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Which new language should i learn?

  1. Dec 3, 2007 #1
    I, as of right now, know two languages. My first language is English (duh) and the other is German, which i am still learning. I am not the greatest German speaker by no means but i can read and speak some German. German is a neat language to speak and write but i feel it won't be a language that I'll use to often which defeats the point of learning a language. I really don't know to many people that speak German in my area.

    I've been pondering this for some time. I want to learn a new language that will be beneficial for me. In my family, every ones Italian and everyone know how to speak at least some Italian. So it makes scenes that Italian would probably be my best choice. My other choice would be Latin. Although Latin isn't really a spoken language anymore, I have heard it does have uses. Many words come from the Latin language. Some which are everyday words and some are scientific. Latin is also, of course, where all romantic languages come from. French , Spanish, Italian. In this sense it could be useful if i learn some Latin and then learn some Italian. I want an opinion, though, from you people. You people are smart. What do you think i should do? ALL comments are welcome.

    Thanks for your response!! It means a lot.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2007 #2
    Absolutely learn what you are most interested in, it will make all the difference, even if relatively obscure. However, Spanish and French are prolly the most useful in the world.
  4. Dec 3, 2007 #3


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    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
  5. Dec 3, 2007 #4
    Learn Finnish like I did for absolutely no reason.

    Learn Spanish, then you you can learn Italian with great ease.
    Then go on from there.
  6. Dec 3, 2007 #5
    Russian, Spanish, or Chinese(Mandarin) are pretty helpful and useful. Those plus Italian have been my choices over the years.
  7. Dec 3, 2007 #6


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    Your choice of language to learn depends on your purpose. You probably should learn a language which has at least one million speakers. Are you interested in exploring regional transitions among or between languages? Maybe Spanish, French, Catalan, Occitan are good choices (depending on where YOU are, you may need luck to learn some of them). In some places, Spanish is a very common language among some people who are not quite bilingual yet trying to become so. Are you interested in business or international trade? Try to pick something with at least one million speakers. Do you want to read or translate historical documents or literature? Maybe Russian, French, Greek, Latin, Hebrew(?)

    There are far, far more choices than those languages mentioned here.
  8. Dec 4, 2007 #7
    Learn Portuguese and travel through Brazil. Actually Six Languages practically cover five continents:


    North America - English, Spanish, French. Then you have about 30 million white americans who descend from either Italy (10 million ?) or Germany (20 million ?) so in a sense German and Italian. This is also valid for all of Latin America especially places like Uruguay and Argentina.

    South America - Spanish and Portuguese

    Western Europe - All six

    Africa - English, French, Portuguese and some Spanish

    Australia - English

    This is very Euro-centric and most of these places would be critical of the above, but anyways...

    (corrected some spelling, we are talking about languages !)
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2007
  9. Dec 4, 2007 #8


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    I agree with Greg. I once heard someone say that if you can speak English, Spanish, and French, you could communicate almost anywhere in the world. Make sense to me.

  10. Dec 4, 2007 #9


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  11. Dec 4, 2007 #10

    Yes very Euro-centric, this is not at all true, in fact 99% of the people of the world really only know their own local language (and not even well) and some very few only know some english. Wake up to reality, we in the west (EU, USA etc.) have a VERY DISTORTED VIEW of the world.
  12. Dec 4, 2007 #11


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    Well I've personally traveled to more countries than I can remember, and I have always found at least one person who I could communicate with, and I only speak English, and very little French and Spanish.

    I doubt very seriously that 99% of the population only knows their own language let alone very well (depends on your definition of very well). The majority of people I have encountered spoke English as their secondary language.
  13. Dec 8, 2007 #12
    The educated people in the World know English as a second language. It is the trade language and therefore it is required if one is going to operate internationally. If one is in a city or tourist location, then one can always find someone that speaks English. Therefore it is the most useful language to know. However, if one is in a remote location like a village in rural Colombia or China, it would be difficult to find someone who speaks English at all.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2007
  14. Dec 8, 2007 #13
    English aside since it is the most widely spoken language followed by French , then Spanish.

    you might want to concider learning a language that isn't as widely spoken by westerners.

    Mandarin or Yue Chinese , Arabic , or Hindi Indian would come in handy in the changing political and financial world.
  15. Dec 8, 2007 #14
    For business, Russian, Spanish, or Mandarin. For politics, French and Spanish. For difficulty, Icelandic!
  16. Dec 17, 2007 #15
    Viet is harder than Icelandic. It has (I believe) 78 vowels!!!!!
  17. Dec 17, 2007 #16


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    No, you just need to speak English loudly - works everywhere.
  18. Feb 6, 2008 #17
    I tend to disagree with you there. Most foreigners want to learn English as their second tongue , but not so with American citizens---they tend to think inversely.
  19. Feb 6, 2008 #18
    You mention Catalan as being a good language to learn---very possible, however, as a language it is only spoken in the province of Catalonia , although it is understood by all Spaniards as well as the people of the Balearic Islands. Occitan, on the other hand , is regional and only spoken in that part of France.
  20. Feb 7, 2008 #19

    jim mcnamara

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    I live in the US in a place where people grow up speaking several languages, including Spanish. Not English. English is always learned later on.

    When I was in grad school I had to pass two language exams - so I did the ones I already knew well - French and German. Since then, neither of these has been of any earthly use to me, except when I go to a foreign cinema - I don't have to read sub-titles.
    Or navigating around rural Quebec. But I do not regret it.

    From a practical standpoint: Keres, Navajo, Tewa, and Spanish would have been a great asset.

    You cannot know what you will need ahead of time. So do what fits you.
  21. Feb 7, 2008 #20


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    If Catalan is of interest, (to you or to original poster), then it is worth the study. Your point is well understood in that it is only regional; and so is Occitan. Some other variations in Occitan may exist (not sure what to say since I'm not a linguist). Also be aware of other forms of Occitan: Gascon, Provencal, Aranes, which you may find in Northern Spain. A region in northern Catalunya uses Aranes as co-official with Catalan and Castillian. Valencia uses Valenciano which is probably (not really sure) no different from Catalan.

    Someone explained to me that in Northern Spain/Southern France, you can find a somewhat gradual transition of languages as you move through the regions, and that no sharp line cuts off one language as you reach the next language. ... smooth variation between languages...

    What I learned through inquiries by email and internet searching is that if you want to formally learn Occitan (which version?), you need to understand French, since the textbooks are written in French.

    I can not remember how many people use Occitan, but there are estimated 6 million people who use Catalan (that estimate was from about 8 years ago).
  22. Aug 25, 2008 #21

    Basically, that's that.
  23. Aug 29, 2008 #22


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    I am glad you are learning German. It really is a fine language with a good poetry too.

    You ask what language to learn besides English and German.

    Learn whatever language you love the poetry in it the most. Or if you like popular songs, learn the one you love to hear the songs of.

    One learns a language not only to communicate with people in foreign lands but also to communicate with one's own heart.

    Spanish and Italian both have wonderful poetry and songs. You can buy or find in the library the Penguin Book of Italian Verse, which has the poems from many centuries written in the original Italian and also, down at the bottom, a literal English translation so you can see what it means. If you already know a few words you can figure out a lot from there.

    You don't really know a language until you know by heart some of the verse or song of that language.

    (personal opinion, of course)
  24. Aug 29, 2008 #23
    Polish would be a good choice or Danish. That would impress people.
  25. Aug 29, 2008 #24


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    I think you are joking Andre. Being a Dutchman or suchlike European you may know to speak five language already and you probably think it is droll for Americans to be talking about what to learn as a third languge. But why not give him some serious advice?

    One doesn't learn a language to impress people. Suppose one learns it because of the pleasure it gives all thru one's life. What language can you recommend on that basis? A good candidate would be French, simply because of the cinema.

    We just watched Decalage Horaire (Jet Lag) with Juliette Binoche. A real pleasure to understand part of the dialog in French. Before that, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, about the editor of Elle magazine who became paralyzed except for one eyelid.

    these are fairly recent films and so good they make understanding spoken French worthwhile, whether or not one can imitate the correct accent in speaking.

    In what other European language are they still making top grade films? Maybe you know.
  26. Aug 29, 2008 #25
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