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How to Learn a Language

By coljac in Culture
Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:56:32 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

I've been a linguophile for a long time, and I'm always studying a little bit of some language or another. However, it's only recently that I've finally figured out the way that works best for me, with the help of modern technology. Perhaps this might help those of you who have been planning on learning a language some day.

I was inspired to write this after reading "How to Learn Any Language" by Barry Farber over a weekend. The method he describes is very similar to the one that I came up with, though I take issue with a couple of his suggestions, and I think his method needs to be updated for the internet age (more below). Nevertheless I recommend the book highly, as it's full of good suggestions and is very motivating.

Please note I'm not an expert, unless you use the words "self-styled expert". These are just the results of my own experiences, and how some tech savvy has helped me pursue my chief pleasure in life: learning languages.

A note on technology and the net

I generally take the internet for granted as an important tool in my daily life, but I still have those occasional "wow!" moments. When I'm corresponding, talking or video-chatting with a person on the other side of the world, learning about their culture and what they eat for breakfast or what it's like living in a dictatorship, the power of technology is really driven home to me. This experience goes completely hand-in-hand with learning a language using the net; it's what the net is all about. First, though, compile a list of your favorite newsgroups, online dictionaries, support sites and other web resources to help with your learning. There is so much good information out there.

As I will touch on later, I also use the computer itself (to run teaching software) and other appliances like my PDA phone to help me with my studies. Whether you have a fancy phone like my Treo or an iPod or just a regular cell phone, chances are it can help you in your quest to learn a language. See what is out there on the web for you.

Further note and disclaimer: A wealth of quality language material is available in the newsgroup alt.binaries.world-languages. Most of it, however, is pirated. I really advocate paying for the materials you find useful, and discourage piracy. All the materials I recommend I feel are worth the money. The choice, of course, is only yours to make.

What You'll Need

The best way to learn a language is to live in a country where they speak it for 6 months or a year. Unfortunately, that's not always practical. The good news is that learning by yourself you can actually make considerable progress in a language.

If it's your first language, I recommend Esperanto, because it's fun and easy and many materials are available for free (studies show that for schoolchildren and others, a year of Esperanto followed by a year of another language is better than two years of the other language). However, the method you'll need is pretty similar no matter what your language priorities are.

As others including Farber recommend, a multi-track approach is the best. The various methods you employ reinforce one another and more importantly, keep you from getting bored.

I find the best combination is:

  1. An audio course;
  2. a textbook;
  3. some software ;
  4. flashcards; and
  5. a reader.
In the following pages I explain why, and share what I learned about how to select the best of each.

An audio course

It's pretty crucial that when you're learning a language, you are able to hear what a native speaker of that language sounds like. No matter what they write in the books about pronunciation, you'll come away with some pretty serious misconceptions. When you read in a book that a consonant is "halfway between a j and an r", you'll know what I mean.

Hands down, the best audio course you can find is a Pimsleur, named for Dr. Paul Pimsleur. The courses are comprehensive, interactive, and scientifically engineered to make the most of your time. By this I mean that a word or phrase is repeated to you pretty close to the minimum number of times you need for it to stick. Just when you're forgetting how to say a word, the speaker will ask you to remember it again, dragging it back from the abyss. It really works, and you can feel yourself making progress rapidly which is very encouraging. Personally, I've done more than 60 hours of Pimsleur lessons and I'm just getting started.

Do a lesson every day. Progress feeds on progress. If you start to let yourself slip, it'll be harder to motivate yourself to get back into it, especially if you need to backtrack or go back to the beginning. The best thing is to make it part of your daily routine, such as on the morning commute, or during your evening walk. It's not feasible to learn much from any audio course including Pimsleur while you're concentrating on something else, so it won't work while you're cleaning the house, answering email, or even doing yoga. Walking, sitting on a train, or lying on the couch are better options. I make MP3s of the CDs and store them in my portable MP3 player, so I have some ready wherever I go.

The Pimsleur courses can be expensive, although smaller versions of the comprehensive courses are now available in many bookshops for a reduced price.

Look for them here, but also try libraries, EBay, or elsewhere on the web if you're looking for a deal.

  • Language tapes
  • CheapPimsleur.com
  • Lingo Shop

    A Textbook

    This should be the easiest thing to acquire. A good introductory book about the language and its grammar is a key ingredient in your study of a language. Don't equate the studying of a language with the study of the grammar. They're not the same, though grammar had to be a component of any language study.

    I recommend the Living Language ("Ultimate") and Teach Yourself series of books, but find which book is the most highly recommended for your language. Living Language tend to move pretty rapidly in my experience, but combined with the other tracks in your study, work quite well.


    Getting some good software is another helpful tactic you can try. Firstly, software is very interactive and so it's an engaging way to learn. It's a refreshing change from reading a book or even listening to an audio course, and can use teaching methods that aren't available in these other formats. With software, it's usually easy to set your own pace.

    In my experience the best software you can get is The Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone teaches you a foreign language the way you learned your first language. Using pictures, text and audio, it associates the foreign word with a concept and then gradually builds up new words and concepts based on the ones you already know. It starts with "boy", "girl", "man", "woman" and builds up from there: "A boy and a girl", "A boy and a table", "The boy is on the table". It feels strange at first, but it works. It sticks. It's fun.

    The bad news is that the full Rosetta Stone courses are again pretty expensive. You can take a look on their web site. If this is too much for you, there are some options: Firstly, they offer some web-based subscriptions that might be a bit cheaper. Secondly, they make cut-down versions of the software (with 20-25 lessons instead of more than a hundred) which you can get for less than $10 - try EBay and search for "Rosetta Stone Explorer", such as "Japanese Explorer".

    I can also recommend the "Learn Now!" series of software, available in many of the major languages, from Transparent Language. These are sold all over the place such as office supply stores, bookstores, etc, and ought to set you back about $30. These packages give you several texts to read and videos to watch at your own pace. You can hear every phrase and every word spoken at various speeds and instantly see the definition of a word as you do it. You can build custom vocabulary lists while you do it. Once you're done with reading a text or video, you can then play some games (such as crosswords) with the words in that text, and practice your speaking into a microphone. (This last piece is good for a laugh, but not something to concentrate on in my opinion.) All in all this is good value for money.

    I don't recommend the "Instant Immersion" series. In my experience it was just a compilation of a lot of cheap crap and not a well engineered, central application. Steer clear.


    The merits of using flashcards to build up a vocabulary are well known. You can buy sets of cards, or make your own, and carry them with you wherever you go to use in any idle time you find yourself with during the day. There's no question this is useful, and because you can use them in short bursts, it's not too much of a chore; it can be fun. I don't recommend drilling for hours at a time with flash cards.

    If you want to use flashcard software, things get even better. There are many packages out there for maintaining and drilling flash cards. I recommend VTrain though there are many others.

    One stands out, however: SuperMemo. Similar to Pimsleur, SuperMemo is engineered according to a carefully researched methodology in order to test you on a card the very minimum number of times you need to see it for it to stick. When you look at a card, you give some feedback to the software on whether you got it right and how easy you found it. It uses this information, and that of your previous attempts, to decide when you will be shown the card next. It's ingenious, and it really works. Take a look at the main web site.

    If you're a gadget guy like me, the news is even better! I have a version of SuperMemo that runs on my PalmOS phone. Wherever I am, if I have my phone handy I have thousands of flash cards with me too. Honestly, it would be worth purchasing a cheap Palm device solely for this. You can pick one up for $20 or even less on eBay or elsewhere. Consider it, at least. (My high-end device also has language lessons as mp3s and full language dictionaries on it. It's a great example of how useful technology can be.)

    A Reader

    If you can, I recommend a reader in the language of choice. By this I mean a book written in the language at a very basic level - simple enough for beginners to understand - but preferably getting more difficult as the chapters progress. A perfect example is this book, Easy Spanish Reader. The first chapter is at the level of "Maria is a student. She is 17 years old", but by the end you're reading about Mexican history and Spanish literature (albeit in abridged form) and have gotten to grips with past and future tenses and other important grammatical concepts. More importantly, it's fun and there is a real tangible feeling of progress. Again, I really want to stress how satisfying it is to read something completely in your target language and understand it, no matter how simple it seems. It really keeps your enthusiasm up which is why I recommend this part of the program so highly.

    Optional but Useful

    At some point, you'll probably want a good dictionary. Because I don't advocate the "start on the first day reading a newspaper" approach, I don't think you'll need one from day one. However, after a while you will want to move onto reading more interesting sources in the language, and the usefulness of a dictionary in this case doesn't need to be elaborated on.

    I use UltraLingua dictionaries on my Palm device. It's great to have a dictionary with me everywhere I go!

    I also use yet another piece of software I can highly recommend: Babylon. Babylon allows you to download and install as many dictionaries and glossaries as you choose, and runs in the background on your computer. Whenever you want to look up a word, just middle-click (or whatever you choose) on it in any application such as instant messaging, web or word processor, and it will pop up a window with a translation to or from the languages of your choice. Very handy in reading a web page or responding to an instant message, where you need to know instantly what it is they are telling you.

    You may also find a phrasebook handy. I don't tend to rely on these, but especially if you're heading out on a trip soon, incorporating some of the phrases in such a book into your repertoire would be a good idea. Lonely Planet phrasebooks are well recommended. Don't bother with a phrase book that doesn't have phrases to help you flirt (or more) with a member of the opposite sex, unless you're just going on a business trip...

    By the way, check out Babelfish if you don't know it already. It comes in handy too, especially when reading or writing an email.

    Self Study

    Now that you have some or most of the components I mentioned, it should be pretty obvious how to use them. Below I'll outline the regimen that works for me, but here are a few things to bear in mind.

    • A little a day is better than a lot occasionally. Everyone says this, but it's true because that's how our brains work. Even on a day when you're too tired, busy, or stressed, try and find five minutes to review some notes or read a paragraph or two.
    • Keep fit. They say that when you're fit and exercising regularly, your brain works better and you learn more efficiently. I don't know if this is really true, but it does feel true. Thanks to the magic of portable audio devices, I found a way to combine the two, and they reinforced one another; I wanted to exercise to have a fit brain to learn, and I learned while exercising.
    • Keep it fun. If one particular part of the regimen annoys or bores you, de-emphasize it unless you really need to achieve maximum fluency for a journey or business meeting. If you're learning as a hobby or in your spare time, motivation will be the most important factor in making progress.
    • Find help. The best part of the whole thing is this part, about which I go into more detail in the next section.
    • Also, every time you read the following phrase in your studies, you must drink a shot. "Like the ch in the Scottish loch."
    OK, here's the basic routine I have settled on when learning a language. The trick is to get into the habit, which isn't easy to pull off in the long run. That's why variety helps.
    • Do some audio course every day. If you have a good course like a Pimsleur, this by itself will keep things fresh in your mind and keep you progressing. That's why I make this part the foundation of my initial study of a language. (I say initial, because eventually you'll master all the material!)
    • Do a grammar lesson every few days. Initially, it's best to do a few quickly because the early lessons will teach you some really important fundamentals. After that, it's good to just keep plugging away at it slowly. Take notes for review.
    • After a week or two start on the reader. One you have these three going in parallel, they will reinforce one another.
    • Enter new words you learn from any source into a master vocabulary list, and maintain this list in your flashcard software.
    • Use the other software, such as Transparent Language or Rosetta Stone, whenever you feel like it or when you want to practice but are bored with the other materials. As it is the most interactive method, this is the best one to get you engaged again. (Rosetta Stone is better, though, with regular use).
    • Whenever you have a question or don't understand something, write it down. Either ask a friend or go to the web for help. Chat rooms and Usenet are full of friendly people, and of course the web knows all.
    OK, let's move on to my favorite part.

    Getting Help

    Now, here's the best part of all. In today's wired society, you have absolutely no excuse for not making friends with a speaker of the language you're learning. None. There are many sites out there where you can meet pen pals in other countries; look around. In particular, I recommend the following site: My Language Exchange. It's specifically designed to help find you a friend who speaks your chosen language natively, and is trying to learn your native language themselves. This site is a fantastic resource. I've made some great friends through it who I have visited or will visit in their home countries.

    Once you find someone, try and exchange correspondence with them regularly. Composing your own sentences is very good practice, and it will help you learn the words you will need to talk about yourself anyway. Once again, though, technological advances can do even better than that. Using any of the main instant messaging clients, or third-party software such as Skype (again recommended) and a cheap microphone you can talk in real time with your friend just like on the telephone, and for free. Do it! Even when my Spanish was halting and a broken mess, I spoke every night for a little while with a pal in Spain. You think this helped my Spanish? Duh!

    This technology even works over a dial-up connection. But the world is becoming surprisingly wired these days. I don't know about sub-Saharan Africa, but I believe broadband connections are ubiquitous in North America, Europe and Australia and common in South America, Russia and Asia.

    By the way, don't use PalTalk (MyLanguageExchange recommend it). It's junk, and it's some kind of malware (it wouldn't uninstall itself, for example). AVOID!


    Learning languages is one of the chief pleasures of my life. It provides both intellectual stimulus and social adventure. If you've never studied a foreign language before, or only studied one in high school (which is worse), you might be surprised at the fun and satisfaction you can achieve with a little study. When you roll out one of your phrases and make someone's face light up, you'll know what I mean.

    Good luck!

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    How many languages do you speak?
    o One 17%
    o Two 30%
    o Three 27%
    o Four 11%
    o Five 5%
    o More than five 8%

    Votes: 145
    Results | Other Polls

    Related Links
    o "How to Learn Any Language"
    o Treo
    o Esperanto
    o studies show
    o Pimsleur
    o Paul Pimsleur
    o Language tapes
    o CheapPimsl eur.com
    o Lingo Shop
    o Living Language
    o Teach Yourself
    o The Rosetta Stone
    o web site
    o Transparen t Language
    o VTrain
    o the main web site
    o version of SuperMemo
    o device
    o Easy Spanish Reader
    o UltraLingu a
    o Babylon
    o Babelfish
    o My Language Exchange
    o Skype
    o Also by coljac

    Display: Sort:
    How to Learn a Language | 259 comments (250 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
    heh (1.30 / 13) (#1)
    by six volt on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 07:59:52 PM EST

    Did you download it off suprnova too?

    -I want to be this guy.-

    I Recommend the Aspie Technique (1.71 / 7) (#3)
    by NeantHumain on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 08:27:19 PM EST

    I recommend learning a foreign language as an someone with Asperger's syndrome, which is a mild form of autism, (e.g., me) would: by becoming obsessed with it (i.e., perseverating). Aspies tend to become deeply engrossed with a favorite interest of theirs and devote much of their free time to it and aren't hesitant to share what they know with people.

    Anyway, here's how I learned French: I picked up the vocabulary quite easily because of my high verbal IQ and mastered the grammar by reading French grammar books and websites obsessively (e.g., 501 French Verbs has a grammar section). I also wrote tons of things in French (usually silly things), read up on French culture, read French newspapers online, and watched French news on TV (with subtitles). At the same time, I was developing an obsessive interest in linguistics, so I studied the phonetics and phonology of French to learn how to pronounce French more authentically.

    I soon began talking to my family with an overdone French accent, slipping in and out of my not-yet-mastered French, even trying to teach my own stepfather some French even though he had no interest in my "lectures." There's a reason Asperger's syndrome is sometimes facetiously known as Assburger's syndrome.

    I hate my sig.

    And yet. . . (none / 1) (#8)
    by thankyougustad on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 08:43:21 PM EST

    I don't mean to attack you personally but I'm willing to bet you have a very limited handle on the language. They just can't be learned that way, though you would be on the right track. Your condition doesn't give you an edge over anyone else.

    I know people with doctorates in French who speak it with a thick New Yorkais accent and don't always get genders right. Honestly you could proove me wrong, but the fact remains that a lot of hacks pretend to be fluent in a language (for whatever reason), though the first step they take on the street in a foreign country they are utterly lost.

    No no thanks no
    Je n'aime que le bourbon
    no no thanks no
    c'est une affaire de got.

    [ Parent ]
    Actually (none / 0) (#12)
    by NeantHumain on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 10:06:50 PM EST

    I can write French pretty well (or could--it's been several months now, and it's amazing how quickly one starts to forget things); but I've never been able to speak it especially fluently, mainly because I rarely meet French speakers and I don't speak much even in English.

    I hate my sig.

    [ Parent ]
    What really annoys me. (2.50 / 2) (#26)
    by maccha on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:07:47 AM EST

    I wish people wouldn't always assume that backpacker survival skills are the litmus test for competency in a language. That is true only if you are a backpacker.

    Surely most Latin students care much more about literary comprehension than about asking for the nearest youth hostel to the circus?

    (Or am I just talking a load of crap?)

    [ Parent ]
    What really annoys me is latin (2.66 / 3) (#111)
    by ant0n on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 07:07:57 AM EST

    Backpacker survival skills are the litmus test for competency in a language! I learned latin for 6 years in school, started when I was 10 years old. It was my first foreign language (I started to learn English in school when I was 16). Learning latin was a terrible waste of time, and I still hate my high school for not teaching me English from the very beginning. I learned latin this way: we had to translate sentence by sentence, then explain each and every grammatical aspect of that sentence. I never had to construct a single latin sentence myself. Never. It was latin -> german all the time.
    The result of this kind of education? Well, yes, I can read and understand Ceasars de bello gallico, and Ovids Ars Amatoria and stuff like that; but if I had a time machine and could travel to Rome 200 B.C., I probably wouldn't even be able buy me some tickets for the next gladiatura.
    So do I know latin? No, absolutely not.

    -- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
    Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
    [ Parent ]
    Latin (3.00 / 2) (#121)
    by louferd on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 09:33:58 AM EST

    That's a shame you only went one way.  We had to translate both ways when I learned Latin in school (3 years, I think).  We didn't speak it conversationally, but knowing the roots has helped me to understand Romance languages pretty well, and to decipher a lot of the words in English I don't already know.  I couldn't understand much of what people said to me in Italy, but if I saw it written down I could usually make a good guess at it.

    Besides, if you can endure the useless drudgery of Latin grammar, you can put up with pretty much any european language :)

    [ Parent ]

    sounds like a great way (none / 0) (#136)
    by the sixth replicant on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 10:37:49 AM EST

    to learn grammar. Don't knock it. Always think of the Karate kid: "wax on...wax off"


    [ Parent ]

    I wonder... (none / 0) (#186)
    by Dephex Twin on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 09:21:15 PM EST

    Would a German have heard of the Karate Kid?

    Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
    [ Parent ]
    of course (none / 0) (#189)
    by ant0n on Sat Nov 13, 2004 at 07:18:44 AM EST

    That's like asking: "I wonder if an American would have heard about this Arnold Schwarzenegger guy. I mean, he's from Austria!"
    Of course I know the movie Karate Kid, although I don't understand what the poster meant by "wax on...wax off". It's too long ago that I saw this movie. It sucked, anyway.

    -- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
    Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
    [ Parent ]
    That's just not fair (none / 0) (#217)
    by Dephex Twin on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 03:59:21 AM EST

    That's like asking: "I wonder if an American would have heard about this Arnold Schwarzenegger guy. I mean, he's from Austria!"
    To my knowledge, Ralph Macchio does not live in Germany, is not one of the biggest superstars of German film, nor does he hold a major political office in Germany. Wondering if a German would take meaning from a line from the Karate Kid is more like wondering if an American is familiar with, say, the band Scorpions. I don't appreciate your attempt to make me look ignorant with your ridiculous analogy.
    Of course I know the movie Karate Kid, although I don't understand what the poster meant by "wax on...wax off".
    Well, that was my concern ultimately. You didn't know what was meant.

    Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
    [ Parent ]
    Karate Kid (none / 0) (#220)
    by ant0n on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 05:33:17 AM EST

    I don't appreciate your attempt to make me look ignorant with your ridiculous analogy.

    The only one who is making you look like the ignorant cretin you are is you yourself. The German TV is so full of American movies that it is absolutely unavoidable to have seen the movie Karate Kid. Yes, I've seen it. But I don't see why I should remember some dialogue from such a shitty, american movie.

    You didn't know what was meant.

    Dear sir, would you mind to please learn your own fucking language first, before arguing with me? Thank you.

    -- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
    Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
    [ Parent ]
    true (none / 0) (#199)
    by fleece on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 12:34:29 AM EST

    Backpacker survival skills are the litmus test for competency in a language!
    I'd have to agree. I studied Indonesian at a tertiary level for 3 years, but I struggled for the first couple of weeks in Indonesia. After a month I was fine. I think a few important things to note are

    1) It's difficult to learn language in a vacuum - the cultural context of a language is so important, which is the real reason why some things are hard to translate, not because of gramatical differences, but because of a difference in the way things work or are understood.

    2) Conversations in Indonesian are full of words that you'd never come across in a textbook for whatever reason....like ashtray or transvestite, or common slang terms, for things like "speed hump", "honky", or "chit-chat".

    3) In Indonesia (and I'm sure for a lot of places this is true), for some words, the local dialect equivalent of a word is always used in preference to the national language equivalent.

    such as numbers (eg taxi driver quoting fare in javanese), and of course insults, like jancuk! (fuck you!) or cengeng (cry-baby)

    One of the weirdest things I saw there was English language students at uni learning Shakespeare (which they pronounced a bit like "shake-a-spear". Three-quarters of the English speaking world can't understand ye-olde-Shakespeare-speak either, so I don't know why they'd bother. Another time, I was asked by another student to help him understand a medical text written in English. It was so technical, in a medical sense, I couldn't even understand it, let alone translate it.

    I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
    [ Parent ]
    Weird (none / 0) (#16)
    by zrail on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 01:02:34 AM EST

    I have a friend who as Asperger's and you type exactly like he talks. Amazing.

    [ Parent ]
    that's it (none / 1) (#32)
    by Viliam Bur on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 08:58:38 AM EST

    I soon began talking to my family with an overdone French accent, slipping in and out of my not-yet-mastered French

    It really helps if one imagines already being a (native) speaker of a language. Breaks some psychological barrier. And the more one enjoys the process, the more one remembers (and less probably gives up). Watching movies with subtitles adds to the feeling very much.

    [ Parent ]

    No offense to you Aspies (2.83 / 6) (#41)
    by Pxtl on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:11:13 PM EST

    And yes, it is on topic here, so this is really more an off-topic generalist complaint than a specific comment on this thread....

    but why do you feel it necessary to bring up your condition so often?  I can't help but notice that most Aspergers sufferers love to point out their condition... a condition which, to me, can be summarized as "Severe, crippling, incurable, obsessive nerdiness".  Not to say its not a frustrating condition, but the fact is that I'm sure that half of the sysadmins and IT guys in the USA and Britain could be diagnosed as having some limited level of said condition.

    [ Parent ]

    It's probably part of their condition (none / 0) (#59)
    by Cro Magnon on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:46:33 PM EST

    And it sounds kewler than saying "I'm a nerd".
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    My understanding: (none / 0) (#66)
    by NoMoreNicksLeft on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:56:01 PM EST

    People who have it aren't particularly likely to realize they have it, unless diagnosed by a competent mental health professional and told so. And that even then, they won't wear it as a badge. They don't wear anything as badges... they're pretty far from that guy at the office party that is always bragging up something about himself.

    These fake aspies we see here and on slashdot need a new name. Please reply with nominations...

    Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
    [ Parent ]

    No, Not Really (1.66 / 3) (#88)
    by NeantHumain on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:11:22 PM EST

    I was diagnosed by having my social behavior observed, taking an IQ test, and performing various test of spatial reasoning. Most aspies are very quiet about their condition, and I am too offline. However, online, I've been empowered by sites like AspiesForFreedom.com, WrongPlanet.Net, and Aspergia, which seek to empower and embolden the typical neuro-atypical.

    I hate my sig.

    [ Parent ]
    Thanks for the website address (none / 0) (#259)
    by Xocist on Wed Feb 08, 2006 at 06:15:23 PM EST

    Well the subject says it all.

    [ Parent ]
    yeah (none / 0) (#75)
    by phred on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:55:37 PM EST

    course k5 has lots of assburgers.

    [ Parent ]
    You've got it partially wrong here (none / 0) (#258)
    by Xocist on Wed Feb 08, 2006 at 06:11:58 PM EST

    I will start by backing up you point by saying, I have that aspergers syndrome thingy. Now I will ruin your argument by saying this. If I didn't say I have aspergers, you wouldn't know I had aspergers therefore, unless you were 'psychic' you would have asmumed I did not. There are likely to be quite a few people with aspergers that don't mention it. Let's say it's half and half, well you don't know half of them 'suffer' from aspergers so you assume all (or most) see it as neccersary to bring up. Also his point was relevant. Him (come to think of it could be a her, I didn't check) 'suffering' (kind of stupid way of putting it, we aren't all on the floor in agony) from aspergers was importnat for understanding the next point. Otherwise they could be mistaken for a "Severe, crippling, incurable, obsessive nerd" or whatever. It may involve obsession, nerdiness and be incurable. Which reminds me, I really must look up autism, get obsesed with it for a week, then forget about it. (Last bit's a joke, incase you didn't realise)

    [ Parent ]
    If only it were so easy. (2.44 / 9) (#4)
    by thankyougustad on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 08:29:46 PM EST

    Fluency is not a measure of vocabulary or one's grasp on grammar. It is a mixture of cultural references, jokes and slang, antiqudated words, and above all nuances, which will never be taught, only learned.

    No no thanks no
    Je n'aime que le bourbon
    no no thanks no
    c'est une affaire de got.

    No it's not easy (3.00 / 2) (#7)
    by coljac on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 08:37:55 PM EST

    And I don't think it's really possible to become fluent just on your own. But of course there is a point to learning a language at a lower level - even learning 10 phrases can be very useful and a good icebreaker.

    I might clarify in the text.

    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    Ten phrases? (none / 0) (#213)
    by davidduncanscott on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 08:57:34 PM EST

    My father was a diplomatic courier, and claimed that he always got by knowing only the local versions of "I love you", and "Where is the bathroom?".

    [ Parent ]
    Ummm, ok. (2.16 / 18) (#5)
    by jd on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 08:35:53 PM EST

    First, Esperanto is probably the most useless language on the planet, being not only artificial but less widespread than Klingon.

    Second, whilst a lot of what you wrote is perfectly true, it read like a school essay. Not even a particularly good school essay. Nor were the claims particularly well supported. That's fine for an MLP, but I'd expect more from a "real" story.

    Third, the most important thing to remember about any foreign language is that you're never going to reproduce the sounds exactly. You can produce a good approximation, but that's it. It is far and away better to concentrate on being clear than on being perfect.

    Fourth, if you're studying languages to go abroad (which rules out most Americans), I would sugest German or French, as those are the most widely spoken. Spanish would be another good one, for much the same reason.

    If, however, you are studying out of an interest in culture, history, etc, you are MUCH better off with lesser-spoken languages. "Popular" languages are often "modernized" and updated, so reflect the global now, rather than the culture itself. The Brethonique and Gaelach families of languages make for an excellent study in European culture. Good examples are Welsh, Cornish and Breton (for Brethonique) and Scots, Irish and Manx (for Gaelach).

    For "classical history" fans, the obvious "must haves" are ancient Greek and early Latin. Ancient Greek is directly descended from early Cretan, as is shown by the fact that Linear B is written in what can be translated as a dialect of Greek.

    Fans of the American continent should really learn one of the Native American languages. These are in danger of extinction, because of deliberate suppression - especially in the past, but such languages are a major part of what makes the native people who they are.

    South American native languages are not so well known and many have yet to be entirely decyphered, through neglect and abuse. Again, though, serious fans of culture would be foolish to ignore them. Those cultures, when they thrived, were highly sophisticated. Violent and abusive, true, but sophisticated. Learning never hurt anyone.

    To wrap this up, language learning is best done young. Five year olds are quite capable of speaking two or three languages and keeping them distinct in their minds. Most adults would be hard-pressed to do the same. Multi-language skills, learned young, also change the way the brain is developed. It gains extra capacity to know and understand, largely because the demands of language force the extra connections to form.

    This does not mean you should give up; rather, it means you should start now, because your brain will handle it better now than later.

    Define 'widespread' (3.00 / 2) (#19)
    by guyjin on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:56:40 AM EST

    "First, Esperanto is probably the most useless language on the planet, being not only artificial but less widespread than Klingon."

    First of all, if the urge to talk to trekkies strikes you, slap yourself. If you must persist, far more of them speak English than Klingon.

    Second of all, define 'widespread'. The population of Esperanto speakers worldwide may be smaller than that of klingon(depending on who you ask, there may be as many as 2 million or as few as 100,000 Esperanto speakers in the world) but they are culturally more widespread.

    To put it another way: How many Russians speak klingon? how many trekkies can there be in Kenya? I could go to pretty much any country on this planet and find an Esperanto speaker; should I limit myself to klingon, I would have only western trekkies to correspond with.

    But then again, I could go to any country in the world and find an English speaker, right? Except you've probably seen forigners mangle the English language in a variety of incomprehensible(and frequently amusing) ways. Esperanto is much easier to learn than english, or any natural language for that matter.
    -- 散弾銃でおうがいして ください
    [ Parent ]

    Russians who speak klingon (none / 1) (#25)
    by vadim on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:57:17 AM EST

    Perhaps there are more than you'd expect. This is a curious thing I noticed. I'm a Russian living in Spain and mostly look at sites in English. It seems that Russia and America are somewhat closer in "internet culture" than Spain and America.

    I was quite surprised at this, but while it's very hard to find spanish sites about TV series, anime, books, etc, the amount of russian sites about those subjets is quite comparable.

    So probably you're quite likely to find people speaking Klingon in Russia, at least a lot more than in Spain.
    <@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
    [ Parent ]

    Probably just a bad example [nt] (none / 0) (#29)
    by israfil on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:41:13 AM EST

    i. - this sig provided by /dev/arandom and an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards.
    [ Parent ]
    English... (none / 1) (#57)
    by jd on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:41:09 PM EST

    Most countries, you would expect to find an English speaker. The "Big Four", though, are English, French, German and Spanish. If you can speak all four of those, you can be understood almost anywhere by almost anyone.

    There are over 20,000 natural languages spoken on Earth in the present day, and probably 10 to 100 times as many that have been spoken throughout history. In consequence, nobody is going to learn enough languages to speak to everybody.

    Nor is anybody going to accept a Universal Language any time soon. Esperanto was an ingenious effort, but ultimately a failed experiment for the purpose for which it was designed. It's time to accept this. In a hundred years of seminars, programs, classes, etc, Esperanto has dismally failed in Europe. Despite the fact that the "Big Four" require you to learn four different languages (duh!), this is still considered a superior solution to adpoting Esperanto.

    Even in countries like Switzerland, where children frequently learn many languages, because they border so many countries that don't speak the same language, they still choose to learn all those languages rather than switching to Esperanto.

    Esperanto is also a derivative of European languages, making it actually much harder for non-Europeans to speak it. The Chinese and Japanese can learn each others' languages FAR more easily than they can any European language and vice versa. A "true" International Language would need to be expressible easily by members of both cultures.

    The same problem likely exists for those who speak any languages from the Arabic, African or Polynesian families, as these languages also evolved (largely or totally) independently of the European families. The Celtic languages have evolve in close proximity to English, French, etc, and so have many recognizable constructs.

    As soon as you get outside of the conventional European sphere of influence, though, languges take many shapes and forms, diverging wildly from what most Europeans would understand as language. A "unified Indo-European" language, then, means nothing to such people.

    No, if you want a universal language, then you have to get to the heart of what language is, and not take the Imperial Indo-European road. (Besides which, the whole concept of "Indo-European" languages is discredited, making such Imperialism not only unsound but utterly illogical.)

    [ Parent ]

    Centric (3.00 / 4) (#68)
    by illustir on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:03:52 PM EST

    German, as one of the most important languages? Are you kidding? German is hardly spoken anywhere but Germany mainly because they didn't have the colonial outstretch of the other European countries.

    The 'big four' you named are highly western-centric. I would drop both German and French and replace them with Mandarin and either Hindi or Russian for sheer numbers.

    And then I'm still forgetting about the entire African continent (aren't we all?). But I don't know enough about their languages to outright recommend learning Swahili or something like that.

    Universal Languages

    There already are quite useful universal languages. For the European languages we have Interlingua which I can read despite never having learned anything about it. It has a much more natural feel than for instance esperanto mostly because it is rooted in natural language. It is the greatest common divisor of the European languages (and heavily Latin-weighed).
    Speakers of totally different languages wouldn't understand Interlingua at all but it could serve as a nice starting point. I have already heard there is also a common universal language for most of the Africas but I don't recall its name.

    My language background: Good (Dutch, English, Turkish), Reasonable (German, French), Some (Portuguese, Latin)

    [ Parent ]

    interlingua! (3.00 / 4) (#101)
    by naringas on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:53:44 PM EST

    that thing is quite amazing, I speak english and spanish(native) and could understand it quite well. interlingua
    Communication sin frontieras
    Interlingua es un lingua international facile e de aspecto natural elaborate per linguistas professional como un denominator commun del linguas le plus diffundite in le mundo in le dominios del scientia, cultura, commercio, etc. Un texto in interlingua es immediatemente intelligibile a milliones de personas in tote le mundo, sin necessitate de studio previe.

    [ Parent ]
    Me too. . . (none / 1) (#104)
    by thankyougustad on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 11:04:23 PM EST

    I understood it perfectly. Strange sensation, actually.

    No no thanks no
    Je n'aime que le bourbon
    no no thanks no
    c'est une affaire de got.

    [ Parent ]
    Highly Comprehensible (none / 1) (#110)
    by Wildgoose on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 05:51:17 AM EST

    ...but I wonder if that is because I also understand basic French? I shall have to learn more!

    [ Parent ]
    So you could create an interlingua (none / 1) (#139)
    by Sesquipundalian on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 11:09:23 AM EST

    For any cultures that you wanted to unite. Can anyone point out historical examples of specific groups deliberately doing this?

    Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
    [ Parent ]
    German (none / 1) (#120)
    by louferd on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 09:30:14 AM EST

    I think German is more useful than you think.  In my travels, I've met probably as many German speakers as French speakers.  In West Africa, Hungary, and the Balkans, there are people who learned it from working in Germany, and being able to speak a few words makes up for the fact that you don't know their native language, or that they don't know yours.  Friends also tell me that some South American countries have large German populations still, and so it could theoretically help you there.  It also gives you a little help in deciphering other germanic languages.

    As far as Chinese goes, you're almost better off learning Cantonese than Mandarin if you're looking to speak with Chinese people outside of China.  Ideally, you'd learn both though :)

    I agree wholeheartedly about Russian.  It'll help you understand a lot of the other slavic languages.  I was able to communicate with Bosnians using the Russian I picked up in college, because of similarities in the language.  My Chinese boss also speaks some Russian, because they learned both Russian and English when he was in school.

    [ Parent ]

    clearing up a couple confusions (3.00 / 5) (#83)
    by russ on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:47:47 PM EST

    It's time to accept this.

    Most Esperantists do accept this.  That doesn't mean they should quit speaking it.  Should Finns quit speaking Finnish just because most people aren't interested in learning it?

    Esperanto is also a derivative of European languages, making it actually much harder for non-Europeans to speak it.

    That's true but misleading.  "Much harder" than what?  It is demonstrably easier for Asians to learn Esperanto than to learn other European languages.  Competency and fluency are reached much more quickly in Esperanto than in English, French, etc.  The Chinese government actively supports Esperanto, with classes, radio broadcasts, etc.  I was just in Beijing this summer at the Universala Kongreso de Esperanto.

    By your theory of what a universal language "should" be, I think you'd end up with Lojban, which is equally difficult for everybody (and, sadly, rather difficult) instead of something that's easy for some people and even easier for others.  If the ultimate goal of an international auxiliary language is to get wide use, it seems a forgivable sin to make the vocabular similar to some widely spoken existing languages rather than intentionally unlike any existing languages.  Yeah, I agree Esperanto's Euro-roots are showing, but it still works due to its design, and Asians learn it easier than national languages or than Lojban or other "unlike any other language" type language.

    [ Parent ]

    Chinese govt. supporting Esperanto? (none / 0) (#89)
    by jongleur on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:16:37 PM EST

    That's interesting; do you know why? Is it because it's easy to learn and it gets you in the door for a lot of European languages? Or are they pushing it as the world's inter-language?
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]
    multiple reasons, I assume (3.00 / 2) (#107)
    by russ on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 03:18:24 AM EST

    I'm not positive, but I assume it's a combination of believing in the idealistic goal as well as viewing it as a possible economic decision (it costs way less to become fluent at Esperanto).  An argument can be made that as non-English-speaking countries learn English, they are in a sense hurting themselves by making English become even more powerful and necessary in a self-fulfilling prophecy sense.  So if some easier cheaper alternative became more widespread, it would save vast amounts of money and time and trouble.

    And as the original noted, there is evidence from some studies that learning Esperanto makes later language study go more effectively, because the student now has the experience of becoming competent at a language, which gives confidence and more knowledge about how to learn a language.

    I assume there's also just a bit of hedging their bets, i.e. sure it's a long-shot that Esperanto will be very significant, but it doesn't cost much to prepare for that possibility.

    Finally I would guess it has to do with cultural interchange.  The Esperanto broadcasts are listened to by people all around the world, so it's a handy way to reach an audience of people who are more likely to be interested in learning about cultural stuff from other countries (since they went to the trouble to learn a language for that purpose), and the Chinese Esperantists in turn can learn about a variety of different countries that way.

    [ Parent ]

    I take issue with a couple of your points (3.00 / 2) (#86)
    by jongleur on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:02:32 PM EST

    The Chinese and Japanese can learn each others' languages FAR more easily than they can any European language and vice versa.

    This is junk. They do use some of the same characters (hanzi / kanji) which preserve the same meanings to a large degree but, the languages themselves are from different families and have very different natures and would be as hard to learn for each other as each is to the rest of the world. FWIW a young Chinese person told me that English is easier to learn than Chinese because, crappy though the spelling consistency is it's a huge leg-up to be able to sound out words. Admittedly he had the advantage of being young and immersed in the US.

    (Besides which, the whole concept of "Indo-European" languages is discredited, making such Imperialism not only unsound but utterly illogical.)

    I really doubt this, where do you get this information? There are even grander unifications like Nostratic which, all I know of it is that it's dubious (but I'm not current) but I've nowhere seen that the idea of an Indo-European family has been discredited.
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]

    eventually.... (none / 0) (#201)
    by fleece on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 12:50:25 AM EST

    I could go to pretty much any country on this planet and find an Esperanto speaker

    Eventually you might, but what are the chances of finding one when you need one, like driving your taxi, or giving you directions when your hopelessly lost.

    I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
    [ Parent ]
    Purpose and efficiency (none / 1) (#230)
    by QuickFox on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 09:05:25 PM EST

    like driving your taxi, or giving you directions when your hopelessly lost.

    You don't learn Esperanto for taxi conversations and street directions. You might learn it, for example, to get to know natives from lots of countries up close, with really fluent conversation.

    Eventually you might,

    If you feel like playing chess or soccer, probably you don't go out on the streets hoping to randomly bump into people who will play chess or soccer with you. More likely you'll contact some club, society, something like that. Like with any interest, you have to seek out the opportunities. Waiting for them to randomly fall into your lap isn't very efficient.

    Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
    [ Parent ]

    And the problem with artificiality is..... (2.60 / 5) (#30)
    by israfil on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:47:54 AM EST

    Since we don't know how the first natural languages formed, who's to say?

    Also, I repeat my curious observation in another post.  Why can't leave the whole Esperanto thing alone?  People just can't seem to refrain from comment agressively (pro or con) when it comes to this language.  Why?  Positive responses are glowing, negative ones are angry.  "Most useless language..."  Why?  Why say it even if it were true.  If so, and it's at hte bottom of the heap, why is it worth even mentioning?  To prevent those deluded souls from going and finding it?  Like you're protecting them from wasting their time?  Like they're too immature to make that determination for themselves?

    Personally I have enjoyed learning Esperanto, and I am quite grateful to Dr. Zamanhof for both its invention, and his desires to see a peaceful world in which we can all understand one another.  If a better langauge is chosen as a world auxilliary language, then great!  I'll be the first to learn it.  In the mean-time, I'll keep learning Esperanto.  I have been connected with people from all over the planet who also speak it, and the new friendships were worth it.
    i. - this sig provided by /dev/arandom and an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards.
    [ Parent ]

    Origin of Language (none / 0) (#51)
    by jd on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:21:54 PM EST

    Written languages evolved from a symbolic system designed to supplement the spoken language. Since the earliest written languages tend to concentrate on objects, I am tempted to suggest that the earliest spoken languages concentrated on actions.

    [ Parent ]
    Sure, we know stuff like that, but... (none / 0) (#176)
    by israfil on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 10:18:04 AM EST

    ... how did they "evolve".  Did someone just start assigning sounds to objects and actions?  Did that first person teach another person?  Was it a small group that spread this new language thing?  Did it evolve simultaneously in the human population?  I mean there's no way to know, because we don't have the records to show it, but the point is that whose to say the first language wasn't someone literally inventing it to suit his/her immediate needs.

    Should the above be true, they're all just evolutions of an invented language.  I'm not making the above assertion, just noticing that we can't be certain, so others' slamming a language for its artificiality is spurious.
    i. - this sig provided by /dev/arandom and an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards.
    [ Parent ]

    We've seen some languages evolve (none / 0) (#180)
    by NoBeardPete on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 01:21:11 PM EST

    There are several recorded instances of new languages naturally evolving. The canonical examples are Nicaraguan sign language and assorted island creoles. It seems that if you throw a bunch of young children together who don't have a real language, they'll end up developing one on their own, using whatever linguistic scraps they may find around them if possible. These languages are fully developed human languages, are just as expressive as any other, and exhibit plenty of staying power.

    The really interesting thing is that the evidence suggests this is what every child does. They don't really learn a language, so much as the reinvent it and remake it. So it may not matter what the ultimate origins of a language are, whether it was invented by a linguist, whether it evolved naturally a thousand years ago or thirty. Any language a child learns is a natural human language. After a generation of it being spoken by children, then, no language is really artificial.

    Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
    [ Parent ]

    other "artificial languages" (none / 1) (#54)
    by russ on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:27:31 PM EST

    It's worth noting that modern Hebrew and Indonesian were also created (modern Hebrew about the time of Esperanto; Indonesian in the 1940s) and became widely used and are not dissed for being "artificial".

    It is indeed odd how when Esperanto gets mentioned, people slam it for being "artificial" (and often make absurd claims like that it's impossible to talk about feelings or write poetry or whatever.)

    [ Parent ]

    Modern Hebrew created? (none / 0) (#92)
    by jongleur on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:38:15 PM EST

    that's interesting, why couldn't they just go back to whatever was spoken in AD 70 & update it with new vocabulary?

    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]

    not sure (none / 1) (#147)
    by russ on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 02:39:03 PM EST

    My vague impression is that they wanted to clean up the language, perhaps making it more grammatically consistent/simple/elegant/learnable or something, but I don't really know and don't pretend to. :)  I have seen an analogy made about the difference between modern and ancient Hebrew being like modern and ancient Greek, or Italian and Latin, for what that's worth.  But I've never researched the subject in any depth.

    [ Parent ]
    Dutch aswell. (none / 0) (#223)
    by Chakotay on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 10:21:43 AM EST

    Dutch is widely regarded as a natural language, but in fact it is a designed language. A long time ago in the area now known as the Netherlands the people spoke a very diverse spectrum of completely different German dialects. At one point in time, a bunch of monks got together and decided to translate the Bible into "Nederdietsch" ("Nethergerman"), but they were undicided as to which specific dialect to use. Finally they dicided to mix together as many dialects as possible to create a hybrid language that would be understood by as many Dutchmen as possible. In the end, this artificial language, created for the sole goal as to serve as language for a widely comprehensible Bible translation, after various changes of grammar and spelling (the latest change was about ten years ago) became what we now know as Dutch.

    Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

    [ Parent ]
    as an aside... (3.00 / 3) (#38)
    by Run4YourLives on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 11:57:24 AM EST

    Studies have shown that kids who are bilingual or more tend to be "better thinkers" than those who aren't.

    ...maybe that explains the election...

    It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
    [ Parent ]

    That can't be right. (none / 0) (#56)
    by J T MacLeod on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:37:22 PM EST

    Yo voté por Bush!

    [ Parent ]
    It's Gaelic, not Gaelach! (3.00 / 4) (#46)
    by HereticMessiah on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 01:36:31 PM EST

    And Scot's is an offshoot of English. What you're thinking of is Scot's Gaelic, or just plain Gaelic. Irish in Irish is "Gaeilge", whereas in Scot's Gaelic it's "Gidhlig". On Man, it's "Gaelg".

    And Breton (in Breton) is Brezhoneg.

    K. -- Who's Irish and should know.

    Disagree with me? Post a reply.
    Think my post's poor or trolling? Rate me down.
    [ Parent ]

    remarkable ignorance about Esperanto (3.00 / 6) (#49)
    by russ on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 01:59:37 PM EST

    "Esperanto is probably the most useless language on the planet, being not only artificial but less widespread than Klingon."

    You are either ignorant or a troll.  A moment's thought or a little googling would easily disabuse you of this notion.  But for some reason many people find it easier to repeat absurd urban legends like "More people speak Klingon than Esperanto" than think for a moment.

    Consider that Esperanto has existed for more than a century and has many learning materials available in dozens of languages and a large body of literature.  Consider that Klingon is a couple decades old and has much fewer learning materials which are mostly in English, and that the language has appeal primarily to Star Trek fans, a somewhat narrow audience.  Consider that Esperanto is sufficiently widely used that its special letters are included in Unicode, unlike Klingon.

    The purpose of language is to communicate.  I use Esperanto almost every day, communicating with people from various countries.  I have made some very good friends through Esperanto and learned a lot about other cultures.  Therefore it has proven quite useful to me.

    "Most useless language on the planet" would seem more applicable to the many dying languages which have only a few dozen living speakers and no written literature, by the way.

    [ Parent ]

    Klingon IS more widespread than Esperanto (3.00 / 2) (#53)
    by Cro Magnon on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:25:18 PM EST

    How many intersteller empires speak Esperanto?
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    about as many as speak Esperanto :) (none / 0) (#70)
    by russ on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:22:36 PM EST

    [ Parent ]
    Ask Harry Harrison (none / 0) (#131)
    by Viliam Bur on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 10:10:12 AM EST

    or read carefully his Stainless Steel Rat books.

    [ Parent ]
    Esperanto va. dying languages. (1.16 / 6) (#64)
    by NoMoreNicksLeft on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:43:52 PM EST

    Dying languages: Our only insight into cultures that may have thrived for centuries, that we only know of as one sentence references in encyclopedias and little more.

    Esperanto: Created by those that have some fourth reich-like visions of a UniEurope, and has been used to suppress other real languages.

    Verdict: Russ knows how to speak a once rare, but now common language know as "Talking-out-of-ones-ass-inese".

    Oh, and while you're at it, don't forget to tell me why it's no big deal if 10,000 species of insects will become extinct in the amazon next year, after all, they're only bugs!

    Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
    [ Parent ]

    You misunderstood me. (3.00 / 4) (#69)
    by russ on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:20:24 PM EST

    You misunderstood me.  I was certainly NOT claiming that it is "no big deal" that lots of languages (or insects!) are dying off.  Quite the contrary!  I totally agree that they are invaluable.  My only point was that in terms of "usefulness" as the original post seemed to be defining it, learning a language spoken by a few dozen elderly South American natives, for instance, seems less useful than learning many other languages.

    Esperanto has not been used to suppress other languages, nor does it have any sinister fourth reich designs.  If you actually learn about it, you would know that Esperanto is intended as an auxiliary language so that people's national languages are NOT replaced or killed off, as opposed to people who say "Everyone should just speak English".  The time and economic cost to learn Esperanto is much smaller than languages like English which are killing off smaller languages, so people can more easily gain fluency in Esperanto as well as their native languages, whereas mastering English requires much more time and focus.

    [ Parent ]

    Lolita in the original English is better (none / 1) (#80)
    by thankyougustad on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:06:20 PM EST

    whereas mastering English requires much more time and focus.
    And is significantly more rewarding.

    No no thanks no
    Je n'aime que le bourbon
    no no thanks no
    c'est une affaire de got.

    [ Parent ]
    different tools for different purposes (3.00 / 5) (#81)
    by russ on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:37:16 PM EST

    Certainly if you want to read English literature, it is best to learn English!

    And English is more useful in business and lots of other reasons.  I'm not denying that.  But there are also things Esperanto is better at.

    Given that it is relatively quick to learn compared to other languages, it's sort of analogous to "why NOT learn how to use a screwdriver, even though learning to drive a car may be more useful overall"...  It's not like you're forced to learn only one language or skill.

    It is amusing how people who don't know about something are often eager to explain how rewarding it is or isn't to those who do know about it and are in more of a position to judge for themselves.  For a variety of reasons, learning Esperanto was one of the best things that's happened in my life in a long time.  (And no, that's not because my life sucks. :)

    [ Parent ]

    Don't suppose... (none / 0) (#123)
    by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 09:40:03 AM EST

    There are any favors I might do for you, to have about 3 paragraphs of english translated to esperanto, is there? It's certainly less than a single printed page, though I have no clue what i might offer in return.

    Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
    [ Parent ]
    depends... (none / 0) (#146)
    by russ on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 02:32:37 PM EST

    Depends what the text is and what will be done with it.  E.g. if it's interesting/fun and going to go on the web, a credit and link might be sufficient.  If it's tedious text, then maybe a bigger favor would be in order. :)  Feel free to tell me more.

    [ Parent ]
    Fuck 10,000 insects (none / 0) (#135)
    by A Bore on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 10:35:43 AM EST

    10,000 Insects FAIL at life. Big fucking deal. I suppose you would spend our tax dollars propping up weak and stupid INSECT RACES who are destined to die anyway? Get those fuckers on WELFARE? Serve their lazy abdomen FAIRY CAKES on SILVER PLATTERS AND BOAT DRINKS?!?

    Why don't you go down to Brazil and tell the locals to stop earning income from their land, to starve in mud huts so your precious 10,000 fucking insects can survive for another day. Jesus, 10,000 new species could be created everyday - do you give a fuck - HELL, NO!

    When we perfect space travel we'll give some INSECTS a WHOLE FUCKING PLANET to colonise to make up for squashing a few of their cousins but until then, FUCK EM? Quite whining about insects, and concentrate on SPACE TRAVEL if you love them so much.

    [ Parent ]
    Where the fiko did you get that from? (none / 0) (#175)
    by israfil on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 10:12:24 AM EST

    Can you provide a teensy bit of evidentiary support of language-suppression through Esperanto?  Or of fourth-reich (whatever that means) designs?  It wasn't invented as a pan-europe imperialism, it was to try to get disparate groups in poland (ethnic poles, ethnic germans, ethnic russians, ethnic hebrews, etc.) who were always suspicious of each other to learn to speak a common language that would have no advantage for any one group.  Then the mission broadened to be the same thing globally.  That's scarcely fourth-reich, nor language suppression, as it was intended to augment, and be a second language.

    Beck up your tau^rkako.
    i. - this sig provided by /dev/arandom and an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards.
    [ Parent ]

    clear ? (3.00 / 2) (#108)
    by parasite on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 03:48:18 AM EST

    "Third, the most important thing to remember about any foreign language is that you're never going to reproduce the sounds exactly. You can produce a good approximation, but that's it. It is far and away better to concentrate on being clear than on being perfect."

    This has to be the most bizarre and pointless suggestion I've heard in a while. How exactly do you concentrate on being clear and not concentrate on being perfect ? The suggestion makes the implication that there are 3 triangular points on the spectrum: clear, perfect, and crap. As if there was such a choice to be made! The closer you approximate PERFECT, the clearer you will be by definition. You cannot attempt to emulate something other than perfection (a native speaker) and increase your clarity. If you are increasing you clearity -- you are first fixing the sounds that are most miserable and difficult or annoying to a native speaker. This just so happens to be what a person seeking perfection would also do. Maybe you'll say that you mean one can stop once they are relatively clear instead of continuing to focus on it -- but what is the point of that ? It means letting your rotten habbits fester -- and if done for an extended period of time (say 10 years!) can lead to an accent that can never be repaired. If you are speaking on a daily basis, there is no compelling reason to stop paying attention to the sounds that come out of your mouth. You should try to improve each and everytime you speak.

    [ Parent ]

    perfect != clear (none / 1) (#130)
    by Viliam Bur on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 10:01:19 AM EST

    Some pronounciation mistakes will make the speech incomprehensive. Some other mistakes will make it comprehensive, only... different; yes, maybe technically wrong, but still functional.

    I think jd suggests concentrating of the first type of mistakes, instead of trying to improve everything. The time saved on pronounciation can be better used e.g. to widen the vocabulary or improve grammar.

    If you can improve the pronounciation easily, do it. But at some point, being more perfect is just a goal in itself, not necessary to understand each other. For example I try to speak comprehensive English, but I do not care if it is a "perfect Oxford English accent", or just an "average English-as-a-2nd-language accent". (And personally, I find the second one easier to understand. From my experience, if there are a lot of people from different countries speaking English, the ones least understood are often from England.)

    [ Parent ]

    Exactly. (none / 0) (#151)
    by jd on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 03:58:12 PM EST

    Added to which, what is "perfect English" anyway? Pronunciation varies between regional accents (duh! :) so a pronunciation that is "correct" in one region may be "incorrect" in another.

    So, absolutely, focussing on those errors that can make a person incomprehensible are vastly more important than those which "improve" the inflection to the ears of some much smaller group of people.

    If you can communicate effectively with those you wish to talk to, with a vocabulary of tens of thousands of words, you will be able to say a lot more (and a lot more expressively) than you could if you had nailed a particular accent absolutely perfectly but could only use a few hundred words.

    Also, there is the law of declining returns. At some point, greater and greater effort will produce fewer and fewer benefits. A maximal speaker, therefore, looks to divide their effort up such that they can get the best possible returns across the board, rather than perfection in any one area.

    [ Parent ]

    whether a language is useless or not (none / 0) (#200)
    by fleece on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 12:46:42 AM EST

    depends on what you're trying to achieve. If you learning a language purely for your own enjoyment or a personal challenge or whatever, then Esperanto or Chinese or Finnish or Spanish might be equally good choices. But if you're wanting to learn a language that will be most useful for say, a tour of Europe, then learning Balinese is arguably a waste of time.

    I've known two different people who are learning Japanese with their only goal to read Japanese comics in their original language. I find this hilariously stupid, but hey, they're enjoying it, and it's probably time much better spent than say, watching TV or playing darts down the pub.

    I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
    [ Parent ]
    Pasporta servo (none / 0) (#227)
    by QuickFox on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 07:35:30 PM EST

    But if you're wanting to learn a language that will be most useful for say, a tour of Europe, then learning Balinese is arguably a waste of time.

    And Esperanto may actually be a good choice, if you prefer really getting to know the locals while travelling, by living in their homes rather than in hotels.

    Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
    [ Parent ]

    forku vin, trolo! (1.33 / 3) (#9)
    by Black Belt Jones on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 08:46:02 PM EST

    Vi ankaux! (none / 0) (#10)
    by coljac on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 08:48:52 PM EST

    Perhaps you mean to say "Take out the Esperanto bit, wiener!" Maybe you're right.

    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]
    Vinnz? (none / 0) (#14)
    by On Lawn on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:00:13 AM EST

    Vinnz Klortho? Is that you?

    Gozer is looking for his/her car keys...

    [ Parent ]

    Kion signifu forki? (none / 0) (#228)
    by QuickFox on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 07:39:47 PM EST

    (Translation: What's "to fork" supposed to mean?)

    (Translation of the parent: Fork yourself, troll!)

    Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
    [ Parent ]

    A lot depends on what you want to do with it (3.00 / 7) (#11)
    by IHCOYC on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 09:47:53 PM EST

    And a lot also depends on how many other languages you might have a smattering of. If you were fortunate enough to have learned anything other than English in grade school, you are probably already a step ahead.

    All adults are coming at this quite late in the game. Reading comprehension is probably the reasonable goal to set your sights on. I suspect that this is best learned by finding something factual and interesting to read, and trying to read it. Factual, because this way you can dodge at least some difficult and unpredictable slang; technical vocabulary is recognisable in many languages. Interesting, because you have to stay motivated enough to slog through it.

    Get yourself a couple dictionaries. At first, you may need a Whatever-English dictionary; try and move on to a dictionary entirely in the target language as soon as possible. An etymological dictionary is best; it can help you relate the words to things you already recognise.

    Ancient languages are more valuable than modern languages if you seek this kind of comprehension. Know Latin, and you can get some kind of sense out of French, Spanish, Italian, or just about any Romance language. Old English is closer to what Dutch and German came from than the contemporary versions are. You will be able to puzzle new words out once you see how they relate to words you know already from the ancient language, since the sound shifts are usually regular.

    Comic books are quite valuable. The pictures disambiguate the words and teach you new ones. Any non-native speaker who wants to learn English like a native needs to study the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby Thor comics.

    I learned a bit of French in grade school. I find that if I sit down and watch a French movie, I usually understand it by the time it's three quarters over --- it takes a while for your ears to get used to it, just like it takes a few minutes before you are ready to follow Shakespeare in live performances. But I can read French poetry with few difficulties, and French prose is as easy for me to read as English is. I have no ear for spoken Spanish, and cannot write it, but reading a Spanish newspaper is not much harder. Swedish is the same way for me. I can usually follow Italian texts, and get some sense out of German.
    Ecce torpet probitas, virtus sepelitur;
    Fit iam parca largitas, parcitas largitur;
    Verum dicit falsitas; veritas mentitur.

    Different goals (2.50 / 2) (#106)
    by dgallardo on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 01:03:16 AM EST

    One of my language instructors made the point--and I totally agree--that the most important purpose of a language is to communicate with other people. Setting reading comprehension as a goal is admirable, but being able to converse is a more valuable skill.

    Having said that, I appreciate your recommendation of ancient vs modern languages, but that's a more academic pursuit--especially when it comes to learning dead languages like Latin or ancient Greek. This isn't something I'd generally recommend.

    I'd like to study Sanskrit myself, but priority-wise, that'll have to come after I master a couple more living languages.

    [ Parent ]

    not necessarily different (2.50 / 2) (#124)
    by Viliam Bur on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 09:42:44 AM EST

    Setting reading comprehension as a goal is admirable, but being able to converse is a more valuable skill.

    How about being able to converse on web site?

    [ Parent ]

    depends on your situation (none / 0) (#212)
    by Delirium on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 05:19:46 PM EST

    One of my language instructors made the point--and I totally agree--that the most important purpose of a language is to communicate with other people. Setting reading comprehension as a goal is admirable, but being able to converse is a more valuable skill. If you've got lots of money and plan to travel the world, then this is true. If, however, you don't, then reading comprehension is the more valuable skill for exactly the reason you said---to communicate with other people. You can't reasonably read and post on a webboard/blog in another language unless you have some degree of reading comprehension (and writing fluency).

    [ Parent ]
    Don't stop at reading comprehension (3.00 / 2) (#133)
    by QuickFox on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 10:25:48 AM EST

    All adults are coming at this quite late in the game. Reading comprehension is probably the reasonable goal to set your sights on.

    I would guess that people who have this experience choose either low-quality language courses or difficult languages.

    Among Esperantists I find that even those who start learning as pensioners usually become quite fluent. They do make lots of language errors, which is quite jarring considering how easy the language seems when you're younger. But they make these errors while speaking freely and fluently, they make themselves understood and understand others without problems.

    Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
    [ Parent ]

    Esperanto (none / 1) (#143)
    by IHCOYC on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 12:46:34 PM EST

    I suspect what makes Esperanto different is that almost everybody who learns Esperanto is learning it as a second language. There is no --- or at least, isn't hardly --- community of native speakers for the learner to compare their Esperanto achievements with, and see the gulf that remains. So there is less potential embarrassment for learners when they use and misuse the language freely.
    Ecce torpet probitas, virtus sepelitur;
    Fit iam parca largitas, parcitas largitur;
    Verum dicit falsitas; veritas mentitur.

    [ Parent ]
    Very good point. (none / 0) (#174)
    by israfil on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 10:02:02 AM EST

    One of the hardest things about helping my wife with French, which she knew as a small child is the embarrassment factor.  Once she got confident, it really helped with her fluidity and "thinking in french," because she wasn't all wrapped up in the anxiety of it all.
    i. - this sig provided by /dev/arandom and an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards.
    [ Parent ]
    The embarassment factor (none / 0) (#198)
    by Cro Magnon on Sat Nov 13, 2004 at 10:53:26 PM EST

    was certainly a major problem with HS Spanish. There were other problems too, related to the way I was taught, but the jeers of my peers was what ultimately killed it for me.
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    Swedish? (none / 0) (#155)
    by tetsuwan on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 05:59:08 PM EST

    Swedish is germanic - this means you obviously know German, too?

    Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
    [ Parent ]

    Swedish (none / 0) (#170)
    by IHCOYC on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 07:41:52 AM EST

    I learned a smattering of Swedish from my grandmother. Unfortunately I have even fewer occasions to use it than I do French.
    Ecce torpet probitas, virtus sepelitur;
    Fit iam parca largitas, parcitas largitur;
    Verum dicit falsitas; veritas mentitur.

    [ Parent ]
    Insert Funny Klingon Language Institute Joke Here. (1.60 / 5) (#13)
    by NoMoreNicksLeft on Tue Nov 09, 2004 at 11:15:36 PM EST

    Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
    I second your vote for Pimsleur... (2.40 / 5) (#15)
    by skyknight on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:10:01 AM EST

    I've been doing their Mandarin audio CDs and they are excellent.

    It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
    www.chinese-forums.com (none / 1) (#72)
    by jongleur on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:33:33 PM EST

    is a lot of expats (ppl teaching English there) and learners, plus Chinese trying to learn English. It's great for picking up the odds & ends of Chinese culture, language, etc - what you don't get and wonder about in formal learning.
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]
    Cool, thanks... (none / 1) (#73)
    by skyknight on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:35:43 PM EST

    Hopefully going there hasn't just added me to a government watch list database. :-)

    It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
    [ Parent ]
    It's ok, China are our friends, now (3.00 / 2) (#148)
    by jongleur on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 03:30:00 PM EST

    that they're propping up our govt. and holding our debt. :)

    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]
    Learning rates vary greatly. (2.85 / 7) (#18)
    by Kasreyn on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:51:02 AM EST

    I took 3 years of Spanish in H.S., two in college... but it did almost nothing. I forgot almost all of it after college. I recently moved to FL and took a job in a company with a lot of Latino co-workers. (This could be inferred from the "moved to FL" line). I dusted my Spanish off and started speaking it again, and was very embarassed to find how much it had slipped. But in just over a year, I've managed to once again achieve about a 6-year-old's conversational ability. :) The only tool I use is a Seiko electronic pocket Spanish-English dictionary, which turned out to be kinda crummy (it doesn't include "hello/hola", which is of course naturally the first thing you input), but it was cheap.

    It startles me how different some people's language capacities are. I first spoke Spanish ten years ago, and my vocabulary is about what a first grader possesses (albeit a first grader with a sailor's command of profanity), but I'm told my accent is quite good.

    I work with people from many different countries. One example is a 19 year old Colombian girl named Yurany. She's only been speaking English for one year and she can hold complete adult conversations with past and future tenses more or less intact. This is a feat still well beyond me in Spanish. She is, needless to say, a smart cookie. Another co-worker is a 50something Vietnamese man named Quoc. His English is so stilted and broken, and his vocabulary so poor, that he is all but incomprehensible to most of us, and communicates largely by gestures. And yet he has been in America since Saigon fell.

    It makes me wonder what there is different between Yurany and Quoc, since he was only a little older than her when he first spoke English. Why did she learn easily in 1 year what he couldn't scratch the surface of in over 30? Most of my co-workers resemble her more, being quite fluent in English after such short periods of learning that my ten year toil in Spanish looks like molasses.

    My theory is that being able to speak English well is such a sink-or-swim thing here in America that it creates a much stronger pressure to learn English than any mild urge to learn Spanish that I've encountered... but in that case, why is Quoc so poor a speaker? Odd.

    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    At a rough guess (3.00 / 2) (#22)
    by GenerationY on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:11:22 AM EST

    is it possible Quoc goes home to his Vietnamese wife and vietnamese speaking kids in his vietnamese speaking community?

    OTOH a 19 year old is more likely to have garbbed a single room somewhere.

    I find the likelihood of overseas students being able to speak English reasonably well by their final year is inversely proportional to the number of their compatriots in the area.

    [ Parent ]

    Also (3.00 / 3) (#28)
    by thankyougustad on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:41:04 AM EST

    Spanish is closer to English than Vietnamese. There are a lot of cognates and the grammar is similar in many ways. I don't know much about Vietnamese, but I am guessing it resembles English in about zero ways. And if Quoc doesn't care to learn English, Quoc isn't going to learn English.

    No no thanks no
    Je n'aime que le bourbon
    no no thanks no
    c'est une affaire de got.

    [ Parent ]
    Also... (none / 1) (#24)
    by maccha on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:54:54 AM EST

    If you think Spanish is hard, try learning Vietnamese.

    (Or am I just talking a load of crap?)

    [ Parent ]
    quen di! <nt> (none / 1) (#93)
    by bankind on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:42:05 PM EST

    "Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
    [ Parent ]

    Different native languages (none / 0) (#193)
    by svampa on Sat Nov 13, 2004 at 06:34:20 PM EST

    I'm Spanish, and I can't tell you that in may first contact I got shocked with the simplicity of the verbs, the fact that there is no gender, no plurals for adjective etc...

    I don't know anything about Vietnamese, but I've heard that most eastern lenguages don't use verb tenses. So it's difficult for them to manages English verbs, as Spanish verbs are difficult to English Speakers.

    Another point is pronunciation, English is quit difficult for Spanish speakers. For example, it has many vowels (sounds, not written characters), in Spanish we only have 5, a, e ,i ,o u. It has clusters of consonants, it's difficult for us ,Spanish speakers, to pronuce joint consonants. For exmaple, a Spanish native would say "estop" instead of "stop", and "cam" instead of "camp"

    I've heard that east languages have even easier sound and sylabes structure, specially clusters of consonants, that makes difficult to speak and listen.

    Another point is how old was Quoc when he bean to learn English. Was he sorrounded by his family?

    Nowadays American culture is every were, so probably the colombian girl is listening songs in English since she was five years old.

    [ Parent ]
    rolling your r's (2.66 / 3) (#20)
    by the sixth replicant on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:17:44 AM EST

    I found the hardest thing while learning Dutch and Italian. I just can't do it (though it doesn't stop me from trying).

    Language learning really really boils down to doing it. Using repetition to reinforce the structure (even when you don't understand every single word in the sentence). Pretty much the same techniques on how to learn a musical instrument or maths: Repeat/Reinforce/Practice/Understand/Experiment.

    The article inspired me to try more than one approach (doing language classes now). Also nice links, should come in useful.


    In my experience, it's the guttural "ch" (none / 0) (#34)
    by magefile on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 10:31:06 AM EST

    The one mentioned above as in the Scottish "loch". I speak pretty decent German, and have sung some in Hebrew, so I've heard a lot of my fellow US'ians try to pronounce it, and they tend to butcher it.

    [ Parent ]
    Funny... (3.00 / 2) (#40)
    by Pxtl on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:04:25 PM EST

    I've tried to learn Argentine spanish (it is a very  Germanic dialect) and I have no trouble with the "ch" stuff (very common in that form).  The rolling the R's just kills me.  And of course my wife, who is a strict anglophone, can roll hers perfectly and loves to taunt me with it.

    [ Parent ]
    Listen to a cat purr. (none / 0) (#203)
    by mrt on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 02:16:57 AM EST

    Listen to cat purr, then try to imitate it. When you can imitate a cat purring, then you can roll your R's.

    Some tips to get started. Put the tip of your tounge on the roof of your mouth, just behind your top front teeth, now breathe out through the mouth.

    It should make a purring/popping sound r!r!r!r!.

    Next, practice saying "Arrhh, laddie!". Watch Sean Connery, or get out Trainspotting on video and try to imitate Ewen McGregor or Robert Carlyle.

    Rolling R's is actually not too difficult, and usefull when learning Japanese (who have a rolling R that is pretty close to L). It's the glottal stops and guttural 'h' in Arabic that is the real killer.


    I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
    [ Parent ]
    I had the same problem is HS Spanish (none / 0) (#36)
    by Cro Magnon on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 11:41:01 AM EST

    When I tried to roll my r's it sounded like I was growling!
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    T-I-double-guh-er (none / 0) (#253)
    by pin0cchio on Wed Dec 01, 2004 at 09:59:58 PM EST

    When I tried to roll my r's it sounded like I was growling!

    Correct. Say "wow" slowly while trilling a Spanish/Italian 'r', and you'll sound just like Tigger from Disney's Pooh movie.

    [ Parent ]
    Tips on learning to pronounce rolling r (3.00 / 3) (#140)
    by QuickFox on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 11:13:06 AM EST

    Tongue-tip rolling r is very similar to the s in "pleasure". For the soft version (I think Italian "Verona" has this soft rolling r), if you say the s in "pleasure," and just make the pressure of the tongue-tip to the palate a little softer, just relaxing your tongue a little, you'll get it right.

    For the harder rolling r (I think Italian "arrivederci Roma" has this) try the same but press harder rather than softer, and move the tongue-tip very slightly forward. Maybe you don't get the right sound right away, but I think if you say it several times you'll tend to slip almost automatically into the right sound at the second r, the one just before the c in "arrivederci" (pronounced as English "ch", for those who are not learning Italian).

    Most Dutch use a tongue-root r (same as French and German), but some dialects use tongue-tip r (same as Italian and Spanish), and I'd recommend using the latter. When I started learning Dutch I decided to use the tongue-tip version because it seemed next to impossible to learn to fluently combine tongue-root r with "ch" as in "schrijven" and "erg groot". (For those who are not learning Dutch, both "ch" and "g" are pronounced as Spanish "j" or German tongue-root "ch" in "ach", and "sch" is pronounced as "s" followed by this "ch".)

    Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
    [ Parent ]

    you rock! (none / 0) (#166)
    by the sixth replicant on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 04:16:44 AM EST


    [ Parent ]
    How to do a tongue-root R (none / 0) (#219)
    by epepke on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 05:13:08 AM EST

    Eat some pickles. They slicken up the back of the throat something fierce. My first tongue-root trilled R was after eating some pickles. Then I knew how to do it. Tongue-tip trilled R consists of keeping the sides of the tongue stiff while keeping the tip floppy. An untrilled R has the tip of the tongue stiff.

    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

    [ Parent ]
    Combinations (none / 0) (#225)
    by QuickFox on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 07:14:00 PM EST

    You're right, this is good advice.

    But Dutch is special, because of the combinations. I already spoke German and French with a beautiful tongue-root r when I decided to use tongue-tip r for Dutch. Getting to pronounce the consonant combinations in "schrijven" and "erg groot" with real fluency is very tough for an adult foreigner, and Dutch swarms with such combinations.

    In the Netherlands they say that during the second World War they recognized Dutch friend from German foe by how they pronounced words with these combinations.

    Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
    [ Parent ]

    Numerical languages? (1.12 / 8) (#33)
    by Sen on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:23:42 AM EST

    Take the analogy (hi geeks!) of compiling souce code to machine code. Where is the "machine code" of natural language? It's likely been produced as an intermediate in translation programs.

    Hmmm... (none / 0) (#209)
    by mold on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 11:04:46 AM EST

    The problem with your idea is that the machine code would be the language you are translating to.

    What you're probably looking for is either an intermediate step in the compiler, (somewhere between lexical analysis and code generation), or more likely, something like the Java bytecode, but for natural languages.

    It's a rather interesting idea. I tried searching google for it, but there is too much about actual code compilation to slog through.

    It does seem like output quality would be difficult to assure though, and, of course, it wouldn't work well for anything other than written languages. Not to mention that you would need a bytecode compiler for every possible input dialect, and an interpreter for every possible output dialect... You would technically have less translators to write for something like a universal translator (2n instead of n!), but for most cases you may as well just translate directly from one language to another (since n is fairly small).

    Essentially, the benefits would not outweigh the costs.

    Beware of peanuts! There's a 0.00001% peanut fatality rate in the USA alone! You could be next!
    [ Parent ]

    Small? (none / 0) (#231)
    by QuickFox on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 09:15:25 PM EST

    but for most cases you may as well just translate directly from one language to another (since n is fairly small)

    Small? There are several thousand languages.

    Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
    [ Parent ]

    Used n. (none / 0) (#232)
    by mold on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 10:51:01 PM EST

    By small, I meant that, for the most part you're not going to be writing a translator for every language.

    Most software translators that I've seen around here, for example, handle English, French, German, and Spanish.

    It's true that that is not all languages, but most people don't need all languages translated.

    Beware of peanuts! There's a 0.00001% peanut fatality rate in the USA alone! You could be next!
    [ Parent ]

    Self-correction... (none / 0) (#234)
    by mold on Tue Nov 16, 2004 at 03:58:53 AM EST

    I apparently still can't count.

    That n! should be n^2 - n.

    Still a lot bigger, but not nearly as bad as n!.

    Beware of peanuts! There's a 0.00001% peanut fatality rate in the USA alone! You could be next!
    [ Parent ]

    why not? (none / 0) (#247)
    by Kenji on Mon Nov 22, 2004 at 05:26:45 PM EST

    It seems feasible with conceptual dependency theory.  

    Any two sentences that have the same meaning will have the same representation(a canonical representation).  The intermediate would be a series of conceptualizations based on defined primitive acts and goals.  The text would need to be read, processed, and rewritten in the target language.  
    - Leaving the ladder, one may fall upwards.
    [ Parent ]

    Learning languages.. (2.75 / 4) (#35)
    by tonyenkiducx on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 10:52:33 AM EST

    Im currently polishing off learning Turkish(My wife is Turkish) and just spent around a year living there. I have to say your methods would not work for that language. Turkish is completely undecypherable as a spoken language, unless you have learnt the written methods first. Mostly because of the way sentences and phrases are often constructed into a single word, which make phrase cards useless and language tapes complete giberish.

    Your method sounds handy, but it doesnt sound like it would work for all languages.

    I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
    Intrigued but skeptical (3.00 / 2) (#39)
    by coljac on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:02:33 PM EST

    Hi there.

    I'm intrigued by your post, and I'm interested in learning more about Turkish. But I'm a little bit confused about what you meant. For example, "Turkish is completely undecypherable as a spoken language, unless you have learnt the written methods first" is an interesting statement but if taken at face value precludes the possibility of illiterate Turks (such as children) and implies the language could not have evolved indepedently of the writing system which would be unique. Perhaps you meant "Turkish is really difficult for a foreigner to learn without learning the writing system, because of the agglutinative nature of the language?"

    Anyway, I like challenge and may have to give it a go. :)

    By the way, what about the method I descibed indicates that I don't think learnign the writing is important? I definitely think reading a grammar book and texts in the language are key parts to learning if you want to know more than a handful of phrases.

    By the way, I've heard that Turkish is one of the world's most regular languages - there's only one irregular verb (to be). Is this true?

    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    irregular verbs in Turkish (none / 1) (#45)
    by nusuth on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 01:23:39 PM EST

    It would be misleading to say "to be" is irregular.

    In Turkish, you almost never use function words, and the Turkish equivalents of "I am/was/will be dreaming", has no "to be" in them.

    Two regular verbs can be used to convey "to exist" sense of "to be."

    Adjectives are also usually applied without any explicit "to be": "Weather is cloudy today" is "Bugün (Today [this day]) hava (weather) bulutlu (cloudy [cloud-full])." "

    You can use "-dir" suffix, when using adjectives to describe a state of being ("Bugun hava bulutlu-dur"), which functions like "to be" but it is not required. You can argue it is an irregular verb because
    a) it is optional (no other verb is optional)
    b) it is a suffix to an adjective (all others are words)
    c) it lacks an infinitive form.

    However, the lack of infinitive form strongly suggests it is simply not a verb after all, rather than a strange one.

    The relation of "A is B" is implied in Turkish as long as one of them is an adjective and the other is a noun phrase. The "-dir" suffix, never adds that relation to the meaning unless it is used for disambiguation. Eg. "O yazar." might mean "He is a writer" or "He writes" while "O yazar-dIr" cannot mean "He writes." However you can freely use "O yazar" to mean either as long as there is no possibility of confusion.

    All other verbs are always regular.

    As a side note, I can't see "?" in previews.It is supposed to look like an "i" without the dot. I used to be able to use the charachter on k5, can you see it?

    [ Parent ]

    I don't quite follow you at all. (none / 0) (#44)
    by HereticMessiah on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 01:21:03 PM EST

    Turkish might be a little agglutinative, but that's nothing and should have no bearing on how easy it is to learn by ear. Take spoken French: it's already a polysynthetic language, yet people have no more trouble picking it up than any other romance language.

    It's all a matter of familiarity.

    Disagree with me? Post a reply.
    Think my post's poor or trolling? Rate me down.
    [ Parent ]

    French as a polysynthetic language (none / 0) (#79)
    by thankyougustad on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:00:51 PM EST

    There is debate among linguists as to whether or not spoken French is polysynthetic. However, it should indeed be as easy (or hard, depending on how you look at it) to learn as any other Romance language.

    No no thanks no
    Je n'aime que le bourbon
    no no thanks no
    c'est une affaire de got.

    [ Parent ]
    I'd say it is. (none / 0) (#145)
    by HereticMessiah on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 02:30:28 PM EST

    But then, that's just me. I agree: what makes a language easy to learn is familarity, and that's why French is no harder or easier to learn than any Romance langauge, albeit easier for an English speaker to learn than, say Finnish or !Kung.

    Disagree with me? Post a reply.
    Think my post's poor or trolling? Rate me down.
    [ Parent ]
    "single-word" languages (3.00 / 2) (#122)
    by Viliam Bur on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 09:34:37 AM EST

    Mostly because of the way sentences and phrases are often constructed into a single word, which make phrase cards useless and language tapes complete giberish.

    I think this is because of the structure of the English words. Many words start with consonant and end with consonant. This makes a little pause between the words.

    If some language has a lot of words that start or end with a vowel, they can be pronounced faster. English speakers are usually confused, because their auditive strategy for separating words completely fails.

    The auditive strategy of native speakers of such languages is different. I cannot explain it exactly (despite being a speaker of Slovak, where most of words end by vowels), but it probably requires a knowledge of vocabulary, and capturing known words in a phrase. Some languages may have special strategies - e.g. my strategy for learning Japanese was: "Of what seems like a single word, the last syllable is probably a separate word (especially if it is 'wa', 'to',...)"

    [ Parent ]

    seen but not heard (none / 0) (#214)
    by oska on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 08:58:23 PM EST

    Turkish is completely undecypherable as a spoken language, unless you have learnt the written methods first.

    Well then, I guess that means turkish parents must enjoy great peace at home due to their pesky children not being able to speak a word until they are taught to read and write at school...

    Maybe after 'polishing off Turkish' you might take a course in Linguistics and learn to appreciate that 'speech is primary'.

    [ Parent ]
    Turkish is not undecypherable (none / 0) (#251)
    by fsniper on Sat Nov 27, 2004 at 08:24:34 PM EST

    As a native Turkish speaker I am not in your opinion. Turkish is not undecypherable like French. It's somewhat loosely ruled and a bit more loosely used. For example The Turkish sentence for
    "john Doe went to the theater last night in a rush.",
    "J.D. dn aceleyle sinemaya gitti." may be used as
    "J.D. dn sinemaya aceleyle gitti"
    "J.D. sinemaya aceleyle dn gitti" or
    "J.D. sinemaya dn aceleyle gitti" or
    "J.D. sinemaya aceleyle dn gitti" or
    "J.D. sinemaya aceleyle dn gitti" or
    "Sinemaya aceleyle dn J.D. gitti" or etc. to express on the time he went or the place where he went or how he went. These are just grammery usage. Also in a romantic way you may use the verbal "gitti" in some another places.

    Of course this loosely ruleness leads to confusion but the main problem is not this. You may easily get the words and construct the meaning easily. The main problem is daily usage or Turkish mouths change frequently with geographic location. As it is said of Turkish verbs are all regular except 1 or 2 (being one "to be", i've never heard the second one) this change in mouth or usage leads to regular but specific-to-speaker-location verb construction. These are sometimes undecypherable to native speakers to. But if we speak of Istanbul Turkish, Turkish used as in the grammer, it is really clear and easily understood.

    PS. any suggestion of jargon appreciated
    PPS. well it was really hard for me to write this one. It's been ages i haven't written in English this much.

    [ Parent ]
    Well.. (none / 0) (#255)
    by tonyenkiducx on Thu Dec 09, 2004 at 09:32:17 AM EST

    ..I think were both missing the point here, Istanbul Turkish is just an accent, its the same meaning but in a slightly different place. A good example would be Black Sea Turkish, which with my limited knowledge of Turkish I couldn't even begin to understand.

    I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
    [ Parent ]
    -1, Too US-centric :( (NT) (1.07 / 14) (#42)
    by Saad on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 12:24:27 PM EST

    Not quite (none / 0) (#43)
    by Dyolf Knip on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 01:14:02 PM EST

    Too english-centric.

    But out of curiosity, how many people are multilingual in other english-speaking countries (England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, & Canada)?

    If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

    Dyolf Knip
    [ Parent ]

    Depends... (none / 0) (#48)
    by Run4YourLives on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 01:55:19 PM EST

    In Canada, everyone who works for the federal gov't,  all officers in the armed forces, and most of the quebec and new brunswick populations are bilingual.

    It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
    [ Parent ]
    Australia (none / 0) (#78)
    by maw on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:59:51 PM EST

    Australia is considerably more monolingual than the US.

    I'll never forget a tv presenter pronouncing the name Jos like the English name "Josie".

    Of course, I'll also never forget calling a Dell salesperson, with a strong Texas accent, and hearing him tell who my company's rep was: "Hmm, this name is kind of weirrrrd, it's Jose Jimenez." Jose sounded like "chose" with the ch voiced, Jimenez sounded like "Jim in is".

    Provincialism is a worldwide affliction, I guess.
    I have no idea what you're talking about, but that's ok, since you don't either.
    [ Parent ]

    Re: Australia (none / 0) (#82)
    by coljac on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06:46:44 PM EST

    You're right, Aussies (and I am one) tend to be monolingual. I don't think there's much of a difference between Australia and the middle of America. On the edges ("blue states") there are large immigrant populations, and more sophisticated USians, which bring the numbers up.

    In Aus, I'm pretty sure that most state goverments are pushing LOTE in schools at the moment. The problem is, schools teach LOTE really really badly and it tends to ruin foreign language learning for many people for life.

    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    red states (none / 0) (#90)
    by maw on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:24:43 PM EST

    I was thinking the same thing, that maybe in my native Massachusetts and similar areas people are a bit less ignorant. You're probably right.

    But that guy on the phone was from Texas, where Mexicans are hardly unknown. I don't expect every Texan to speak Spanish, but really one would think they'd recognise the name Jos.

    I moved to Mexico a few months ago, and before I did, I practiced my Spanish as much as I could. People were consistently surprised that I spoke as much and as well as I did having learned Spanish in high school. Comments along the lines of "Wow, I've never met anyone who took Spanish in high school who could actually speak it." were common. I guess it's more realistic to attribute what ability I have to making friends with a Mexican guy who came to Boston on business fairly often; certainly I was worthless at first in conversing with him in Spanish, but I stuck at it and slowly improved.

    I still have a tough time following other Latin American accents, although for some reason, Spanish accents are easier. I attribute this to the pronunciation differences - because some consonants are pronounced differently, it's like a clue to words I might have otherwise missed in rapid speech.
    I have no idea what you're talking about, but that's ok, since you don't either.
    [ Parent ]

    LOTE = 'Languages Other Than English' I'm sure. (none / 0) (#91)
    by jongleur on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:27:12 PM EST

    it took me a bit, just trying to speed other K5ers' reading.
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]
    2nd on the Pimsleurs' recommendation.... (2.25 / 4) (#47)
    by SvnLyrBrto on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 01:54:33 PM EST

    I'm working through the Japanese courses myself.  And with every lesson, I'm astounded by how good they are; especially compared to how how astoundingly BAD some of the other courses (including classroom instruction back in high school) I've tried were.

    I'm nowhere NEAR fluent yet, of course.  But I'm actually understanding more and more lyrics of the music I've been listening to, of late, and it's making a big difference in watching anime.  (Even a well-done subtitle doesn't, for instance, capture the varying levels of formality or politeness that different phrasings of actual Japanese carry.)

    Of course, I'm going to be a wreck when it comes to actually learning to read and write the language.  Just making myself a set of hiragana and katakana flash cards made my hand feel like someone had been beating on it with a mallet.

    One thing though...  Advocating esperanto just makes you look like a freak; right down there with the types who prattle on about how you haven't experienced Shakespeare until you've read it in "the original Klingon".  It detracts from an otherwise quite-good article.


    Imagine all the people...

    Esperanto (none / 1) (#52)
    by coljac on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:23:55 PM EST

    I think you're right. I don't think the "fear" of Esperanto is rational, and I only suggested it as quick linguistic warm up, but people have such strong feelings toward it that it was a mistake to include it.

    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    And why is that? (none / 1) (#173)
    by israfil on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 09:58:28 AM EST

    I really would like someone to give me non-spurious reasons for why Esperanto is so detestable... or at least why it's so detested.  Why can't people respect it for its attempt, and leave it alone.  The fact that there's so much vitriol towards it just wierds me out.
    i. - this sig provided by /dev/arandom and an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards.
    [ Parent ]
    I don't understand it either (none / 1) (#179)
    by Cro Magnon on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 12:47:55 PM EST

    I question the practicality of Esperanto, but I certainly don't HATE it! This article got me interested enough to do some googling, and apparently, some countries have actually persecuted Esperanto speakers. The main difference I can think of between Esperanto and other languages is that other languages are used by entire countries. Esperanto is used by scattered people. There IS no Esperanto Nation.
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    Reactions against Esperanto (none / 0) (#194)
    by svampa on Sat Nov 13, 2004 at 08:02:50 PM EST

    Claude Piron, who speakes Esperanto, worked as UN interpreter. He pointed several times the utility of Esperanto, and always got a negative reaction. He wondered why. He is psycologist also, so he decided to study it from psycologic point of view.

    And here is the result: Psychological Reactions to Esperanto

    [ Parent ]
    Esperanto: it's not just for freaks anymore (none / 1) (#62)
    by rdmiller3 on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:14:29 PM EST

    Personally I think the Esperanto recommendation is sound. Most of the stigma of the so-called "fiasco" of Esperanto has faded and more realistic expectations are gradually replacing the old promises of an instantaneous language paradise.

    Learning Esperanto really is easier. I'm speaking from personal experience. The lack of a good (Pimsleur-like) audio course makes acquiring spoken proficiency difficult but after only 18 months I've tested at the Intermediate level (like Pimsleur's level "B"). I can read non-abridged books and magazines, and I can chat with people via instant messenger. "Encouraging"? Ha! It's more like "amazing" in my opinion.

    It's a beautiful language which is growing a new culture among its users thanks to the Internet. Not only is it worth mentioning, but it's definitely worth mentioning first.


    [ Parent ]

    A good site to learn Esperanto (none / 0) (#132)
    by Viliam Bur on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 10:17:45 AM EST


    [ Parent ]
    Japanese vs. esperanto.... (none / 0) (#157)
    by SvnLyrBrto on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 06:19:44 PM EST

    The issue still remains though, when all the cards are down, Japanese is a real language spoken by hundreds of millions of real people, and the native language of a country to which I hope to move for a few years.

    All of the positives you mentioned about esperanto could just easily apply to Klingon.  But in either case, there's no country, no culture, no society.... just a bunch of weirdoes who think William Shatner is an actor.

    Also, having had a look at the structure of esperanto before, and noting it's complete dis-similarity to Japanese, I can't fathom how the story author could justify his claim that a year of studying esperanto, beforehand, would help in my undertaking to nihongoga jozuyni-hanashimasu.

    (F-ing Mac OS X spell-checker.  If there's anything that *IS* easy about Japanese, it's spelling a word, once you know its sound.  But Apple just can't seem to make it quit flagging them as misspelled.  I guess they really don't read bug reports from mere users.)


    Imagine all the people...
    [ Parent ]

    Esperanto culture is out there (none / 0) (#167)
    by Yekrats on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 06:33:13 AM EST

    When I say "out there," I don't mean "out there."

    Firstly, there are several hundred people who are native Esperanto speakers from birth. Two people from different countries meet at an Esperanto festival, fall in love and make babies, and the only common language shared between the parents is Esperanto.

    Also, Esperanto has it's share of pop music, original novels, poetry, and hundreds of magazines. It's got it's own holiday, Zamenhof Day, which is pretty unique: traditionally it's appropriate to buy a book for yourself or to give as a present. (It's coming in mid-December to give you plenty of time to shop for me!) However, we also have William Shatner for which we're deeply sorry! :-)

    I don't mean to insult the Japanese culture. Obviously there is much more culture behind Japanese than Esperanto. However, I'm sure you didn't mean to insult Esperantists by comparing us with Klingon-speakers! ;-)

    [ Parent ]

    Interesting. . . (none / 0) (#169)
    by thankyougustad on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 07:36:46 AM EST

    Firstly, there are several hundred people who are native Esperanto speakers from birth. Two people from different countries meet at an Esperanto festival, fall in love and make babies, and the only common language shared between the parents is Esperanto.

    What about the language spoken in the country the child grows up? Wouldn't it learn that language instead? At least one of the parents presumably speaks the local language as well. . . And if what you say is true, that babies learn esperanto from hearing their parents, what accent do they speak with? How do these people survive in the 'real' world speaking only esperanto? How do they buy shoes and work, and so forth. I'm skeptical about your claim.

    No no thanks no
    Je n'aime que le bourbon
    no no thanks no
    c'est une affaire de got.

    [ Parent ]
    I've met some (online). (none / 1) (#172)
    by israfil on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 09:56:53 AM EST

    Of course the child learns the language of the culture, but the language in the home is Esperanto.  Until the kids get out into kindergarden and such, they'll be hearing Esperanto and primarily communicating in the same.  

    It's not that they don't learn other languages, it's that their first, or mother-tongue is Esperanto.  Every bitches about Esperanto and uses spurious crap arguments like this.  For god's sake, it's EXACTLY the same as if someone speaks Pujabi in the home in early childhood because their parents are immigrants to Canada, but the learn English in the schoolyard.  Why should you be skeptical?  It happens all the bloody time in countries of high immigration.

    God I'm so sick of this double standard people have for Esperanto, as if they're rooting for it to fail.  I'm sure it's not that in fact, but it often seems that way.

    No one is claiming that whole continents speak Esperanto, or that it's (currently) a world-wide auxilliary language that is totally neutral, totally without flaw, and totally accepted.  It's not, but the modest claims of modest Esperanto supporters/speakers is met with vitriol, and I just don't get it.
    i. - this sig provided by /dev/arandom and an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards.
    [ Parent ]

    It's worth noting (none / 1) (#181)
    by NoBeardPete on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 01:24:21 PM EST

    I think it's worth pointing out that in most cases, if the child of immigrants only speaks their ancestral tounge in the home with their parents, they will never speak that language very well. Their language skills are typically childish, and are often abandoned as soon as possible, in favor of the language of their peers, teachers, and neighbors. I'd be surprised if it was any different for a child of Esperanto speaking parents - unless the child grows up in a community with a substantial population of Esperanto speakers, they won't be very good at it.

    Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
    [ Parent ]

    That's just plain wrong (none / 1) (#183)
    by ant0n on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 03:16:56 PM EST

    That's just plain wrong. There is only one way to raise a child in a way so that it will be truly fluent in two languages: one language has to be spoken entirely at home, and only at home, while the other language has to be spoken outside the home (kindergarten, then school...).
    Yes, this is against common sense, but this is a result of linguistic research. If you don't believe me please read any scientific, up-to-date book on psycholinguistics.

    -- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
    Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
    [ Parent ]
    Esperanto and persecution complexes (none / 0) (#184)
    by thankyougustad on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 05:48:46 PM EST

    I recomend you seek help. I personally don't give a shit if people enjoy epseranto. It doesn't interest me but I am not the kind of cockhead that goes around judging other people's pasttimes. My questions were legitimate. Take a fucking percocet and calm down.

    No no thanks no
    Je n'aime que le bourbon
    no no thanks no
    c'est une affaire de got.

    [ Parent ]
    Well... (none / 0) (#185)
    by SvnLyrBrto on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 08:54:21 PM EST

    > However, I'm sure you didn't mean to insult Esperantists by
    > comparing us with Klingon-speakers!

    Not so much insult, as poke a little fun at.  I mean... come on... when the most famous figure you have in your ranks is *SO* famous... and so famously connected to that *other* made-up toy language, and so very VERY famous for his, shall we say, _unique_ acting.  Who can resist?

    And you know what?  Having actually spent a fair bit of time around trekkies, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Klingon actually has MORE speakers than Esperanto.  In fact, I'd bet money on it.

    Plus, there are a few things I actively resent about esperanto:

    First is the idea that idea that it's supposed to be the universal language to usurp and assimilate the others.  And esperanto advocates can certainly be full-out "resistance is futile" about it.  I like languages.  I suck at them.  But I like them.  Well.... some of them.  A certain teacher I had in middle school filled me with a deep and persistent loathing of romance languages in general, and spanish in particular.  But there's a lot about a culture that you can learn from its language; like how "uncultured" is the worst insult possible in one language, or that another places so much emphasis on nuance that using an improper amount of formality is insult enough that very few actual swear words are in its lexicon.  This is something that would be sad to lose in the world of "one language to rule them all".

    Plus, for a "universal language that's easy for everyone to learn and a stepping stone towards making any other language easy to learn", it seems to have been designed with a profound and willful ignorance of Asian languages, my favorites.  Like I said before, I don't see *ANY* path towards Japanese that leads through Esperanto.  If there *IS* one, please enlighten me.

    But Japanese aside, Esperanto seems to totally ignore the most-commonly-spoken language on the planet: Mandarin.  In fact, when I watched Incubus, it sounded like a mash-up of a romance language, with vaguely slavic undertones.  And did I mention how much I despise the romance languages?  But to willfully ignore the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Thai, Indians, and so many more.... such a huge portion of the world's population... when designing your "universal language" is just so double-super-loathesome.  It reeks, to me, of elitist European "wog bashing", as though their languages and cultures aren't worth considering.

    And if we ever DO get to the very sad day of deprecating real languages, and coincidentally staying well within the realms of Sci-Fi nerddom, I would still think that replacing them with an artificial newspeak is unpalatable.  Joss Wheadon actually got it right, I think... keep two:  English, the most-common SECOND language in the world, and not a few native speakers of its own, and Mandarin, the most-common (by a very large margin) NATIVE language in the world.

    But even an English and Mandarin only world would suck only marginally less than an Esperanto* only world.

    *Or, really, ANY other single language.  But since esperanto is the topic at hand...


    Imagine all the people...
    [ Parent ]

    Let's make this interesting. (none / 0) (#188)
    by Yekrats on Sat Nov 13, 2004 at 06:52:32 AM EST

    And you know what?  Having actually spent a fair bit of time around trekkies, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Klingon actually has MORE speakers than Esperanto.  In fact, I'd bet money on it.

    Ok, I've got a shiny American dollar here that says there are more Esperanto speakers out there. But here's the rub: we would have to define what it means to "speak" a language. Is it knowing a phrase or two so that one could order a cup of coffee? Or is it conversational fluency? I don't realy want to wager with you. I think it would be impossible to tabulate. But it would be interesting to know, regardless. (However, perhaps a skewed statistic showing the popularity of both languages might be had from the volume of Wikipedia articles: Klingon, 47 pages, 26 users; Esperanto, 17954 pages, 748 users

    You also said:

    First is the idea that idea that it's supposed to be the universal language to usurp and assimilate the others.  And esperanto advocates can certainly be full-out "resistance is futile" about it.

    Nothing could be farther from the truth. Esperanto is not meant (nor do I believe it was ever meant) to replace people's mother tongues with something more efficient. It is meant as a second language that can be simple(r) to learn, to act as "middleware" between two cultures (if you pardon the computer reference).

    One of the most important "mission statement" documents of Esperanto is called the Prague Manifesto. It's a very good document, and about as long as a Kuro5hin article; click the link and read it in English. But one passage in particular says, "National governments tend to treat the great diversity of languages in the world as a barrier to communication and development. In the Esperanto community, however, language diversity is experienced as a constant and indispensable source of enrichment. Consequently every language, like every biological species, is inherently valuable and worthy of protection and support."

    You also said,

    But to willfully ignore the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Thai, Indians, and so many more.... such a huge portion of the world's population... when designing your "universal language" is just so double-super-loathesome.

    Indeed, there are hundreds of languages that Zamenhof "left out," while concentrating on ten or so he was familiar with. It is a human invention, and he gave short shrift to many other languages, no doubt about it.

    But I don't think they mind all too much. It's likely that the place where Esperanto is growing the fastest is China, where it's being welcomed by the government as a tool for communication. One of the most beautiful Esperanto magazines comes out of China, El Popola Chinio. I think the main advantage to Esperanto is: it's not English. English carries quite a bit of political baggage with it.

    [ Parent ]

    I was intrigued .. so I googled (none / 0) (#202)
    by mrt on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 02:06:29 AM EST

    You wrote:

    But I don't think they mind all too much. It's likely that the place where Esperanto is growing the fastest is China, where it's being welcomed by the government as a tool for communication. One of the most beautiful Esperanto magazines comes out of China, El Popola Chinio. I think the main advantage to Esperanto is: it's not English. English carries quite a bit of political baggage with it.

    So I google on "esperanto in China" and the second link that came back was this one from the People's Daily, which basically says that Esperanto speakers/usage in China has been declining every year since it's peak in the 1980's.

    It also goes on to say that Esperanto, being a alphabetic language presents much of the same difficulties to Chinese learners as English does.


    I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
    [ Parent ]
    how much money? :) (none / 0) (#245)
    by russ on Fri Nov 19, 2004 at 05:35:34 PM EST

    I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Klingon actually has MORE speakers than Esperanto.  In fact, I'd bet money on it.

    Apply a moment's common sense: Esperanto's been around since 1887 and has learning material in dozens of languages and was designed to be simple to learn with the goal of communicating with people around the world.  Klingon's been around a few decades and has learning material primarily in English and was designed to be linguistically weird and appeal specifically to Star Trek fans.

    Do a bit of research and find out how much literature and music exists in each language.  Find out how many Esperanto events occur each year compared to Klingon events.  I was at the Universala Kongreso de Esperanto in Beijing this summer, with over 2000 people from over 50 countries.  Does a comparable event exist where 2000 people get together and speak Klingon?

    [ Parent ]

    Go to kanjiclinic.com (none / 1) (#85)
    by ultimai on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:01:14 PM EST

    Go to kanjiclinic.com on smart ways to learn japanese kanji. Don't worry about hiragana/katakana too much, with general practice (and it being phonetic too) you'll atain fluency in it. Even after 2/3 years of not studying japanese, i can read katakana/hiragana out loud (i may not understand it, but i know the sounds). Also use this website to help you with reading japanese websites: rikai.com

    [ Parent ]
    Grammar (1.00 / 9) (#50)
    by rxed on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:03:23 PM EST

    My first impression, from reading your article, is that your grammar and writing style is also self-thought.

    A common interest (3.00 / 5) (#55)
    by eLoco on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:30:42 PM EST

    Thanks for your article. I too am a long-time linguaphile, or language geek as I usually refer to myself. I liked your article, although there are some points I'd like to comment on / add to.

    First, I can see why you would recommend Esperanto as a first language, since it presents an exception-free, easy-to-learn grammar, and it has the side benefit of "exposing" the student to word roots from different language families (Romance, Germanic, Slavic). However, I don't think these are reason enough to learn a language with so few "speakers." A big part of learning a language is being able to use it, and the Esperanto student will have very few chances to do so. Plus, in his efforts to create a world language without being overtly biased towards one language family or another, Zamenhof managed to create one of the ugliest languages I have ever seen.

    Second, if you're going to mention babelfish, which I agree is a useful tool, you should point out when/why you should and shouldn't use it. As you know, babelfish is a machine translation tool, and as such is really only useful for getting the "gist translation" of a sentence. It should not be used as a replacement for human translators, nor should it be considered a reliable reference for learning a language, except possibly for looking up common words without multiple meanings ("cat" is okay, but "race" is not).

    One thing I would also mention as a learning resource would be a local native speaker to practice with. Obviously this isn't always possible, but it's worth looking into, since personal interaction is by far the best way to further your language skills.

    Another thing I would mention is learning methodology. We learn languages quickly as children because we haven't yet formed deep associations between language and experience. I've found that I learn the vocabulary and grammar of a language more efficiently when I try to think in the language from the beginning on, as if I had a blank slate. For example, if I learn that the French word for car is voiture, then I will see a voiture instead of a car the next time. Also, I ask myself early on how I would say something in that language, and struggle through trying to say it. It's often wrong when I'm first starting out, but it gets my brain into the mode of trying to think and construct in that language.

    I can't comment on the Pimsleur series, as I've never tried any of their courses. I usually use the Colloquial and Teach Yourself series, which are fine for me but might not be as intensive. I might have to give Pimsleur a try for Chinese.

    Thanks again!

    Why do you say that? (none / 0) (#63)
    by NoBeardPete on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:39:27 PM EST

    You claim that the reason children learn languages quickly is that they haven't yet formed deep associations between language and experience. Why do you claim this? Most of the people I'm familiar with who are in the field of linguistics and psychology would disagree with you. Can you back up this claim, or did you just come up with it based on your non-empirical thoughts?

    Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
    [ Parent ]

    yep, mostly non-scientific (none / 0) (#74)
    by eLoco on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:45:26 PM EST

    You are correct, this is mostly my own thoughts on this subject. That said, I'd love to hear the counterarguments. In case it wasn't clear what I meant by this, what I was trying to say was that when a child hasn't learned the word that refers to an object or concept they have no language association, and so are a "blank slate" linguistically speaking (I regret the use of the word "deep" as this could have other connotations). I don't see how this can be refuted unless you believe in the collective unconscious. I realize that there is evidence by Chomsky and others that we do have a deeper "language" or grammar/logic system built-in from birth, but not an association of a given word in a given language to a given object or concept.

    [ Parent ]
    The first thing that jumps out at me (2.66 / 3) (#117)
    by NoBeardPete on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 08:58:23 AM EST

    The first thing that sounds fishy about this theory is that it predicts children will have more difficulty learning a second or third language. However, as long as they are learning it in the proper age range, they pick up extra languages just as easily as they picked up their first.

    Also consider the rare cases of "feral" people, who grow up with no language at all, but later find themselves in an enviornment where they are surrounded by language. These people generally have just as much trouble learning a language as any other juvenille or adult their age, despite a lack of preexisting associations between words and concepts.

    Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
    [ Parent ]

    no language (none / 0) (#218)
    by parasite on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 04:01:25 AM EST

    I don't know what you are talking about -- but it is well know that people who grow up with NO LANGUAGE, (As in having passed the age of maybe 12 or 13 without having one.) Won't just have difficulty in learning like an adult learning does in learning a second langauge -- but will never be able to even master a single language in their lifetime. The BEST case scenario is a 2000-3000 word vocabulary and horrible grammar in one langauge. The worst case scenario is ... perhaps a few hundreds words and no sentences.

    [ Parent ]
    my opinion (none / 0) (#118)
    by Viliam Bur on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 09:05:31 AM EST

    When a child learns the first language, one connects the meaning of words with the words. For example, the word "table" is connected with the experience (shape, color, whatever) of the table.

    When learning other language, beginners usually connect the word not with the experience of the thing, but with the word in the first language. For example, in Hungarian, table is "asztal" (at least I hope so); so the typical English speaker learning Hungarian will make a connection between the word "asztal" and the word "table". Therefore, hearing Hungarian one translates twice ("asztal" to "table"; "table" to experience of table); speaking Hungarian one translates twice (experience of table to "table", "table" to "asztal").

    When the speaker gains more practice on the language (or when one uses the better learning method from the beginning), the direct connection between word "asztal" and the experience of table is established. This makes speaking and understanding faster, and also makes a different (more pleasant) subjective feeling. If the knowledge of second language is very good, it sometimes happens that one thinks about the topic and for a while cannot find the correct word in the first language, but already knows it in the second language. (This can easily happen if there are topics about which one typically speaks in the second language.)

    [ Parent ]

    It's a different difference (none / 1) (#128)
    by QuickFox on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 09:57:41 AM EST

    When a child learns the first language, one connects the meaning of words with the words. [...] When learning other language, beginners usually connect the word not with the experience of the thing, but with the word in the first language.

    This is a difference between young children and adults, not between first-language and second-language learners.

    Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
    [ Parent ]

    Right. . . (none / 0) (#150)
    by thankyougustad on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 03:51:28 PM EST

    If I undersand Villiam Bur correctly, he is saying that adults can emulate this difference in order to help them understand, by cutting out the step many second language speakers use, the double translation 'sencond language word -> mother tongue translation -> conceptual understanding of word.' Students of languages usually use the opposite order when speaking. This lends a haltering, unnatural, and un-idiosyncratic, ie: phoney, method of speaking.

    This step is almost unavoidable for many beginners. I think Bur's idea would help those able to do it. In my experience, after the foundation is built learner's will begin understanding words through context alone, and not translations. Like that they do learn much in the way a child does, and their speach becomes more natural. Idiosyncrasysies, often untranslated, also start to enter the mind and help the brain 'think' in the second language.

    No no thanks no
    Je n'aime que le bourbon
    no no thanks no
    c'est une affaire de got.

    [ Parent ]
    That is indeed the right way to do it (none / 0) (#160)
    by QuickFox on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 08:51:53 PM EST

    I'm another language geek and I concur.

    Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
    [ Parent ]
    Some good points (3.00 / 2) (#65)
    by coljac on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:52:51 PM EST

    Your remarks about thinking in the language and constructing phrases and sentences is spot on. Of course, conversing is probably the best way to do this, but when you're simply out and about the mental excercise you suggest is a great idea.

    I've done all of the Pimsleur Mandarin (3 sets of 30 lessons) and found them to be very good. The true proof of their effectiveness will be known when I show up in China, but I did find them engaging enough to do 45 hours worth and feel like I made good progress. So again I recommend them highly.

    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    Ugly? (none / 0) (#76)
    by guyjin on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:12:25 PM EST

    in his efforts to create a world language without being overtly biased towards one language family or another, Zamenhof managed to create one of the ugliest languages I have ever seen.

    Ugly is a very subjective term. what do you find so ugly about it? I don't know if you've ever heard Esperanto or Romanian, but I've been told that, when spoken, they sound very similar, even though they are not mutually comprehensible. Do you think Romanian is ugly?
    -- 散弾銃でおうがいして ください
    [ Parent ]

    Just my own subjective opinion (3.00 / 2) (#94)
    by eLoco on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:59:41 PM EST

    Sorry if I'm offending any Esperanto fans, that's not my intention. Also, it's not the sound of the language that bothers me. Actually, I've never heard Esperanto spoken, but I would imagine that it's not unpleasant sounding based on what I know of it. It's the way it looks that bothers me, which is just my own personal sense of aesthetics.

    I understand what Zamenhof was trying to achieve, but I just don't personally agree with some of the (apparently random) decisions he made on where vocabulary should come from. "Lingvo" for language isn't so bad I guess, but when he adds Germanic or Slavic words to a structurally Romance-based system it just seems ridiculous, "knabo" for boy for example.

    It has been mentioned that the language is also sexist because female equivalents are created from male words by changing 'o' to "ino", so "knabino" for girl. Again, I understand why this is the way it is (makes it simpler) but it just grates on me for reasons I can't quite explain.

    [ Parent ]
    on vocabulary and sexism (3.00 / 2) (#115)
    by Viliam Bur on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 08:51:54 AM EST

    Being an Esperanto fan, no offense taken. It's just kind of boring to hear the same arguments over again. I mean - if there are so many Germanic and Slavic words in Esperanto (and yes, there are), why do 9 of 10 examples contain the word "knabo"? I would like to suggest some more disturbing words... unfortunately I do now know which words came from which language.

    By the way, the English words also have at least three different origins. Does it also seem ridiculous? Only when one thinks about them this way. If one knows them all as English words, there is no problem. There is also no problem with Esperanto containing 100% of Esperanto words. Speaking in Esperanto one does not have to think which word came from which language. Speaking English... well, sometimes one has to think why "able to be seen" is not "seeable", but "visible". (Answer: because "see" is from one language, and "visible" is from another.) In Esperanto: "vid-i", "vid-ebla", just as any other word.

    I 100% agree that the language is sexist, except for the explanation why. I believe the reason was not "because it is simple", but because all languages that author of Esperanto knew, have the same type of sexism - and this topic was not very discussed in the 19th century. Simplicity is also possible without sexism: either by making one male suffix and one female suffix, or by completely removing suffixes and leaving only one sexless form of words. -- The first possibility was proposed in Esperanto, but it did not gain majority support yet (and there are a few different proposals for the male suffix); in my opinion, the second possibility is much better.

    [ Parent ]

    vir- and -ino (none / 0) (#252)
    by pin0cchio on Wed Dec 01, 2004 at 09:45:15 PM EST

    Simplicity is also possible without sexism: either by making one male suffix and one female suffix, or by completely removing suffixes and leaving only one sexless form of words. -- The first possibility was proposed in Esperanto, but it did not gain majority support yet (and there are a few different proposals for the male suffix)

    All the Esperanto I've read uses vir- and -ino for masculine and feminine respectively.

    [ Parent ]
    Sound and sexism (2.50 / 2) (#138)
    by J T MacLeod on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 10:48:54 AM EST

    As for sound, Zamenhof recommended that those who couldn't listen to Esperanto for practice instead find a source of Italian speech to listen to.  

    Personally, I think Italian sounds very attractive.  Probably because I've mostly heard it from good looking Italian girls, but it sounds nice to me.  It's all opinion, though :)

    As for sexism, it wasn't so much that it was gender-biased, but that it was emulating other languages.  There's a good history of using masculine suffixes and treating suffixless nounds as neuter, though.  I do that, myself.  

    [ Parent ]

    None taken. (none / 0) (#141)
    by guyjin on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 11:46:18 AM EST

    I just wondered what you thought makes a language not aesthetically pleasing.
    -- 散弾銃でおうがいして ください
    [ Parent ]
    Plenty of opportunity (none / 1) (#127)
    by QuickFox on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 09:57:34 AM EST

    However, I don't think these are reason enough to learn a language with so few "speakers." A big part of learning a language is being able to use it, and the Esperanto student will have very few chances to do so.

    You can spend the whole summer speaking only Esperanto, if you like international festivals and other meetings.

    one of the ugliest languages I have ever seen.

    Tastes differ. I find it fascinatingly beautiful in its surprisingly creative expressiveness, where there is always yet another unexpected nuance around the corner.

    Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
    [ Parent ]

    What if you don't travel? (none / 0) (#197)
    by Cro Magnon on Sat Nov 13, 2004 at 10:45:19 PM EST

    The odds of running into an Esperanto speaker in the US are very slim. In contrast, over 99% of the people I'd run into speak English. Is it even possible to learn Esperanto if you never get the chance to communicate with other Esperanto speakers?
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    well (none / 0) (#211)
    by Delirium on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 05:16:50 PM EST

    In that's your criterion, why learn another language at all? As you mentioned, 99% of the people you'd run into speak English.

    [ Parent ]
    Why learn another language (none / 0) (#237)
    by Cro Magnon on Tue Nov 16, 2004 at 09:31:51 AM EST

    Well, the likelyhood of using Esperanto in a RL encounter (as opposed to online) is almost zero, but there was an incident where it would have been helpful to know another language.

    My mom used to own some rental property, and one of her tenants was a first generation Hispanic family. Usually we communicated through their kids, but when their kids weren't home, we had to leave a written note for them. Esperanto wouldn't have helped, but maybe learning Esperanto might make it easier to learn Spanish. OTOH, since Mom sold her rentals, that situation might never happen again.
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]

    no no no (none / 0) (#215)
    by LeninZhiv on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 02:36:58 AM EST

    "Linguaphile"? Better work on Greek & Latin next: it should be "glossaphile". Getting your roots mixed up makes things sound lame (cf "Scientology").

    [ Parent ]
    Esperanto (2.00 / 3) (#58)
    by Cro Magnon on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:42:24 PM EST

    sounds interesting, but as many posters have said, I'm more likely to run into someone who speaks Klingon. The only language that makes practical sense is Spanish, which is very widespread in much of the US. However, I am NOT a language geek, and some bad experiences with HS Spanish turned me off of that language.
    Information wants to be beer.
    any link to prove that Esperanto/Klingon thing? (none / 0) (#114)
    by Viliam Bur on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 08:07:42 AM EST

    I have already met Esperanto speakers at a sci-fi convention; but never met a Klingon speaker, neither at sci-fi convention nor anywhere else.

    I know a lot of trekkies, and none of them speaks Klingon. (I also know some esperantists who do not speak Esperanto, but that's a completely different story...)

    [ Parent ]

    Really? (none / 0) (#159)
    by tukiel on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 07:49:45 PM EST

    Cxu vere? Mi ne sciis ke estis pli da homoj kiu estas Klingono parolantoj ol Esperantistoj.

    Mi pensas ke vi devus plipensi antaux skribu al publika forumo. Esperanto havas pli ol du milionojn parolantojn. Grandaj esperantaj komunitatoj ekzistas  en Brazilo, Cxinio kaj Pollando.

    Mi esperas ke vi interezos kaj eble eniros www.lernun.net por lerni pli....



    [ Parent ]

    How do you (none / 0) (#222)
    by Cro Magnon on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 09:07:18 AM EST

    say "Huh?" in Esperanto?
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    You say "kion?" (none / 1) (#226)
    by QuickFox on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 07:26:18 PM EST

    Ĉu vere? Mi ne sciis ke estas pli da homoj kiuj estas Klingono-parolantoj ol Esperantistoj.

    Really? I didn't know that there are more people who are Klingon speakers than Esperantists.

    Mi pensas ke vi devus pli pensi antaŭ ol skribi al publika forumo.

    I think you should think more before you write to a public forum.

    Esperanto havas pli ol du milionojn da parolantoj.

    Esperanto has more than two million speakers.

    Grandaj esperantaj komunumoj ekzistas  en Brazilo, Ĉinio kaj Pollando.

    There are large Esperanto communities in Brazil, China and Poland.

    Mi esperas ke vi interesiĝos kaj eble eniros www.lernu.net por lerni pli...

    I hope you'll get interested and maybe enter www.lernu.net to learn more...



    Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
    [ Parent ]

    Thanks (none / 1) (#236)
    by Cro Magnon on Tue Nov 16, 2004 at 09:23:04 AM EST

    Or should I say dankon? I actually did quite a bit of googling since my earlier posts, and it looks like Esperanto has an interesting history, and perhaps a more active web presence than I had realized.

    I did look at www.lernu.net and picked up some Esperanto, though not enough to figure out the above posters response. I don't know how far I'll go with it, but I'll admit, it has caught my interest.

    Last but not least, if everyone thought more before posting, we wouldn't have K5. :)
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]

    Nedankinde (none / 0) (#238)
    by QuickFox on Tue Nov 16, 2004 at 10:28:17 AM EST

    I don't know how far I'll go with it, but I'll admit, it has caught my interest.

    I hope you'll get some fun and pleasure.

    if everyone thought more before posting, we wouldn't have K5. :)

    Indeed!  :-D

    Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
    [ Parent ]

    I'm sitting in a bar in Tallinn (2.50 / 6) (#60)
    by chaz on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 02:51:55 PM EST

    I'm happily leaching off an open wifi hotspot in the bar of a hotel in Tallinn. Lovely little city. Four languages are widely spoken: Estonian, Finnish, Russian and English.

    I only speak Dutch, German, English and French.

    I have no plan whatsoever to learn any Finno-Ugric cryptosystem (no prepositions, fourteen cases (none future) and verbs with two infinitives? Include me out)

    Russian has a silly alphabet. A letter that has no independant pronunciation? No thanks.

    Fortunately for all involved, there is a non-empty intersection in the sets of spoken and available languages here. Guess what it is?

    Swedes speak to Estonians. Finns speak to Swedes. Nederlanders speak to Latvians. One language, badly spoken, is all we need.

    Heh (3.00 / 3) (#103)
    by nollidj on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 10:39:38 PM EST

    A letter that has no independant pronunciation? No thanks.

    Best jab at Cyrillic I've ever heard. You might be interested in knowing that ь and ъ used to stand for voiceless vowels, but in most cases the characters have been appropriated for a different purpose (as in Russian in which they are meaningless on their own).

    [ Parent ]

    Cyrillic is improving (none / 1) (#126)
    by Viliam Bur on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 09:50:55 AM EST

    A century ago lot of such voiceless letters were removed from Russian alphabet, and only 2 have stayed. However, those Dutch-German-English-French speakers will always find something to complain about... ;-)

    And by the way, how many English letters have an independant pronounciation? I mean, the pronounciation not modified by a letter before it, or after it, or sometimes even by the other words in the sentence? Some consonants, maybe, but not all of them.

    [ Parent ]

    English orthography (2.80 / 5) (#144)
    by NoBeardPete on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 12:59:16 PM EST

    People commonly complain about terrible English spelling is, and they generally focus on how little phonetic sense it makes. I think this is misguided. A large number of the spelling quirks that people gripe about reflect real phonetic traits of the language. The letter 'c', for example, can be pronounced either as an 's' sound or a 'k'. There's a good reason for this, though, which is that in English many roots have a consonant which is pronounced as an 's' in some circumstances and a 'k' in others. Using a letter like 'c' makes it easier to see the relationship between these words in print. The 'c's in "electri_c_" and "electri_c_ity" are pronounced differently, but they help make clear the common root.

    Another large class of English spellings that people complain about are caused by pronunciation drifting away from the fairly stable orthography. "Knight", for example, used to be pronounced much like it is spelled. While it might make some sense to update spellings to better reflect modern pronunciation, there would be real drawbacks. One large drawback would be that it would render a lot of old writing difficult to comprehend to modern readers. Another is that it could render speakers of different dialects even more incomprehensible to each other in writing that they are in spoken English. Within the United States, for example, there are plenty of regional dialects that add or drop 'r's as compared to Standard English. Some British accents replace 't's with glottal stops. Black Vernacular English sometimes swaps a "ks" sound for "sk". Vowel differences between English dialects are even more common and more pronounced. I could probably go on all day with examples like this, but I think I've made my point. There are so many different ways English speakers pronounce the same words that it isn't clear what it would even mean to make spelling more phonetic without completely discarding the idea of correct spelling.

    Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
    [ Parent ]

    I found Pimsleur to be excellent! (none / 1) (#61)
    by sbash on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:05:22 PM EST

    I downloaded a french course to improve my french speaking skills and I found it was really well made. I have also tried a Teach Yourself course for Ukrainian; my brother-inlaw is Ukrainian; and it was the wrong dialect of the language, so as far as he knew I could have been speaking an entirely different language...

    I also found watching movies in the different language helped with getting used to hearing the speach.

    "Eating curry with the boys? You must be British or boring" - Stinky Bottoms
    movies: also motivating (none / 0) (#67)
    by jongleur on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03:59:26 PM EST

    it's nice to remind yourself (at some deeper level) that the language really is what people talk to each other in, elsewhere; it can seem like a game or fantasy when you're just looking at books.
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]
    until I find someone else who is telepathic... (none / 0) (#84)
    by sbash on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:00:00 PM EST

    I concur....

    "Eating curry with the boys? You must be British or boring" - Stinky Bottoms
    [ Parent ]
    Ukrainian "dialects"? (none / 0) (#164)
    by mabman on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 02:32:06 AM EST

    I'm curious about the Ukrainian "dialects" issue.  What exactly do you mean?

    I'm half-Ukrainian-Canadian - I learned the language in elementary school, and speak it with my mother and family often.  That is, I learned the "textbook" language.

    I've had relatives visit various parts of the Ukraine, and due to heavy Russification during the Soviet period, most natives tend to speak a hybrid Russian-Ukrainian "patois", sometimes referred to as "surzhyk".  Is that what you're talking about?

    I ask because via satellite dish I've had the opportunity to watch TV programming in other Slavic languages - Russian, Polish, Serbian, Macedonian - and I was able to understand the vast majority of what was being said (a lot of pan-Slavic root words and grammar are similar).  As I understand it native Russian and native Ukrainian speakers especially have little trouble making themselves understood.

    So, just out of personal curiousity I'm wondering exactly what your brother-in-law had trouble with (the accent rather than the words themselves, perhaps?).
    Mmm, forbidden donut....
    [ Parent ]

    2500 basic words (none / 1) (#71)
    by ortholattice on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:25:21 PM EST

    I have heard that for most languages if you know the 2500 most common words you're pretty much set (for vocabulary, that is; obviously pronunciation, grammar, etc. is a different ball game). Regardless of whether you agree, it is still an interesting problem to figure out what the 2500 most common words are - people who have compiled such lists tend to keep them proprietary. Well, except for one, where the author claims no copyright: The Master List. Not completely polished, but grab it while you can if this is a typical short-lived geocities page. 2500 flash cards come to mind, but sounds a little bulky; maybe several words on each card?

    The list: (1.05 / 20) (#97)
    by egeland on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:09:54 PM EST

    n abdomen
    n ability, capacity (to do something)
    pr about (pertaining to; on the topic of)
    pr above, over
    aj absent
    v absorb
    v accept (willingly receive)
    n accident (unintentional and unexpected event)
    n account (record of money received/paid/owed)
    aj acid(ic)
    pr across (at / to the other side of)
    n act, deed
    n activity, bustle, ado
    v add, append, join so as to cause an increase
    n address (postal co-ordinates)
    v adhere (hold tightly to / stick to something)
    v admire
    v admit, confess
    n advertisement
    n advice
    pr after (later than; in the future of)
    n afternoon (noon to dusk)
    av again, once more, re-
    n age (degree of oldness / youngness)
    n agency, bureau
    v agree
    v aim (to point/direct X toward Y)
    n air
    n airplane, aircraft
    n alcohol
    aj alert
    aj alive
    aj alkaline
    aj all (the whole number or entire sum of)
    n allocation, allotment, portion (someone's share of X)
    av almost, nearly
    n alphabet
    av already (prior to the time mentioned)
    av also, additionally, too
    n alternate
    v alternate, take turns (do X then Y then X then Y)
    av always (at all times)
    n ambassador
    cj and, plus
    n angel, fairy (supernatural flying humanoid)
    n angle (the relation of two lines radiating from a point)
    aj angry
    n animal (non-vegetable creature)
    v announce, proclaim
    n answer, reply to a question or argument
    n ant (insect of family Formicidae)
    n anus
    aj any (no particular one of)
    av apart, separately
    n apple (tree/fruit of genus Malus)
    v approve (of)
    n apron
    n arch
    n arm (shoulder to hand)
    n army
    pr around, encircling, surrounding
    n arrow (sharp-tipped shaft shot from a bow)
    n art (creative craft; productive use of talent)
    n article (part of speech)
    n article, essay (piece of text about one topic)
    aj artificial (deliberately made by humans)
    n ash
    v ask, inquire
    pr at (in the same location as)
    av at least, not less than (>=)
    av at most, only, just, merely, not more than (<=)
    n athletics (games involving physical skill), sports
    n atom
    v attack
    n attention (active perception)
    n attic, garret
    v attract
    n authority (the right/power to command)
    aj automatic
    n autumn, fall
    aj auxiliary
    v avoid, evade, keep away from
    aj awake
    av away (from this or that place)
    n axe
    n baby, infant
    n back (dorsal area)
    av back (to previous place / condition)
    av backward (in reverse order)
    aj bad
    v bake (cook or harden by means of dry heat)
    n balance, equilibrium
    n ball (spheroidal plaything)
    n balloon
    n bamboo (plant/stem of genera Bambusa / Arundinaria / Dendrocalamus)
    n banana (plant/fruit of genus Musa)
    band (group)
    n band, tape, flat strip
    n bank (monetary institution)
    bank (of river)
    n bar, rod
    n barrel, cask
    n barrier, obstacle
    n base, node, station (point from which things go or are done)
    n baseball
    n basis, foundation (part which supports the rest)
    n basket
    n basketball
    bat (flying mammal)
    n bat, stick, racket/racquet (any ball-hitting tool)
    n batch (quantity of things done/produced at one time)
    n bay (small body of water offset from lake or sea)
    v be (intransitive predicative copula)
    n beach, shore
    n bean (lima/snap/etc.: plant/seed of genus Phaseolus or similar)
    n bear (animal of Ursidae family)
    n beard
    v beat (repeatedly hit), batter
    aj beautiful
    pr because of, due to
    v become (begin to be; acquire the quality...)
    n bed
    n bee (member of genus Apis)
    n beer
    pr before, in front of, ahead of (spatially)
    pr before, prior to, earlier than
    v begin, commence, start
    n behavior, conduct
    pr behind, in back of, to the rear of
    v believe (accept as true)
    n bell
    n belt
    aj bent
    n berry (small pulpy fruit)
    pr between, among, amidst, inter-
    pr beyond, farther than, exceeding
    n bicycle
    aj big, large (of much size)
    bill (of bird)
    n bill, invoice (statement of money owed)
    n bird (egg-laying feathered animal with wings)
    n birth
    v bite
    aj bitter
    aj black
    n blade
    v blame
    n blanket (large piece of soft material used as a cover)
    n blemish, blot
    v bless (wish good upon)
    v block
    n block (solid flat-surfaced mass of material)
    n blood
    v blow (move/cause to move as a current of gas)
    aj blue
    n board
    n boat
    n body
    v boil
    n bomb
    n bone
    n book
    aj boring, tedious
    v borrow
    n bottle
    n bottom
    v bounce, rebound
    n bow (for arrows)
    n bowl (deep round dish)
    n box (rigid rectangular receptacle)
    n boy
    n brain
    n brake
    n branch (small part going out from main part)
    n brass (copper-zinc alloy)
    n bread
    v break (into pieces)
    n breast, mammary
    v breathe
    n brick (hard clay block)
    n bridge
    aj bright (with much light present)
    v bring (cause something to come along with one toward a place)
    n broom
    n brother
    aj brown
    n brush
    n bucket, pail
    n bud (of flower/leaf)
    v build (join materials to create), construct
    n building, edifice (structure with walls and roof)
    n bullet
    n bump, protrusion
    n bundle, bunch (group of things tied or grouped together)
    n burn
    v burn
    v burst
    n bus
    n bush, shrub
    n business, commerce
    cj but, however
    n butter
    n butterfly
    n buttock
    n button (on a shirt etc.)
    v buy, purchase
    pr by means of, via, per, with (using; through instrumentality of)
    by, next to
    n cabbage (plant/leaves of sp. Brassica oleracea capitata)
    n cage
    v calculate, reckon
    v call, summon
    n camp, bivouac, temporary shelter
    n campaign (for political office)
    aux v pres can (is/are able to ...)
    n can (presealed metal container) {British: tin}
    n canal, channel, ditch
    n candle
    n cannon
    n capture
    v capture, seize
    n car, automobile (wheeled motor vehicle)
    n carbon
    n card (stiff rectangle of material)
    n care, concern (about someone / something)
    n carrot (plant/root of sp. Daucus carota sativus)
    v carry (move while supporting)
    n cart, carriage, wagon (wheeled vehicle; not self-propelled)
    n cat (Felis catus)
    v catch (stop the motion of and seize in the hands)
    n category, classification
    n cause
    v cause (induce something to be/happen)
    n caution, prudence, carefulness
    n cave
    v cease, stop doing, quit
    n ceiling
    v celebrate, rejoice
    n cellar, basement
    n century
    aj certain, sure
    n chain (connected series of rings or links)
    n chair (furniture for one person to sit on)
    n chalk
    n chance, randomicity, luck
    n change
    v change (become/make different), vary
    n chapter (main division of book)
    n chart
    n chart, diagram
    aj cheap, inexpensive
    n check (written order directing a bank to pay from an account)
    n cheek (side of face below eye)
    n cheese
    n chemical (substance made by or used in chemistry)
    n chess
    n chest (upper front of torso)
    chest, box
    n chicken
    n chief, leader
    aj chief, main, primary, principal
    n child
    n chimney
    n chin
    n chocolate
    v choose, pick (out), select one of many possibilities
    n church (building or institution of public worship)
    n cigarette
    n circle
    n city
    n civilization
    n claim, assertion (statement of unknown accuracy)
    n clay
    aj clean
    v clear
    aj clear, plain (easy to see/understand)
    n cliff
    v climb
    n clock
    aj closed, shut
    n cloth, fabric (material made of threads)
    n cloud
    n club, cudgel
    n club, society (voluntary association re: a common interest)
    n coal
    n coat (heavy outer garment with sleeves)
    n cockroach (insect of order Blattaria)
    n code (cryptographic system)
    n coffee (plant/seeds of sp. Coffea arabica)
    n coil
    n coin
    aj cold, chilly, frigid
    n collar
    n color
    n comb
    v come, arrive (at indicated place)
    n comfort (freedom from pain and/or worry)
    v command
    n command, order, directive
    n committee (group appointed to do a task)
    aj common, general (shared by all members of a group)
    n communication (exchange of information)
    n community (individuals sharing space / culture)
    n company (a business organization), firm
    company, presence of others
    v compare
    v compete, strive, vie
    aj complex
    n compromise
    n computer (electronic instruction-obeying information-handler)
    n condition, state, status
    n cone
    n connection, joint, junction
    aj conscious, aware
    v consist of, be composed of
    n consonant (non-vowel)
    aj constant, invariant, stable
    n constitution (charter of an organization)
    v consume, deplete, expend, exhaust, use up
    v contain
    n container
    v continue, keep on doing/being
    n contract (agreement-document)
    v control
    v cook (prepare by applying heat)
    aj cool
    v cooperate, collaborate
    n copper
    v copulate, have sex (with)
    v copy
    n copy (a duplicate)
    n cord, cable (thicker than wire)
    n cork (tree/elastic tissue of sp. Quercus suber)
    n corn, maize (plant/seeds of sp. Zea mays)
    n cotton (plant/fibers of genus Gossypium)
    v count, enumerate
    n courage, bravery
    n court (of law)
    v cover
    n cover (thing put onto or extended over something else)
    n cow/bull, cattle (bovine animal of either sex)
    n crack, fissure
    v crawl
    v create, make (bring into existence)
    n credit (permission to borrow money)
    n crime
    v criticize
    n cross (perpendicular intersection of linear items)
    v crush (press on so as to break or re-shape)
    v cry out, shout, yell
    v cry, weep
    n crystal
    n cube
    n cucumber (Cucumis sativus)
    n culture (the customs and beliefs of a people)
    n cup (small bowl with handle)
    v curse, damn (wish evil upon)
    n curtain
    n curve
    n cut
    v cut
    n cycle (one complete performance of a periodic process)
    n cylinder
    v dance
    n danger (situation in which harm is probable)
    aj dark, dim (with little light present)
    n date (coordinates of a day given in some timekeeping system)
    n date (tree/fruit of sp. Phoenix dactylifera)
    n daughter
    n day (24-hour period)
    n day (daytime -- as opposed to night), diurnal period
    n dead
    aj dead
    aj dear, precious, cherished
    n debt, obligation to pay
    v decide
    v decrease (become or make lesser in quantity)
    aj deep, profound (of much depth)
    n deer (animal of family Cervidae)
    n degree (the extent/intensity/scope of an action/condition/relation)
    n delay
    v delay, retard, tarry, postpone
    aj dense (of much density), concentrated, thick, intense
    n density
    n dent, nick, indentation
    v deny (say that X is not true)
    v depend on, rely on
    n depth (distance from ground / baseline down to bottom)
    v describe
    n desert
    v deserve, merit, be worthy of
    n destination
    v destroy (contra-create; cause to cease existing)
    n detail
    aj diagonal, slanted
    n dial (circle marked with numbers/symbols)
    n dictator, tyrant
    n dictionary
    v die
    aj different
    aj difficult, hard
    v dig
    aj direct, immediate (with no intermediaries or obstacles)
    n direction (orientation of motion)
    n dirt, earth (tangible), soil
    aj dirty, contra-clean
    n disappointment
    n disaster, catastrophe
    v discuss, talk about
    n disease, illness, sickness
    n dish (any shallow concave container)
    n disk, disc
    dispose of
    v dissolve
    n distance (amount of space from X to Y)
    v distinguish, differentiate, tell one from another
    v divide
    v do, perform, engage in (specified activity)
    n document
    n dog (Canis familiaris)
    n doll, effigy
    n dome (anything shaped like an upside-down bowl)
    n donkey, ass (Equus asinus)
    n door
    n doubt
    v doubt
    av down
    n dragon (winged serpent with crested head and large claws)
    n drain
    n drain (device that removes unwanted liquid)
    n dream
    v dream
    v drift, wander
    n drill
    v drink
    v drive, impel, propel
    n drop (of liquid)
    v drown (die/kill via immersion)
    n drum (hollow musical instrument beaten with sticks or hands)
    aj dry
    aj dull, blunt (of little sharpness)
    aj durable, resilient, robust, strong (in this sense)
    n duration (amount of time consumed)
    pr during
    n dust
    n ear
    aj/av early, premature
    n earth (terra firma contrasted with sea and heaven)
    n earthquake
    n east
    aj easy
    v eat
    n eclipse
    n edge
    n egg
    num eight
    aj elastic (able to regain shape/size after deformation)
    v elect (select by voting)
    n electricity
    n element (substance of irreducible simplicity)
    n elevator {British: lift}
    n embarrassment
    v emit (to send out any form of matter/energy in any manner)
    v emphasize, accentuate, stress
    aj empty
    n end
    v end, conclude, finish
    n enemy
    n energy
    av enough, sufficiently
    v enter, go into
    n enthusiasm, zeal
    n envelope (folded paper covering a letter)
    n environment, surroundings, context
    aj equal
    n escape
    v escape, flee from
    v evaporate
    n evening (dusk to midnight)
    av eventually (in the far future)
    av ever (at any time)
    aj every, each
    aj evil
    aj exact, precise
    v examine, inspect
    n example, sample
    pr except for, besides, apart from, other than, excluding
    v exchange, trade, swap
    n exercise, practice (effort made to improve skills/health)
    v exist
    v expand, grow
    v expect, anticipate (believe that X will come/happen)
    aj expensive, costly
    n experience
    v experience (consciously live through an event)
    n experiment
    v explode
    n eye
    n eyeglasses
    n face
    n fact (undisputed datum)
    n factory
    v fail
    aj false, untrue
    n family
    aj famous
    n fan (device to create air current)
    aj/av far (at / to a great distance)
    n farm
    n fat (oily/greasy material from animal adipose tissue or plant seeds)
    aj fat, obese, plump
    n father
    v favor, prefer
    n fear
    v fear (be afraid of)
    n feather
    n feces, dung, excrement
    v feel (experience an emotion/sentiment)
    v feel (perceive with the tactile sense)
    aj female
    n fence (outdoor barrier supported by posts)
    aj fertile
    n fetus (foetus), embryo
    n fever
    aj few (a small number of)
    n fiction
    n field (unbroken expanse of land)
    n fig (tree/fruit of genus Ficus)
    v fight, combat
    n file (dossier; loose bundle of data)
    n file (tool for abrading)
    n film (very thin layer)
    v find (discover the location of)
    n finger
    n fire
    n fireplace, hearth
    n fish
    n fist
    num five
    n flag, banner
    aj flared (opening up or spreading out from axis)
    aj flat, planar
    n flavor, taste
    n flaw, defect, imperfection
    n flax (Linum usitatissimum)
    aj flexible (easily able to bend)
    v float
    n flood, deluge
    n floor (bottom of room)
    n flour (grain-powder)
    v flow (travel in a current)
    n flower
    v fly (move through the air)
    n fly (small winged insect)
    n foam, froth
    n fog
    n fold
    v fold
    n food
    aj foolish
    n foot (on which something stands)
    n football (American/tackle f~)
    n football (association f~), soccer
    pr for (in exchange for)
    pr for (to benefit; destined for; for the purpose of)
    n force
    v force
    n forehead
    n forest
    v forget (contra-remember)
    v forgive, pardon
    n fork (instrument with >=2 prongs for picking up something)
    v form
    n form, shape
    av forward, ahead
    num four
    n fox (member of genus Vulpes)
    aj fragile, delicate
    n frame (structure supporting or surrounding something)
    aj free (at liberty)
    v freeze
    n frequency (degree of oftenness or seldomness)
    av frequently, often
    n friend
    n frog (web-footed tailless leaping amphibian)
    pr from, out of, away from
    n front
    aj frugal, thrifty
    n fruit
    n fuel
    aj full, filled
    aj funny, comical
    n furniture
    n furrow, rut, groove
    n future (the f~)
    n game (a rule-governed system of competitive amusement)
    n game, match (one particular encounter between competitors)
    n garbage, trash, rubbish
    n garden
    n garlic (herb of sp. Allium sativum)
    n garment (item of clothing)
    n gas
    v gather, collect (bring or come together)
    n gear (toothed wheel)
    n gene
    aj generous, charitable
    aj gentle, mild
    v gesture
    vt get, acquire, gain, obtain
    n ghost (manifestation of dead person's soul)
    n ginger (plant/rhizome of genus Zingiber)
    n ginseng (plant/root of genus Panax)
    n girl
    v give
    n glass
    adj glass
    n glove
    v go (move from starting point to elsewhere)
    n goat (animal of genus Capra)
    n god, diety
    n gold (the precious metal)
    aj good
    n gourd (plant/hard-rinded fruit of genera Lagenaria & Cucurbita)
    n government
    aj gradual
    n grain(s), cereal crop(s) and their seed(s)
    n grammar (rules and structure of a language)
    n grape (plant/fruit of genus Vitis)
    n grass (monocotyledonous plant of family Gramineae)
    n grasshopper
    aj grateful, thankful
    n graveyard shift, middle of the night (midnight to dawn)
    n gravity
    aj gray {British: grey}
    aj greedy
    aj green
    v grind
    n group
    v guard, monitor, watch over
    n guess
    v guess, conjecture
    n guide
    v guide, lead
    aj guilty, blame-worthy
    n guitar (stringed instrument played with the fingers)
    n gun (ballistic weapon)
    n gymnastics
    n habit, custom, routine practice
    n hail
    n hair (a strand of fibrous material growing from the body)
    n hair (the hairs atop one's head thought of as a collective entity)
    num half (1/2)
    n hammer
    n hand
    n handle (part of tool by which it is held)
    v hang, suspend, dangle
    v happen, occur
    aj happy
    aj hard, firm, resistant to pressure
    n harmony (pleasing combination of stimuli)
    n harness
    v harvest, reap
    n hat, cap
    v hate
    v have (possess / be furnished with)
    n head
    aj healthy
    v hear
    n heart (coronary muscle)
    n heat, warmth
    n heaven, celestial realm, Valhala etc.
    aj heavy (of much weight)
    n heel
    n height (distance from ground / baseline to top)
    n helix (any corkscrew-shaped object)
    n hell, Hades
    n helmet
    v help, assist, aid
    n hemp, marijuana (plant/material of sp. Cannabis sativa)
    av here (in/to this place)
    v hide, conceal
    aj high, tall (of much height)
    n hill (smaller than a mountain)
    n hinge
    n hip
    n history (organized account of past events), chronicle
    v hit, strike
    n hockey
    v hold, grasp
    n hole
    n holiday
    aj hollow
    aj holy, sacred
    n honey
    n hook
    v hope
    aj horizontal
    n horn (bone-like growth from animal's head)
    n horn (makes noise when blown)
    n horse (Equus caballus)
    n hospital
    aj hot
    n hotel, inn
    n hour (60 minutes)
    n hourglass
    n house (a free-standing man-made dwelling-building)
    av how? (in what manner?)
    aj huge, enormous, gigantic
    aj humble, modest
    num hundred
    v hunt, pursue (with intent to capture and/or devour)
    n husband
    n ice
    n idea, concept (thought-bundle)
    cj if (on condition that...; supposing that...)
    v imagine
    v imitate, mimic
    aj important
    pr in (located inside of)
    v increase (become or make greater in quantity)
    aj independent
    v indicate
    n individual (one considered separately from one's species)
    n information
    v injure, damage, harm
    n ink
    aj inner, internal, interior
    aj innocent, contra-guilty
    aj insane, crazy, mad
    n insect
    pr instead of, rather than
    n insult
    n insurance (protective contractual arrangement)
    aj intelligent
    v intend, mean to, do deliberately, have as a purpose
    n interest (desire to pay attention to something), fascination
    v interfere, hinder
    aj international
    n interval (quantity of time between events X and Y)
    n intestines, gut(s), viscera
    v invent (plan something which has never been made before)
    aj inverted, upside-down
    v invest
    v invite
    n iris (of eye)
    n iron
    aj irregular, sporadic, intermittent
    n island
    n issue, edition (of periodical etc.)
    n jacket (a short and/or lightweight coat)
    n jade (the tough green gemstone)
    n jar, jug (big wide-mouthed bottle)
    n jealousy, envy
    n jelly (gelatinous semi-solid material), gel
    n jewel, gem
    n job, employment
    n journey, trip, voyage
    n judge
    v judge (compare something to criteria), form an opinion about
    n juice (fluid extracted from something)
    v jump, leap
    n jury
    aj just, fair, equitable
    v keep, retain, go on having (e.g. "you should keep this book")
    n kelp (seaweed of orders Laminariales and Fucales)
    n key (metal device for operating lock)
    v kick
    n kidney
    v kill
    adj kind
    n kind, sort, type, variety (of...)
    n king
    v kiss
    n knee
    n knife
    n knob
    v know
    n knowledge
    n label
    v lack (be without)
    n ladder
    n lake
    n lamp
    n language (the verbal communication technique of a people)
    aj last, final (after all others)
    aj/av late, tardy
    v laugh
    n laugh(ter)
    n law (a rule enforced by a government)
    n layer
    n lead (the metal)
    n leaf
    v learn
    aj least (the smallest quantity of)
    av least (to the smallest degree)
    n leather (prepared hide)
    v leave, depart, go away from
    aj left(-hand)
    n leg
    v lend
    n length (distance from one end to the other)
    n lens
    n lentil (plant/seeds of sp. Lens culinaris)
    aj less (a smaller quantity of)
    av less (to a smaller degree)
    n letter (a message written and mailed)
    n lettuce (plant/leaves of genus Lactuca)
    aj level, even (on the same level)
    n lever
    n library
    n lie
    v lie (recline horizontally)
    v lie (utter a known falsehood)
    aj light (of little weight)
    n light (visible electro-magnetic radiation)
    n lightning
    v like, enjoy (derive pleasure from)
    pr like, similar to
    n limit, boundary
    n line (series of contiguous points)
    n lion (Felis leo)
    n lip
    n liquid
    n list
    aj little (a small quantity of)
    av little (to a small degree; with almost no intensity)
    v live (be alive)
    n liver
    n lizard
    n load, burden
    n lobster
    n lock (device for securing doors)
    n logic (formalized process of reasoning)
    aj lonely (feeling undesirable solitude)
    aj long (of much duration)
    aj long (of much length)
    av long ago (in the far past)
    n loop, circuit, closed curve
    aj loose (contra-snug), baggy
    aj loose (contra-taut), slack
    vt lose (cease having; contra-acquire)
    aj loud (of much sonic intensity)
    v love
    aj low, short (not tall; of little height)
    aj loyal
    n lump, clod, blob, piece of no particular shape
    n lung
    n machine (device with moving parts)
    n magazine (periodical publication)
    n magic, sorcery
    n magnet
    v mail (transmit postally)
    n majority
    v make, render (impart quality X to Y; e.g. "I make you happy")
    aj male
    n mammal
    n man (adult male person)
    n mandarin, tangerine (tree/fruit of sp. Citrus reticulata)
    n mantis (insect of order Manteodea)
    aj many (a large number of)
    n map (drawing of planet's surface)
    n mark (visible traces left behind)
    n market (place where goods are bought/sold/traded)
    n marriage (spousal relationship)
    n master, lord
    n match (a thing suitably associated with another)
    n match (little fire-stick)
    n matter, material, substance
    n mature, adult
    av maybe, perhaps, possibly
    n meaning (semantic content of a word)
    v measure
    n meat, flesh
    n medicine (substance that makes one healthy)
    v meet, encounter, come across
    v melt
    n member (of group/organization)
    n merchandise, goods, wares
    n mercy
    n message (batch of transmitted information)
    n metal
    n method, manner, way (of doing), technique
    n microscope
    n middle, center
    n midnight
    aj military
    n milk
    n mill (place where raw materials are processed)
    num million
    n mind
    n mineral, ore
    n minority
    n mint (plant of family Labiatae)
    n minute (60 seconds)
    n miracle
    n mirror
    v misplace (lose; become unable to find)
    n Miss
    v miss, fail to hit/reach/see etc.
    n Mister, Mr.
    v mix, blend
    n molecule
    n moment, an instant
    n money
    n monkey, small primate
    n month
    n moon (natural satellite of a planet)
    aj more (a larger quantity of)
    av more (to a larger degree)
    n morning (dawn to noon)
    n mosquito
    aj most (the largest quantity of)
    av most (to the largest degree)
    n mother
    n motor, engine
    n motorcycle
    n mountain
    n mouse
    n mouth
    v move (engage in motion / cause to engage in motion)
    n movie, motion picture
    n Mrs.
    n Ms., Miss/Mrs.
    aj much (a large quantity of)
    av much, very (to a large degree; with great intensity)
    n mud
    v multiply
    n muscle
    n mushroom (a complex aerial fleshy fruiting body of a fungus)
    n music
    n mustard (plant of sp. Brassica hirta / B. nigra / B. juncea)
    aj mutual, reciprocal
    n mystery
    n nail (fingernail)
    n nail (pointy fastener)
    aj naked, nude, exposed (without the usual cover)
    n name
    aj narrow, of little width (of space between objects)
    n nation, state (political entity)
    aj native (naturally belonging to a given realm)
    n nature (that which occurs spontaneously; the non-artificial world)
    n navel
    aj/av near (at / to a little distance)
    pr near, close to
    aj necessary, needed, required
    n neck
    n necktie
    v need, require
    n needle
    aj negative
    n neglect, negligence, apathy
    n neon
    n nerve
    n nest, den, lair (an animal's self-made house)
    n net
    aj neuter (neither male nor female)
    av never
    aj new, novel, recent (having been known for a brief time)
    n news, tidings
    n newspaper
    aj next (coming immediately after; "tomorrow" = the next day)
    aj nice, kind, affable
    n night
    num nine
    n nitrogen
    n noise (confused/randomized sound/stimuli)
    n noon
    aj normal, ordinary, usual
    n north
    n nose
    av not
    n note, annotation
    v notice, observe
    av now (at this time)
    n number, numeral (a word or symbol indicating quantity)
    n nut (hard-shelled fruit/seed with separable shell and kernel)
    n oak (tree of genus Quercus)
    n oat (plant/seed of genus Avena)
    v obey
    n object (concrete tangible thing)
    aj obscure, unheard of
    pr of (containing the measured quantity: "two liters of water")
    pr of (owned by; belonging to; associated with; = genitive)
    v offer (present for acceptance or rejection)
    aj official (issued with authority)
    n oil (a combustible fatty liquid that will not mix with water)
    n oil (crude oil), petroleum
    aj old (of long standing; having been known for a long time)
    aj old (of much age; having existed/lived for a long time)
    n olive (tree/fruit of sp. Olea europaea)
    pr on (resting on; touching the top or other surface of)
    num one
    n onion (plant/bulb of sp. Allium sepa)
    av only, solely, exclusively
    aj open (not shut)
    n opening, orifice
    n opinion
    cj or
    aj orange (having a hue between red and yellow)
    n orange (tree/fruit of Citrus sinensis / related spp.)
    n organ (of body)
    v organize (bring X's together to perform a task)
    aj original, non-imitative
    n ornament, decoration
    aj/pn other, another
    aj outer, exterior, external
    pr outside of, exterior to
    n oval, ellipse
    n oven
    v own (possess according to law or custom)
    n oxygen
    n package, packet, parcel
    n paddle, oar (stick with broad end)
    n page (one side of a sheet of paper in a book)
    n pain
    n paint
    n palm (of hand)
    n pan (broad shallow cooking dish)
    n pants, trousers
    n paper
    aj parallel
    n park (public outdoor area)
    n parliament, congress (legislative body of elected officers)
    n part
    part of
    partake of
    n party (political), sect (religious)
    n past (the p~), earlier time
    n pasta, noodles
    n paste (any thick soft dough-like material)
    n patch (a piece used to cover/repair a flaw)
    n patience
    n pattern (apparent systematic interrelationship)
    v pause, hesitate, suspend action temporarily
    v pay
    n pea (plant/seed of sp. Pisum sativum)
    n peace (freedom from fighting or turmoil)
    n peanut (plant/seed/pod of sp. Arachis hypogaea)
    n pedal
    n pen (writing tool that uses ink)
    n pencil, crayon (writing tool that uses semi-solid substance)
    n penis
    n people (a people), folk, the members of an ethnic group / nation
    n pepper (black -- plant/seed of sp. Piper nigrum)
    n pepper (hot/sweet/bell pepper -- plant/pod of genus Capsicum)
    v perceive, detect
    n period, era, epoch
    aj permanent, perpetual
    n permit
    v permit, allow, let
    n person, human being
    n photograph
    n picture, image
    n piece (a part broken/cut/separated from something larger)
    n pig, swine (omnivorous mammal of family Suidae)
    n pile, heap, stack of things or of a substance
    n pillow, cushion
    n pine (coniferous tree of genus Pinus)
    n pipe (a hard tube for transporting liquid)
    n pity
    v pity, feel compassion toward, feel sorry for
    n pizza
    n place, location
    v plan
    n plan, design
    n plane (flat surface)
    n planet
    v plant
    n plant (a vegetable life-form)
    n plastic (synthetic/processed moldable material)
    n plate (shallow dish, usually round)
    n play (performed by actors on stage), drama
    v play, recreate, frolic
    n pleasure
    v plough
    n plow (plough)
    n plug, seal, stopper
    n plum (certain trees/fruits of genus Prunus)
    n pocket
    n pod (seed pod)
    n poem
    n poison, toxin
    n polarity (electric, magnetic, etc.)
    n pole, stick (long bar)
    n police (organization to enforce laws)
    n politics
    v pollute, contaminate
    n pool, billiards
    aj poor, impoverished
    n port
    n position (location relative to others)
    aj positive
    aj possible (able to happen or be done)
    n post (vertical pole anchored in ground)
    n pot (deep round vessel)
    n potassium
    n potato (plant/tuber of sp. Solanum tuberosum)
    v pour (cause to flow)
    n powder
    n power
    v praise, compliment, laud
    v pray (communicate with god(s))
    aj present (existing in the indicated place; contra-absent)
    n present (the present time; the now)
    v preserve, maintain (keep X in good condition)
    n president
    v press (do pressure to; push upon with weight or force)
    v pretend, act, feign
    v prevent (keep from happening)
    n price, cost
    n pride (proudness; self-respect)
    n priest, clergyman
    n prime minister
    v print (to copy marks by pressing inked objects on paper)
    aj prior, preceding, previous, contra-next
    n prison, jail
    aj private (contra-public)
    n prize, award
    aj probable (likely to happen/be)
    n process, procedure
    n profit, gain
    n program
    n progress, advancement
    v prohibit, forbid, contra-permit
    n project, undertaking, venture
    n promise (a claim about one's future actions), pledge
    n proof, evidence
    v protect, defend
    n protest, objection
    n prototype, exemplar, archetype, model (for all Xs)
    v provide, supply, furnish
    n province (of Canada etc.), prefecture, state (of USA etc.)
    v pry {British: prize} (raise/open/move with a lever)
    aj public (available to most or all persons)
    n public, populace, the people (as in People's Republic)
    v pull (draw something toward oneself)
    n pulley
    n pump
    v punish
    aj pure, unadulterated, uncontaminated
    aj purple
    v push (press on something in order to move it)
    v put, place, translocate
    n pyramid
    n quality, trait, attribute, characteristic
    n quantity (amount / number / magnitude)
    n quartz
    n queen
    n question, query
    av quickly, rapidly, swiftly (with much speed)
    aj quiet, soft, faint (of little sonic intensity)
    v quote, cite
    n rabbit (animal of family Leporidae)
    n race (group of people with similar characteristics)
    n rack (framework of bars for storage)
    n radio apparatus, wireless set
    n rail (usually horizontal bar for restraining/supporting things)
    n railroad
    n rain
    n rainbow
    n rake
    aj rarefied, tenuous, diffuse, dilute, sparse, wispy
    n ratio, rate, proportion
    n ray
    n razor
    v reach, extend as far as
    v read
    aj ready, prepared for a task / event
    aj real, actual
    n rear, back part of
    n reason, explanation, justification, rationale
    n reasoning, rational thought
    v receive
    av recently (in the near past)
    v recognize
    v record
    n record (a cache of information)
    n rectangle
    aj red
    aj refreshed, zesty, perky
    n region, area (a quantity of space within boundaries)
    n regret
    v regret
    aj regular, periodic (at uniform intervals)
    v reject, refuse (contra-accept)
    n relationship, association
    v release (quit keeping/restraining)
    n religion
    v remain, stay
    v remember
    v remove, subtract, take away, delete
    v repair, fix
    v repel
    n replacement (permanent substitute/substitution)
    v represent (act as a substitute for)
    n reptile
    v request, ask for
    v reside, dwell, live
    v resign
    n respect
    v respect, venerate, esteem
    n responsibility, liability, accountability
    n rest (of ...), remainder, leftovers, remnant
    v restrain, inhibit, hold back
    n result, consequence
    v retrieve, fetch (go to X and bring it back)
    v return (go or send back to previous place/condition)
    v reveal, disclose
    n revelation, mystical vision
    n revenge, vengeance, retribution, getting even
    v reward
    n rhythm
    n rice (plant/seed of sp. Oryza sativa)
    aj rich, wealthy
    v ride (sit/perch in/on a vehicle/horse/etc. and travel)
    n right (a right to do/be ...)
    aj right(-hand)
    aj right, correct
    n ring, torus
    n riot
    n ritual, rite, ceremony
    n river
    n road
    n rock, stone
    n rocket
    n role (an individual's function)
    v roll (move like a ball/cylinder by turning over and over)
    n roof
    n room, chamber
    n root (of a plant)
    n rope
    n rose (plant/flower of genus Rosa)
    v rot, decay
    aj rough, coarse, contra-smooth
    n route, path, course
    v rub, abrade
    n rubber
    n rug, mat
    n rule, regulation
    v run
    aj runny, thin (of little viscosity)
    n rural area, countryside
    v rush, hurry, hasten
    n rust, corrosion
    n sabbath (day of week with religious significance)
    n sack, bag
    aj sad, unhappy, melancholy
    n safety, security
    n safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)
    n sail
    v sail
    n salad
    n salt
    aj same, identical
    n sand
    n sandwich
    n satisfaction
    n sausage
    v save, rescue
    n saw (tool)
    v say, tell, express in words
    n scale (device to measure weight)
    n school
    n science
    n scissors
    n score (the tally of points in a competition)
    n scratch
    n screen, mesh
    n screw (threaded fastener)
    n sea, ocean
    n season
    n second (1/60th of a minute)
    aj secret
    n section, segment (a part somehow different/separated from others)
    v see
    n seed
    v seek, search (for), look for
    v seem, appear to be, give the impression of
    av seldom, rarely
    v sell
    v send, dispatch, transmit
    n sense (ability to perceive a given kind of stimuli)
    n sentence (of words)
    n sequence, order (temporal arrangement of events in a series)
    n series (a number of similar things following one another)
    aj serious, earnest, grave
    aj serpentine, meandering, convoluted
    v serve (provide service to)
    n sesame (plant/seed of genus Sesamum)
    n set (complete group of similar items)
    num seven
    v sew
    n sex, gender
    n shadow, shade
    v shake
    aj shallow (of little depth)
    n shame
    aj sharp, keen, pointy, acute
    v shave
    n sheath
    n sheep (Ovis aries)
    n sheet (thin rectangle of paper/cloth/etc.)
    n shelf
    n shell
    n shield (a protective implement)
    v shine (radiate light)
    n ship
    v ship
    n shirt
    n shoe
    v shoot (cause to rapidly go forth)
    aj short (of little length)
    aj short, brief (of little duration)
    n shorts, trunks (trousers extending no lower than knees)
    aux v pres should, ought to (is/are expected/advised to ...)
    n shoulder
    n shovel
    v show, exhibit, display
    n shower, sprinkle
    v shrink, contract
    n side, flank, lateral area
    n sign (board with public notice written on it)
    aj silent
    n silk
    n silver (the metal)
    aj similar
    aj simple
    v sing
    v sink
    n sister
    v sit (be in a sitting position)
    num six
    n size (degree of largeness or smallness)
    n skeleton
    n ski
    n skin
    n skirt, kilt, dress (any torso-garment open at the bottom)
    n sky
    n slave
    n sleep
    v sleep
    v slide, slip, glide
    aj sloped, inclined/declined (not horizontal)
    av slowly (with little speed)
    aj small (of little size)
    v smell
    n smell, odor, aroma
    v smile
    n smoke
    aj smooth
    n snake, serpent (reptile of suborder Serpentes or Ophidia)
    n sneeze
    v sneeze
    n snow
    v snow
    aj snug (just large enough to contain X), tight (in this sense)
    n soap
    n sock, hose, stocking
    n sodium
    aj soft, malleable, yielding to pressure
    n soldier
    aj solid (contra-hollow)
    n solid (not a gas or liquid)
    n son
    av soon (in the near future)
    v sort
    n soul, spirit (believed to outlive the body)
    n sound (audible waves in the air)
    n soup
    aj sour
    n source, origin
    n south
    n soya, soybean (plant/seed of sp. Glycine max)
    n space, room, void
    v speak, talk
    n spear, lance
    n species
    aj specific, special, particular
    n speed, velocity (degree of fastness or slowness)
    n sphere
    n spice, seasoning
    n spider, arachnid
    n spike, barb, cleat, thorn
    v spill (accidentally emit liquid)
    n spinach (plant/leaves of sp. Spinacia oleracea)
    n spine, backbone
    n spiral, whorl
    v spit
    n sponge (real/synthetic corpse of animal of phylum Porifera)
    n spool, reel (cylinder onto which something is wound)
    n spoon
    v spread (begin to cover or cause X to cover more area)
    n spring (metal helix)
    n spring (the season)
    n sprout (young shoot of plant)
    n square
    n squash, melon (plant/fruit of genus Cucurbita grown for edible fruit)
    v squat
    n squirrel (rodent of family Sciuridae)
    v stab, jab
    n stair(s)
    v stand
    n staple (fastener)
    n star
    v steal (take in a criminal way)
    n steam
    n steel
    aj stiff, rigid
    adj still
    av still, yet (even until the time mentioned)
    v stir, agitate
    n stomach
    n store, cache, reserve, reservoir
    n store, shop, boutique
    n storm
    n story, report
    aj straight (not bent)
    aj strange, weird, unusual, peculiar
    n strap
    n street
    n strength (ability to exert physical power)
    v stretch, extend
    n strike (work stoppage as protest)
    n string (thicker than thread and thinner than rope)
    n stripe
    n stroke, jolt, blow of force
    v study
    aj stupid
    n stylus
    n subject, topic of discussion
    n submission, surrender
    n substitute, surrogate (temporary replacement)
    v succeed
    v suck
    aj sudden, abrupt
    n sugar
    v suggest, propose (offer an idea)
    aj suitable, proper, fit(ting), appropriate
    n sulfur
    n summer
    n sun
    n sunflower (plant/bloom of sp. Helianthus annuus)
    v support
    v suppose, presume
    n surface
    v surprise, startle
    v swallow
    n swamp, marsh
    n sweat, perspiration
    v sweep
    aj sweet
    n swelling, inflation
    v swim
    n sword
    n syllable
    n symbol, sign, token
    n syringe
    n system
    n table (piece of furniture with flat top)
    n tail
    v take (in the sense of E-o "preni", G "nehmen", Sp "tomar")
    n talent, skill, knack
    aj tapered (becoming narrower toward an end)
    n tar (dark viscous liquid obtained by destructive distillation)
    n task, chore, job, assignment
    v taste (perceive the flavor of)
    aj taut, tight, tense, strained
    n tavern, bar, pub
    n tax
    n tea (plant/leaves of sp. Camellia sinensis)
    v teach
    n team, crew, squad
    n tear(drop(s))
    v tear, rip
    n technology
    n telephone
    n telescope
    n television set
    n temperature (relative amount of heat present)
    aj temporary, transient
    v tempt
    num ten
    n tendency, propensity, inclination
    n tennis
    v test, check
    n testicle
    pr/cj than, compared to
    v thank (express gratitude toward)
    aj/pn that (demonstrative)
    cj that (e.g. "I know that you are right")
    n theater
    n theory
    av there (at/to that place)
    aj thick, fat (large from one surface to the opposite surface)
    n thickness (of a solid object, etc.)
    aj thin, slender (small from one surface to the opposite surface)
    v think
    aj/pn this (demonstrative)
    num thousand
    n thread, filament
    num three
    n throat
    pr through
    v throw, toss
    n thumb
    n thunder
    n ticket, coupon
    n tide
    v tie, bind
    n tiger (Felis tigris)
    n time (e.g. "do it 3 times"), occasion, instance, iteration
    n time (the dimension/continuum of past-present-future)
    av/aj timely, prompt, on time
    n tin (the metal)
    aj tiny, minuscule
    aj tired, weary
    pr to, towards, at (moving toward)
    n tobacco (plant/leaves of sp. Nicotiana tabacum)
    av today
    n toe
    av together
    n toilet, water closet
    n tomato (plant/berry of genus Lycopersicon)
    av tomorrow
    n tone, pitch (frequency of sound waves)
    n tongs
    n tongue (body-part)
    av too little, insufficiently
    av too much, excessively
    n tool, utensil, implement
    n tooth
    n top, peak, summit
    n tornado
    n torture
    v torture, torment
    n total, sum, aggregate
    v touch
    n towel
    n tower
    n toy, plaything
    n train (of railroad)
    n trap
    n tray (shallow rectangular dish)
    n tree
    n trial (in court)
    n triangle
    n trick, chicanery
    v trim, prune (cut off ragged edges)
    n trouble, difficulty
    n truck {British: lorry} (motor vehicle for cargo-carrying)
    aj true*
    v trust
    v try, attempt, endeavor
    n turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
    v turn, divert (send in a different direction)
    v turn, rotate, revolve
    n turtle (reptile of order Testudinata)
    num two
    aj ugly
    n umbrella
    n umpire, referee, official
    pr under, below, beneath
    v understand, comprehend
    n uniform (special garments worn by members of a group)
    v unite
    n universe, cosmos
    n university
    av up
    n urine
    v use, utilize
    n vacuum
    n vagina
    n valley
    n value (the quality of being useful and/or desirable), worth
    n valve (flow-controller)
    n vapor, mist
    n vehicle
    n veil
    n vein, blood vessel
    aj vertical
    n village
    n vinegar
    aj violent, harsh
    n virus
    aj viscous, thick (of high viscosity)
    v visit
    n vocabulary (sum of words available to a person/people)
    n vogue, trend, fad, fashion
    n voice
    n volcano
    v vomit
    v vote
    n vowel
    n waist
    n wait
    v wait (for), await
    n walk
    v walk
    n wall
    v want, wish, desire
    n war
    aj warm
    v warn
    v wash
    n waste
    v waste, misuse
    n water
    n wave
    n wax
    n weapon
    n weather
    v weave
    n wedge
    n week
    n weight (degree of heaviness or lightness)
    n west
    aj wet
    n whale (large marine mammal of order Cetacea)
    n wheat (plant/seed of sp. Triticum aestivum)
    n wheel
    av when? (at what time?)
    av where? (at/to what place?)
    n whim, caprice
    n whistle
    v whistle
    aj white
    aj whole, entire, complete
    av why? (for what reason?)
    aj wide, broad (of space between objects)
    n width (degree of wideness or narrowness)
    n wife
    aj wild, feral, untamed
    n will
    n wind
    v wind
    n window
    n wine
    n wing (of bird etc.)
    n winter
    n wire (long thread-like piece of metal)
    aj wise
    pr with (accompanied by)
    pr without, with no ..., lacking
    n wolf (Canis lupus)
    n woman (adult female person)
    n wood (the substance)
    n wool
    n word
    n work, effort, labor, toil
    n world
    n worm
    n worry, anxiety
    n wound
    v wrap
    n wrench {British: spanner}
    v wrestle
    n wrinkle, crease
    n wrist
    v write
    aj wrong, incorrect
    n year
    aj yellow
    av yesterday
    aj young (of little age; having existed/lived for a brief time)
    num zero

    Some interesting quotes
    [ Parent ]
    Not proprietry at all (3.00 / 2) (#109)
    by GenerationY on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 04:26:07 AM EST

    How do you think linguists and psycholinguists do their research?

    The search terms you need are "corpus" and "frequency", possibly also "norms".

    Completely free, I've never come across one of these resources where you did have to pay. Your university library (if near one) will have the top XXXX words in whatever language you want to hand.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Not proprietary at all (none / 1) (#116)
    by ortholattice on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 08:57:04 AM EST

    At least the list I pointed to is on the web, so you don't have to make an hour trip (or whatever) to a university library, then copy the list and transcribe it by hand or OCR.

    The search terms you gave seem helpful, thanks. But the hits I got seemed to be for articles (often with paid access) that may have analyzed such lists. However, I couldn't find any actual list other than for specialized subsets of the language (e.g. certain kinds of verbs), and none that lists the top 2500 words in practical everyday usage. If you can find such a list on the web, please post the link.

    [ Parent ]

    Have a poke around (3.00 / 3) (#125)
    by GenerationY on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 09:44:59 AM EST

    Here and here.

    Depends what you are after really, theres frequency information associated with most corpuses (corpora?).

    As for "everyday", well its in the eye of the beholder really. In the case of these studies, its in the skill of the people compiling the corpuses. But you will see ones taken from text, some from radio, TV, even Bibles or technical manuals etc. Obviously in the end your "everyday" may not be my "everyday" and so on.

    Put it this way, if such data has a commerical value we should probably get in the act. Nothing a night of cutting and pasting transcripts and a few Perl scripts can't create when all said and done.

    [ Parent ]

    Pimsleur and a second language recommendation (3.00 / 5) (#77)
    by dgallardo on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 05:15:36 PM EST

    As mentioned Pimsleur tapes are excellent, but as longtime student of several languages, I would go beyond others' recommendations and say that with the exception of Pimsleur, all language tapes and cds are nearly useless. They are only marginally useful if you have no other way of hearing the language you are studying. Also, depending on your objective, thee major drawback or featuer of Pimsleur tapes is that they only teach the conversational language. They do not teach the written language. They are perfect for learning to negotiate your way around a country as a tourist or business person, making small-talk, etc. but if you want to learn more than this, you will also have to find other materials, such as textbooks, flashcards, etc. Finally, if you want to start with something easy, conversational Indonesian is probably the easiest language in the world. Easy, regular pronunciation, no declensions, tenses or other weird morphology. Also it's the fourth most populous nation, and a beautiful place to visit to boot.

    I would recomend these websites (2.75 / 4) (#87)
    by ultimai on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 07:10:09 PM EST

    If your learning japanese:
    rikai.com (a smart idea for other languages if someone made it)

    And this website for general language learning:
    and his newer version

    This guy also pushes FSI courses as the best.

    desk studies are fine (3.00 / 3) (#95)
    by bankind on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 08:00:00 PM EST

    but I have never met anyone, ever, anywhere that has been able to speak any level of a tonal language (say Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, etc) without spending either a year of intensive training in country or are a long termer with a wife.

    now there are plenty of people that use some desk method to learn the language and then show up, start speaking all dicked up and no one understands a word they say. If fact people that try to learn say chinese or vietnamese in the US actually do more harm than good by getting sound-word associations wrong.

    I suggest a plane ticket, a year, and 4 hours of course work 5 times a week.

    "Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman

    Ki-Rundi and Ki-Nyarwanda are also tonal... (none / 0) (#171)
    by israfil on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 09:48:16 AM EST

    ... and some of the most complex language learning I've ever seen.  Imagine nouns grouped into 10 arbitrary groups.  Not cases, not tenses, but categories.  And not topical categories, but just arbitrary buckets with rules that differ from one to the next category around pluralization, number, etc.  Fun, but very tricky, and tonality has a lot to do with it.

    But it's absolutely beautiful to listen to.
    i. - this sig provided by /dev/arandom and an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards.
    [ Parent ]

    Bantu and Swedish (none / 1) (#178)
    by IHCOYC on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 10:42:59 AM EST

    My understanding is that the categories are a general feature of Bantu languages generally. They are not entirely arbitrary, but like genders they must be learned as part of the lexicon.

    Swedish is mildly tonal in most dialects including the standard Stockholm version. Words have two different potential intonations, and these are phonemic: for example, pronounced with a "flat" intonation anden means "the duck"; with a "sing-song" intonation, it means "the soul." In the sing-song intonation, generally the first syllable is low, the second higher in pitch. This intonation is one of the things that gives Swedish its distinctive sound.
    Ecce torpet probitas, virtus sepelitur;
    Fit iam parca largitas, parcitas largitur;
    Verum dicit falsitas; veritas mentitur.

    [ Parent ]

    Engaging pseudo-television series (3.00 / 5) (#96)
    by popsciolist on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 08:13:45 PM EST

    One of the best ways to learn a different language is to follow an educational series of episodes (like a TV series). Such a series not only uses prolonged daily immersion (similar to the Pimsleur series), but also attempts to engage all of your physical senses and your imagination. Since these series are longer than movies, there's hardly a sense of confusion...for long, at least.

    Kevin Kelly of Cool Tools mentioned the Destinos (Spanish mystery) and French in Action (romantic comedy) series. Both sound like fun. Does anyone know of a similar series for Chinese or Japanese?

    None specifically, but. . . . (none / 1) (#98)
    by IHCOYC on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:28:25 PM EST

    It isn't made for educational purposes, but a friend of mine can't get enough of this Chinese serial, which is apparently fun to watch even if she doesn't know much Chinese, and what she's learned is what she's picked up from the site. The music on the website is rather nice in any case. She's able to watch it because it's on a broadcast station in the Los Angeles area; elsewhere, I suppose you'd have to know what you were looking for to find more.

    Another similar trick is to watch a favourite and familiar DVD movie with the soundtrack in another language. I've practically memorized Barbarella, and that's a good one to bone up on listening to French with, especially since Jane Fonda recorded all her lines in French as well as English. (She was married to Vadim at the time, so her French must have been pretty good.)
    Ecce torpet probitas, virtus sepelitur;
    Fit iam parca largitas, parcitas largitur;
    Verum dicit falsitas; veritas mentitur.

    [ Parent ]

    i learn a lot of languages for my missionary work. (1.66 / 6) (#99)
    by the ghost of rmg on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:40:40 PM EST

    i've been in numerous missionary positions throughout africa, southeast asia, and innercity america trying to bring the word of the Lord to the wilds where men of faith have yet to tread. while it would obviously be best to teach in the native english of the king james bible, i've not yet had the convenience of a population that speaks it.

    in any case, i was hoping to find out how i might learn their languages more quickly so i could better carry out God's work. unfortunately, your techniques rely heavily on computors and other sinful resources like the internet. as i understand it, it is difficult to use the internet without being bombarded with pornography and solicitation for entry into usurous covenants. having never been (thank the Lord!), i can't speak to the veracity of these reports, but they certainly do not fill me with eagerness to try your methods.

    in our ministries, we eschew electrical appliances and other symbols of "enlightenment" blasphemy. we stick to the fundamentals of saving souls. no telavision, no radio, no cassette tape replayers. just books, rosaries, and hymnals.

    so what can i do? i'm in the slums of chicago and i can't for the life of me understand the language of the locals! how can i spread the word when the flock speaks in tongues? please advice me on how to proceed!

    rmg: comments better than yours.

    That won't work. . . (3.00 / 2) (#100)
    by IHCOYC on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09:48:21 PM EST

    Follow, instead, the example of Solomon Kane. Leave aside trying to convert the natives by talking, and learn to fence with the rapier. This way, you can lead by example and feats of derring-do.
    Ecce torpet probitas, virtus sepelitur;
    Fit iam parca largitas, parcitas largitur;
    Verum dicit falsitas; veritas mentitur.

    [ Parent ]
    Numerous missionary positions (none / 1) (#102)
    by BobTheMighty on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 10:28:25 PM EST

    He said it, not me.
    I'll try not to confuse you more than absolutely necessary
    [ Parent ]
    how to learn the language of trolling (1.06 / 15) (#105)
    by Liberal Conservative on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 11:40:39 PM EST

    how to learn the language of trolling

    1. become a sociopath

    2. learn linux

    3. move into parents' basement

    4. shove joystick up ass while masturbating

    5. read slashdot/kuro5hin incessantly

    6. study the experts

    7. mimic them

    8. rinse

    9. repeat

    10.  kill yourself

    miserable failure

       liberal conservative

    and... (none / 0) (#112)
    by noogie on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 07:33:47 AM EST

    11 ...

    12 PROFIT!!

    [ Parent ]
    Don't forget your DVD collection. (3.00 / 5) (#113)
    by Mtrix on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 08:04:06 AM EST

    At least where I live it is very common with multiple audio tracks on a DVD. Pick a movie you've seen and watch it in a different language with subtitles in your native language. You pick up more than you think. If there is no audio track for your favourite language, chances are there are subtitles for it, so watch it in your native language with subtitles in the foreign language.

    Need a source for reading material? Wikipedia! (none / 1) (#119)
    by Yekrats on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 09:07:34 AM EST

    I've been trying to self-teach myself Esperanto for a few years now, but one of the best resources that I've found for reading in a foreign language is Wikipedia. Most foreign language Wikipedias have a link back to the English to "cheat" from. Most of the Wikis have a "current events" section in that language, with featured articles. I think it would be a great resource to assist in learning just about any language.

    Also, I've been contributing to the Esperanto Wikipedia for a few months now. Although my vocabulary, grammar and style are not perfect, they're passable, and there are several experienced Esperantites who are willing to help out and polish my rough edges when I need it. Most wikis are in need of new articles. Composition in a foreign language can exercise to your poor unused language muscles, and translation from English to your language of choice can improve vocabulary and grammar.

    good suggestion but. . . (none / 1) (#149)
    by thankyougustad on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 03:34:55 PM EST

    keep in mind that not all the articles on a subject are translations (some are of course written from scratch is several language) and so 'cheating' won't always work.

    No no thanks no
    Je n'aime que le bourbon
    no no thanks no
    c'est une affaire de got.

    [ Parent ]
    Paul Pimsleur and Michel Thomas (none / 0) (#129)
    by NoNeeeed on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 10:00:06 AM EST

    Has anyone used both methods, and if so which did you think worked best.

    I find Michel Thomas' technique of concentrating on the similarity between languages (where they exist) and clever rules, mnemonics and "cheats" to help you construct your own sentaces, really seem to work.

    I'd be interested to know if Pimsleur's methods work better.

    I was amazed how much seemed to stick.  I just need to be more diceplined about making the time for it.  I think in a few hours I probably learnt (as opposed to studying and then forgetting) more French than a year of school lessons.  I have never got on well with classroom based language learning, although I'm not sure if it was the techniques, the environment, or the areas of the language that were picked that were the problem.


    I found Pimsleur style works (none / 0) (#187)
    by belka on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 10:30:35 PM EST

    I took German in college, under the 'Rassias method'. As far as I can tell, it is very simimlar to Pimsleur: lots of repetition of phrases; replacing a word at a time to learn grammar and patterns. The Rassias addition is that classes are extremely interactive, and you are expected to try to communicate even when you cannot quite get it right yet. So, It's been 6 years since I took any German. A couple weeks ago I ran into a german guy in a bar, and I could keep up a conversation. For a few days, German phrases would pop into my head. It wasn't like I needed to translate ... I just knew some German. The time has eroded my vocabulary, but it still feels like I know what I'm saying. It's like, when in your native language, you forget a word that you know. It's on the tip of your tongue and you know that you've forgotten the actual word ... but you still know the word /ought/ to be there and you still know how to use it. It's uncanny, but I am certain that the method works.

    [ Parent ]
    Obligatory Snow Crash (none / 0) (#134)
    by tarsi210 on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 10:26:27 AM EST

    ta me be tu zu la me ne bo tu ka pe no mu fu be za te le fu wa be ne ca ru bi pa me nu tu...
    "halfway between a j and an r" (none / 0) (#137)
    by mintee on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 10:40:27 AM EST

    Somebody has the same japanese book as I do. I'm actually in school and everything for japanese and I still have the hardest times with ra ri ru re ro. Damn american tounge
    -The Lazy Writer
    Put the tip of your tongue just behind your teeth (none / 0) (#154)
    by Xeriar on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 05:42:35 PM EST

    Kind of like you are going to say la li lu le lo, but don't actually touch your pallete (sp?).

    When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
    [ Parent ]
    palate, actually (none / 0) (#190)
    by hobbified on Sat Nov 13, 2004 at 08:36:24 AM EST

    but thanks for asking. :)

    [ Parent ]
    L + D (none / 0) (#165)
    by radio on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 02:38:48 AM EST

    I learnt it as halfway between a 'L' and a 'D', that one worked for me:)

    [ Parent ]
    Use L to start (none / 0) (#205)
    by mrt on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 02:38:55 AM EST

    Most Japanese actually hear the Japanese "r" when you use L. Practise with L then soften the L so it's halfway between L and R, or L and J.

    If you have trouble with "ra ri ru re ro" , how do you find "rya ryo ryu"? ;)


    I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
    [ Parent ]
    Internet Radio, Foreign Newspapers (2.50 / 2) (#142)
    by wastl on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 11:55:12 AM EST

    I found a good way to improve your language skills (if you have already managed the first steps) is to listen to internet radio stations broadcasting in your language of choice, and to read online newspapers of countries where your language is spoken.

    In Europe, you'll very likely find many real (FM) stations also broadcasting on the Internet. Because radio in Europe is to a large extent publicly owned and tend to spend money on such things (at least this holds for Germany and Sweden), there is a good chance that you'll be successful with the respective state-owned stations.

    Newspapers are also usually easy to find via Google or Yahoo. The hardest part in my experience is to find out which newspapers to trust and which not, because you are most likely not familiar with the "media culture" in the foreign country.


    The difficulty of Kanji dictionaries (none / 0) (#152)
    by drivers on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 05:03:04 PM EST

    I also recently read "How to Learn Any Language" and tried to apply it to Japanese, which I've always wanted to learn and took quite a few years of in college. Along with the other tracks you've mentioned, one the author recommended was building your vocabulary flash cards based on words picked up from your reading source, e.g. the daily newspaper. So I picked up a copy of asahi shimbun and started with the first article about the Japanese swimming team winning a gold medal in Athens. One of the first words was about the Olympics, and it took me forever to find the kanji that started that word. A few days later when I figured out what the kanji was, trying to figure out what the radicals were and how many strokes there were, giving up and searching through a list of all official Japanese kanji, one by one until I found it. I looked up that one in my kanji dictionary and the only words they had as compounds were words related to the olympics but not the actual word that was in the newspaper. I think maybe I should switch to Spanish. Although it is somewhat comforting to get a second opinion on that idea from the author of this article. (And yes, I did also do extensive searching of the online dictionaries.)

    I thought this was the case for 8 years, then (none / 1) (#153)
    by tetsuwan on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 05:37:10 PM EST

    I realized the power of alt+shift+R.
    1. Get a Japanese word processor(OS X will do)
    2. Find a good internet dictionary (sorry my link is on my other computer)
    3. Mark the unknown word or kanji and reverse the transformation .
    4. Read the hiragana
    5. Enjoy!

    Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
    [ Parent ]

    ok, but... (none / 0) (#156)
    by drivers on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 06:17:00 PM EST

    I don't see how that solves the problem I presented.

    [ Parent ]
    Read asahi.com instead of the paper version (nt) (none / 0) (#168)
    by tetsuwan on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 06:55:57 AM EST

    Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
    [ Parent ]

    Makes sense... (none / 0) (#182)
    by drivers on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 02:03:02 PM EST

    Actually I vaguely remember going that route. There was an article about expanding one of the airports. I guess that still means the paper kanji dictionary is useless.

    [ Parent ]
    rikai.com (none / 0) (#162)
    by ultimai on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 11:31:29 PM EST

    Is exactly what you need.  You'll have to stick with online versions, but i doubt you will mind.

    [ Parent ]
    Japanese IME (3.00 / 2) (#163)
    by radio on Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 12:13:29 AM EST

    If you're running Windows (there's probably alternatives for Linux et al) get a copy of the Japanese IME, then you can draw the kanji to look it up.

    > Open a word processor, press alt+shift, or select the en/jp icon on the task bar to go to Japanese mode.
    > Pressing the tilde/grave(sp?) button (under esc) toggles between romanji->kana/kanji transcribing and pure romanji.
    > look on the IME bar for a picture of a keyboard / brush, click it and choose natural input, the bar should expand and you'll find a pint bucket/brush/pencil icon, >click that and you can then draw the kanji in the left hand box of the new window. the right hand box has the programs best guess for your 'handwriting' and there's a bunch of buttons at the side to get readings/strokes etc.

    hope that's useful to someone

    [ Parent ]

    Paper dictionaries (none / 0) (#240)
    by poyoyo on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 01:00:54 PM EST

    Sounds like you're using a paper dictionary. That's useless. Buy an electronic one with parts/radical search support. You can get a cheap one for 10,000 yen. It only takes me about 5 seconds to look up a kanji in 90% of cases.

    Also, it's probably a good idea to learn the 500 or so most frequent kanji before you even look at a real text. They turn up in any text and they'll give you a general familiarity with the structure of kanji.

    [ Parent ]

    Unilang (none / 0) (#158)
    by spung on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 06:51:49 PM EST

    Unilang has some nice resources.

    my problem (none / 0) (#161)
    by CAIMLAS on Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 11:11:01 PM EST

    My problem is that the languages I have interest in don't tend to have too many good resources. (Well, and I'm unmotivated/time constrained.) Not too many Norsk or Gaelic audio/software options, near as I can tell.

    Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

    Part of the difficulty might be physical (none / 0) (#191)
    by rmn on Sat Nov 13, 2004 at 03:02:51 PM EST

    I've read somewhere that our ears are physically affected by the sounds we grow up with (they adapt to be able to distinguish the most common sounds, while "rarer" sounds become more "blurred"). So, many japanese are not just unable to pronounce distinct "r" and "l" sounds, they are actually unable to hear them.

    This might also explain why many English speakers can't pronounce strong or rolled Rs, why they have trouble with "pure" (romance) vowels, and why they often can't even understand that they're mispronouncing something.

    -- Jay swee anglay.
    -- No, it's pronounced "Je suis anglais" (zhusweezangleh)
    -- Yes, that's what I said.

    In Portugal (where I live), virtually nothing is dubbed (except for some cartoons), so we are exposed to a lot of foreign languages from an early age. On top of that, Portuguese is one of the languages with the broadest range of sounds there are. As a result, people here tend to be pretty good at repeating foreign words, even if they don't know their meaning, or the language's grammar.

    I've noticed that spaniards have a much harder time, and usually speak with a strong spanish accent - almost certainly because nearly everything there is dubbed, and they're not used to foreign sounds.

    -- Gud ibning, ledis en rrentlemen, we ar bery epi to heb you hir wit us.

    I've also noticed that my grandparents have no trouble pronouncing french words but can't get some english words right (namely words with a soft "r" or a "th", the only two English sounds that don't really exist in Portuguese), while many younger kids today can pronounce all english words fine, but not some french ones. The reason is probably the fact that, 50 years ago, French was a lot more common here (on TV, movies, music, etc.) than English, and nowadays it's the other way around. I don't mean knowing how to pronounce the words. I'm talking about not being able to repeat it correctly even right after they've heard it.

    So, if you have kids, make sure you expose them to different languages as soon as possible. Even if they're not actually learning them, at least they'll get used to the sounds, and won't lose the be ability to distinguish (and pronounce) them later.

    After learning your second language (especially if it's different enough from your first one), learning more languages becomes much easier. As someone wrote (I remember the quote from a programming book), "language shapes our thoughts and determines what we can think about".

    A big part of learning new languages is not the pronunciation or the grammar, it's new concepts and new ways to mean (learning programming languages is a similar process). As you get better at new languages you'll start to see some things in a different way, and you'll be able to understand some things much more clearly.

    Also, don't try to speak another language by thinking in your language and then "translating" it; it never works very well, and you'll bump into the limitations of both languages. You can sort of use that method to speak, but not to understand what someone else tells you. You need to start thinking in the new language as soon as possible.


    It was on slashdot recently - the link: (none / 0) (#204)
    by jongleur on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 02:33:28 AM EST

    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]
    Tonalities (none / 0) (#224)
    by X-Nc on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 02:26:00 PM EST

    > So, many japanese are not just unable to pronounce distinct "r" and "l" sounds,
    > they are actually unable to hear them.

    This might or might not be true but I have personal experience that it doesn't hold across the board.

    Back in 2002 I started to try and pick up the Thai language. As a native English speaker, this wasn't easy. Thai has 5 different tones; high, low, mid, raising & falling. Thus, the same word can be pronounced in 5 different ways with 5 different meanings. When I started out, it did sound like every pronunciation of the word with the different tones was the same. But after some practice and help from native Thai speakers, I was able to hear the different tones. From there I was able to pronounce the different tones. At the time I was working on this most Thai's said that I had little or no accent. One commented that teaching Thai to me was like "teaching a crocodile how to swim." These days I am learning Mandarin. It only has 4 tones but is still challenging.

    Bottom line, it is possible to learn a conceptually different language. Maybe I am the exception to the rule but it is possible.

    Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.
    [ Parent ]

    Depences of the lenguages (none / 1) (#192)
    by Pedro Del Gallgo on Sat Nov 13, 2004 at 06:06:26 PM EST

    Im a spanish speaker, and i learn a little bit os english some years ago. Really I learn broken-english becouse I had a nigerian girlfriend. At first I think therere few diferents between nigerian english and "normal" english but i was worng. When i went to london in vacation, I said `E yeng dei or `dey like. No be so and nobody understand me. It was funny

    At the same time i learn Edu (a dialect of Yoruba, an ancient lenguages from West Africa(Nigeria and Benin) and the phonetic was imposible to me.For example Yoruba -- ofuruf English -- firmament spanish -- firmamento

    English is a good leanges to learn, have very regulars verbs and it hasnt declaratory forms like other greco-latin lenguages

    My two cents the best way is a total inmersion in the country, look for a girlfirnd(or boyfriend) and start to work in anything

    Nigerian English (none / 1) (#195)
    by Arker on Sat Nov 13, 2004 at 08:53:18 PM EST

    I had a professor from Nigeria once (he was Ibo.) I swear, it took me a week of listening to him before I could understand him. The first night I didn't understand a bloody word of his lecture, and although it got better each night, it was really the last lecture of the week where things sort of clicked and I started understanding him fully, instead of just a bit here or there. After getting used to his dialect, I never had much more trouble - he became my favourite professor.

    But it's definately one of the more difficult versions of English I've heard. And presumably in his case it was easier, because he was a professor after all, and not slinging a lot of slang around.

    I also spent several days sharing a room in a hostel with some kids from Scotland. They *were* being slangy - and I swear they could talk for half an hour in front of me without I could catch a word. Very disconcerting.

    [ Parent ]

    Scots are special (3.00 / 5) (#196)
    by Nursie on Sat Nov 13, 2004 at 10:37:06 PM EST

    'Scots' is considered a dialect or possibly even it's own language. The only page I know of in proper 'Scots' is The scottish parliament site.

    It reads like a very drunken english...... which may well be what it is :)

    Meta Sigs suck.

    [ Parent ]
    True love at first sight. (none / 0) (#210)
    by mold on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 11:34:47 AM EST

    I love it.

    Oddly enough, it looks different enough that I thought it was another language, and was looking for an English version of the page almost immediately, until I started to read it.

    Beware of peanuts! There's a 0.00001% peanut fatality rate in the USA alone! You could be next!
    [ Parent ]

    Luok sa language (none / 0) (#206)
    by circletimessquare on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 08:07:03 AM EST

    Kon gusto kang mosubay sa gamot nga mga hinungdan sa lapad nga pangurakot nga nihakop karon sa nagkalainlaing sektor sa katilingban, ayaw pangita sa layo, tutoki ang dakong amot sa language pagpalambo sa nasudnong kanser.

    Ang bisan unsang maayong mga mithi nga gitudlo sa classrooms matabonan sa mas sipa nga mensahe sa ilang mga aksiyon: Pamakak, tabonay, pahimus, pangabuso, pa-goryo-goryo, pabaga ug papating.

    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    Is that trollese? NT (none / 1) (#207)
    by Cro Magnon on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 09:55:52 AM EST

    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    you're showing your ignorance (nt) (none / 0) (#208)
    by circletimessquare on Sun Nov 14, 2004 at 10:36:09 AM EST

    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]
    Allow me to show my ignorance too (none / 1) (#229)
    by QuickFox on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 08:41:56 PM EST

    Long ago I heard that there are 3000 languages. A huge majority, 2992 of them, are unknown to me. Including this one.

    Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
    [ Parent ]
    Maybe (none / 0) (#235)
    by Cro Magnon on Tue Nov 16, 2004 at 09:08:27 AM EST

    But I noticed that you still didn't say what language that was.
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    Tagalog? (n/t) (none / 0) (#242)
    by coljac on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 05:09:52 PM EST

    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]
    nagairinukay nga lingguahe (none / 0) (#248)
    by Cry Regarder on Tue Nov 23, 2004 at 10:39:17 PM EST

    Anoguid bala ang gusto mo nga hambalon diri?
    Cry Regarder
    [ Parent ]
    The word is glossaphile (1.33 / 3) (#216)
    by LeninZhiv on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 02:42:40 AM EST

    Or maybe glossophile, but definately not "linguaphile"--that's mixing Greek and Latin roots, which is very corny (think "Scientology"). Otherwise a very good article; I'm sextalingual [en, fr, ru, eo, va, gr] and share your enthusiasm! But work on those classical languages before your next post :-) Gxis revido.

    Hmm... (none / 1) (#233)
    by eLoco on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 11:47:11 PM EST

    What is "va"? It's apparently not an ISO-639 language code, unless my references are incomplete. I'm assuming by "gr" you meant Greek; "el" is the correct code for this.

    Also, what does "sextalingual" mean exactly? Does this mean you are fluent in these six languages? If so, you are quite the accomplished linguist - sorry, glossaphile. (Although I should probably also get your definition of fluency.) Please shed some light on your learning methods. On the other hand, if you're not claiming fluency in six languages, use of the word "sextalingual" could be perceived as pretty corny, don't you think?

    One last question: how could someone evidently very concerned with "language mixing" ever conceivably tolerate Esperanto? Seems contradictory to me.

    Feel free to answer in en, fr, ru, eo, el and "va" so we can evaluate your sextalingualism. Oh, and throw in la (Latin) for good measure. «Ни пуха, ни пера» (Ni pukha ni pera!)

    [ Parent ]
    I stand corrected (none / 0) (#243)
    by coljac on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 05:14:55 PM EST

    "Linguophile" was a bit clumsy, I never got around to finding the right word, and I'm embarassed. Multajn dankojn.

    Ni ankaux komprenas, ke esperanto estas bela, interesa lingvo. Mi kredas kion, kvankam mi povas paroli aliajn lingvojn. Ne, me kredas kion, cxar mi konas aliajn lingvojn.

    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    How I learnt languages. (none / 0) (#221)
    by Aimaz on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 08:06:47 AM EST

    Last year I learnt the basics of both German and Spanish. I was living in Germany and my main group of friends spoke Spanish as their first language and couldn't speak English.

    I attended a german course for 9 hours a week for 5 months or so and also practiced in shops and with people at work.

    Spanish I bought a dictionary and just listened to my friends speaking spanish, they translated some things for me, over time I understood more and more and was eventually able to join conversations.

    I think my german and spanish are of a similar standard now but I spent alot less time learning Spanish than German and learning Spanish was a lot cheaper.

    I'm going to try to learn the basics of french next with the method described in this article.
    Aimaz -----

    I know Dutch and English; want to learn German. (none / 0) (#239)
    by Surial on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 08:58:02 AM EST

    I think I need some custom advice for this one. German has almost the same vocalizations as Dutch, and the languages are very similar. Heck, I can almost understand German already; about 50% of the words are just 'germanified' versions of a Dutch or English words.

    There are of course complications. Neither Dutch nor English has (naamvallen) (declinations?) but German does. Different ways of saying nouns depending on their purpose in the sentence. Latin has this, too.

    Before I read this article I did have a personal plan on how to do this:

     1. Download a bunch of german ebooks and start reading them. Use an instant dictionary (tap the word, select 'dictionary', there you go). I realize this stuff is bad for tonation but I don't think that's a problem in this case, as the vocalizations are pretty much all the same.

     2. Talk in german to my parents who live there and should be able to correct me by now (been living there for the last 3 years or so, and my dad's pretty much always been able to speak German fairly well as he was born very close to the border).

    Would a pimsleur or rosetta stone course help as well, or is that considered overkill for my situation?

    "is a signature" is a signature.

    Overkill (none / 0) (#241)
    by coljac on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 05:05:13 PM EST

    Hi there. Pimsleur is definitely not overkill; in fact it's perfect for your situation. While the written language is pretty similar to Dutch in many ways, I think the spoken part will have a high learning curve (I speak German fluently and so I can read Dutch with the same facility you can read German, but it's pretty hard to understand spoken). Pimsleur will give you a start with the sounds of the language and you'll quickly master the right words and phrases for basic situations.

    Your Dutch will mean you'll fly through the vocabulary but you'll still need to learn some grammar too. So, getting a hold of a textbook is probably a good companion to your e-book reading.

    In summary, doing a Pimsleur can never hurt. Rosetta Stone probably can't hurt either, but won't be quite as necessary for you given your fluency in a closely-related language.

    Viel Glck!

    Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
    [ Parent ]

    English does have declensions (none / 0) (#244)
    by thankyougustad on Fri Nov 19, 2004 at 05:24:34 PM EST

    they just all look alike.

    No no thanks no
    Je n'aime que le bourbon
    no no thanks no
    c'est une affaire de got.

    [ Parent ]
    Who and whom (N/T) (none / 0) (#246)
    by DodgyGeezer on Sun Nov 21, 2004 at 11:10:22 PM EST

    [ Parent ]
    Dutch and German (none / 0) (#250)
    by munro on Wed Nov 24, 2004 at 04:53:12 PM EST


    I know some German (learnt at university) and some Dutch (learnt hitchhiking around Holland for a few months), and am learning a few other languages.

    I think that the cases (= 'naamvallen') are not particularly difficult to learn in German - it's useful to study the charts which show how to decline articles, adjectives and nouns so you can see the patterns and learn the mechanics, but the key is to learn some phrases off by heart that demonstrate the endings, so that you will have some models to copy when constructing new phrases.  Talking to yourself in German, so that you can excercise the different cases and genders, can be quite amusing and can help make the transition from 'theoretical' knowledge of the case system to a gut feeling about which ending is the right one.

    I find that once acquired, each language's word ending system becomes like a set of little wheels or cogs that turn in the brain as you speak or listen - the right ones sort of click into place automatically.  If you hear a learner use the wrong ones, it 'grates', because it's not what you were expecting, even if the core meaning of the words has been understood.  Speaking as a computer nerd, they remind me of some kind of parity bit, which can detect transmission errors (although they also convey important information, in the case of languages with marked cases).

    I also found that another problem with German vs Dutch was the lossy mapping of grammatical genders.

    German der -> Dutch de
    German die -> Dutch de
    German das -> Dutch het

    As you can see, if you know the Dutch word 'de muis', how can you guess whether it will be 'der Maus' or 'die Maus' in German?  You can't, that information is lost in Dutch.  The same problem applies when trying to guess German genders if you know one of the Scandinavian languages, which use the same gender system as Dutch (common vs neuter).

    If you think that dealing with cases in German is hard, try Scots Gaelic.  Ouch.

    Just some ramblings :)

    Good luck with your learning.

    BTW Dutch does have some traces of naamvallen.  I find it curious - in order to produce any new sentences using the old genetive 'der' and 'des', a Dutch speaker would have to perform a mapping for which he/she doesn't have enough information, since it's der for feminine, and des for masculine and neuter.

    [ Parent ]

    TPR, Language Learning and Pimsleur (none / 0) (#249)
    by sgoldgaber on Wed Nov 24, 2004 at 12:58:07 AM EST

    I've found the Pimsleur tapes (for Dutch) to be excellent, but useful only for the absolute beginner.  With only a tiny bit of Dutch under my belt I completely outgrew the Pimsleur tapes.

    What I found to be much more useful have been a language learning method called "TPR" and the articles on the "Language Impact" website, such as "Leave Me Alone! Can't You See I'm Learning Your Language?".  They've been an invaluable help to me.  I can't recommend them highly enough.  Have a look here:


    The TPR method is incredibly simple:

    Student(s) listen while the teacher says a command and watch while he performs the corresponding action... such as:  "stand up" and stands up.

    Then the teacher indicates to the student(s) that the student(s) should perform that action when they hear that command (ie. the student(s) should stand up when they hear "stand up").  The command is repeated a few times until the student(s) feels they've learned it.

    This entire process is then repeated to learn other imperatives, nouns, adjectives, adverbs and grammar.  The TPR method has actually been expanded in to something called "TPR Storytelling" to teach pretty much all other aspects of spoken language.  There are more details on all of this on the Language Impact website.  Because it's so physical and so engaging I found TPR to be very fun and very effective.

    The other recommendations on the Language Impact website I've found useful have been to find what they call a "language resource person" (a native speaker who'll help you learn your target language), and to tape all my conversations with my LRP so I'll have some samples of comprehensible speech to review.

    While TPR and the other methods Language Impact recommended were wonderful, especially for learning loads of vocabulary very quickly, I did run in to some deficiencies of these methods eventually.

    The biggest problem was boredom and keeping myself motivated.  I hired a tutor who I saw for an hour once a week, and who I trained in the TPR method.  He was great, but after a while (about 5 or 6 months) the routine grew to be dull, and we started running in to limitations of TPR (ie. highly abstract concepts like telling time, and numbers obviously have to just be memorized by rote, which is a lot more boring than TPR, though TPR can help a bit... for example, "point to the two cows").

    I think at this time I should have introduced other language learning methods and switched the focus to speaking, then reading, and finally writing.  That would have probably reignited both of our interests and provided some much needed variety and new challenges.

    The other thing I would now recommend is taking a class with other students.  I would still make TPR the main focus, especially for beginners... so if you can find a class that uses TPR methodology that would be ideal.  But even if it doesn't it can still be valuable for the following reasons: first, you'll be surrounded by other people who are also trying to learn the same language, that will help you keep motivated; it will also provide opportunity to try all sorts of learning strategies which just aren't available in one-on-one tutoring situations (ie. pairwork and groupwork with your peers); and it will also provide more variety than a one-on-one situation.

    So, in sum I'd still recommend TPR and one-on-one instruction for about the first three months or so, and then followed by or paralleled with a group class.  One last thing I would recommend is that any kind of formal grammar study be put off as long as possible.  With TPR grammar is taught implicitly (ie. as you're always hearing grammatically correct productions from your LRP you know, without ever having to be told explicit rules of grammar, that "stand up" is correct... and "up stand" will just not come in to your mind, or will seem "just wrong" if you hear it, just like native speakers do).  Learning explicit grammar rules too early will just impede your learning, as it will start getting your conscious mind involved in what should be left to your unconscious mind to assimilate.

    My view of language learning. (none / 1) (#254)
    by computao on Wed Dec 08, 2004 at 10:23:08 AM EST

    I am a Chinese, I was not good at english according our Chinese society standard. Nine years ago, I decide to learn computing, When I play with my keyboard, MS-DOS6.0 always give my English answer, So I had to deal with this problem. I learn some English words that I met. By sticking to that, 8 years latter, I could pass a difficult test in our country even my english is still not fluent.
    Teaching languages with TPR (none / 0) (#256)
    by Vistawide on Mon May 16, 2005 at 01:41:31 AM EST

    I totally agree that TPR is an effective method of language learning. I've experienced it both as an instructor and as a student. When I was in college I was learning my third language (Spanish), and as much as I hated TPR from a student perspective, those things I learned in TPR are the ones that stuck with me and that I still remember all these years later.

    As a college German instructor, I resisted using TPR for a while because I remembered how stupid I felt as as student doing it. But I have learned that it's all in the approach you take and how you introduce it to students. I now regularly use TPR during the first 10-12 weeks of language instruction to introduce a myriad of new vocabulary: classroom objects, directions, body parts, colors, numbers, and much more. The students feel success early on. Because they are able to understand a wide range of commands in a short period of time, it makes their language progress very obvious to them and inspires confidence. Once I even co-taught a summer intensive language course where the first 20 hours of instruction were TPR-only. Instruction took the students all over campus, had them drawing on the blackboard, and interacting with one another in various ways. By the end of the first five days they were bursting with the desire to finally speak!

    Students love TPR so much they are constantly asking and even begging for it: Can we do TPR today? Why haven't we done TPR for a week? and the like. It's turned out to be a very valuable learning tool. I agree that it works best in a group. When students forget, they help each other. Getting the students up and moving around also creates a wonderful group dynamic.

    Helena Rose
    Vistawide World Languages and Cultures

    cool (none / 0) (#257)
    by soart on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 11:13:43 PM EST

    haha,so cool!
    How to Learn a Language | 259 comments (250 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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