Thursday, January 11, 2018

Da Linga

Words and language fascinate me. I am monolingual, as are most long term Australians. I learnt French at school for six years, so I have a little understanding of French, but I have forgotten most of it.

Remember the past bloggers the Hattats in Budapest? When we met Jane and Lance, I could tell she knew a good bit of Hungarian, enough to communicate. Both she and Lance had taken language lessons, which is what you should do if you commit to another country, learn the language.

I know the Americans in France, Ken and Walt, are fluent French speakers.

Which brings me to Gattina in Waterloo, Belgium. I hope I get this right from what she has told me and what I know.  Gattina of German birth speaks German, French, that is the local Waterloo language, English and understands Dutch but cannot speak it. Her Italian born husband speaks Italian, French and I think perhaps English.

Her son speaks French, English and Dutch. Her daughter in law, Dutch and a little English. Problem there, as Gattina and her daughter in law don't really have a common language.

Her son's young son Toby, Gattina's grandson, speaks Dutch and English, but not French, however, he is learning French.

We should feel guilty, I suppose, but least if we had to speak one language only, we ended up with the right one.


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28 comments:

  1. I have a little school girl French, but read it much more easily than I can speak it or understand it. Sigh.
    I suspect that we are getting better on the multiple languages front - and applaud.

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    1. EC, surely we are only better because we have more people whose mother tongue is not English?

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    2. There is such a lack of consistency in schools too. Little Jo has tried three different language, but each has been dropped in favour of another.

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  2. Er, on that last sentence, the French, for one, might disagree.

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    1. Victor, they fought a good fight, but have lost. Only the Olympics to go now.

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  3. Mon Dieu, mon ami !
    We should have been bi-lingual from our early years, many First Nations children speak up to 15 languages yet govts insist on teaching in English, only.

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    1. Jayne, it is such a shame that so many native languages have been lost, but there are so many barely literate in English and it is so important to be able to speak and write to function in society. I suppose some will remain attached to the land and may not really need 'white' society or its language, but that won't be many.

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  4. My maternal grandfather spoke Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish, German and Ukrainian from home, then learned English and Italian from books. My mother spoke Yiddish, English and German from home.

    I speak only English and Hebrew :( Every generation seems to be losing its language skills.

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    1. Hels, I have heard of that so often. It must have been a case of them needing to know those languages and they used them, which is important when it comes to remembering them.

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  5. I just don't talk!!! ;)

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    1. Lee, so no one will ever think you are a fool.

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  6. My sister married a Dutch chap, and lived in Amsterdam with him for 3 years. Because at that point they intended to stay forever (but he couldn't get work in his chosen field), she became quite a fluent Dutch speaker.
    I stayed with them for 3 months in 1973 and picked up a surprising amount, particularly how to talk to small children.
    So recently I decided to dust off my brain and found a free site on the net that is helping me learn Dutch.
    So I found your post today quite apropos!

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    1. Rozzie, you are are one of the last people I would expect to know a foreign language. You are now doing it for the love of learning. The only word of Dutch I can remember is Oliebollen. Yum!

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  7. My three children, like me, speak French. The youngest also speaks Dutch and German; his wife who is Russian/Swedish also speaks those two languages. My oldest son's wife is German so is teaching her two boys German. We do our bit for international relations!

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    1. Cro, indeed you and your family are people of the world. I am just an insulated Australian, who seems to have no need of another language.

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  8. How do you know English is the best language? I'm sure people learning it for the first time as an adult might not agree with you. Probably you based your theory on English being so widespread.

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    1. River, I don't think I ever said English is the best language, as I don't really think it is. It is a hard language to learn, as we know ourselves as we continue to learn it and its idiosyncrasies. Regardless, it has become the language of the world.

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    2. My mistake, you said "right one" not "best one".
      shuffles out the door with head hung low...

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  9. Didn't learn any other language in school as in my day at school to speak a different language wasn't important so they thought.
    Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to understand and speak in different tongues - Gattina must have some fun trying to understand her lot.
    English is a good language so they say and it seems that many people from other countries try to learn it.

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    1. Margaret, why didn't you have compulsory French lessons at school? I agree with you. To be multilingual would be so good. Yep, if they want to make good in the western world, they have to learn English.

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  10. I took both German and Spanish in high school, but only one year of each, same teacher too, sometimes confusing. I remember some of both languages but not much since there's no cause to use either here. Well, I could use the Spanish now. About half the residents of the town where I live now speak Spanish I think.

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    1. Strayer, yes, Spanish would be the language for you and although I understand it is one of the easier to learn, it is very hard when you are older. Funny about the German. It was on offer at my school too. I guess it was to do with German connections to the Royals.

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  11. I too learned French in school during 6 years, but it's now very rusty. I "had to" learn German when we lived in Germany for about 7 years in the 1980's, and it's now very rusty too. I do speak Portuguese and English fluently so at least I'm comfortable with 2 languages. My daughter speaks Portuguese, English and French fluently, plus she lives in Holland so speaks a bit of Dutch. Her French partner speaks English very well, a bit of Dutch and is learning Portuguese.
    I think Europeans tend to speak more than 1 language, due to what they learned in school and sometimes because they emigrate to other European countries where they have to learn the language.

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    1. Sami, I believe German is quite difficult to learn. Yes, you have two languages at least, which is better than most of us. Interesting about the variety your family speak.

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  12. I think Sami is right Andrew, Europeans do seem to always speak at least two, their own and English. I could make myself understood when in Paris, but by no means can I claim to speak French 😀 Does a really good Scots accent count 😀😀

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    1. Grace, you will get me very excited if you can do Glaswegian or posh Scottish accents.

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    2. Prepare to get excited Andrew ☺

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    3. Talk dirty to me hon.

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