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Old 03-11-2007, 20:17   #1
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Most useful foreign languages?

Just curious, since I haven't seen anything about languages (when searching "language" in the forums) ... what has been people's experiences around the world regarding the most useful language skills to develop? Can you make do with English only? Or would adding some skill in French, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Yiddish, or Aleut (hahaha) be useful for a leisurely circumnavigation?
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Old 03-11-2007, 20:27   #2
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I think it really depends on where you spend your time. I'd go with Spanish though, since it has a high payoff in the US, and French, Italian, and Portugese are much easier to pick up if you know Spanish.

My fiancee is fluent in English (native), Spanish, and French. It makes me a little lazy at improving my Spanish, because she loves doing the translating.

I know a bit of German; it's been pretty useless, except when I was in Germany, but even then I couldn't do very much with it.
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Old 03-11-2007, 20:43   #3
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Heck! I'm still having trouble with English and trying to learn Tagalog. But it seems Tagalish is the norm now.

Everywhere I've been in the Pacific rim, I was always able to find someone that could speak English. And that was 35 years ago. Even more so now, I'm sure.
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Old 03-11-2007, 22:53   #4
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I concur with Gord.
English, Spanish and French.

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Old 04-11-2007, 02:59   #5
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You can get by with just english as it seems to be the most used "second language" around the world. But, travelling in foreign places is so MUCH more fun if you know some of the language, unfortunately enough of a language to be of any use is no trivial task. Spanish would probably give you the most return on you effort - there's all of Central America, most of South America, and Spain where you could make use of it, not tomention a lot of places in the US. I learned some French simply because I like it, but it's much more difficult to learn than Spanish. Of course, you could learn Aussie as you find da kine all over the world and you already know how to read and write it!
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Old 04-11-2007, 08:58   #6
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American has become the de-facto lingua franca worldwide, although as Thermal points out, Strine is more common in many places such as Indonesia and Thailand and with a working knowledge of it one can make oneself understood in NZ and GB as well.
My girlfriend says that "Texting" has become the world's common laguage. IMHO she is FOS but WTF can I say?
I don't wish to sound presumptious naming American as the lingua franca. The English deserve the lions share of credit for the language. All we Americans have done is clean up the spelling and perfect the accent.
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Old 04-11-2007, 09:46   #7
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If there is one language that is best to know it is English. For people who speak a language natively other than English, most seem to pick up English as their second or third language. It is the language for commercial aviation for one thing. I don't want to come across as language centric but that is how things are going.

As far as a secondary language goes I would say Spanish (Spain and less so Mexican), for the Latin based countries which means all of Central and South America and many parts of Europe.

I would say French otherwise for most of Europe and all of the countries which were French colonies at one time or another.

Considerations for a fourth language might be Cantonese or Mandarin because of their massive populations and booming economies.

Japanese would be a fifth consideration.

Perhaps Russian, Italian or German after that.
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Old 04-11-2007, 09:58   #8
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I can get myself in trouble in English , French, a bit in Japanese and am trying to learn a bit of arabic. You really have to watch the hand signals in Arabia. The Canadian salute is not taught of too highly out here.
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Old 04-11-2007, 10:42   #9
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I don't wish to sound presumptious naming American as the lingua franca. The English deserve the lions share of credit for the language. All we Americans have done is clean up the spelling and perfect the accent.
Mike
Mike - in English it's spelled "presumptuous"; I fail to see how your version is cleaner. As for the perfected accent, of which of the several 'Merican accents do you refer?

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Old 04-11-2007, 11:05   #10
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American has become the de-facto lingua franca worldwide, although as Thermal points out, Strine is more common in many places such as Indonesia and Thailand and with a working knowledge of it one can make oneself understood in NZ and GB as well.
My girlfriend says that "Texting" has become the world's common laguage. IMHO she is FOS but WTF can I say?
I don't wish to sound presumptious naming American as the lingua franca. The English deserve the lions share of credit for the language. All we Americans have done is clean up the spelling and perfect the accent.
Mike
This is an amusing post, Mike, and I know you meant "presumptuous." And, or course, to call it American, rather than English, is to dangle some tantalizing bait in front of our limey cousins.

I thinks it's interesting to see the term lingua franca used to describe English (or "American"), given its definition:
~ ~ ~

Online Etymology Dictionary - Cite This Source - Share This

lingua franca

1678, from It., lit. "Frankish tongue." Originally a form of communication used in the Levant, a stripped-down It. peppered with Spanish, French, Greek, Arabic, and Turkish words. The name is probably from the Arabic custom, dating back to the Crusades, of calling all Europeans Franks.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper

~ ~ ~
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Old 04-11-2007, 11:06   #11
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Three languages worked out well for us.

Spanish covered Latin America.
French was helpful in French Polynesia and the French Caribbean.
Arabic as extremely helpful in the Red Sea.

Since I lived in Arabia for sixteen years, I had an opportunity to pick up a lot of Arabic. If you cruise the Red Sea and speak any Arabic at all, it will help a great deal.

The Foreign Service Institute of the Department of State (FSI) has a course in spoken Arabic that they use to train diplomats. The course is called "Urban Arabic Hijazi" and that particular dialetic of Arabic is widely understood in the Arabic world. It is a good course and will get you up to speed if you want to do a Red Sea cruise and speak some Arabic. It has one book and about twenty-five tapes. This type of Arabic is from Jeddah, Arabia which has long been a linguistic melting pot because Arabs from around the world have passed through Jeddah on the way to the Haj pilgrimage. The Hijaz area has also been conquered many times by different arabic speaking nations, and so a composite type of arabic evolved there that is understood in most arabic speaking nations.

Many of the Arabic courses sold in book stores are based on either Egyptian or Lebanese dialects, and many of their words and expressions might not be familiar to the common people you meet up with in Sudan, Eritrea, Jordan and other places you might visit.
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Old 04-11-2007, 11:54   #12
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I concur with Gord.
English, Spanish and French.
Steve B.


I find it quite presumptuous that Steve might agree with an opinion I have yet to declare, even when his agreement is nearly prescient. J

I would recommend perfecting one’s command of their native language, prior to undertaking a study of other languages.

Your most efficacious choice(s) of second (& third) language(s) would depend upon those parts of the world wherein you choose to cruise.

Notwithstanding, it is the Spanish & French (former) dependencies that most resist learning some dialect based upon English; and given this provincialism, and the imperial history of those nations (and cruisers common preferences); Spanish & French might represent the greatest return on investment.
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Old 04-11-2007, 12:22   #13
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I am old and will stick with English (American unaccented) and a little book.
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Old 04-11-2007, 13:09   #14
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Hmm. Interesting thoughts. Thanks to all who have responded to my question!
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Old 04-11-2007, 13:52   #15
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I have, at various times in my life, learned, apart from English (my mother tongue): French; German; Spanish and a smattering if Norweigan & Swedish. Of those, the ones that I have used most have been Spanish & French.
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