Language and Culture

Steven-W15 July 26, 2014, 1:57 pm
Just thought I’d throw in a few thoughts…

In listening to Latin music, I’ve become keenly aware of how comparatively poor English is relative to expressing feelings and relationships. It reminds me of how I felt relative to our limited local history when I first moved back to the US after having lived in Europe. You never realize that you’ve had something missing inside you until you’ve been exposed to something else.

In Spanish for example, a fundamental way of describing someone is that he is a “bien vivo” (or I’ll stick to French to be on more solid ground: “un bon vivant”). There is absolutely no equivalent in English. What do we have? Well, how about “being proper” (as in being a proper Englishman), or “keeping a stiff upper lip”, and so on. I’m not expecting to find an equivalent in Spanish for either of these! I find it fascinating how language both reflects – and shapes – the values of the culture. But if you never learn another language, how could you ever appreciate this?

How about relationships? Try translating the following phrase into English: Yo te digo “usted”. (Apologies if you can’t say this in Spanish! It comes from the French song “Je te dis vous” – Patricia Kaas). Forget it!!!

Anyway, it just strikes me that learning another language is so much more than just acquiring the ability to communicate to a different group of people. At the very least it has the potential to change how we look at ourselves and our values - and how we value and esteem those around us.
Language and Culture
Aurora Hemminger July 26, 2014, 3:37 pm
Thank you. I learned different dialects and languages because of need. I grew up in this island called Panay, Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines and has a very specific sound. They replaced the letter L with e (tilde). 200 kilometers away, I was born in Iloilo City, Philippines and their dialect is very different. They sound very loving and tender even if they are angry and not very happy. After high school, I enrolled in the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. Founded in 1611 by the Dominican Priests and is a Pontifical University. My first few months in the University, I was speaking in English because I did not know Tagalog, the National Filipino Language. Because of need, I learned it pretty quickly.. Four years later I came to United States for further study...Read MoreThank you. I learned different dialects and languages because of need. I grew up in this island called Panay, Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines and has a very specific sound. They replaced the letter L with e (tilde). 200 kilometers away, I was born in Iloilo City, Philippines and their dialect is very different. They sound very loving and tender even if they are angry and not very happy. After high school, I enrolled in the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. Founded in 1611 by the Dominican Priests and is a Pontifical University. My first few months in the University, I was speaking in English because I did not know Tagalog, the National Filipino Language. Because of need, I learned it pretty quickly.. Four years later I came to United States for further study. I went to Little Rock, Arkansas. That was very different. I remember sitting in the front and watching the lips of instructors. I have 4 years pf Spanish in High School and 2 years in College. Somehow, I never got to be proficient in Spanish. That's why I'm here learning Rocket Spanish. The point of this sharing is realizing how much enjoyment one can have in learning a new language. Here's an example of the translations of a sentence.

English: The carabaw likes to play in the muddy water or having a mud bath
Aklanon: Ro anwang nag gaeog gaeong sa eugan eugan\
Ilonggo: Ang carabaw nag hampang o nagpaligo sa mahigkong o mabasang lupa
Tagalog: Ang kalabaw hay naglaro sa putik
Spanish: El carabaw se gustaria jugar en la terra mojada (wet)
.
I actually enrolled (very ambitious) in Rocket Spanish, Rocket Italian, Rocket German and Rocket French. Most of my studies is doing Rocket Spanish right now. I figure, I can spend my retiring years learning all these different languages, God willing. The problem with aging is when, Alzheimer, strokes, heart attacks also comes. But then, my philosophy is not to worry about those things. Aging and death is part of the circle of life. One won't know what the future brings, so just continue enjoying the memories of the past and appreciate the present.........Sincerely, Aurora
Language and Culture
Dan-H24 July 26, 2014, 4:19 pm
Interesting perspectives, both. I had a discussion one day with the Peruana with whom I used to study about the richness of Spanish vs. English. She is quite fluent in English, having learned it in school at a young age, and Spanish is obviously her native language. She thought that there were more ways to express an idea or thought in Spanish than in English, and given the little that I have learned so far, I would agree.

I have also noticed that Spanish, at least what I have learned so far, is more formal and correct than English. I am sure that when I become closer to fluent I will learn slangy, shorthand ways of saying things, but for now I am noticing that when I think about some things in English and how to express them in Spanish, I have to work with more formal structure, which seems to be helping me speak more correctly in English...Read More
Interesting perspectives, both. I had a discussion one day with the Peruana with whom I used to study about the richness of Spanish vs. English. She is quite fluent in English, having learned it in school at a young age, and Spanish is obviously her native language. She thought that there were more ways to express an idea or thought in Spanish than in English, and given the little that I have learned so far, I would agree.

I have also noticed that Spanish, at least what I have learned so far, is more formal and correct than English. I am sure that when I become closer to fluent I will learn slangy, shorthand ways of saying things, but for now I am noticing that when I think about some things in English and how to express them in Spanish, I have to work with more formal structure, which seems to be helping me speak more correctly in English.

Aurora: I have been doing a lot of thinking about my mortality as well. Which actually seems to be a motivating factor. I want to be able to speak Spanish fluently and realizing that I have a finite number of years to accomplish my goal is added motivation to study hard and not waste time. And don't forget (haha) that learning a new language is supposed to keep our aging brains pliable and functioning well.

It is the same with my work. I know that I have a finite number of years (months...days...) left to make photographs, so I try to do something photographic every day so that when the day comes that I cannot work anymore I will not look back with regret on wasted days.

I will close with an overused but appropriate Spanish saying, "Qué sera sera."
Dan
Language and Culture
Aurora Hemminger July 27, 2014, 3:06 pm
youtube.com/watch?v=3LoFX3uhctI
Language and Culture
Steven-W15 July 29, 2014, 12:25 pm
Aurora - I admire your courage and tenacity. We native born Americans are most fortunate to have English as our mother tongue and all the advantages that go with that. All the best.

Dan - To clarify, I think every language is strongest in whatever the values of the culture are. In America, it's efficiency - and English is unparalleled for communicating facts (and hence one of the reasons why it's such a good business language). Interesting, I thought I was the only one who was motivated to learn a language to keep my mind from turning to mush...
Language and Culture
Dan-H24 July 29, 2014, 3:44 pm
Steven: I have never heard that English is the strongest language for communicating facts. Given their precise and task focused nature, I would have guessed German.

I wonder if the communication of facts issue is the reason that pilots and air traffic controllers throughout the world speak English?
Language and Culture
Cristian-Montes-de-Oca July 30, 2014, 3:34 pm
Hola amigos!

Sus comentarios e historias son muy interesantes.
You learn new things everyday!.

'A el carabao (o búfalo de agua) le gusta jugar en la tierra mojada (fango or lodo)'

Saludos
Language and Culture
Steven-W15 July 31, 2014, 9:44 am
Dan - I think it's actually simpler than that. English is the dominant language in just about every area on the world scene I think because of the dominance of American culture / economy / $ / etc. That's why many predict that half of business wil be done in Chinese by 2020.

Cristian - Thanks for the translation of that sentence: I'm sure I'll have the chance to use it often in casual conversation.
Language and Culture
the-hefay August 4, 2014, 5:03 am
Steven, I agree about why English is used. However, I don't believe that Chinese will ever be a major business language. English is much easier to write and is also more concise. Just look at any owner's manual with several languages or at warning labels in different languages. English is almost always the most shortest and simplest one. Added to that is the fact that mamy of these manuals, warning, labels, etc are written by non-native English speakers. That, I believe, is why the Chinese are learning English. Also, I came across a report on ABC.com that is interesting.

"In the next five years, all state employees younger than 40 will be required to master at least 1,000 English phrases, and all schools will begin teaching English in kindergarten...Read More
Steven, I agree about why English is used. However, I don't believe that Chinese will ever be a major business language. English is much easier to write and is also more concise. Just look at any owner's manual with several languages or at warning labels in different languages. English is almost always the most shortest and simplest one. Added to that is the fact that mamy of these manuals, warning, labels, etc are written by non-native English speakers. That, I believe, is why the Chinese are learning English. Also, I came across a report on ABC.com that is interesting.

"In the next five years, all state employees younger than 40 will be required to master at least 1,000 English phrases, and all schools will begin teaching English in kindergarten. The government also is funding extensive teacher training programs to find new models for language learning and develop new textbooks."

http://abcnews.go.com/WN/China/china-pushes-english-language/story?id=12154435
Language and Culture
Steven-W15 August 4, 2014, 6:07 am
What you're saying makes perfect sense and I hope you're right. I'm too old to learn Chinese.
Language and Culture

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