Take That, Rosetta!

This post was inspired by the Daily Post: That That, Rosetta!

If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?

My favorite language is Italian, but I wouldn’t choose it because I already can understand it quite a bit thanks to my native Spanish tongue and a few years of French classes.

Plus, Italian isn’t very useful unless you go to Italy or at an Italian restaurant in London, well, not even then. When I lived in London, I used to walk by an Italian restaurant that was on the way from Paddington station to my flat. There was a waiter there that would hang out outside the restaurant and he would talk to me whenever I walked by. It didn’t feel like he was hitting on me at all, it was just friendly talk. But the point of the story is that he would talk to me in Italian, I would respond in Spanish, and somehow we would have a conversation. Oh and we both spoke English but we didn’t use it. I think it’s really cool how that can happen.

Anyway, to answer the question, I would like to wake up knowing fluent Hindi because it is the number 4 most spoken language by native speakers in the world, and I have a long history with India and believe it will continue. I would love to go back to India and be able to communicate in Hindi instead of English.

I am currently fluent in English and Spanish, followed by knowing the basics in French and Italian, followed by knowing how to read Russian (but can’t understand it), followed by knowing a few words in German and Hindi. It would be awesome to wake up one day being fluently trilingual.

Here is an FYI:

Top 5 languages spoken in the world by native speakers (source):

languages world spoken

How about that? I had no idea Spanish had higher numbers than English. I really don’t know why Spanish isn’t a required class in American schools, being so close to Mexico and having so many Hispanics immigrating to the country. Even my husband refuses to learn. Well, refuse is a strong word, but he’s just not interested. He says he tried and failed years ago and he never thought he would marry a Mexican.

This reminds me of a joke you might have heard before:

“If you call someone who knows two languages “bilingual” and someone who knows three languages “trilingual,” what do you call someone who knows only one language? —- An American.”

Which language would you choose?

5 Comments

  1. Hindi is actually quite difficult, especially when it comes to pronunciation. Reading, writing and understanding spoken Hindi is something that can be mastered but for someone from the West, speaking like a native is very, very hard. In fact, so hard, that in all my life I have not heard or seen a single convincing example either in real life or in youtube. There may be a few but it’s gotta be a small number.

    Most Indians are pleased to see a foreigner take the trouble to learn their language so they would go out of their way to be super polite and say something like “you speak very well” when in fact the reality is something that actually sounds borderline ridiculous. I think it is because of the concept of aspirated and unaspirated consonants, which in a few cases additionally have a soft and hard counterpart (though I am making this distinction for explaining it, in reality, they are all distinct and separate consonants) – something that’s non-existent in Western languages.

    My daughter, born and raised in the US, still can’t get it right despite my having spent countless hours in trying to get her say it right. The problem, apparently, is that she can’t even hear the difference between the soft/hard aspirated/unaspirated consonants so it is nearly impossible to get her to say it right when it all sounds the same to her.

    On the other hand, it is easy to read/write and understand because unlike Western languages it is 100% phonetic i.e. you write exactly how you speak. The only analogy I can give is how Western music is written. A musician would instantly know how it would sound just by reading the score.
    However, since you know multiple languages already, it could prove easier for you.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your explanation. My native language is Spanish which is also a phonetic language, so I know what you mean when you say that. When I started learning Hindi, I was only learning the spoken language through an auditory method in which you hear before you read so that your brain doesn’t create it’s own pronunciation based on the languages it already knows.

      Reply

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