Poll: How many languages do you speak fluently? (including your working ones)
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 06:26
SITE STAFF
Jan 29, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How many languages do you speak fluently? (including your working ones)".

This poll was originally submitted by Natalia Zudaire

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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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:26
Member
Italian to English
What strange options Jan 29, 2006

I don't really understnad the point of this poll. I graduated in Italian and German (English is my mother tongue) but have decided to work in one language pair only (IT>EN). That excludes me from this poll. So how about "none" as the first? And I would defy anyone to say they speak eight languages "fluently".

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:26
Flemish to English
+ ...
Five and an understanding of 3 others Jan 29, 2006

I have grown up with the linguistic border between Dutch and French around the corner, learnt English when I was 13 (the stories of Rip Van Winkle) and grew up with the BBC-Worldservice and Radio 4 as my teachers from dusk till dawn.
From 1982-1988, I studied Spanish at a T&I-school and every summer, I either travelled aurond Spain or went to Salamanca (University of), the craddle of Spanish.

At high school, I learnt the basics of German, and during military service as a translator-interpreter in Germany, I was not asked if I knew German well enough to translate from German into Dutch, English or French. Just do it, that is an order....

What is weird is that I am able to read "Il Corriere della Sera" and tell you what is in the article,but I can't speak Italian. The same is true for Portuguese and to a lesser extend Roumanian. Perhaps because it are Romanic languages?
I do not use these languages as working-languges. Only as languages to get around.

A female friend of mine her mother tongue is Ukranian, but whenever we meet she usually speaks Russian. I have copied the pattern of the language and vaguely get a notion what she means.
Amazing how many Dutch words the Russian language contains....

Working ones into my mother-tongue : 5.
As I am not an adept of the mother-tongue only principle and I have good editors, I dare to risk to translate into the other direction in two languages French/English.

The poster above could have a look at the emission of WDR and defy the following person

http://www.familiedietiker.com/special/vandewalle.htm
http://users.pandora.be/orientaal/oprichter.html


[Edited at 2006-01-29 11:14]


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:26
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Including your working ones Jan 29, 2006

Fiona Peterson wrote:

I don't really understnad the point of this poll. I graduated in Italian and German (English is my mother tongue) but have decided to work in one language pair only (IT>EN). That excludes me from this poll. So how about "none" as the first? And I would defy anyone to say they speak eight


languages "fluently".

then I think your option is 2 or may be 3


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:26
French to English
Er, one? Jan 29, 2006

Fiona Peterson wrote:

I don't really understnad the point of this poll. I graduated in Italian and German (English is my mother tongue) but have decided to work in one language pair only (IT>EN). That excludes me from this poll. So how about "none" as the first? And I would defy anyone to say they speak eight languages "fluently".


Why none? English is your mother tongue, I'm guessing you're fluent in it, and it's a working language for you to boot. So that's one for you right away


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Romina Minucci
Italy
Local time: 15:26
English to Italian
+ ...
I answered only ONE!! Jan 29, 2006

I for one, I graduated in English and Russian, and my working pairs are RU-IT and EN-IT, I've studied French for 8 years and German for 3 years, but speaking fluently means a very deep knowledge of the language and to be honest I speak fluently only English. Even if I'm working with Russian I don't have many occasions to speak with Russian mother tongues...

Looking at your answers, you're fluent in several languages and I feel a little ignorant to say the least

poor me!


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:26
Why poor you? Jan 29, 2006

Romina Minucci wrote:
t speaking fluently means a very deep knowledge of the language and to be honest I speak fluently only English...

Looking at your answers, you're fluent in several languages and I feel a little ignorant to say the least

poor me!
[/quote]

If you are fluent in English, then you are fluent in at least two languges: Italian (your mother tongue), and English. Besides, you have a certain domain of a another, which is more than many people in the world could say.

Even though it might be interesting to find out what is the average number of languages that fellow translators master, I hope this does not turn into an "I have more toys than you have" kind of conversation!

[Edited at 2006-01-29 18:19]


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Javier Herrera
Spanish
How fluent is fluent? Jan 29, 2006

If I wanted to be absolutely perfectionist I would say I only speak one language fluently, or even none, it happens to all of us, we forget words even in our mother tongue once in a while(my students of Spanish as a foreign language were very surprised about that!).
If I used the term more loosely I would say five, normally the lay man tends to say you're fluent if they hear you utter a few consecutive words in a language, especially if it's a language they don't understand.
Realistically, it has to be something in between, although it's difficult draw a line. I'm afraid all of us answered what we wanted, each with a different definition of fluency in mind.
I answered two, by the way, I can make conversations for hours only in one foreign language (English) without struggling for words. I understand an awful lot of French and Portuguese, even though I studied them less than I studied English; but I can't say many basic words in those languages. I have very basic Dutch, but again, I could pretend very well to somebody who doesn't speak the language.
J.


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:26
English to Spanish
+ ...
The poll asks about speaking Jan 29, 2006

Speaking a language fluently is a different skill from listening comprehension, reading, writing or translating.

I speak fluently English and Spanish, my translation pair, and even consider myself to be 99.9% bilingual. I can also fluently read, write and translate these languages.

I also speak Hebrew fluently; but to speak fluently to me means conversational language. So I would never consider translating, reading or writing it!

On the other hand, I can read (and understand) French, Portuguese and Catalan: but I would never speak them or even write anything (let alone translate).

So I wrote three.


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Сергей Лузан
Russian Federation
Local time: 17:26
German to Russian
+ ...
4 (all working ones) & passive understanding of several others Jan 29, 2006

I work as a simultaneous interpreter with English, German & Spanish from & into my native Russian.

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Jande  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 01:26
Danish to English
+ ...
It all comes down to how you define a language Jan 30, 2006

You could easily get up to 3 if you say speak i.e. Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Fluently or Indonesian and Malaysian.

I've experienced that Spanish and Portugese speaking people can understand each other quite well.

Given that could we say with English there is UK, American, Aussie, Pidgin, South African.....?

I am qualified to speak, write and understand Danish fluently. English is my First Language. I guess that means I'm officially Fluent in 2 languages.

I can also understand what Norwegian and Swedish people are saying (I believe that is because I can understand Danish) and I learnt Japanese in School and I can understand and say basic sentances in Indonesian, which helps out when I'm in Singapore and Malaysia. Not to mention that when Dutch people speak I understand approx every 3rd word, not that it makes complete sense to me, but I can get a grip on the topic they are talking about. Must be something to do with the other languages.

I've also had to work with people who I didn't understand the language at all and we got along just fine. Can we add body language then?


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Sophie Dzhygir  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:26
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
4 Jan 30, 2006

all working ones.

@ heidi: I'm not sure wether this poll is only about speaking and not about writing or anything else. I think the verb "speak" in English is the generic term used to say that you can use or that you master a language. There's just no other verbe for that!
Maybe Natalia could be more specific about what she meant with her initial question?


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:26
English to Spanish
+ ...
Understanding original poll question Jan 30, 2006

Sonka wrote:

I'm not sure wether this poll is only about speaking and not about writing or anything else. I think the verb "speak" in English is the generic term used to say that you can use or that you master a language. There's just no other verbe for that!
Maybe Natalia could be more specific about what she meant with her initial question?


I agree, each person has replied the way they understand the question. It would be great if Natalia clarified...

Nevertheless, to me, to speak fluently means verbal production: to speak fluently means to be able to hold a verbal conversation with a speaker of that language (it goes one step beyond passive understanding into active production)


And in English you could say: How many languages do you know (which is not specifying if you can write, read, understand or speak...)
Then you would have to specify in what areas you are competent:
listening and reading (passive understanding)
writing and speaking (active production)


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Poll: How many languages do you speak fluently? (including your working ones)

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