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How do you feel when you don’t understand?

  Tags: Dialect | Accent
 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
32 messages over 4 pages: 1 2 3 4  Next >>
Donaldshimoda
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Italy
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 Message 1 of 32
19 September 2013 at 12:08pm | IP Logged 
How do you feel when you don't understand a language YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO KNOW VERY VERY
WELL?
I mean, I'm into English since I was a child,and I'm still reading,writing,listening
the language on a daily basis understanding it 98%/100%.
I don't know if I'm a C1 or C2 (surely some skills are more developed than others)and I
don't really care about it, BUT as I wrote before I'm supposed to handle it flawless
even more so I've never had problems reading complex text or understanding any kind of
movies (mostly americans).
My ears are more acquainted with the american English, no problems at all even with
strong southern accents and so on but when it comes to listen people from UK or other
countries (singapore or india comes to mind)I find myself struggling alot to even catch
the general meaning of the speech.
I had troubles getting an ice cream in Chester (near Manchester),a train ticket in
Glasgow, asking for direction in Kuala Lumpur as well as complaining at hotel desk in
Hong Kong.
I did feel kind of depressed (language-wise speaking) because I couldn't and still
can't understand why I didn't handle those situations despite I'm so sure I have an
extended knowledge of the language under my belt. It feels like you're going nowhere
keeping studying and putting a lot of efforts into a language you love.

What about you?Have you ever experienced something like that?Have you ever find
yourself into a situation where you were thinking something like "It's not possible I'm
not understanding it, I really know this language!!!!"?
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tarvos
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 Message 2 of 32
19 September 2013 at 12:12pm | IP Logged 
That just means you don't know it as well as you thought you did. You go down a level
on
the humble-ladder, swallow your pride, and realise that dialects are not standard
language. And that even natives can have trouble with dialects.

Understanding BBC or CNN English is NOT listening to an old toothless 75 year old guy
from Backwaterton, Chester or someone's broad Glaswegian patter. I'm a very
experienced speaker of English and I will understand almost everything even in dialect,
but there are some dialects that give even me trouble, such as strong Scottish, African
or Irish accents. It's not the same. But these are the dialects that would give anyone
trouble without exposure.

English is not a uniform language the world over. Neither is Italian, or Dutch, or
German, or Korean, or French, or even a minority language like Breton which has
multiple variants with intelligibility hassles. To my knowledge, only Russian is a big
language is that is very uniform across the whole country (even then you'll have
variations!) but they're not as marked. Romanian also doesn't have a lot of variation.

Edited by tarvos on 19 September 2013 at 12:15pm

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Donaldshimoda
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 Message 3 of 32
19 September 2013 at 12:31pm | IP Logged 
Got your point.That's obviously the right answer, I simply know less than I think I do.
But as far as I can deal with fairly strong accents (mostly from U.S.) could it be just
the lack of exposure to UK natives that gets me in trouble?if so, when a person could
state "I Know the language?"
1 person has voted this message useful



LaughingChimp
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Czech Republic
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 Message 4 of 32
19 September 2013 at 12:32pm | IP Logged 
I disagree with tarvos, (or agree?) such things happen even to native speakers. Especially the Glasgow accent is well known for being incomprehensible to outsiders.

Edited by LaughingChimp on 19 September 2013 at 12:37pm

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tarvos
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Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 5 of 32
19 September 2013 at 12:48pm | IP Logged 
LaughingChimp wrote:
I disagree with tarvos, (or agree?) such things happen even to
native speakers. Especially the Glasgow accent is well known for being incomprehensible
to outsiders.


Agree. It's a bit humbling to realise you don't understand everybody, but encouraging to
know that understanding some people is hard even for those with a lot of experience. But
not understanding a general UK accent means you really need a bit more exposure, that one
is very common, very clear and shouldn't pose any trouble for an advanced English
speaker. That you don't understand a blabbering scouser or Glaswegian patter is one
thing. Not understanding a general standard English accent from the London area... do
some more listening.
3 persons have voted this message useful



garyb
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 Message 6 of 32
19 September 2013 at 3:48pm | IP Logged 
This reminds me that soon after when I started learning Italian, I told a Northern Italian friend that I had difficulty understanding people from certain regions in the South. Her answer: "So do I." Also reminds me of when I was on a tour in Ireland and at times I could barely understand the guide. And that's as a native English speaker; I feel sorry for all the Spanish, Italian, and German tourists who made up the majority of the group. I grew up 30 miles from Glasgow so that one's generally not a problem, but even I've heard a few particularly thick accents from there that were difficult. And when I started university, I had to make an effort to tone down my accent just so all the English and American people could understand me, not to mention foreign students.

Anyway I have had similar experiences to what you describe. Quite a few times, I've started to think that my listening comprehension is getting really good and I can understand everything, only to be "put in my place" by a certain speaker or film. I agree that it's humbling and just reminds you that you still need to improve, and now I just accept it for what it is, but it was certainly frustrating the first couple of times.
1 person has voted this message useful



tastyonions
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 Message 7 of 32
19 September 2013 at 4:27pm | IP Logged 
Yeah, I have trouble even in English with some accents. I particularly remember a hotel
worker in England who had a mumbly speaking style and an accent that was tough to parse.

For fun I like to show this video
to learners of English, warning them beforehand not to be discouraged if it's a bit
difficult. :-)
3 persons have voted this message useful



Hekje
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 Message 8 of 32
19 September 2013 at 4:29pm | IP Logged 
I'm a native speaker of American English and sometimes have difficulty understanding UK speakers too. Especially if
they're with their friends, talking fast, and using a lot of UK-specific vocabulary.

Honestly, to my ears UK and American English sound very very different. Having a bit of difficulty transitioning is
nothing to be ashamed about.


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