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Which language?

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  • Which language?

    This question is for Michael Moorcock and anyone else who cares to answer:

    I want to learn a foreign language, but I'm not sure which language to choose. Which foreign languages have you found to be the most useful? I suppose I'd like to be able to read French or German, because of all the great literature in those languages, but I would also like to increase my marketability, so I'm wondering if it might be best to learn a language such as Japanese. And then again, I want to travel in the Scandinavian countries . . . .

    Thank you for any advice you can give.

  • #2
    If you're in the US...Spanish would probably be the most practical I would think....

    Comment


    • #3
      Yes, I'd say Spanish first, since it will also give you a help with other romance languages. Russian would be useful, too.
      Your best bet is to pick where you want to travel to and learn the language while you're there. It's probably the best way of doing it.

      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
      The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
      Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
      The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
      Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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      • #4
        Thanks for the answers.

        Spanish is an obvious choice, but I'm somewhat of a contrary person, so I seldom like to do the obvious thing. I'm surprised, though, that you mention Russian. Do you think it would be more useful than, say, French or Japanese?

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        • #5
          At least in the Scandinavian countries you donآ´t really need anything but English, and maybe some polite phrases like tack so mycket in the local languages.

          Comment


          • #6
            Learn Russian. Joke :)

            I think, it should be your choise... Maybe, you dislike spanish or russian culture - so why you need to learn its language...

            Your choise should be based on your hobbies and tastes... I think...

            Comment


            • #7
              Not so true in Norlands. It's hard to learn a language when everyone wants to speak yours, but I found that most people up North didn't, at least in those days, speak anything but Swedish. I'd be curious to see how things were in Kwikjok, these days. The only problem I have is that I learned from speaking and my spelling is therefore often phonetic because I don't know how it's written. Maybe something with a different alphabet, like Russian -- or even Japanese -- would be good.
              That way you could read the signs when you got there.

              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

              Comment


              • #8
                Russian is an interesting suggestion, but I've read that it is extremely difficult to learn. Spanish remains the best choice, and I like Spanish culture, but as I said before, I'm a contrary person and therefore usually resist doing the obvious, useful thing. It's a character flaw, I admit. I'm surprised, though, that no one has mentioned German, which I've heard is a good language to know if you are travelling in Europe.

                As for Japanese, I was all ready to study the language before I learned that the Japanese ecosystem has been almost completely ruined. According to the Lonely Planet guide and Alex Kerr's book Dogs and Demons, the Japanese have encased ALL (and I mean ALL) their coastlines, river and stream banks in concrete, and most hillsides in Japan have been deforested and replanted with identical rows of Sugi cedar. I still enjoy Japanese culture, but I wonder how much fun it would be to travel to such an ugly country.

                So the answer is . . . Melnibonean.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I learned German from the people in pubs, restaurants and diskoteks. German is easy to learn, but the pronounciations are difficult, but fun to use once you've got them down. The humour is impenitrible, but to be fair, that's probably the last thing you learn from a language, eh? German has many dialects too and the people pretend the can't understand you sometimes, even when you are dead-on, if you are in a part that doesn't use the dialect. At least the people I have known pretended. But they are impressed if you can lose the American accent.

                  If you are going to be in Los Angeles a lot, Spanish goes a very long way.
                  The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords

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                  • #10
                    "but I wonder how much fun it would be to travel to such an ugly country. "

                    How do you know it is ugkly if you haven't been there? My old boss has traveled the entire world more than once, and he swears Japan is one of the prettiest places he's been.


                    "But they are impressed if you can lose the American accent. "

                    In all seriousness, how can you tell when you've lost it? I obviously can tell various accents in English and American English, but I have yet to be able to discern an accent in another language....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You can hear poor American accents in German, generally, because of the "ich" sound. We do a i-ch the ch being the ch in church. The ch sound in German is diffiuclt to describe in English. Myself is "mich" and many Americans say it like "mitch". Plus we pronounce so many of their words sort of flatly and a lot of the sound should be coming from the back and top of our mouth.

                      But you can tell when you don't have an accent when the Germans stop making faces at you, and I swear, I am not bullshitting you.
                      The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bill
                        "How do you know it is ugkly if you haven't been there? My old boss has traveled the entire world more than once, and he swears Japan is one of the prettiest places he's been."
                        Well, as I tried to make clear in my post, my info about Japan comes from books--in this case, the Lonely Planet guide and Alex Kerr's Dogs and Demons. Your boss could be right (and I hope he is), but I wonder how recently he has visited Japan, as much of the alleged degradation of the natural environment has happened in the past 20 years or so, at an increasingly accelerated rate.

                        Yet more evidence for the ruin of the Japanese countryside comes from Japanese cinema -- if you see a film set in period Japan, odds are it was filmed somewhere else (e.g., New Zealand stood in for Japan in The Last Samurai).

                        You're right, though, Bill--without having visited Japan, I can't say for sure whether the country is beautiful. On the other hand, I can work with only the sources I have, and my sources indicate that the Japanese have nearly erased the natural beauty of their country. Perhaps this shouldn't be a problem, but one of the main reasons I wish to learn a new language is so I can get a job involving foreign travel. I'd hate to invest time and money in learning the language of a place I wouldn't like to visit.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There's an argument that any 'natural beauty' which also has Man living in it, probably isn't that natural. Remember that argument about the American wilderness and Amerindians ? Certainly the Japanese know how to make nature look very attractive, so maybe they've put back something of what they've taken out. Now, if you're talking uglification -- have you ever looked at the Canadian side and the US side of Niagara falls, for instance. One side -- well-tended gardens, nice-looking houses -- the other side has abandoned industrial buildings, crap gardens and so on.
                          A country with so much natural beauty and a population which seems bent on uglification almost as a cause. Will history see the US as the blggest blighters ever ? The trail of degradation doesn't just stop at the border any more....

                          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                          The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                          Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                          The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                          Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Those are good points, MM. I suppose I had a romanticised view of the Japanese landscape, and was therefore shocked to learn about the concrete-lined riverbeds, etc. Probably the only thing that has kept the US from being totally despoiled is its size.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Bob Dylan wrote a song many decades ago: "Spanish is the Loving Tongue", and true enough it is. (I am prepared for a stoning by my Italian friends for this, hehehe). I learnt it travelling in South America and as a person who enjoys communicating I got on pretty well without being anywhere close to perfection. I conversed with guerrillas, soldiers, cops, one President, artists, beggars, gauchos, crooks, gentlemen, children, street vendors, priests and - many women! I really enjoy(ed) it. The key to any language is probably liking people and seeing the language as a key to their soul.

                              As German is concerned, I find it is a language in which you can be extremely precise in what you want to express - which is why it is not so easy for many to learn, depending much on how refined your own language is. It needn't be spoken harshly as in the old war movies and can reach a certain elegance - as long as it isn't sung (exclude Operas and lullabies here). German is quite useful if you travel or do business not only in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but most of the East European countries. And once knowing German well Swedish and Dutch written texts are no mystery, while Danish proved hard for me.
                              If you aim to work or travel much even further East then Turkish seems a good idea. It is beatiful language and it is fun finding polite phrases and expressions in it, you will be rewarded a thousandfold. Turk peoples live in Kasachstan and the many other former Soviet republics. A Turk dialect is even spoken in Western China.
                              French is of course very elegant, but you can get very vulgar renderings of it too. Already Belgian French sounds different and if you happen to meet people from Quebec you think you're hearing French, but something like what 18th century shepherds would speak. As an enthusiast of Europe I wish everybody would learn to speak three languages well: his/her own and two others. Then we'll all get round pretty well, I'm sure...

                              I guess we all agree that languages becoming extinct result in an enormous loss of cultural heritage, so whatever language you decide to learn : you'll be a lot richer soon!

                              L'Etranger
                              Google ergo sum

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