Land of the Mad Lupin Lovers

Ramblings from a geek

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Language meme
Dorian
linda_lupos
I totally stole this meme from Amy. :p

1. What is your mother tongue?
Dutch!

2. What are the official languages of the country you live in?
Dutch and Frisian. Fun fact: at the inauguration of our king (we don't do coronations as we don't have an official state religion - it's complicated) all the members of congress have to pledge alledgiance to the new head of state. One of them did so in Frisian, which caused a brief commotion: "what did she say?! Is she even allowed to do it in Frisian?!" Yes, yes she was, as Frisian is an official language here!

3. Are there any minority languages in your country? Are you interested in them
We have a number of local dialects, some of which only differ in the slightest and some of which are miles apart. There are even variations in 'city' languages and 'country' languages - the capital of the province of Friesland, for example, has its own slightly different dialect from Frisian. A friend of mine lives on one of the small islands to the north of the Netherlands and she is adamant that they do NOT speak Frisian but their own separate language!

The city where I live also has its own language/dialect. I can understand it (mostly) but I can't speak it (same with Frisian, which is actually my dad's native language, as it were). I'm somewhat interested in learning Frisian but the local dialects don't interest me much. I also don't know any native speakers and I wouldn't need to be able to speak it to communicate with anyone.
We also have a lot of immigrants who speak their own languages, like Turkish, Morrocan, Indonesian, Chinese, etc.

4. Are there any minority / extinct languages you are interested in?
Frisian, like I said above. Mostly to impress my dad, haha. I also once had a plan to learn Latin.

5. How many languages can you speak and on what level?
Dutch and English fluently, French tolerably (although I suspect I'm better at it than I think), German and Italian good enough to get by. I also know a few words in random languages like Irish, Czech, Swedish and Icelandic (mostly "hello" and "thank you" though).

6. When did you start learning your second language?
I officially started learning English when I was eleven or so, although the Netherlands being what it is I was exposed to it way before that. We had an hour of English class every Friday afternoon, and we learned stuff like "hello my name is" and "I live in the Netherlands". We did a lot of conversations, too. I still remember my teacher cracking up because we had to explain things about the Netherlands in English, except we didn't know the English word for wooden shoes yet. The Dutch word is "klompen" so we told her we wore "clumps"!

7. Is second language a mandatory subject in your country and how many hours per day do children learn it?
Yup. We're a tiny country with a lot of trade interests, we kind of have to! Most kids start English in grammar school - I started at the age of 11, but I heard that lots of kids start younger these days, some even in kindergarten. Lots of kids are exposed to English through videogames, tv or the internet, too, which allows them to pick it up pretty quickly (it's mostly how my younger brother perfected his English). In high school, Dutch and English are mandatory languages (both get, I think) one or two hours per week), and depending on the school level you have to take either one or two languages in addition. I had Dutch, English and French in my first year, then had German added in my second year (this was all mandatory). I dropped French after my third year to focus on German - mostly because German resembles Dutch a lot and I was lazy! I did my school exams in Dutch, English and German.

8. What do you think about immersion? Have you ever / would you like to try it?
I think immersion is a good idea, but not without a (semi)solid basis or some help by a teacher or guide, someone who is willing to help explain stuff or take it slow as you're learning stuff. It does teach you a lot of 'working' language, for buying stuff or making your way around. But it does sound really tiring.

Sometimes it sounds like fun (I mean, I wouldn't mind being dropped into Florence for a month to improve my Italian!) but I would like to have some basis on the language, too. I don't envy refugees who come here from God knows where and HAVE to figure out a language they have never heard before and which doesn't even remotely sound like theirs.

9. How many languages are you learning at the moment {self-study counts} ?
French and Italian. I'm taking French classes right now. A few years after high school, I started to regret dropping French like a hot potato in favor of German because it was easier - I don't even like German all that much, nor do I like Germany itself or German culture, and I barely ever use it. I do like the sound of French, plus as a Romance language it would be a nice basis for learning Italian and Spanish. So I decided to brush up on my French through adult classes. Thankfully because I had studied it for three years in high school I could step in at the advanced beginners level. It's been quite fun. It's much more practical than in high school, more focused on conversation, reading and listening rather than cramming verb tenses or memorising the gender of words. It's ok if you misuse "le" or "la" as long as you can make yourself understood.
I'm nearing the end of my third year now, kind of debating whether I'll continue after the summer. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the language now, enough to continue with self-study in the form of reading the news and listening to radio and such. I'm going to France in May, that'll have to be the test!

I'm also learning Italian through Duolingo and the podcast Coffeebreak Italian. I started last summer and it's been really fun. I already finished the Duolingo language exercises so now I'm just trying to stay on top of that. It's been much easier to learn than I thought, mostly because I already had a good basis in French, and it turns out a lot of words in English and Dutch are based on Latin, so with a lot of words in Italian I could trace the word back to its root, go "oh it looks a bit like xxxx" and guess from there. 9 times out of 10 I was right. :) Plus Italian is such a delightfully dramatic language!
The only thing I don't like is that Italian often drops the subject from sentences (so "he likes dogs" would be "likes dogs") with little indication whether the subject is even male or female. Plus there are some verb tenses that I still don't really get, and Duolingo is little help there because all their grammar explanations are in English and I don't always know the grammar terms. :p ("What the hell are cyclids??") So maybe I'll take a few Italian classes if I don't continue French.

10. What languages would you like to learn in the {near} future?
Spanish, maybe. Frisian. And I might do the Japanese Duolingo in preparation for my planned visit to Japan in 2020!

11. Do you prefer attending courses / classes or learning on your own? Why?
Both have their advantages. With my French classes, I like having other students to practice with, and the opportunity to ask my teacher to explain stuff. Plus we're a pretty fun group - we have a shared app group where we chat, and each year we go out to dinner at the end of the year to celebrate.
On the other hand, with self-study I like that I can set my own pace and can leave it for two months if I want to. With classes, it's a little harder to stay away for two months without any comment and then expect to be allowed back in with no problem. :p

12. Is there a language you have just given up on although you really wanted to master it?
Latin. I'd bought this book about Latin for Newbies or something and I was all set to learn it. But Latin is a hard language to learn on your own, and while my French classes were only a few years ago back then (this was when I was just out of high school) I wasn't firm enough on Romance languages to really get it. So I don't think I got much further than the second chapter!
I should see if I still have that book and see if it's any better now...

13. Is {are} there word{s} you just always misspell?
Well my French is always pretty creative what with all those accents. :p
I always have to try out 'accessories' and see if it looks right. I have a tendency to switch the c and the s around. And "definitely", I must not think about that too much while I write or else I definitely mess it up!

14. Are there any words you just love.
I like the Italian word for "really small": piccolino! Especially with a little bounce on the first syllable: PIC-colino!
And the French for peanut is really fun: a 'cacahuete'!

15. What aspect{s} of language interests you?
How they're all related somehow, i.e. language familes. French, Italian and Spanish are alike (to the point where I shouldn't practice Itallin and French on the same day because I WILL mix them up!), as are English, Dutch and German. Then, interestingly, Frisian is this weird inbetween mix of German, Dutch and a little English. The language spoken on the island my friend lives on is still closer to English, with some words spoken in a distinctly English pronunciation (her brother studied English at university and IIRC he wrote his thesis on the relation between English and Frisian). Then on the other hand there are the Asian, Arabic and Slavic families, for example, which sound absolutely nothing alike. When I was in Prague and tried to find my way around the subway, I ended up memorising sequences of letters instead of words as the place names made NO SENSE to me (let's not even get into the spelling). Irish is pure gibberish to me, although I could make sense of some individual words. Icelandic was interesting to me - during the announcements on the plane, I had that weird annoying feelng that you can ALMOST understand it but you actually really can't. And I had a bus driver almost laughing at me completely botching the name of the bus stop I wanted to go to! Geez. :p

16. What linguistic category interests you the most? {lexicology, semantics...)
Uhh I had to look on wikipedia for this. I like how people use language to describe the world around them, and how language has evolved for a specific setting - the infamous "eskimos have 40 words for snow" thing. I also find sayings and metaphors really amusing, how people in different languages use different ways to descibe something. For example, in English it would rain cats and dogs, while in Dutch it would rain pipe stems! (Yeah I have no idea). So I guess that would be pragmatics and semiotics?

17. Favourite language teacher?
I was rather charmed by my German teacher in high school, an older gentleman who was rather old school. For example, my school would have this little "bible moment" after the first break (which was, along with the mandatory religion classes, the only nod to the official Christian background of the school!). Most teachers would do it half-heartedly or just rattle off the set reading of that day from the little popular-language booklet. This guy, however, would read from an actual Bible IN GERMAN. Which of course did heaps to enthuse us both for the Bible and the German language, ahem. :p But he had an amazing grasp of the language and he was strict but fair. I had a Dutch teacher in the same vein - my friend and I actually nicknamed him "McGonagall"!
On the other hand my school also had a French teacher who was young and pretty to the point where he had his own fanclub; I was rather less impressed with *that*. (I never had classes from him, instead I got stuck with the teacher who chucked chalk at us if we said something wrong, or the one who turned the heating up to eleven during the winter, basically smothering us. Maybe in hindsight I can see why I dropped French!)
I also really like my current French teacher. She is nice, enthusiastic, and she sews her own clothes, too!

18. What does your name mean and from what language does it come from?
Linda is a Germanic name. From Behind The Name: "Originally a medieval short form of Germanic names containing the element linde meaning "soft, tender". It also coincides with the Spanish and Portuguese word lindameaning "beautiful"."

So there you go. :p I also heard the meaning "shield" or "snake". I like the shield meaning better!

19. Native speaker or not, as a teacher?
Ehh I don't really have a preference? As long as they're good teachers. Although native speakers can help with the pronunciation, I guess. I like that about Coffebreak Italian: they have three presenters, one teacher who speaks the language fluently, one learner who has no idea, and one native speaker to help demonstrate the correct pronunciation and who occassionally expains cultural stuff.
Also the teacher and the learner are both Scottish, which is GREAT when they speak Italian. The teacher especially downright PURRS in Italian. :p

20. In case you are planning to have children, would you like to raise them bilingual {multilingual}? Or in another case, what do you think about teaching such young children languages?
I would certainly try and give them a good basis in English, maybe even to the point of reading them English books as small kids. It's such a useful language, and at that age their brains are still 'plastic' enough to pick stuff like that up pretty easily. And I am confident enough in my English that I don't think I'll be teaching them too many errors (now I'm worried I made some grave error in this paragraph, oops!). Of course I would also try and take them on trips to the UK or Ireland so they could get into contact with native speakers.

21. Do you think that one day we will speak only English?
No. There are SO MANY languages, it'd be ridiculous to think that there would ever be one global language. Actually, I think it might actually lose some relevance in favor of Mandarin. There are even some schools here who offer it alongside English because China is an upcoming market and superpower.
I do think that we might lose some smaller languages. Frisian, for example, is diminishing despite local governments' efforts to offer it in schools (somewhat comparable to Irish, really) and many local dialects get fewer native speakers as well. I'm not sure what should be done about that. On the one hand it's sad, on the other hand it's also a bit the natural way of things, I think.

22. What is the hardest language to learn in your opinion?
Gosh. Any with a different alphabet. :p Icelandic is supposed to be really hard, but I felt that as a scandinavian language it felt close enough to Dutch that the basics shouldn't be *that* hard. I found Irish incomprehensible, both written and spoken, so I guess I'll settle for Irish!
Some of those African "click" languages sound impossible, too, but I'm guessing that's mostly because we shape words completely differently with our mouths. Kind of like how nobody can pronounce the Dutch G because they never learned as kids how to shape their mouths. :p

23. Favourite foreign name{s)?
Guillaume. For starters, I can't get over the fact that it's the French version of "William" (HOW?!) and I like how it feels in your mouth. It basically flows off your tongue. Guillaaaauuuumm.

And any name that doesn't sound at all like how it's written, like Aisling (Ashley), Shioban (Shah-von), Þórr (Thor), etc!

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I also love the name Gulliame!

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