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Poll: You know you speak a second language well, when you can:
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 06:18
SITE STAFF
Oct 5, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "You know you speak a second language well, when you can:".

This poll was originally submitted by John Cutler

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:18
English to Dutch
+ ...
Crosswords, cryptograms Oct 5, 2007

I recently tried to do some crosswords in my working languages. It was disastrous.
So I've set myself a new goal and won't boast about anything until I can do this.

Nice poll, by the way.

Best,
Margreet


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Jianjun Zhang  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:18
English to Chinese
+ ...
No easy thing for me Oct 5, 2007

For me, I mean, it seems to be very hard to master any language, including my mother tongue Chinese.

Once in a while I dream in English and I think in English, but English is actually my nightmare when it comes to all those slangs and idioms! Maybe I need to go overseas for one or two years instead of learning any language on my own.

I think it takes a person a lifetime to really master any language.



[Edited at 2007-10-05 19:44]


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Claudia Aguero  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 07:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dreaming and thinking Oct 5, 2007

I rellay like this topic since it goes beyond dealing with words in two languages and involves many aspects of our own "self."

My teacherd always told me that you really speak a language when you dream in it and when you think in it; now this is what I also tell my students. Since both are unconscious acts, they demand great command of the target language to use it seamlessly in situations that are not under our control.

The other options are also true, but with some training you can learn to tell jokes, talk seriously to others and meet people.


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 15:18
English to Norwegian
+ ...
:lol: Oct 5, 2007

This morning, my husband said to me:
You are working too hard. You speak English in your sleep:lol:
When I used to live in an English-speaking country, I would think and dream in English when it involved people I normally would speak English to.
Still - I make mistakes that no native speaker would ever make.
Speaking it well - perhaps.
Like a native - no.


[Edited at 2007-10-05 14:52]


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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:18
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
dreaming, calculation, having a row Oct 5, 2007

My teacher also told us that dreaming in an other language means that you master it very well.
Same with calculation, especially mental calculation.

As for having an argument, I experienced it myself a couple of times when I lived in a foreign country. I find it very difficult to speak in a second language when things become too emotional, because you have to control your language and your feeling at the same time.


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Emmanuelle Moulin  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:18
English to French
+ ...
how about when... Oct 5, 2007

...someone is talking to you in one language and you reply in another without realizing you have?

or when

...your mind goes blank trying to remember the simplest word in your mother tongue, and all that comes to you is its equivalent is two other languages?

which leads to the question : when you should start worrying that you speak a second language well?

have a nice weekend,

Emmanuelle


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 10:18
English to Spanish
Cryptograms Oct 5, 2007

::drool::
(I'm addicted to them)


Now seriously, know that I speak a language well? I'd say it's a combination of being able to think directly in the language without realising it, being able to quarrel/fight/argue/discuss in it, and converse fluently.

I don't mention dreaming in the language because I dreamt in German (or, at least, what sounded like German to me) after I had spent 3 weeks in Berlin, but since I can hardly say more than "Wo ist der W.C" (probably wrong article, btw), my guess is that I dreamt in the "tarzanese"version of the language.


On the other hand, I felt that I could hear English well after I was able to hold a long conversation with a Scottish tourist with relative ease and watch Absolutely Fab without subtitles.

Greetings!

[Edited at 2007-10-05 15:16]


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Marie Melinon  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:18
English to French
+ ...
Crosswords Oct 5, 2007

I completely agree with you Margreet! Being able to do crosswords in a foreign language has always been a dream for me.

Even in my mother tongue, this is difficult. So I let you guess how it is when it is a second or third language.

Cheers,
Marie


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Sanye  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:18
English to Turkish
+ ...
Poetry... Oct 5, 2007

Being able to understand and write poems....

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:18
Italian to English
+ ...
Combination Oct 5, 2007

But I don't agree with the option "dreaming" - I was dreaming in very bad Italian just a few months after I moved here. They were nightmares - people kept on correcting me in my sleep, so I got NO TIME OFF at all! I had a permanent headache...

To a certain extent I agree with thinking in the language, but even then I found myself backtranslating (and therefore presumably thinking in Italian) when I was speaking English while my level of Italian was far from fluent.

Actually, scrolling down I think that nordiste has got it right - it's when you can argue in a language. It took me several years to manage. I still remember being literally incoherent with rage during an argument with a neighbour because my Italian had flown out of the window as I hit the roof and I was too polite to start shouting in English...

[Edited at 2007-10-05 15:45]


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:18
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Agree with your teacher Oct 5, 2007

nordiste wrote:

My teacher also told us that dreaming in an other language means that you master it very well.
Same with calculation, especially mental calculation.

As for having an argument, I experienced it myself a couple of times when I lived in a foreign country. I find it very difficult to speak in a second language when things become too emotional, because you have to control your language and your feeling at the same time.


I knew that I had "arrived" in Canada when I started to dream in English. However, after 40+ years, I still count by twos or tens in Dutch. As for telling someone to take a long walk off a short pier, I do that better in English now.


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 15:18
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Driving Oct 5, 2007

...when you swear at other drivers in that language.

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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Dreaming in a foreign language Oct 5, 2007

Psycholinguists say that dreaming in a foreign language is a good sign.

For me a good sign is being able to speak into a foreign language when I am half-asleep or just woke up

Oh, and another good sign: Being able to get angry and express this anger into a foreign language!

[Modificato alle 2007-10-05 15:51]


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 10:18
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
Having an argument Oct 5, 2007

I've heard the statement about dreaming in a foreign language before. I think it is valid to a point.

Nevertheless, when you're dreaming, you're not interacting with anyone, at least not consciously. I find that arguing with someone takes a lot of competence in the second language. You are invariably dealing with culturally specific situations and basic emotions.

These situations are also time sensitive. You don't have 10 minutes to think up an answer. Indeed, if you hesitate, you may be the person losing the argument.


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