Languages studied at university
Thread poster: Luís E. dos Santos
Luís E. dos Santos
Brazil
Local time: 11:53
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Nov 16, 2007

Hello everybody.

I've noticed that some translators have studied three foreign languages at university, besides their native language. I'd like to know the following:

1) Was it a full-time course? How long did it take?

2) Were the languages taught simultaneously? If so, did you have any difficulty learning them at the same time?

I'm curious about it because, when I was at university, I wanted to study as many languages as possible, but the syllabus permitted only two foreign languages, besides the student's native language. I've solved this problem studying other languages by myself.

Thank you.

Luis


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:53
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not how many but how well Nov 17, 2007

One thing I might say about our profession is that what matters is not how many languages you know, but how well you know them. And you can never know them well enough.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:53
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
At the same time, is okay Nov 17, 2007

sprog wrote:
2) Were the languages taught simultaneously? If so, did you have any difficulty learning them at the same time?


At university I studied two new languages simultaneously (Xhosa and German), and I think that that is the best way to do it. I studied both languages for four semesters. But my studies were only in "practical" usage, meant to help me read the newspaper in that language with the aid of a dictionary, or to give me two semesters' credit if I should decide to study that language comprehensively at some other university. During my studies I was able to follow German radio and I was able to read Xhosa magazines, but... after I wrote the exam, I forgot most of it.

Oh, keep in mind that I'm bilingual in two Germanic languages already (English and Afrikaans).


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Natalya Zelikova  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 17:53
Member (2003)
English to Russian
+ ...
... Nov 17, 2007

1. English
We had to pass an English entry examination, so it was not the language which we started to learn from scratch. It was the language which most of us have studied at school.
2. Japanese
We started to learn Japanese from the first year (5 years total), it took us twice more hours than English + Theory and practice of translation from Japanese, and Japanese was our main (first language).
3. Turkish
We have also had a Turkish course (3rd - 5th year; half of the English studying hours). There were few languages which we could choose among at this stage. The aim was just to teach us basics of the language, which I think I could refresh now more easily than starting from nothing.

As far as I remember many of us have Japanese words slipped during Turkish classes (Japanese was more important, more admired, etc.) Apart from this I don't think there have been any difficulties


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Luís E. dos Santos
Brazil
Local time: 11:53
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Henry Nov 17, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:

One thing I might say about our profession is that what matters is not how many languages you know, but how well you know them. And you can never know them well enough.



I agree with you. However, when I was younger, I didn't think that way. Nowadays, I'm trying to polish and perfect the few languages I like best, out of those I have studied.


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tonymacg  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:53
Member (2006)
Japanese to English
+ ...
No problem Nov 17, 2007

I took (3 year) majors in Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian over 4 years back in the 1960s when I was young and foolish. It didn't present any great problems as I recall, but I wouldn't want to try to do it again now.

My Japanese and Indonesian are still good, but my Chinese could do with improvement.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
I took three at a time Nov 17, 2007

If I recall correctly, I took both French and Spanish every semester that I was in college. At various points, I also took courses in Japanese, Hebrew, or Portuguese concurrently with French and Spanish, and the university never complained. As long as I had enough credits in my major and my minor, they didn't care what I took as electives.

I found it helpful to study multiple related languages (in my case Romance languages) at the same time, since it helped me focus on the differences between them and avoid confusing one with the others.

[Edited at 2007-11-17 14:07]


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sabina moscatelli  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:53
Member (2004)
German to Italian
+ ...
I studied Nov 17, 2007

English, German and Spanish at University. German and Spanish from scratch, but keep in mind that Spanish presents several analogies with Italian and so it was a minor effort (even if the risk of confusing the two is high).

I followed three four-year courses and I had studied French for five years at the upper secondary school. This implied a very intensive personal study and effort (studying abroad, extensive and intensive reading and listening activities, in decades where DVDs had not been invented yet I think they no longer offer this syllabus nowadays, since many dropped off before reaching their degree.

When I left University I had the chance of seriously improving both my German and English, never forgetting the French I had learnt at a younger age. Nowadays I can read and understand Spanish very well, but I am no longer fluent in it.

As far as my children are concerned, they study both English and Spanish since the primary school, but I prefer them to concentrate on the study of English.

[Edited at 2007-11-17 15:11]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:53
Flemish to English
+ ...
English/Spanish. Nov 17, 2007

English (not from scratch) , Spanish (from scratch), French (not from scratch) and
I also made a lot of assignments for a (female) fellow-student in Italian.
Portuguese/Japanese.
I dropped Japanese and Portuguese, because the work-load was too heavy.
I registered for a Japanese course again a few years ago, but I find it difficult to remember all the Hiragana and Katakana. My interest for Oriental languages remains, but I am pragmatic and for the time being will limit myself to the languages I know and the languages I can learn without too much effort due to their similarity with Spanish and French, i.e. Portuguese, Italian and Romanian.


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Haiyang Ai  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:53
English to Chinese
+ ...
Agreed. Nov 18, 2007

sprog wrote:

Henry Hinds wrote:

One thing I might say about our profession is that what matters is not how many languages you know, but how well you know them. And you can never know them well enough.



I agree with you. However, when I was younger, I didn't think that way. Nowadays, I'm trying to polish and perfect the few languages I like best, out of those I have studied.


I agree with sprog and Henry on this. Why do you want to learn so many new lanugages? As a translator or interpreter, I think we better focus on one or two language pairs.

----------------------------------
English Chinese Translator
www.chineservice.com


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Vadasectia
Indonesia
English
Agreed too..! Nov 18, 2007

Haiyang Ai wrote:

sprog wrote:

Henry Hinds wrote:

One thing I might say about our profession is that what matters is not how many languages you know, but how well you know them. And you can never know them well enough.



I agree with you. However, when I was younger, I didn't think that way. Nowadays, I'm trying to polish and perfect the few languages I like best, out of those I have studied.


I agree with sprog and Henry on this. Why do you want to learn so many new lanugages? As a translator or interpreter, I think we better focus on one or two language pairs.





I agree with you all..

No matter how many languages I know, for perfect translating I can only maintain 2-3 languages, or more, depending on the source language...

Wow.. I wonder, what do you study at university so you have to study a lot of languages..?
I mean, what major (in faculty)..? Is it for special purpose for translating..?


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Jessie LN
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
depends which languages... Nov 20, 2007

I studied Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan simultaneously.... in some ways it made it easier because they all overlap so much, making comprehension and vocabulary much easier. Let's not mention grammar though...

Because Spanish was is my first foreign language and the one I know best, I knew how to steal its vocabulary and try to Portuguese-ify or Catalan-ify it I would often confuse Portuguese with Catalan more than anything else.

But I wouldn't recommend studying more than two languages at once if you want to obtain any sort of fluency in them.

[Edited at 2007-11-20 10:06]


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kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:53
English
+ ...
It can be confusing Feb 6, 2008

I tried learning Welsh and German from scratch at the same time. Comprehension was fine, but when it came to speaking or writing, I sometimes found that I'd come out with a Welsh word while trying to speak German or vice versa. Welsh I found a little easier as it has the same sentence structure as Gaelic (my mother tongue), but I had more opportunity to practise German. In the end, it became easy enough to separate them, but I don't think I'll try to learn two new languages at the same time in future. Aside from any other considerations, I don't have enough time these days!

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