Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

General discussion about learning languages
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leosmith
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby leosmith » Fri Nov 11, 2016 7:07 pm

So, are you fluent?
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby Cavesa » Fri Nov 11, 2016 7:47 pm

May I give more than one heart to tiia's post, please? Fifteen might suffice.
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Adrianslont
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby Adrianslont » Fri Nov 11, 2016 9:20 pm

"Indonesian is an easy language to learn." You get this from people who speak twenty words of holiday Indonesian and from some Indonesians themselves.

"It has no grammar." Well, it doesn't have a tense system or cases to worry about but there is still grammar to learn. And as I like to say, "You still have to learn all the words and you don't get any Romance language discount."

I also find myself referring to the FSI and how they rate it more difficult than French, Spanish, German and a lot of other European languages. They rate it as the same as Swahili. At that point you get blank stares or if you are on Reddit, downvotes.
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby Random Review » Fri Nov 11, 2016 11:50 pm

Slightly off topic, but I found variations on the following incredibly annoying:

Interlocutor: "How long have you been in Spain?"
Me: "Oh, 8 months this year, 9 last year and 10 in 2008, so about 27 months in total".
Interlocutor: "ah" (in tone of voice implying "ah, that's why you speak OK Spanish").
Me: "Er..." (fighting urge to say, "no, I worked bloody hard, actually. Being in the country is an advantage, but doesn't just happen effortlessly even then.")
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Chung
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby Chung » Sat Nov 12, 2016 1:57 am

tiia wrote:"Oh Finnish is hard, isn't it?" and later sometimes "You must be talented/a genius." - No, it is not hard. It is just different. And I'm not a language genius. But the genius-thing is not yet really annoying.
"It is related with Swedish, isn't it?" - But nowadays they know that Finnish and Swedish do not belong to the same group. So now it's more: "Isn't it related with Hungarian?" - Well yeah, but those two are as close as German and Russian. No, I cannot guess the meaning of Hungarian words. - The concept of a related language is often seen only as Germanic, Slavic or Romance languages.


+1.

On the flip side, I'm at least mildly happy that such statements show that they've internalized that Finnish and Hungarian are related whenever they find out that (after a fair bit of study) I can (sort of) fend for myself in these languages already.

tiia wrote:
Marais wrote:How long have you been studying French for?

Oh this one... When I get the question about Spanish: I studied it for three years, forgot everything and started again two years ago. So how long did I study it? Two years? Three years? Five years? Or including the break: eleven years?

And for Finnish the typical: "How much can you understand?" or "Can you speak it?" Especially when they know I was there as an exchange student.
Is it so hard to believe I studied the language before I arrived there? Is it so hard to believe I actually speak the language fluently?


I've heard these questions and similar regarding some of my target languages at one time or another, but it doesn't bother me when the askers nod/grunt in understanding after my having explained that for reading and writing I had to pick up a lot of those by working through courses on my own (Krashen's hypotheses don't apply well on me, and it's rare that I can make time to attend a full set of classes in my target languages, if they're even offered) while I got my confidence for speaking and listening by travelling and/or keeping friends who use my target languages natively (doing speaking and listening exercies/drills in isolation has only got me so far).

For related discussion on annoying fact(oid)s and questions encountered by learners, see the following:

- Internet language learning myths
- Popular misconceptions about languages?
- Does Latin make you clever?
- Are some languages more complex? Now/Then
- Most inefficient languages?
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IronMike
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby IronMike » Sat Nov 12, 2016 10:48 am

When I say Esperanto:

Why? What's the use?


When I say any language other than Russian*:

Why not study (just) Russian**?


When I say any language other than Spanish***:

Why not Spanish or something useful?


*I live in Russia now
**As if you can only study one language at a time.
***When I am back in the states
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby Cavesa » Sat Nov 12, 2016 12:44 pm

Marais wrote:Just '17 years on and off' would have done.

No it wouldn't:
1.it would give credit to useless teachers and rigid school system. I was prevented from learning the language for many years. And before someone blames me: no, it wasn't obvious for a 13 year old girl with dial-up internet connection to look up tons of sources and self-study.
2.It would as well play down the struggles I had to go through, which were quite ridiculous considering the fact that my only guilt was liking something different than most people. Includes not only being ridiculed not only by other kids but as well by adults, but it was another reason for an English teacher to shout at me several times per week.

So no, majority of the 17 years was absolutely wasted and not by my fault. I didn't take me 17 years to learn French, I was not that slow due to stupidity and refuse to be taken for stupid. It took many years to the system to stop actively holding me back. I could have been at my current level ten years ago. So no. Just as I haven't learnt vast majority of it at school.
........................................

A popular one: "Shouldn't you learn English well first, instead of trying other langauges?"
This one usually comes from the forever beginner English learners, those who stay at that level due to laziness and trusting classes too much. They cannot imagine anyone could suck less at languages than them, and they believe themselves qualified to give me advice (usually because they are older).

....................................

"Oh, I tried to watch a movie in xlanguage, but I didn't understand, so I stopped wasting my time. I am not a genius like you, it doesn't work."

They usually give up after ten minutes, what kind of miracle do they expect? Don't blame lack of talent (in this case you simply cannot get around the main factor-time), don't blame my advice. :-D
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby Marais » Sat Nov 12, 2016 2:18 pm

Cavesa wrote:
Marais wrote:Just '17 years on and off' would have done.

No it wouldn't:
1.it would give credit to useless teachers and rigid school system. I was prevented from learning the language for many years. And before someone blames me: no, it wasn't obvious for a 13 year old girl with dial-up internet connection to look up tons of sources and self-study.
2.It would as well play down the struggles I had to go through, which were quite ridiculous considering the fact that my only guilt was liking something different than most people. Includes not only being ridiculed not only by other kids but as well by adults, but it was another reason for an English teacher to shout at me several times per week.

So no, majority of the 17 years was absolutely wasted and not by my fault. I didn't take me 17 years to learn French, I was not that slow due to stupidity and refuse to be taken for stupid. It took many years to the system to stop actively holding me back. I could have been at my current level ten years ago. So no. Just as I haven't learnt vast majority of it at school.

I don't know why you have to be that sensitive over it. Seems like a huge overreaction to a simple question. I asked you how long you've been learning French because i too learn French, and see that you're fluent, so i'm interested. You turned a very simple question into some pointless debate. Saying 'on and off' doesn't 'give credit to teachers' or anything of the like. The person asking will just think you've been learning French, not necessarily consistently, but since 17 years ago. It's very simple really in my opinion.

You could have just said 'it's hard to say' and moved on. No need to make such a big deal of it.

From some of the reactions here i'm beginning to think that maybe innocent people trying to make conversation get the 'wrong' end of your sticks and end up on the end of some bitter tirades.
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby Marah » Sat Nov 12, 2016 2:29 pm

In the same vein as "That's because you're a language genius" there's "Oh you're really good at languages! But that's because you are bilingual!". :mrgreen:
I don't know if there's research to back that up but what really irks me is when it's used as an excuse even though a lot of polyglots didn't grow up bilingually.
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby Aozora » Sat Nov 12, 2016 6:13 pm

When my extended family hears that I'm learning Japanese, or sees that the book I'm carrying/reading is all in Japanese, they always say something like "Oh you're learning Japanese? So you can read this? Can you say something in Japanese now?" But then they divert the conversation elsewhere before I can even answer properly :roll: They've done this several times, I don't know why they forget.
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