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What impresses you?

 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
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outcast
Bilingual Heptaglot
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China
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 Message 9 of 73
12 November 2011 at 7:08pm | IP Logged 
fiziwig wrote:
I'm deeply impressed every time I see a four year old child speaking their native language fluently. How does that happen in only four years, and with virtually no conscious effort on their part? I wish I knew.


Well, it's part of survival, if you can't talk you can't survive (well you can technically, but speaking obviously makes your survival chances far far more likely).

And think about it: 4 years where the brain is probably 80% focused on just learning a language, exploring things. You are fed, your are clothed, you are protected. You have no worries. Don't get me wrong, child learning abilities are extremely impressive... But if I had four years where someone provided food for me, paid all my bills, and gave me a roof under my head, and I had to worry about nothing else really except learning a language... I think I could reach a darn good level of fluency in it!!

And conscious depends on what the definition is: I am conscious as an adult of learning a language... But doesn't it happen to all of us that one day we realize we can achieve something in that language we could not before? Did that happen overnight? Most likely not, we were just ''unconscious'' about it!

I'm sure the same process on a much grander scale applies to children. They don't realize their progress until one day they become "self-aware" of it.

s_allard wrote:
I think I'm most impressed by people who speak my own languages in an articulate and sophisticated manner. I'm not a stickler for pronunciation; I actually like a foreign accent.


While I like accents on other people (specially women; unless it's a horrible accent), I HATE accents on myself, mainly because I consider it full part of learning a language, just like grammar, spelling, and vocabulary/idioms. Which is why I do focus on pronounciation a lot. But also, I like being able to replicate sounds that are mainly unique to the language or which are challenges for foreign learners. The German "pf", the French uvular "r", the Spanish/italian "gl/ll", the Mandarin affricates (aspirated vs not, retroflex vs not), the English voiceless "wh", Scandinavian vowels, etc.

And ultimately, if I did want to impress a lady, I could fake a foreign accent anyway as a foreign learner of a language, but only once you try your best to approach native pronounciation as much as possible. But not the other way around if you didn't make the effort.
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jdmoncada
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 Message 10 of 73
12 November 2011 at 7:14pm | IP Logged 
I agree with s_allard. I am impressed with people who can play with the language and enjoy doing so. To me, That shows real mastery.

I feel the same way with monolingual speakers who just speak really well. I have those word geek moments when someone brings out a rarely used but absolutely perfect word for the situation. For example, I recently read the word "mellifluous" on a Lang8 entry, and that just made me very happy.
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outcast
Bilingual Heptaglot
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China
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Speaks: Spanish*, English*, German, Italian, French, Portuguese, Mandarin
Studies: Korean

 
 Message 11 of 73
12 November 2011 at 7:21pm | IP Logged 
jdmoncada wrote:
I agree with s_allard. I am impressed with people who can play with the language and enjoy doing so. To me, That shows real mastery.

I feel the same way with monolingual speakers who just speak really well. I have those word geek moments when someone brings out a rarely used but absolutely perfect word for the situation. For example, I recently read the word "mellifluous" on a Lang8 entry, and that just made me very happy.


Such an apposite word for that which it describes, right? I love that word as well. Whomever evinces such panoply in words, is certainly someone who consciously makes efforts to edify their vocabulary.

:p
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cathrynm
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 Message 12 of 73
12 November 2011 at 8:02pm | IP Logged 
I'm always hugely impressed by anyone who is even just slightly better than me in either Finnish or Japanese -- especially people with good conversation ability. They just seem to have some strange magical ability -- I don't know how to explain it, but it's just a sense of wonder I feel.

Conversely, anyone who is slightly worse than me, I get this immediate gut reaction "Oh this is so easy, don't you get it" you fool -- and then my conscious mind like kicks in and tells me "No, no wait, everyone is just learning, this is the process" and I calm down without saying anything.

It's like some kind of strange judgement kicks in with this, and it's irrational and it has no good use, but it just seems to come with language learning, and I have to repress it consciously.
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Ari
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 Message 13 of 73
12 November 2011 at 8:38pm | IP Logged 
jdmoncada wrote:
I agree with s_allard. I am impressed with people who can play with the language and enjoy
doing so. To me, That shows real mastery.

Unfortunately, it's very difficult to play with the language when you're a non-native, no matter what your level. I
can't tell you how many times I've made a pun only to have it interpreted as a mistake. This decreases as you
demonstrate your mastery of the language, but it's happened to me even in English, where I consider myself, and
am considered by most of my interlocutors, to be pretty damn near-native.
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jdmoncada
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 Message 14 of 73
12 November 2011 at 9:54pm | IP Logged 
Ari, maybe you're just hanging around the wrong kinds of people. ;-)

I've made plenty of witty jokes in my native language. I'm rather brilliant, let me tell you. But sometimes the jokes fall flat. It's just a disconnect between performer and audience (if you'll permit the analogy).
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Tenebrarum
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 Message 15 of 73
13 November 2011 at 12:03am | IP Logged 
Ari wrote:
EDIT: I made a their/they're typo! I finally feel like a native speaker!


Haha XD

I'm perhaps most impressed with, as a few others have said, a person who simply knows a
language extremely well - someone with a vast vocabulary, "correct" grammar, and
ability to cover different registers of speech. I guess Glossika would be an example
of this with his Taiwanese and Mandarin (of course, I don't know either so I can't make
a proper assessment). Even a monolingual English speaker will impress me if he/she has
an excellent command of the language. I also like when speakers (native or not) pay
attention to details in the various aspects of a language (Hindi speakers who
distinguish between ʃ and ʂ, for example). Though I must note that despite my love for
clearly spoken, correct (according to the standard) language, I also love accents,
dialects, etc.

Another thing that stands out to me is someone learning a language different from what
you might expect (e.g. Marathi instead of Hindi, Ukrainian instead of Russian). It's
interesting when someone is interested in a specific culture/group of people enough to
learn the language of them.   
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Chung
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 Message 16 of 73
13 November 2011 at 1:05am | IP Logged 
Solfrid Cristin wrote:
[...] It then got me thinking. Here on the forum we are a crowd who are hard to please. What impresses us? Are there particular languages that impress you, depth, multitude?


When it comes to being impressed by someone's multilingualism, I get my impressions by considering depth, breadth, background and personality.

I have to say that I am most impressed by someone like Vlad. Despite having a geographical or historical advantage in having grown up in a somewhat multilingual society complete with some relatives who spoke languages from different groups, his humility and unalloyed interest in improving his abilities (without slagging others who don't want to improve their abilities using his techniques) impress me greatly. By no means are geographical location or familial background a reliable indicator of multilingual aptitude/accomplishment. I have a Hungarian Slovak acquaintance from the same generation as Vlad's, but this one's linguistic ability/passion is nowhere near Vlad's as he's fluent only in Hungarian and Slovak, and has only lower abilities in Czech, English and German.

In one of my log entries for Inari Saami, I stated that I'm rather impressed by a virtual monoglot who begins learning a language that is highly divergent or genetically unrelated to the only language he/she knows. In this instance, I look positively on Kafea's effort to learn Northern Saami on her own even though she's fluent only in English. Because the bulk of what's available to learn Saamic uses an intermediary language other than English she has to tussle with a lot of material with instructions and explanations in an unfamiliar language or else confine herself to a very limited set of less useful or less suitable material that's available in English (e.g. Wikipedia, Árran). On the other hand my imperfect command of Finnish has provided access to better materials for learning Inari Saami and Northern Saami not to mention a small advantage in understanding common grammatical concepts and deducing the meaning of new Saamic vocabulary.

I can think of some polyglots here who've impressed me less than meets the eye for one reason or the other (e.g. being fluent only in several languages that are related closely or quite similar superficially to the native one, being less capable than advertised, treating learning of languages like a d!¢k-swinging contest), but I don't want to get further into such people.


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