How many languages have you dabbled in?

General discussion about learning languages

How many languages have you dabbled in?

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Re: How many languages have you dabbled in?

Postby lichtrausch » Tue Apr 06, 2021 4:06 am

I've avoided defining "to dabble" because the ways in which one can "casually engage with a language" (how I think of dabbling) are so diverse that any attempt at a precise definition would necessarily be arbitrary and incomplete. I hope the poll options are broad enough to accomodate our slightly different interpretations of "dabbling".
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Languages I'm focusing on learning now: Finnish, Polish, Italian.
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Dabbling languages: Hindi, Japanese, Georgian, Russian etc.
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Re: How many languages have you dabbled in?

Postby mick33 » Thu Apr 08, 2021 5:29 am

A brief casual engagement is my "definition" of dabbling . I'm not sure how many languages I've actually dabbled in but I think 11-20 languages sounds about right. Some languages (for example Polish) I have started learning more seriously at least for a few months. Here's the list of languages I can remember dabbling in since 2007.

Dutch: I actually dabbled with Dutch twice. The first time was in 2007. I began learning Afrikaans and read that it was very similar to Dutch. I also noticed that both were somewhat close to English and decided these two languages would be very easy to learn at the same time. I was new to learning languages on my own and didn't know what I was doing; thus I had the misguided belief that I would learn both languages to a "high level of fluency" within 3 to 6 months :P :roll: . I had no idea what a "high level of fluency" could mean or how much effort would even be involved to do this. I tried this for about a month and realized that I was becoming hopelessly confused and couldn't say or write anything intelligible in either language. So I stopped learning Dutch and learned to write semi-passable Afrikaans.

The second time I dabbled with Dutch was for a 6 week challenge in January of 2010 or maybe 2011. This time around I actually did learn a little bit of Dutch, and even typed some Dutch in my log on the HTLAL forum. I remember reading about the city of Nijmegen and I wrote about it in one of my old logs. I did get someone to respond to me in Dutch but I made loads of embarrassing mistakes that I should have known better than to make (remember that Afrikaans and Dutch are quite similar) and decided that I would save Dutch for later. As of right now, later hasn't come yet but I keep telling myself that someday I will actually learn Dutch.

Älvdalska: I think I dabbled with this one in 2009. I thought I liked how it sounded because of the nasal vowels that don't exist in Swedish. Then I found that were so few resources for learning it outside of traveling to Älvdalen (the village where it's spoken) to meet the native speakers and hoping they would speak it to me. Unfortunately, this language is only spoken in Älvdalen and nowhere else and most of the preservation and revival efforts are focused on getting the Swedish government to acknowledge that since Älvdalska is not mutually intelligible with Swedish they should classify it as a distinct language and not as a dialect of Swedish. I find language versus dialect debates to be tiresome since no one can ever agree on the meaning of the words "language" and "dialect", so I haven't tried to actually learn it seriously since 2009.

Lushootseed: A language that was commonly spoken by many tribes in Washington state. The grammar is quite complex and it is very challenging to pronounce with many swishes and gulps. There are college courses teaching the language and I think some brief radio programs in this language do exist though the last time I looked for any was 2009. The tribes are trying to revive it and the work of recording native speakers and publishing dictionaries has already been done. No L1 speakers are known to exist anymore. There may be a few hundred L2 speakers and I'm not sure how many of them could actually converse well in the language though there are bilingual signs in a few places. I might learn it just for the challenge but probably not any time soon.

Norwegian: I think I learned a little Bokmal in 2009 or 2010 but I do recall writing something in Norwegian in one of my logs on HTLAL and even got a response in Norwegian, but I was worried about confusing it with Swedish since the languages are quite similar so I didn't continue with it. I think I'll learn Swedish to a B2 level and then see if I'm interested in Bokmal again.

Danish: In written form Danish looks like Swedish and Norwegian, but it sounds different. I think that in 2009 I could read simple messages in Danish and understand them, however I couldn't pronounce it at all. I got frustrated after trying to pronounce even basic phrases for an hour one night and gave up. I like this language though and once I learn, or should I say if I learn ;) , Swedish to a B2 level I'll revisit Danish.

Hindi: I think Devanagari script is beautiful to look at and I like the rhythm of this language, but in 2010 I was surprised that most of the resources I could find for Hindi were for tourists and taught only basic vocabulary and phrases. I also had a hard time learning to read the script and decided to save it for some time in the future. There's probably more resources available now, but I'm learning Finnish first.

French: I can't pronounce French at all and gave up after a week. I often stressed the first syllable of words or sentences and couldn't remember which consonants are supposed to be silent. I like French too so maybe after I learn Italian and Spanish to B1 or B2 level I'll give it another go.

Japanese: I used to read Khatzumoto's blog All Japanese All The Time a lot and decided I should learn Japanese. I have gotten as far as learning to write in Hiragana and Katakana three times but I could never decide how I want to go about learning Kanji. I'm not sure that I want to spend a lot of time on learning Kanji but if I learn a language that is written down I want to be able to speak it and read it as well. I would like to go to Japan and then I would definitely seize the opportunity to speak Japanese. I don't when or if international travel will open back up, but I may learn some Japanese anyway just for fun.

Romanian: I know I wrote about this in 2009 in my log on HTLAL but I won't link to it here. There was an international student fair at the college I was studying at and I went there and met a charming young lady from Romania who told me a little bit about Romanian culture and the language. I think Romanian sounds lovely, like a cross between French and Italian. It is also the only contemporary Romance language to still use case endings which I found fascinating and is the only Romance language to have the definite article be a suffix. I couldn't find good resources online that would teach much more than basic tourist phrases in 2009 and I didn't like the audio on the CDs for the Teach Yourself Romanian course I had bought which had the announcer reading long vocabulary lists and featured fewer dialogues than other TY courses. I don't know if I'll actually learn Romanian or not.

Estonian: I thought Estonian would be fun to learn, since it's close to Finnish (one of my favorites :D) But only about half the population of Estonia speaks it. Besides that, I am more interested in Finnish and Hungarian.

Georgian: The alphabet looks beautiful, the language sounds lovely, the country and culture are fascinating and it was a cult language on HTLAL for a while. How could I pass up having a look at this language? Well, I couldn't! So I gave it a go for a week or two. Some of the people on HTLAL found enough resources to learn it properly, and I think a few did actually do so, but I couldn't pronounce ejective consonants and the grammar gave me a headache. There is at least one YouTube channel that teaches this language Learn Georgian with Roni and that would be enough to get me started when I decide to learn the language.

Armenian: The script is unique and although Armenian is an Indo-European language it is quite divergent in some ways, but I did not find many resources for learning it. Maybe I will look again and see if I can find some resources since I find the Caucasus region intriguing and I would actually like to learn this language.

Thai: I have looked at this language a few times since it's tonal and the alphabet has about 40 letters (or are they characters) so it would take less effort to learn than Mandarin or Japanese. I got sidetracked by a debate about whether to learn the alphabet first or learn one of the many romanizations first and then transition to the alphabet. I can't hear all five tones nor can I pronounce them yet. I'm undecided about whether to learn this language or not; the cuisine seems wonderfully flavorful and quite spicy but that may not be enough to hold my interest.

Mongolian: I couldn't find many resources for this language but it's been years since I really looked for anything and there could be some good stuff out there now. I'm not sure if I'd learn this language to B1 level or not even if I do find good resources.

Russian: I have begun learning the Cyrillic alphabet at least three times and also a little bit of vocabulary, but I never get far. I always tell myself I will learn Polish first, and then start on Russian so that's what I will do. Russian is a language that has plenty of resources available for learning it, so that won't be a problem which always good.

Zulu and Xhosa: I put these two languages together here because both languages are spoken in South Africa, their sound systems feature many click consonants and tones and the vocabulary of these two languages are even more foreign to me than those of Finnish, Hungarian or Georgian. Too bad neither one is really spoken outside of South Africa.

I could have added a few more languages to this list, but it's probably too long already!
Last edited by mick33 on Sat Apr 17, 2021 2:12 am, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: How many languages have you dabbled in?

Postby Ogrim » Thu Apr 08, 2021 12:04 pm

If I define dabbling as those languages for which I have bought some material and actually spent some time (at least 20-30 hours) trying to learn them, but then abandoned them, my list would be:


I should say that, as regards Galician and Portuguese, I have dabbled in the sense that I have not spent a lot of time learning grammar rules or creating wordlists, but I can easily understand both, especially in writing, thanks to my studies of Romance languages in general.
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