

dEhiN wrote:But my post came out of frustration because I was wondering why the assumption by many within the language learning community that it's better to choose to master a language than to be passably competent in several? I like the responses that say "this is me and what I like/prefer, you're free to do what you want".

I don't know, maybe I just have my own filters on, and more people in the language learning community are respectful of each person's individuality and differences in desires and goals.

I don't mean to insult your intelligence here or anything, but I just want to say that I doubt the language-learning community is particularly different from people in general as far as this goes. The fact that some people are more interested in languages than others doesn't mean that they're also more likely to be respectful of the way other people choose to go about it. In fact, when people learn languages, sometimes they may have even more rigid ideas of how it can or cannot work (based on their own experiences) than other people do. Perhaps they should be respectful of each person's individual desires/goals, but that's not what necessarily happens either in language-learning communities or among people in general.

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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby Meera » 2015-02-05, 18:15

David, I believe this assumption is so prominent with language enthusiasts because they are probably speaking from experience. I doubt they are trying to discourage anyone or think their method is the best way to learn. They aren't not respecting your goals to learn I believe they are trying to help you and give you advice. . If they love languages they have probably at some point have done more than they can handle and this is why this opinion is so popular. I think all of us have been there at some point. This is why we have a "Wanderlust Support Group" on this forum because we all wanderlust and dabble and have taken more than we can handle.

The reason why I call it dabbling because learning at odd word here and there is not learning a language. You can't learn to swim by simply putting your feet in water and not doing anything else. You wouldn't tone your arms by doing one push-up once a month. If you were learning a subject in a class you wouldn't learn this way. By doing one odd word or grammar point you aren't really learning. Only doing an odd word every month is getting your feet wet which is dabbling. You'd make no progress doing this.

I consider it a mistake because it holds you back. It's not even about perfecting them, but even get advanced or intermediate is impossible by doing that many. Usually when people are very good at multiple languages, they are usually doing each one at a a different level. Not starting many from scratch.

I wasn't talking about youtube polyglots. First it is not about perfecting them. I meant that even polyglots who speak or are passable in twenty languages did not do them all at once. . Most polyglots would probably tell you not to learn that many languages at the same time especially if you are starting from scratch. They built up to it over the years. If they are barley passable in most of these languages they aren't considered polyglots. My point is that they didn't start them all at the same time from scratch.

David, you don't understand it's not even about simply mastering them all. If you want only want to master one doing so many will only hold you back from getting good at the one you really want. And this is true for everyone unless they have already learnt many languages or have studied linguistics in depth. Also you have to realize each language you get advanced the easier other languages. For example if you really focused on two and learned them, you could probably get away with learning four the next time. Mastering one or two would help you learn others not just with closely related languages but with all languages. Mastering one or two gives you the skills to quickly master others because you will know what works for you. When you master one you will know which methods work the best for you, which skills you need to work on most. It is also easier to immerse yourself in the language if you are only doing a couple which is crucial for language learning.

What I was generally trying to say is that even if you want to be only passable in several learning many at the same won't even get you that far. The process isn't slow, it completely stops you from moving forward in any of them.
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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby Yasna » 2015-02-05, 19:02

Another problem with doing many languages at the same time is with maintenance. It is easiest to maintain a language that you have already reached proficiency in. By simply watching TV or reading a book for half an hour, you will be refreshing large chunks of the language in your mind. But if you aren't proficient in the language, this isn't an option. Languages are hardest to maintain when you are at a level where you can't yet consume native media in comfort. So basically if you are juggling 20 languages at a low or intermediate level, you will be spending crazy amounts of time reviewing and maintaining what little you have.
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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby TheStrayCat » 2015-02-05, 19:26

dEhiN wrote:
TheStrayCat wrote:Last year ago I got involved in learning Turkish simply to take my mind off things which bothered me back then. It helped. In a few months I forgot almost all of my Turkish. Did I ever regret about the time I spent? Never. Yes, I know that 99% of people in my situation would do other things instead, and most of them probably don't learn languages out of interest. That's normal, we are alike, but we are different.

And I guess that's hard for me, to be able to say even though I forgot all of the language, I don't regret having spent time learning it at one point.



At least you had fun learning it (if you took the language out of your interest), and, as my practice shown, next time it takes much less time to recall everything you used to know rather than to learn it from scratch. You can really regain it in no time.

This is how it worked for me. Cannot speak for others, of course.

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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby Meera » 2015-02-05, 19:27

Yasna wrote:Another problem with doing many languages at the same time is with maintenance. It is easiest to maintain a language that you have already reached proficiency in. By simply watching TV or reading a book for half an hour, you will be refreshing large chunks of the language in your mind. But if you aren't proficient in the language, this isn't an option. Languages are hardest to maintain when you are at a level where you can't yet consume native media in comfort. So basically if you are juggling 20 languages at a low or intermediate level, you will be spending crazy amounts of time reviewing and maintaining what little you have.


Yes this is exactly what I was trying to say!
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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby mōdgethanc » 2015-02-07, 3:21

I ain't got time for languages anymore. I still like them, and linguistics as well, but I have to be pragmatic here: I'm 25 and knowing how to read Russian is not going to help me pass biochemistry or get into grad school. If I have a chance in hell of doing that, I need to pull myself up by the bootstraps and focus on what's really important to me.

(Having said that, a doctor who can speak more than one language would be a great asset. The question is, which one?)
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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby Meera » 2015-02-07, 4:27

mōdgethanc wrote:
(Having said that, a doctor who can speak more than one language would be a great asset. The question is, which one?)


This is probably the most cliched answer ever but for a doctor maybe French or German would look really good. Of course Chinese,Spanish, Arabic or Hindi might look great too :P
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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby mōdgethanc » 2015-02-07, 6:54

French would be the most useful, but the problem is that I hate Quebec French. And a German-speaking psychiatrist is just so much of a cliché, you know?

No, kidding aside, Chinese or Hindi would be really useful. But I don't want to have to choose just one or two out of the seven or eight languages I really want to know.

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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby Meera » 2015-02-08, 3:32

mōdgethanc wrote:French would be the most useful, but the problem is that I hate Quebec French. And a German-speaking psychiatrist is just so much of a cliché, you know?

No, kidding aside, Chinese or Hindi would be really useful. But I don't want to have to choose just one or two out of the seven or eight languages I really want to know.


Haha that's why I suggested German because it seems so many people in the scientific fields study it, well here it kind of seems like it. You probably wouldn't get to use it much with patients though :P
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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-02-08, 3:58

Meera wrote:Haha that's why I suggested German because it seems so many people in the scientific fields study it, well here it kind of seems like it.

I vaguely remember my dad saying that when he was in college, basically everybody pursuing scientific fields (or was it just math?) had to study it, or something like that. :hmm:

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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby Meera » 2015-02-08, 21:53

vijayjohn wrote:
Meera wrote:Haha that's why I suggested German because it seems so many people in the scientific fields study it, well here it kind of seems like it.

I vaguely remember my dad saying that when he was in college, basically everybody pursuing scientific fields (or was it just math?) had to study it, or something like that. :hmm:


Yeah that's what I heard to from people I know that went into scientific majors or maybe not that they had to study it but their advisers really pushed German.
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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby mōdgethanc » 2015-02-08, 23:45

German was indeed once an important language in science (as was Latin before that), but these days it's not as useful. Rarely, I've found an article I wanted to use which was in Spanish or something, but English is definitely the Global Lingua Franca in science.

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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby Itikar » 2015-02-09, 12:11

For science in North America you are probably better off with Latin and Greek. At least even if you know them badly it doesn't matter since it is the vocabulary that mostly counts. Believe me it is easier to remember icosahedron when you know that είκοσι in Greek is twenty. Also Latin should be moderately useful, although being Italian I find difficult to ascertain how much.

In Europe I find that anyway French and German are still the most useful languages, after obviously English. Russian and Mandarin are also good choices, as it is Spanish. This speaking from the perspective of the hospital where I study and the patients I have met.

The best asset, however, in my humble opinion would probably be to know a sign language.
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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby dEhiN » 2015-02-11, 3:49

Itikar wrote:In Europe I find that anyway* French and German are still the most useful languages, after obviously English. Russian and Mandarin are also good choices, as it is Spanish. This speaking from the perspective of the hospital where I study and the patients I have met.

*If you were trying to use "anyway" as a contrast, then it sounds better (at least to me) to use "at least": In Europe, at least, I find that or In Europe I find, at least, that

Itikar wrote:The best asset, however, in my humble opinion would probably be to know a sign language.

Really? Why do you say that? Because not too many people who can speak learn a sign language? Or do you mean as a doctor, modge will be able to interact with patients who are deaf? But I would imagine that most would go to a doctor's appointment with an interpreter.

Personally I think that if you are going to learn a language for work, your first choice should be where you want to work. I think that, more than anything else, would determine which language will be most useful. That is, if you don't care which language you learn. Alternately, if you really want to learn a particular language, you could learn it and then find a location where it's useful. But that would be best if you don't care where you work. So perhaps it depends on what's more important to you - where you work or learning a second language.
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Re: Something that's bothering me

Postby Itikar » 2015-02-11, 11:15

dEhiN wrote:Really? Why do you say that? Because not too many people who can speak learn a sign language? Or do you mean as a doctor, modge will be able to interact with patients who are deaf?
Precisely.
*If you were trying to use "anyway" as a contrast, then it sounds better (at least to me) to use "at least": In Europe, at least, I find that or In Europe I find, at least, that
Thank you for the suggestion. :)
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