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Old 07-04-2016, 07:42   #16
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Re: Best second language

Caribbean and South America, you will definitely run into Spanish more than French. On the other hand, my experience has been that the French are a little more... let's call it "touchy" about people who just assume that they speak English.

That is, if you walk into a store in a Spanish-speaking area, owned by a Spanish speaker, who also speaks English, and just start yakking away in English, they probably won't be too offended and will respond to you in English. Do the same sort of thing in a store in a French-speaking area, owned by a French speaker, who also speaks English, and there is a fair chance that they will just ignore you--they expect you to at least make some effort (and, frankly, I don't blame them one little bit).

So, my advice would be to focus on Spanish, but also learn a few basic phrases in French. Most especially, remember to start with "bonjour" when you walk into any store or restaurant in French-speaking territories.

Good luck.
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Old 07-04-2016, 09:50   #17
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Re: Best second language

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
Caribbean and South America, you will definitely run into Spanish more than French. On the other hand, my experience has been that the French are a little more... let's call it "touchy" about people who just assume that they speak English.

That is, if you walk into a store in a Spanish-speaking area, owned by a Spanish speaker, who also speaks English, and just start yakking away in English, they probably won't be too offended and will respond to you in English. Do the same sort of thing in a store in a French-speaking area, owned by a French speaker, who also speaks English, and there is a fair chance that they will just ignore you--they expect you to at least make some effort (and, frankly, I don't blame them one little bit).

So, my advice would be to focus on Spanish, but also learn a few basic phrases in French. Most especially, remember to start with "bonjour" when you walk into any store or restaurant in French-speaking territories.

Good luck.
France itself is a problem without French. In Brittany I have had real problems -- trying to buy something in a chandlery where not one of the dozen employees spoke even a little English (or German or any of my other languages).

It's a worthwhile language to learn, though. Wonderful literature, and it's a beautiful and nuanced language. And still quite useful in many places in the world. Maybe my next one.
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Old 07-04-2016, 11:03   #18
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Re: Best second language

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France itself is a problem without French. In Brittany I have had real problems -- trying to buy something in a chandlery where not one of the dozen employees spoke even a little English (or German or any of my other languages).

It's a worthwhile language to learn, though. Wonderful literature, and it's a beautiful and nuanced language. And still quite useful in many places in the world. Maybe my next one.
Maybe "problem" is over stating it a little bit, it's not that hard to get by in any language cruising with a phrasebook, Google, scribbles and lots of smiling


(I'm anchored in cherbourg right now. C'est bon )

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Old 07-04-2016, 11:19   #19
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Re: Best second language

Going with the consensus...Spanish is probably the best second language option but depends where you want to spend a lot of time.


On the positive side, most of the Romance languages are similar enough that I can usually figure out written text.


Of course it really depends...we spent the winter before last in Rome and figured we would really polish our Italian up...the problem was as soon as we started to struggle the slightest, they just flipped over to English, so we rarely got the opportunity to really use it.


It's kind of cheating but seriously consider downloading the offline google translate app for the local language. It's not perfect but it's handy when you are trying to convey ideas that aren't in the typical translation dictionary geared towards tourists.
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Old 07-04-2016, 12:35   #20
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Re: Best second language

IMHO this depends on which languages you speak already and on which places you like best. It is nice to be in a foreign country and speak its language.

We suffered badly from not knowing French. This is because we loved French places. Polynesian is useful too in the Pacific.

If I were to start from scratch, I would go for French then Spanish. I think if you like mundo latino you will speak Spanish and Portuguese, then French.

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Old 07-04-2016, 13:08   #21
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Re: Best second language

Fortunately, I have been married to a number of different women from different countries and learned a bit of their language from each. However, the best language course I ever took was 'Sandy's Salactious Spanish Swearwords' taught by a lady whose ex was the FBI Agent in Charge in Mexico City for a couple of decades. She taught me enough Spanish that I can get along in any bar in pretty much any Spanish speaking country. Phil
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Old 07-04-2016, 19:32   #22
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Re: Best second language

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If you want to impress a French speaker (if that is possible for an Anglo) then learn to speak like a Parisian.

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I have yet to meet a Frenchman or Frenchwoman from outside Paris, who has anything but contempt for Parisians, tbh. So perhaps pick one with friendlier prospects?

My personal preference for a second language, is Gibberish, with a village idiot accent.

Bureaucrats go deathly pale at the thought of the paperwork, when dealing with those fluent in it.

When working in Spain, I tried hard to learn Spanish, but at the time everybody wanted to learn English, so no chance. /sigh

Still, "Cafe Grande Americano con Leche favor" and "Dos cervezas Mahou favor" have served me quite well. Along with "No Ingles, mi Payes de Galles!! /spits" of course.

If in doubt I always stop at a Guardia Civil road block and ask their advice (which has resulted in some wonderful evenings on the town with them when they knock off, and they always have a relative with a good campsite or hotel or restaurant they can recommend). It really knocks them off balance when someone stops to ask them questions.

Yes Gibberish with a village idiot accent has always stood me in good stead, I must admit.
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Old 07-04-2016, 20:41   #23
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Re: Best second language

Isn't English the most popular second language? That's been my impression in visiting 20-something countries.
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Old 07-04-2016, 20:49   #24
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Re: Best second language

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Gee that has not been my experience. I used to export ag products to the Caribbean and Latin America. Dealt with a Cuban guy in Atlanta but in English until we had a meeting with a customer from Colombia who didn't speak English at all so conducted the meeting in Spanish.

A few minutes in I noticed I was understanding the Colombian perfectly (he sounded just like my college prof who spoke a very pure Castilian) but Cuban friend almost not at all. I commented about this to the Colombian guy who said not to worry, not even other latinos understand the Cuban accent including himself.

To be fair, my friend did speak a highly accented, slang street version of Cuban Spanish.
That's usually how educated the speaker is. As a person in immigration usually speaks better spanish compared someone selling vegetables on the street, thou there are exeptions as allways. Columbian accent is considered "ugly" by Cubans, but it's the most simple to understand for a foreigner inluding castilian. In the history Cuba was THE hub between spanish speaking America and Spain thus it's most influenced by various dialects of spanish.
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Old 07-04-2016, 21:54   #25
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Re: Best second language

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That's usually how educated the speaker is. As a person in immigration usually speaks better spanish compared someone selling vegetables on the street, thou there are exeptions as allways. Columbian accent is considered "ugly" by Cubans, but it's the most simple to understand for a foreigner inluding castilian. In the history Cuba was THE hub between spanish speaking America and Spain thus it's most influenced by various dialects of spanish.
Yes, education level and dialect are significant factors. Living for years in a rural village in Guatemala, I learned "redneck" (campesino) Spanish...sorta like going to East Texas to learn English.

With my campesino Spanish I find I can communicate just fine with common folk on the street, but my afluent Hispanic friends, who would never lower themselves to speak such a dialect, just switch to English (which they also speak better than me....me being from Mississippi! ).

Most Central American folks from lower socioeconomic classes have little or no education so also have limited vocabulary. I think this makes it harder for them to understand a foreigner speaking Spanish who may not choose the same words/phrases they are accomstomed to hearing. Whereas my educated Latin friends will figure out what I meant even if I express it in a way a native language speaker would not.

Dialect varies a LOT in Central America. Panamamian Spanish for example is VERY different than Guatemalan Spanish, often using entirely different words for the same thing. Panamanians also drop ending S's, shorten words, and use lots of Panamanian slang which can make them a real challenge to understand sometimes....to the extent that Panamanians sometimes have trouble understanding each other, no kidding.
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Old 07-04-2016, 22:18   #26
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Re: Best second language

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Chinese is a puzzle because many of the coastal regions use Cantonese rather than Mandarin. But I'm not sure any form of Chinese is widely spoken as as second language in SE Asia. Probably English is going to be more useful in that region.
Hmmm ...


1. Chinese
Ability to read and write Chinese (hanzi, kanji and other pronunciations) gives you access to texts (shop signage, newspapers, street signs, cafe and restaurant menus) in Chinatowns all over the world and to various degrees in China (including Taiwan and Hong Kong), S Korea (but not N Korea), Japan, parts of Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, parts of Indonesia, parts of the Philippines etc.


The label "Chinese" is also used for several distinct languages and dialects of those languages. Modern Standard Chinese (MSC = putonghua, 'mandarin', guoyu) is the standard spoken language in China (including Taiwan but not Hong Kong) and is the language taught in those schools teaching "Chinese" in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, etc.


The pattern of Chinese immigration to SE Asia was complex, leading to a complex linguistic mix of Chinese communities in SE Asia. So a 'Chinese' community in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, or Indonesia etc might use Minnanhua (aka but not always identical with Hokkien, Fujian hua, Hoklo etc), one of the several Cantonese languages (e.g. Teochew), Hainan hua (esp in parts of Thailand), or Kejia (aka Hakka, Kek etc). And you can sometimes find a community that regards Shanghai Wu as their esteemed primary language. Several of the 'Cantonese' languages have their own written tradition using written Chinese plus a number of additional logograms). But for most others, such as SE Asian Hokkien, the language is a spoken language only; written Chinese only represents MSC.


On top of that pattern of Chinese immigration are two more recent layers of language. One is formal Chinese schooling, using spoken MSC and written Chinese. The other is now represented by satellite tv but which only a few years back was based on DVDs and VCR tapes - especially the expansion of HK movies and tv dramas and 'Canto-pop'.


For example, in Malaysia you can find urban areas such as Kuala Lumpur where spoken Hong Kong Cantonese has been fashionable for a decade or two, while Penang still uses Hokkien (with some reinforcing influence from Taiwan Minnanhua). And food courts will have mtv in MSC (so-called Mando-pop) as the sound track.


In most of these economies, cruisers will find that technical skills (e.g. engineering, shipbuilding) and specialist retail (e.g. chandlery) has a fair proportion or dominance of people who are Chinese to some extent or another.


And of course such economies have a hierarchy of prices: top price for the foreign devil/big nose who only speaks English; a discount for the big nose who knows how to negotiate the culture of politeness and greeting; a bigger discount for the big nose who negotiates the culture of politeness and speaks MSC; an even bigger discount for the big nose who can use the same dialect or language of the shop owner; and so on.


2. Malayo-Polynesian languages
The Malayo-Polynesian language complex ranks about 4th on the planet and ranges from communities in S Africa and Madagascar in the west to Fr Polynesia etc in the east. While the M-P complex has lots of common words and phonemes, it also has lots of meaning shifts (e.g. one common source of inter-dialect jokes is about 'susu', which can be the cow's milk added to coffee in one society; restricted to human female mammalian protuberances in another; and ambiguously both - and include any mammalian teat - in a third; as you can guess, the joke can be set in any cafe where an attractive female is the barista who asks a male client 'what do you want in your coffee?').


The M-P speakers tend to be accommodative, meaning that many or most speakers are capable of multiple code switching among a formal 'palace' word set, a market language that verges on being a creole open to local dialects and languages, and a mixed language that accommodates the historical penetration of Hindu/Buddhist Indian traders, Arabic traders and the influence of Muslim teachers, with a topping of European colonial words that have been or are being naturalised into the local M-P language (e.g. bomba for a fire rescue service, rokok for a tobacco cigarette).


Accommodation is the process that has made English a successful language. Take the example of 'Mandarin' which Dockhead used for MSC. The word seems to be of Indian origin (mentri = a govt official) which was imported into Malay (mentri = a govt official), distorted by Portuguese, and imported into English (mandarin = a govt official, esp. a govt bureaucrat in traditional China and by extension the standard Chinese spoken by govt officials in China). English has a good collection of M-P words (boondock, bamboo, compound {in the sense of 'family compound' it derives from Malay kampung, a village}, amok etc) in addition to its set of Chinese words (e.g. ketchup), and the huge set of French/Romance words imported into the Germanic base.



In SE Asia, Malay is the archetypal market language that gets you through much of the Maritime Continent (aka maritime SE Asia, the archipelago that extends from the hills of Taiwan thru the Philippines and thence to Indonesia, Malaysia).


In Melanesia and Polynesia, the European colonial or metropolitan languages rule in the cities. Code switching between formal royal language, local tribal or clan dialect, a market language, and emerging national standard language is common.


3. For the tl;dr crowd, I won't go much further. But clearly if you want to do well when cruising in Nippon, you will learn Nihongo. And spurn using those dreadful words 'Japan' or 'Japanese'. The history of the dreadful words is not clear, but it is likely that the same Portuguese who borrowed 'mentri' from people in Malacca borrowed 'Japan' from Hokkien speakers in Malacca or in southern China (Macau, Amoy, Quemoy etc). In the 1920s and 1930s, Nipponese made a last desperate move to get the Rest of the World to accept the name for their nation. The rising hegemon of that time, the USA, refused and demanded that all goods made in the home islands were branded in English 'Made in Japan'.
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Old 28-04-2016, 21:36   #27
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Re: Best second language

obviously spanish! But that depends on where you want to go. If you're really into brazil then obviously portuguese. Those little countries that speak other stuff don't matter much, because you will only be there for a day or two, and they speak the neighboring languages as well.
source:lived in South America and travelled there,
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Old 29-04-2016, 02:21   #28
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Re: Best second language

French Language Instruction: Resource: French in Action

A video instructional series in French for college and high school classrooms and adult learners; 52 half-hour video programs, audiocassettes, coordinated books, and Web site

This series uses active participation to increase fluency in French, while introducing French culture. Pierre Capretz's proven language-immersion method is presented within a humorous teleplay with native speakers of all ages and backgrounds. The storyline of an American student and a young Frenchwoman's adventures in Paris and the French countryside is reinforced by Dr. Capretz's on-camera instruction. The series is also appropriate for teacher professional development.

Produced by Yale University and WGBH Boston with Wellesley College. 1987.


Spanish Language Instruction: Resource: Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish

A video instructional series in Spanish for college and high school classrooms and adult learners; 52 half-hour video programs divided into two parts (Part I programs 1-26, Part II programs 27-52), audiocassettes, music CD, video and audio scripts, and coordinated books

Destinos teaches speaking, listening, and comprehension skills in Spanish. This telenovela, or Spanish soap opera, immerses students in everyday situations with native speakers and introduces the cultures, accents, and dialects of Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and Puerto Rico. Understanding of Spanish and appreciation of many Hispanic cultures increase as students become absorbed in the mysterious and entertaining story. Closed captioning in Spanish can be used as a teaching and literacy resource. The series is also appropriate for teacher professional development.

Produced by WGBH Boston. 1992.
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Old 29-04-2016, 06:08   #29
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Re: Best second language

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I'm told that given the choice, especially if you're hiring a tutor, that Castillian Spanish is the preferred version to learn. As, for lack of a better expression, it's "high" Spanish, or a more educated variant (perhaps).
Much as there are different versions of (American) English, or any other type of English for that matter.

Anyone have any insights on this theme with regards to French?
If we want to be formally correct there is no such thing is a Spanish language but Castillian. The language is Castillian and it is the official language of Spain that has other co-official languages like Catalan, Basque and Galician. In Spain all talk Castillian even if some as a 2th language and the importance of all other languages are increasing and it is linked to a stronger cultural identity.

Off course everybody refers to Castilian as Spanish, in a popular way, but there are not properly different forms of Spanish since all the countries that have Spanish as native language have an orthographic accord, however the pronunciation and accent varies from region to region and the truth is that even in Spain the ones from the North have some difficulty in understanding the ones from the South, specially if they talk very fast, as they usually do.

I would say that in what regards pronunciation a South Latin approach will be preferable not only because it will be simpler for an American as I believe it will be easily understandable all around the world then what you call high Spanish that regards in my opinion much more the pronunciation than the language itself.
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Old 29-04-2016, 06:17   #30
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Re: Best second language

I have gone through both "French in Action" and "Destinos." They are worthwhile, but I do not think that you could learn either language even passably well ONLY from these videos. They are wonderful as a supplement to other learning, but all by themselves I don't think you will get very far. The real benefit to them is hearing native speakers having more or less normal conversations (albeit, they speak slower and more clearly than native speakers truly would, which is a BIG benefit!).

For my own language learning, I have found the audio lessons from Michel Thomas to be very valuable. Two things in particular that I like about his lessons: 1) he starts right out with the similarities, so you realize within the first few minutes that you already know thousands of Spanish and French words; 2) he explains the rules of the language, so that you can apply those rules to muddle through when you are not really certain.

I also like the Pimsleur series. These go into more detail, and give you more vocabulary than Michel Thomas, but they do not explain the rules. So you are left to deduce the rules from the context and the varying phrases that you learn.

There's a line in Michel Thomas's Spanish series that I like...
"I still don't know where you get all of these books, hundreds and hundreds of verb conjugations, they never tell you that the endings are always the same."
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