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Difficulty of Learning Languages

  Tags: Talent | Difficulty
 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
25 messages over 4 pages: 1 2 3 4  Next >>
will72694
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Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 1 of 25
16 April 2009 at 11:29pm | IP Logged 
This tread is about the thought that it is a monumental task become fluent in a foreign language. This thought
seems to
have originated and dwelled in the mostly monolingual (read: America) regions of the world. I do not understand
where this thought came from.

I have a friend who recently moved from Rajasthan in India who speaks five languages more or less at a native
ability; he is fifteen. His father speaks seven languages; Gujarati (native), Tamil, Hindi, Punjabi (wife's language),
Marathi (wife's other language),  English, and Bengali. He is not considered gifted or an intellectual in India -- it is
necessary for life there. He says that language learning is not hard and that many people in India (and presumably
other multi linguistic and multi cultural countries) speak up to 5-10 languages.

How did this idea that you must be gifted to learn languages come about?

Edited by will72694 on 17 April 2009 at 2:16pm

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Maximus
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United Kingdom
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417 posts - 427 votes 
Studies: Spanish, Japanese, Thai

 
 Message 2 of 25
17 April 2009 at 12:06am | IP Logged 
Because language learning can be really difficult is you are not exposed to them all the time or don't have the chance to practice them much. Similary, maintaining them while in an unfavorable environment is another difficulty.

If your Indian friends have to use them all everyday, they have plenty of exposure and than is a great luxury.

If the same people were studying Estonian, Basque, Korean, Hungarian, Quechua or any other unrelated and distant language under the difficulty of not having any contact with native speakers, I doubt that they would still find language learning so easy!
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will72694
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 Message 3 of 25
17 April 2009 at 1:04am | IP Logged 
Thank you for your reply, Maximus. I am learning Russian right now, so I could not comment on this subject as I
don't fluently speak any foreign languages yet. I do not find it very difficult at all with the method I am using. I
have never thought about it that way. Would you say the same applies to learning dead languages?
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leonidus
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 Message 4 of 25
17 April 2009 at 1:11am | IP Logged 
Please ask your friend how, using these Indian languages, he would say things like PDA, joystick, SMS. Ask him whether all of them have literary heritage and if books are actively published in them. What I am driving at is perhaps the vocabulary of these languages is rather limited compared to european languages, and especially English. They mostly probably have vocabulary related to everyday life, agriculture, traditions. Most modern terms that were coined as part of scientific research and modern industries may not be represented in them. That makes it a half easier to learn these languages, especially so given the exposure. Of course, major languages like Hindi should be more complicated, but other smallers ones are probably not as rich in their means to express things that are less than obvious in the material world. I am only suggesting all this, not insiting this is the case as I have no experience with them, but it would be curious to find out.

Edited by leonidus on 17 April 2009 at 1:12am

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will72694
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 Message 5 of 25
17 April 2009 at 1:55am | IP Logged 
Leonidus, I think that what you said is a mere speculation. For as many modern terms as there are, I'm sure that
most of them will be English loanwords. But I am also sure that there are just as many old, archaic forms, and
strange words and terms between those languages as there are between European languages.

To say that is almost equal to equating all European languages to be so similar that they are very easy to learn. I do
not think it would be so easy to learn Icelandic, Kurdish, and Sicilian. They are all equal enough; they're European.
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Volte
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Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 6 of 25
17 April 2009 at 1:57am | IP Logged 
leonidus wrote:
Please ask your friend how, using these Indian languages, he would say things like PDA, joystick, SMS. Ask him whether all of them have literary heritage and if books are actively published in them. What I am driving at is perhaps the vocabulary of these languages is rather limited compared to european languages, and especially English. They mostly probably have vocabulary related to everyday life, agriculture, traditions. Most modern terms that were coined as part of scientific research and modern industries may not be represented in them. That makes it a half easier to learn these languages, especially so given the exposure. Of course, major languages like Hindi should be more complicated, but other smallers ones are probably not as rich in their means to express things that are less than obvious in the material world. I am only suggesting all this, not insiting this is the case as I have no experience with them, but it would be curious to find out.


I'm shocked by this post. If this were a discussion over a beer, it would be one thing - but this is a forum, and you have wikipedia and google access. In the same vein, it's one thing to ask a question, and another to come up with this kind of chain of postulates without doing any fact checking whatsoever.

Tamil literature alone dates back about 2000 years.

Gujarati has about 50 million speakers; an acquaintance of mine is a programmer and native Gujarati speaker (I don't think he's ever left that province). I haven't asked him if the term for SMS is an English loan word, but it's not exactly an unknown concept.

Etc.

The vocabulary of these languages is not limited compared to European languages; I'm at a loss for why you think it would be.

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cathrynm
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Studies: Japanese, Finnish

 
 Message 7 of 25
17 April 2009 at 3:37am | IP Logged 
For me, personally, I've been studying Japanese for about 1.25 years or so. I think I do get some rewards just from studying this, but the thought that I might actually 'learn Japanese', well, maybe this is going to happen someday, but at this point it's mostly a matter of faith.    I have put some effort into this, but where I sit now, if I look at Japanese TV, books or magazines, I see a monumental effort still to come -- so much still to learn.
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icing_death
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 Message 8 of 25
17 April 2009 at 7:53am | IP Logged 
will72694 wrote:
This tread is about the thought that it is a monumental task become in a foreign
language.
Sorry, but this sentence is just painful.

Back on topic, it might come from the fact that it's hard work for many of us to learn a foreign language.


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