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Using English

  1. Jun 15, 2003 #1
    Greetings !
    I have a problem, i am not able to express my ideas in english in the right way, i use rather long sentences, and most people say they find it hard to understand me (mainly, and specially when talking in english).
    I was wondering if you could give me fast tips of what should i do to solve thing.
    Thanks all !
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2003 #2
    you make perfect sence to me!

    my only advice to someone on the PFs is to keep it simple. if you can express an idea in five words instead of six, do it.

    what's your other launguage?
  4. Jun 15, 2003 #3


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    I'm not sure whether you mean speaking out loud in english or writing in english. If it is writing in english then I would suggest you try using a grammer check such as that in microsoft outlook or word type programs. The grammer check programs (abc) will let you know if your sentences are "run ons" (too long) and some will offer corrections as well. If it is out loud, then a good way to learn is by watching english films, cartoons etc and mimicking their speach patterns.
  5. Jun 15, 2003 #4
    Along with what the others have said, I'd like to point out that English is pathetic at expressing ideas. For example, just saying "Buen Provecha" (Spanish) conveys the idea of "enjoy your meal, and eat until your full". Notice how I had to use a sentence in English to convey what two words can convey in Spanish? (btw, "buen provecha" is the Spanish equivalent of the French "bon apetit'", so it's not that Spanish is in some way special).
  6. Jun 16, 2003 #5
    Maximus, Thanks first of all.
    My native language is Arabic, i also learned French when i was younger (i was born in France and lived there 9 years).
    Kat, well believe it or not, i learned most of my English from films and songs !! I don't face problems when speaking out English loud (yet) cause i rarely have the chance to speak English, so my problem is in writting. I will try to see if MS Word will help me.
    Mentat, yes, you have a point, actually you can say "bon appetit" in Arabic in a single word! But i also sometimes face the same problem in Arabic too, so i guess the biggest problem is not in the language, but in me !
    Thanks all.
  7. Jun 17, 2003 #6
    Yeah, sometimes I can hardly understand you STAii.

    Here's a few tips. If someone sneezes, it's only polite to say God damn you. As you have probably noticed from many English rap and hiphop songs, American and English girls like to be called b:tch. Finally, if you are ever confronted by a police officer in America, be very respectful and always address him as PIG. That stands for Police Investigator Guy.

  8. Jun 17, 2003 #7

    Im sure that there exist many translations of English words and short phrases that take a sentance to explain in Spanish.

    Note though that the English can easily alter that phrase to "enjoy your meal and eat until you are 95% full", where this would probably take equally long to say in spanish. Anyway it is just something that people say out of politeness, so "enjoy your meal" effectively has the same meaning in English.

    Chinese takes little time to say things, but people need to remember many many different words. Which language is better is open to interpretation as there are pros and cons for both.
  9. Jun 17, 2003 #8
    The problem with Chinese is that it lacks the subjunctive tense. This raises problems when people want to discuss abstract possibities. Recently an American Linguistics Professor wrote a book on the limitations that Asian languages and customs impose on scientific developement. Needless to say, it received much criticism from the Asian American community.

    English is one of the best languages for scientific use. It provides a far larger vocabulary than most other languages, and uses a very linear word order. There are some who suggest that the preciseness allowed by English to express abstraction is what has enabled the sucess of so many western scientists.

  10. Jun 17, 2003 #9
    Well, about vocabulary, i don't think there is a better system in vocabulary than the Arabic !
    The arabic system of vocabulary is really impressive, each word has an origin, called Root.
    A root is actually a very basic form of a past tense verb, it is normaly made of 3 letters and rarely made of 4 letters.
    Now, when you add specific letters to the root, you get specific meanings, for example, adding alef (this letter sounds almost like A in english) after the first letter in a root will add a new meaning to the root, which is pariticpation.
    So for example, La-'i-ba (those are three letters) mean "he played", if you add alef, it will becomes La-aa-'a-ba, which means "he played with someone else together".
    So, from each root, you can get up to 15 verbs in past tense with the same original meaning, but with little differences, and from each of the 15 past tense verbs, you can get about 20 different words that mean different cases of the past verb, those can be "the doer of the action" or "how the action was done" or "who the action was done on" or other meanings (Added to the meaning of the past verb).
    Each of the words that represent the meanings have a certain way to reach, we have like a word with wildcards that allow you to measure what the word is supposed to have added to the meaning of the past tense.
    So in other words, if you memorize the forms containing the wildcards (or what we call the weights), and some roots, you will be able to find out more than 300 word with different meanings from each single root you know !! so try to imagine how the arabic vocabulary is rich !
    Our only problem is with words that came up in the last century, since arab countries were (and still are) too poor to add the new words in the right way to the arabic language, so they were added just the way they are in English or other western languages, for example, we call "television" "telfezion", and we call "telephone" simply "telefon", and other words have the same case too.

    About scientists and langauge, most sciences of the middle ages were written and tought in Arabic, and no problems were actually faced.

    Another good thing about words in arabic, is that normally the meaning of the word comes along with how it is pronounced, so we have more than a single word that means "Rain", but the one that means "good rain" has a certain pronounciation that makes it soft (it is made out of easy-to-pronounce letters), and the one that means "bad rain" (like those causing floods) has a word that has a bass sound (totally different letters). But nowadays only few people are aware about this, and people use the two words interchageably.

    A last thing about vocabulary in Arabic, some words sometimes have mutltiple meanings, and IF used by experts in language, they might be able to deliver two (or more) different ideas with a single sentence !

    (if you notice from what i wrote WHY i am not clear in English, please tell me)
    Thanks all for the replies.
  11. Jun 17, 2003 #10


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    I find that english is very limited in terms of vocabulary compare to other language such as french. Some words in english have 5 different definition whereas in other language the same words have 1 or 2 definition. French and german was use for scientific writting before the 50 or 60's. I agree with the linear word order but I don't think that English has enable sucess of many western scientists due to its preciseness. English only favor western scientist because it is spoke by more people and the superpower speaks english.

    STAii I had the same problem because my first language is french. I fixed the problem by improving my english skills and by doing scientific writting. Most scientific journals (some charge 200$ a page) and proesseur in university (1 page lab reports) ask for consice and precise sentence and wording. This can help at improving your long wording sentence.
  12. Jun 17, 2003 #11
    Always gotta mess withe the foreign guy dontcha? Inta maznoon;)

    Kefalic haiay (sp?) Est-ce que votre francaise tres bein? Moi j'ai etudie pour 5 ans au lycee. n'ecoute pas entropy. B:tch C'est la chienne(sharmoutha) en anglais, et PIG c'est tres mal mode pour direz au les police. Si vous-avez des questionnes au le grammaire anglais, seulment demandez-moi, ca et je va reponderais. Aussi, je sais un peu du arabic parce-que j'ai vais au lycee avec beaucoup des personnes lebanese.

    Sorry bout the french grammer. My future tense is a little rusty;)

    Entropy, Kannen ein haben ein zigarrenten bitteh? hehee.. that's all I know.

    I speak a couple of languages fluently, and a few more not so fluently.. hehe
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2003
  13. Jun 17, 2003 #12
    Probably so. It is not just this that makes the English language dispicable to me; it's also the fact that it violates it's own rules of grammar so much. Spanish never violates it's own rules.

    Good enough point - though I was just using a quick analogy - you probably could shorten most English sentences to be almost as succinct as Spanish.
  14. Jun 17, 2003 #13
    LOL!! eNtRopY, you have outdone yourself!
  15. Jun 17, 2003 #14


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    Excellent STAii! I easily understood every thought you expressed in that whole Reply. You see, you CAN do it.
  16. Jun 18, 2003 #15
    Thanks all.
    Zantra, i understood the humour in Entropy's reply (and i liked it), so there was no need to explain it to me in two languages . I wonder what your origin is, but i can know that knowing how to say b:tch in all languages is usefull :wink: lol.

    LURCH, do you really mean it ?
  17. Jun 18, 2003 #16
    Very true:) I'm just an american with an affinity for languages.
  18. Jun 18, 2003 #17
    STAii, I think your English is pretty good, well perhaps better than mine. Same as you, my first language isn't English. To improve written English, I would recommend reading English magazines such as Times and Readers Digest.
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