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Foriegn Language

  1. Sep 11, 2009 #1
    Hey guys;

    I gotta take a foreign lang. naxt semester, and I am wondering what to take. My major is physics and I am thinking maybe French (I wanna go to CERN!) or maybe Greek.

    Whats a good foreign language for a physicist? :wink:
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2009 #2


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    Greek seems a curious choice...any particular reason?
  4. Sep 11, 2009 #3
    My friend is doing like 3 Greeks because he wants to read bible/something.. in greek
  5. Sep 11, 2009 #4


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    Dearly Missed

    Norwegian. :smile:
  6. Sep 11, 2009 #5
    Man I've always wanted to learn latin... lol :D I'm into social sciences though
  7. Sep 11, 2009 #6


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  8. Sep 11, 2009 #7


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    Latin. A springboard to learning any latin-based language out there. If you were a biologist it would help binomial nomenclature and lots of terminology make sense.
  9. Sep 11, 2009 #8


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    German is quite an interesting language [there’re lots of good physics books and articles for any physicist to read]

    though, I’m not expecting you to handle the language by studying it for only one semester, or is it two..whatever. I think you need at least 3 years to be good at it
  10. Sep 11, 2009 #9
    actually, i am considering trying to teach myself with rosetta stone or something, and AP'ing out of the classes.

    i read in a book somewhere a while back that a lot of physicists learn greek.. dont know if there is any merit to that, but i really have do idea which one to pick.
  11. Sep 11, 2009 #10
    I would ask myself which country I would like to work in. There is no other point in learning a language IMO.
  12. Sep 11, 2009 #11
    well like i said, i would like to do some REU at CERN, and speaking some French would definitely help. when i get out of school with a PhD though, i have no idea yet what i want to do.
  13. Sep 11, 2009 #12


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    That brings up something I've always wondered...has anyone ever used Rosetta Stone (or a similar product)? It's not cheap (about $600, IIR). Is it effective?
  14. Sep 11, 2009 #13


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    French, German, Spanish would be good, and so would Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, Japanese, in the long term.
  15. Sep 11, 2009 #14
    I subscribed to the older online course which basically operates like the CDs. They have a newer one now where you can talk to a native speaker. I found it fairly effective early on to learn some basic words and phrases. To me it got difficult really quickly though, especially with the speaking. Sometimes I feel like I repeat the phrase correctly but it still stays I'm wrong. It can be discouraging.

    I'm not sure if I'm going to resubscribe again or not. I was motivated in the beginning but now I don't know if I see the point in continuing since its not likely I'm ever going to travel soon enough to use it.
  16. Sep 11, 2009 #15
    Yeah a friend of mine let me borrow his Italian version of RS, and it seemed pretty cool. I don't know what it's like in the long term though, as in actually learning to speak a language fluently. I would like to hear some opinions about that from someone who has spent some time with the software.
  17. Sep 12, 2009 #16
    My language top list becouse of their popularity is Chinese, Spanish, Russian, English, Arabic
  18. Sep 12, 2009 #17
    Chinese seems like it would be pretty hard. I can't decide between Spanish, German, Italian, or French...
  19. Sep 12, 2009 #18


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    I'm sure we have members here who work (or have worked) at CERN - where you said you would like to work someday. To those members: what is your advice?
  20. Sep 19, 2009 #19


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    Learning to READ (not necessarily speak) German is probably the most accessible language to a native English speaker (in terms of vocabulary, the 500 or so "core words" that a child would learn first--like parts of the body, for example--are often so similar in English and German that people recognize them immediately). Also, there is a decent amount of mathematical and scientific literature in German.

    Most scientists are required to develop reading proficiency in at least one foreign language, the thinking being, I believe, that they should be able to read foreign journals in their original due to the vaguaries of translation.
  21. Sep 19, 2009 #20
    If this is your first second language, I'd recommend one of the easier, "mainstream" European languages (i.e. French, Spanish or German) before starting Greek.
    I'd say written French is somewhat easier for English speakers to understand than written German. I'm pretty sure English speakers which aren't familiar with either language (and with no training in historical linguistics/IE studies) will readily understand more words in this random extract from Le Monde:
    than in this bit from Der Spiegel:
    Among the Germanic languages, ime Norwegian is more similar to English (both in grammar and general appearance) than German is. Of course, it is much less useful.
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