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Panglottery and Language Choice

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
34 messages over 5 pages: 1 24 5  Next >>
leroc
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2742 days ago

114 posts - 167 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: German

 
 Message 17 of 34
21 April 2013 at 9:05pm | IP Logged 
Europe: Russian, Albanian

Africa: French, Hausa

Americas: English

Asia: Korean, Tagalog


I think that a well rounded polyglot should speak languages that are spoken all over the globe and have a good command of each.


Edited by leroc on 21 April 2013 at 9:47pm

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Wanabe
Triglot
Newbie
United States
Joined 2767 days ago

18 posts - 21 votes
Speaks: English*, German, Spanish

 
 Message 18 of 34
12 May 2013 at 11:58am | IP Logged 
I've been thinking about this thread in the context of languages that are
spoken and reasonably easy to find practice partners here in the U.S.

Europe: Russian, German. Russian has the land mass and moving forward
economically while Germany is arguably the economic powerhouse of the
E.U..

Asia Far East: Has to be Mandarin with our increasing economic ties yet valid
arguments I think could still be made for Japanese or Korean. Even so,
practice partners for Mandarin seem easier to find. I know several Mandarin
speakers and it has the advantage of being spoken in Southeast Asia as well.

For Southern Asia: I would argue for Malayalam. First I work with a large
number of potential practice partners in the healthcare industry. But also I
would think that with its close ties to both Sanskrit and Tamil it would make
ingress to these languages easier.

For Oceania I would go with Tagalog again because of the ease of finding
practice partners and the wide distrbution of speakers. Closer to home, I'd
like one of those fun languages that were mentioned earlier. Samoan but I
would have to go to the West coast to find practice partners though I have
run into a few speakers here in Texas.

Middle East; I think I really like the previous posts argument for Modern
Hebrew

The Americas other than English would have to be Spanish hands down.

So I think that would be my list.
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lichtrausch
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4391 days ago

525 posts - 1071 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Japanese
Studies: Korean, Mandarin

 
 Message 19 of 34
12 May 2013 at 6:00pm | IP Logged 
My thinking on panglottery has evolved a little bit and these are the languages I now
think are worth taking a closer look at: First of all the top language from each of the
11 premier languages families in the world*. Then the huge, continent spanning
languages of the colonial powers**. Then the great classical languages*** which have
left behind a plethora of classical literature and provide great insight into some
ancient civilizations and the daughter civilizations they spawned.

And now I want to consider Persian and Hindi a little more. They aren't the top
language of any macrofamily, they don't extend over an entire continent, but they are
the top languages of their respective subfamilies which broke off a long time ago from
PIE and spawned dozens (hundreds?) of languages. These subfamilies are so large and
diverse, not to mention distinct from their distant PIE cousins, that there is a lot of
value in learning a language from each of them. Persian and Hindi are the obvious
choices because of number of speakers, abundance of learning resources, geographic area
covered, and wealth of media available in them.

German and Italian don't fit neatly into any of the above categories, but if you total
up their past cultural contributions plus the weight they carry today (especially
German as the central economic and demographic power of Western Europe), they are hard
to neglect. I also think it would be beneficial to learn languages from any of the
other dozens of language families in the world. However there are usually problems with
this such as lack of learning materials, lack of places to speak it, lack of media to
enjoy in the language, and so on. If you can overcome these challenges, by all means
have a go at one of them.

Personal Notes: With Dravidian I am still torn between Telugu and Tamil but I'm leaning
towards Telugu because of Tamil's diglossia and Telugu's slightly greater population
and geographic area. However I'm not going to try tackling either one of them until
some decent learning resources are developed for these languages. I also don't have any
appetite for Swahili because I haven't found anything attractive about its culture yet,
but I hope this will change. I plan on learning Finnish because I'm attracted to its
culture and there appears to be a good amount of learning materials and media,
considering what a small language it is.



*English, Turkish, Arabic, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian,
Swahili, Tamil or Telugu

**English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Russian

***Latin, Ancient Greek, Arabic, Sanskrit, Classical Chinese

Others: German, Italian, Persian, Hindi
2 persons have voted this message useful



Allinuse
Triglot
Newbie
Norway
Joined 2640 days ago

7 posts - 7 votes
Speaks: Norwegian*, English, Thai
Studies: Spanish, German, Mandarin

 
 Message 20 of 34
31 May 2013 at 12:03am | IP Logged 
I am currently focusing on Spanish. I have though about future languages but will learn them one at a time.

So, when that's done I've have learned Norwegian (native), English, Thai and Spanish.

My long term dream in language learning (I won't call it a goal yet) is to be able to speak 10 languages.
Which means adding:

1: Mandarin
2: Portuguese
3: Russian
4: French
5: Japanese
6: German

Of course, this list is not set in stone as I could meet people or travel somewhere that suddenly motivates me to learn another language instead.
However, I don't think I could be motivated to learn an extinct language and there are also parts of the world I am more interested in than others so it is not always about the language itself but also the culture it belongs to.
I do genuinely think Spanish is more pleasing to the ears than Arabic, but if the Iberians in the middle ages had converted to speaking Arabic (but not to Islam), and Latin America became a Arabic speaking (non Muslim) continent then I might have been learning Arabic right now.
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casamata
Senior Member
Joined 2693 days ago

237 posts - 376 votes 
Studies: Portuguese

 
 Message 21 of 34
31 May 2013 at 1:34am | IP Logged 
Personally, as a native English speaker: to get the best bang for the buck I think English, Spanish, and French are best. I think this triplet is the best since if you just want to communicate with a lot of folks in different countries, you would avoid learning languages whose speakers also speak one of the above three pretty well.

The level of English in Latin America and Spain is pretty poor so Spanish will help you there.

English helps in a lot of places, obviously, plus covers the parts of Africa that French doesn't.

Maybe Russian or Mandarin for the fourth or fifth ones. But for the best bang for the buck in terms of hours required to reach proficiency, I think English, Spanish, and French are best. To add a fourth language with much less effort than Russian or Mandarin require...maybe Portuguese because Brazil doesn't have very good English proficiency according to recent studies and surveys.

Edit: if somebody says that these three aren't enough since they don't cover enough people and countries (they don't, but you can't learn 30 languages at C1 level and maintain them), maintenance is a bitch. I guess you could reach B1 level in 20 languages if you REALLY worked at it, but an active C1/C2 level in speaking, writing, reading, and listening in even 3 languages is hard.

Edited by casamata on 31 May 2013 at 1:37am

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Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 5028 days ago

9753 posts - 15777 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 
 Message 22 of 34
31 May 2013 at 2:36am | IP Logged 
but three languages isn't exactly panglottery...
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casamata
Senior Member
Joined 2693 days ago

237 posts - 376 votes 
Studies: Portuguese

 
 Message 23 of 34
31 May 2013 at 4:00am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
but three languages isn't exactly panglottery...


Well...how many languages would count? 5? 10? 30? It's not like if somebody has a B1 in a language that they are equal to a C2 speaker. If two guys study languages and devote the same energy and time to them, but one speaks 10 at B1 level and the other 3 at C2 level, I contend that they are equal. More isn't always better. Quality matters too.

I contend that those three are one of the best "bang for your buck" combinations for world wide comprehension. Sure, you can learn more to a very high level, but if your job is not learning languages 16/7 then you won't be able to learn so many. I didn't include Arabic since you have to know MSA and the local dialect; a much bigger time investment than other combinations.

If you knew you were going to be in a specific area like Europe and just wanted to talk to a lot of folks, I would say English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese would be good. But with 6 languages, it would still be hard to be C2 at all of them.

At some point it gets very hard to maintain all your languages at a high level and you can't learn that many to a C2 level and have them working all the time.

If my job was doing languages and I started with English, I would pick: Spanish, French, Mandarin, Russian, Arabic, Portuguese.

If I'm correct, companies usually only hire people that are "C2" in a maximum of three languages because people tend to embellish their skills and proficiency.

If you just want to have more basic conversations, then sure, you can probably get 15 languages maintained at B1 level all the time. But for a functionally native level, it's going to be hard to know many.

Edit: 6 languages in Europe, not 5.

Edited by casamata on 31 May 2013 at 4:04am

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Wanabe
Triglot
Newbie
United States
Joined 2767 days ago

18 posts - 21 votes
Speaks: English*, German, Spanish

 
 Message 24 of 34
31 May 2013 at 6:27am | IP Logged 
Hi Casamata:

"If two guys study languages and devote the same energy and time to them, but one speaks 10 at B1 level and the other 3 at C2 level, I contend that they are equal. More isn't always better. Quality matters too."

Though I see your point and I too believe that quality is important, I respectfully disagree with your statement. The root word Pan means all. So given your argument the ten at B1 level would in my mind, best fit the definition. At B1 you can communicate and you esentialy have the tools to learn the rest with practice.

I would say the wider the scope of your education the better. On each continent there are myriads who do not speak even a 2nd much less, a third language. If you have the basics in 5, 10 or more languages you have the means of communicating to many more monolinguals.

Sincerely, Wanabe




Edited by Wanabe on 31 May 2013 at 6:33am



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