Irène Némirovsky, spoke 6 languages and understood a 7th

General discussion about learning languages
DaveAgain
Brown Belt
Posts: 1371
Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2018 11:26 am
Languages: English (native), French & German (learning).
x 2687

Irène Némirovsky, spoke 6 languages and understood a 7th

Postby DaveAgain » Thu May 12, 2022 9:18 pm

I've just started reading Irène Némirovsky's Suite française, she was a Russian emigré who wrote in French, in the preface of the book they mention that she spoke six languages, quite an odd mix too:
Si elle était née à Kiev, Irène Némirovsky avait appris le français (1) avec sa gouvernante depuis sa petite enfance. Elle parlait aussi couramment le russe (2), le polonais (3), l'anglais (4), le basque (5) et le finlandais (6), comprenait le yiddish (7), dont on reconnaît des traces dans Les Chiens et les Loups, écrit en 1940.

EDIT
Her daughter Elisabeth Gille has written a biographic-novel based on her mother's life, Le Mirador: mémoires rêvés.
10 x

User avatar
IronMike
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2402
Joined: Thu May 12, 2016 6:13 am
Location: Northern Virginia
Languages: Studying: BCS, Middle Egyptian
Maintaining: Russian, Esperanto
Tested:
Russian, 3/3 (DLPT5, 2022) 2+ (OPI, 2022)
German, 2L/1+R (DLPT5, 2021)
Italian, 1L/2R (DLPT IV, 2019)
Esperanto, C1 (KER skriba ekzameno, 2017)
BCS, 3L/2+R/2S (DLPT IV in, oh God, 1999!)
Slovene, 2+L/3R (DLPT II in, yes, 1999)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=5189
x 6604
Contact:

Re: Irène Némirovsky, spoke 6 languages and understood a 7th

Postby IronMike » Fri May 13, 2022 12:28 am

Holy crap, there's some tough ones in there: Finnish, Basque. Wow. I have the book somewhere, just haven't been in the mood yet. May have to push her farther up in my TBR shelf!
4 x
You're not a C1 (or B1 or whatever) if you haven't tested.
CEFR --> ILR/DLPT equivalencies
My swimming life.
My reading life.

sherbert
White Belt
Posts: 25
Joined: Sat Dec 22, 2018 7:37 pm
Languages: Armenian (N), Russian, English, Mandarin, Farsi, Spanish
x 87

Re: Irène Némirovsky, spoke 6 languages and understood a 7th

Postby sherbert » Fri May 13, 2022 3:49 am

Merci me! Thanks to my knowledge of Spanish, I was actually able to understand those 3-4 sentences in French with almost no effort. I have never tried reading French before. Can't believe it. I have also noticed that than I can read and understand some Portuguese, as it seems that sometimes half of YT comments are in that language.

What's funny about Finnish is that during the lockdowns, the only non work-related book I read was a colloquial Finnish textbook that I wound up almost copying word-for-word by hand. I also got up to 2300 points on Duolingo Finnish.

Also striking about Finnish is how many words in Finnish and Russian are essentially the same, like OKHO, TAPAKAH, etc. I would never have known that. Even so, to my ears, very little of Swedish or Russian has rubbed off on the Finnish language, but when I listen to Magyar it often sounds like part of a broader continuum of its neighboring languages.
5 x

User avatar
MorkTheFiddle
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1664
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:59 pm
Location: usa
Languages: English (N). Read (only) French and Spanish. Studying Ancient Greek, aiming for mastery by 2424. Studying a bit of Latin. Once studied Old Norse. Dabbled in Catalan, Provençal and Italian.
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 11#p133911
x 3474

Re: Irène Némirovsky, spoke 6 languages and understood a 7th

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Fri May 13, 2022 5:12 pm

Irène Némirovsky's Suite française is a good book, even being aware of her final days. I had no idea she was multilingual to such an extent. Her daughter's book intrigues me. Thanks for the reference.
3 x
Tu sabes cuando sales pero no sabes cuando regresas.

DaveAgain
Brown Belt
Posts: 1371
Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2018 11:26 am
Languages: English (native), French & German (learning).
x 2687

Re: Irène Némirovsky, spoke 6 languages and understood a 7th

Postby DaveAgain » Sat May 14, 2022 9:03 am

MorkTheFiddle wrote:Her daughter's book intrigues me. Thanks for the reference.
There's also a biography by Philipponnat & Lienhardt La vie d'Irène Némirovsky.
1 x

Jastreb
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2022 3:40 pm
Languages: Finnish (N), English (C1), Esperanto (B1-B2), Russian (A1-A2), Swedish (A1-A2)
x 23

Re: Irène Némirovsky, spoke 6 languages and understood a 7th

Postby Jastreb » Sat May 14, 2022 10:08 am

sherbert wrote:Also striking about Finnish is how many words in Finnish and Russian are essentially the same, like OKHO, TAPAKAH, etc. I would never have known that. Even so, to my ears, very little of Swedish or Russian has rubbed off on the Finnish language, but when I listen to Magyar it often sounds like part of a broader continuum of its neighboring languages.

I would say Swedish influence in Finnish is very strong; as a Finnish speaker trying to brush up my Swedish I'm constantly amazed how there's not only a ton of borrowed vocabulary but even idioms and fixed expressions that have seeminly been calqued word-to-word. However most of the Swedish material in Finnish is rather old so it has been throughoutly assimilated and might not be obvious on the first glance.

On the contrary, when I study Russian it is a rare treat to encounter a word that I can recognize from Finnish unless it's international vocabulary.
3 x


Return to “General Language Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests