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Emily008

Your Language History

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Hi there! :D

I'm starting a thread on what (to me) is a pretty fascinating subject, that is : A person's language history, because, I am pretty fascinated by the fact that there are so many people on this forum from different countries and different cultural backgrounds.

I was born in Denmark. I'm a single mom. My father is British and my mother is Danish. That is why I have a rather English sounding surname "Stevenson"! :lol: I am essentially bilingual. My father was rather particular about "preserving" my English heritage in Denmark, so I began learning English right from kindergarten. And of course, my mother was pretty particular that I learn Danish as well. English, essentially, in Danish society has been regarded to be a foreign language. But things were pretty different in my household because of my rather mixed ancestry. Also, thanks to the fact that I have a couple of friends, in and around my neighbourhood, who are exceptionally good in German, I am out of interest, learning to converse in German. To be honest, I have always wanted to learn a third language, only this time, it's because it is mainly out of interest and not as an obligation or anything! It's taking it's time though, as it can be a bit of a challenge for someone my age (I'm 40 years old, by the way)! :lol: My knowledge is rather basic, but I am looking at it as a hobby, to be honest! B)

Anyway, enough about myself. I would really be thrilled if you guys could contribute. Have any of you learnt different languages out of interest (where you acquired knowledge through watching films or reading books or perhaps taking crash courses) or because of your ancestry or just out of compulsion for educational purposes? Any personal stories and experiences with regard to language will be welcome and appreciated! Thanks for your time! :)

Edited by Emily008

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I've always loved languages; I have a minor in French (Lang/Lit) and was once fluent, although it's rusty now. I studied a year each of German and Italian, and elementary Spanish. I'd like to become conversational in Italian and plan to take more classes eventually.

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Oh, I feel I don't leave the language matter since I arrived this forum, hehe :huh: But yes, it's very interesting the history of each person's language

I'm spanish so my native language is spanish. It's said here in spain we have a poor english level, and it's almost true but I feel that's changing, manly in young people. We have facilities to go abroad, our parents did not, but it's true that the english we are taught in school could be better. We only concentrate in grammar and forget to talk.

In my own case, I've always been interested in languages, but I don't feel that my english has really improved until I go to university (I'm in spanish filologic degree but I have english and its literature as subjects). I'm afraid I'm very far to have a good level, but I feel satisfied because I can understand most of written english (um, there's a little exception: now I'm studying english literature from XVIII century and sometimes I have problems to understand the whole meaning of some books from Swift, Gay, etc, due to some vocabulary), and more or less spoken english. I want to go abroad (this summer to London, I hope), and there I could check it :rolleyes: But reading books and webs, listening to english music, and tv movies, and interviews (it took me time getting used to Jimmy's accent xD) helps me a lot.

I know french also, but I had to give it up :slapface: I hope I can take it up again in the future. I also learned latin, old greek and catalonian, but in a basical level.

Yes, I love languages, and my future work will be in that way.

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Oh, I feel I don't leave the language matter since I arrived this forum, hehe :huh: But yes, it's very interesting the history of each person's language

I'm spanish so my native language is spanish. It's said here in spain we have a poor english level, and it's almost true but I feel that's changing, manly in young people. We have facilities to go abroad, our parents did not, but it's true that the english we are taught in school could be better. We only concentrate in grammar and forget to talk.

In my own case, I've always been interested in languages, but I don't feel that my english has really improved until I go to university (I'm in spanish filologic degree but I have english and its literature as subjects). I'm afraid I'm very far to have a good level, but I feel satisfied because I can understand most of written english (um, there's a little exception: now I'm studying english literature from XVIII century and sometimes I have problems to understand the whole meaning of some books from Swift, Gay, etc, due to some vocabulary), and more or less spoken english. I want to go abroad (this summer to London, I hope), and there I could check it :rolleyes: But reading books and webs, listening to english music, and tv movies, and interviews (it took me time getting used to Jimmy's accent xD) helps me a lot.

I know french also, but I had to give it up :slapface: I hope I can take it up again in the future. I also learned latin, old greek and catalonian, but in a basical level.

Yes, I love languages, and my future work will be in that way.

I think your English is very good :)

Unfortunately at my kids' school, Spanish IV is as high as they were able to go in a classroom setting. AP Spanish was offered online as a self paced course (which did not make sense to me; how can you practice speaking a language at the most advanced level if you are not in a physical classroom with other students?). Spanish V was not offered. This was disappointing, as more and more universities here want to see that you've taken a language "all the way" to AP level or even receiving dual enrollment credit through a community college.

Edited by Virginia

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Pretty good topic. Well other than my native Bosnian (Serbo-Croatian) language, I also speak English language. I can also say that I'm fluent in German language and I'm trying to improve it every day.

I also like languages because it's part of almost every country and nation or culture. The language I like the most is English language and I fell in love the first time I heard it. I started learning English when I was in elementary school and English was actually the language I started learning out of interest. It all began with TV, cartoons and music. Now I'm regularly reading English literature and trying to improve as much as I can. Really interesting stories so far.

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I'm Brazilian and my first language is Portuguese. I started to learn English at the of 9, with a private teacher. As I was 12 I went to a language school. I have the Cambridge Profieciency Certificate in English (CPE). I also speak German (fluently) and vey good Spanish. My husband is German and we speak both Portuguese and German with our kids (a 25 year old girl and a 21 boy). Both of them have the CPE too and they speak very good Spanish too. And Portuguese, of course!

:)

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Pretty interesting topic there Emily! :)

Throughout my life, so far, I have learnt to communicate in 4 languages. I am most comfortable conversing in English. I began learning English, from the moment I started speaking. My mom started reading to me when I was barely 2 years old. Anything from picture books to cartoons and kids T.V programmes seemed to capture my interest!

I am originally from Southern India and I immigrated to New Zealand with my mom and dad about 11 years ago. Essentially, English is actually not my first language but gaining command over the English language for me, wasn't very difficult, to be honest. I even have this rather weird hobby of reading the dictionary for at least an hour each day, just to discover new words that I can use in my daily conversations! LOL! :lol: Learning a language is, to me, a lifelong process of discovery.

Back when India was part of the British Empire, my great grandfather (from my mom's side of the family) who was a lawyer, was one of the first members of my extended family to learn English. He had many British clients, so, basically, his knowledge of the English language had to be top notch.

And then, there was my grandmother (again from my mom's side of the family) who is a surgeon and she gained her qualifications in the UK. When my mom was about 5 years old, her family moved to Cornwall for a while because my grandmom wished to gain some work experience there for a couple of years. My mom and her family returned to Southern India about 5 years later.

It is because of all these events and subtle British influences that members of my extended family stressed on the importance of gaining a "respectable" :rolleyes: command over the English language.

Being a Southern Indian by birth, my so-called mother tongue is Tamil. Bascially, I was again pressured by my extended family to learn Tamil, because they feared that I might lose my cultural identity overall. My parents on the other hand, were pretty blasé about it.

In India, when I was in primary school (before my family moved to New Zealand), there was a weird system called "the three language formula" (I think it still exists even today!) where kids in school (from the 1st to the 6th grade), had a first, second and third language. The first language being English, the second language being Hindi and the third language being Tamil. While I absolutely enjoyed every minute of my prose, poetry and drama lessons in English, let's just say that I was learning Hindi and Tamil, out of educational obligations! Learning Hindi was pretty easy because my dad (who has roots from Southern India, bascially, lived in Northern India from the time he was a teenager to a young adult) used to be the one I used to turn to, whenever I had difficulties in my Hindi lessons! I in fact, can still speak it quite well and understand what other people are saying, quite easily! No sweat there!

Learning Tamil, on the other hand, was a massive pain. My mom (who is also Southern Indian) had (because of her move to the UK for 5 years, when she was a kid), essentially forgotten all the Tamil she knew. So, we had to hire a private tutor and while I managed to get decent grades in every subject (including Hindi), I barely managed a pass in Tamil! Whew! :lol: I can only understand what people are saying in Tamil and I can speak a couple of sentences here and there but that's about it really!

After joining Grammar school here in New Zealand, I took French as one of my subjects in school. I am more fluent in French, then I'll ever be in Hindi or Tamil. I still have my old textbooks from the 6th till the 10th grade (or what we Kiwis refer to as 1st to the 5th form). My mom had a huge role to play in my immense interest in the French language. She learnt French herself in school while in the UK and on returning to India, at age 10, from the 6th grade onwards, kids had the opportunity to take French as a second language and have English as the first language and drop the third language, all together! Esentially, my mom learnt French from the age of 5 till the age of 21 (when she graduated college) but, her French education certainly didn't stop there because she really used to help me with my French lessons while I was still in school! French is the language I am keeping in touch with, the most, to be honest! I even listen to some French Garage Rock songs from the 60's every now and then! B) My French accent ain't top notch, but I can speak quite correctly, most of the time! I can even write essays and letters too! :P

Another language I have dabbled in and which is essentially a New Zealand specialty is Te Reo Maori. It is the language of New Zealand's first inhabitants and these last few years have seen a revival in that language all together, which is pretty cool, I think! :D My mom is studying to be an early childhood educator and teachers in the ECE sector need to have above average knowledge of Te Reo Maori. Thanks to my mom learning that language (at the age of 50, yes! That's right! B)), I am proud to say that I know at least the basics like everything from alphabets, adjectives, names of animals, objects to reciting my whakapapa (Maori for "geneaology" or family tree as it's commonly referred to). I even know a few Maori Folk songs or (waiata as it's referred to). It's pretty cool getting in touch with something which is an important part of New Zealand culture! :D

Hopefully, after completing my postgraduate studies, I do wish to learn Swedish (or what the Swedes refer to as "Standard Swedish"), at least the basics! I have always wanted to visit Sweden because that's one country I have never been to in my life. I have been to many European countries when I was little, thanks to my dad's job (he's a Marine Engineer, by the way), but never Sweden! :huh:

Edited by Kiwi_Zep_Fan87

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I am loving this thread so far! :D

It is very interesting stuff because I (like you Emily) have come across so many people on this forum from a variety of cultural backgrounds and countries! It is rather fascinating to learn more about their baackgrounds and a bit about the various school systems too! B)

Well, English is my 1st language and I did give French a shot while I was in school but it's been 4 years since I last touched my French books! I gotta say, my French is incredibly rusty! :P

Me and languages don't go too well! Don't get me wrong, I would love to learn a new language and keep at it, till it reaches a stage where it will never get rusty but I guess I am a bit too lazy! :blink:

Great stories so far guys! I admire you all! :notworthy:

On a serious note, being an Australian with an incredibly strict Catholic upbringing, my entire childhood was characterised by my parents forcing me and my older brother and younger sister to undertake Bible studies. I was just 7 when I began. Trying to understand both the texts of the Bible (the old and new testament) was an absolute nightmare! It can be pretty confusing and rather traumatic for a little kid to learn two versions of the same language, namely : "the regular English" (the stuff used in lessons and in my conversations with people and "the old English" (the stuff used in the passages of holy texts!) I was so confused that I even asked my mom about it and that drove her absolutely crazy! Grown ups! What a pain sometimes! dry.gif I gave up Bible studies when I was 15. My mom actually felt sorry for me and my dad grudgingly told our local church that I wasn't interested any more! Good riddance if you ask me! Then of course, at 17, my atheist tendencies started to kick in! :P

Edited by Emma Jane

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i was born in austria, and started to learn english from 9. in high school i added italian to the mix which learned for 5 years. then at uni, i couldn't do italian and took on spanish for a few years which resulted in me being shit in both languages. when i am in italy i speak spanish and vice versa. i get around in both languages but nothing to write home about. i studied partly in austria, partly in the uk, and have now lived here for over a decade. Because Austrian German can be quite different to proper German (the spoken word that is, reading and writing is the same), my parents didn't make me speak high german and the teachers didn't push it either (some do, some don't), quite soon i felt more comfortable to speak english than german. being my mother tongue of course i am fluent in it, but it's so much more complex as a language, because people are anal about grammar etc, while with english it's a lot more relaxed.

When i deal with german speaking clients, my name usually gives it away that they can talk german to me, and i really struggle sometimes to express myself properly. words often pop into my head and the whole thought process is taking a lot longer than speaking in english. e-mails as well take up a lot more time, as a 100-word english e-mail probably turns into a 200-word german one...

Finally i did 6-months of French, but gave up as the teacher was a right old cow. we had students from all over the world and despite me being much better than some of the Korean students i had in my class, she gave them better or the same grades because "for them it's a lot harder to learn". I argued with her, but as soon as this turned out to be pointless, i used all my "French" and that was that...

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My mother-tongue is English (being born and reared in Australia) and my family's language of origin is Italian. I'm perfectly bilingual because at home, my parents didn't speak English so we all spoke Italian in the family. Indeed, this is a fortune for me because apart from teachibg English ESOL in the EU, I also exploit Italian to carry out my profession of interpreter/translator full-time:):)::). I wish I could learn Arabic or perhaps Chinese....it would be grand :):)

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I actually started off bilingual, a mixture of Spanish and English. Since I was in the proximity I also quickly learned pig-Latin and that's been my preference in vocal conversation ever since.

Oink Oink

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I took French in high school and college but the old saying is true, "if you don't use it, you lose it". I've forgotten pretty much everything I learned about it. Then again, there's not a whole lot of French speaking folks in my neck of the woods that would have helped keep me in practice. Other high schools taught Spanish which would have been much more valuable to me. I've been to Costa Rica a couple of times and the Spanish speaking population around here has grown considerably in the years since high school.

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American accents have always fascinated me, from Appalachian to Bostonian and everywhere in-between. B)

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American accents have always fascinated me, from Appalachian to Bostonian and everywhere in-between.  

Since the Appalachian extend into Massachusetts, you may only get the Leominster to Shelburne Falls, Highway 2 accents.

Oh Great! :rolleyes:

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Southern Drawl is my first tongue, but I'm also fluent not only in Ebonics, but most variants of Redneck from Light Cracker to Heavy Inbred, as well.

And, of course, in a pinch, I can also speak newscast-quality, non-regional dialect proper English.

But only when absolutely necessary.

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Thanks for all the interesting replies you guys! I never thought I'll get this many! Thanks! :D

TypeO, your post cracked me up!! :lol:

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I actually started off bilingual, a mixture of Spanish and English. Since I was in the proximity I also quickly learned pig-Latin and that's been my preference in vocal conversation ever since.

Oink Oink

That lingo was called SpanEnglish......unfortunately, technically speaking, it died out like Esperanto in the 60s because it was not only too diff to learn, but to teach as well :):):)

Edited by spidersandsnakes

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Southern Drawl is my first tongue, but I'm also fluent not only in Ebonics, but most variants of Redneck from Light Cracker to Heavy Inbred, as well.

And, of course, in a pinch, I can also speak newscast-quality, non-regional dialect proper English.

But only when absolutely necessary.

I can pretty much do a lot of accents too. My Mother was from Virginia and I think that accent is still in my blood even though I was born in San Francisco. :D

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I can pretty much do a lot of accents too. My Mother was from Virginia and I think that accent is still in my blood even though I was born in San Francisco. :D

:)

I am 1st generation Virginian so I don't have much of an accent, but my husband does. :)

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Speaking of accents, being from Chicago, everyone down here always tells me I have an accent, but I don't hear one. Which is funny.

As for languages, I took French for 6 years, but that was 10 years ago.

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TypeO, your post cracked me up!! :lol:

[wide stance–hands on hips] Then my work here is done! [/wide stance–hands on hips]

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I never really knew that people from different States in the U.S spoke with different accents! Gosh! How interesting! :D I have heard of the famous "Southern Drawl" but never knew that each state practically has its own accent! :lol:

Anyway, just thought I'll give this thread a bump so that more members here can contribute, if they are interested! :)

Edited by Emily008

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I never really knew that people from different States in the U.S spoke with different accents! Gosh! How interesting! :D I have heard of the famous "Southern Drawl" but never knew that each state practically has its own accent! :lol:

Anyway, just thought I'll give this thread a bump so that more members here can contribute, if they are interested! :)

Believe it or not, I had no idea either! :lol:

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Each individual state doesn't have its own accent, in that there aren't 50 different accents. The United States has regional accents/dialects. The Northeast has a particular kind of accent, the South has a particular kind of accent, the Midwest has a specific kind of accent, and while I've never heard it, I'm sure the Western US has a particular kind of accent.

Within each regional accent, there are of course, variations. You have your New York accent, your Boston accent (and then the Kennedy accent, which is special unto itself), there's a Chicago accent (if you want a great example of it, find video clips of Mayor Daley speaking), Minnesota/Wisconsin have a form of the Midwestern accent that is heavily influenced by the large amount of Scandinavian immigrants that had settled there, the Virginia accent is softer than say, your Mississippi or Georgia accent.....things like that.

That said though, those specific variations are more influenced by past immigration than anything else. The more distinct accents here in the US came from a combination of English and English as spoken by people from X part of the world.

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