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Old 06-04-2016, 20:31   #1
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Best second language

As we prepare for our new life, i'm wondering which language other than english would be the most appropriate to learn.
We'll start in the Caribbean, head to Cuba and South America and then through the canal for the rest of the world. I assume Spanish, but after English, which language would get us the farthest with the most respect from the locals?
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Old 06-04-2016, 20:46   #2
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Re: Best second language

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I assume Spanish
English & Spanish would be my top two. Just remember that what we often call "Spanish" isn't all the same language / dialect, so you could spent years learning the local language / dialects / mixes using Spanish as a starting point

Edit: I just saw you posted in "Food and Drink". If only for provisioning, you could learn the most important words and sentences in pretty much any local language.
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Old 06-04-2016, 21:01   #3
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Re: Best second language

I'd have to agree that Spanish would be my second preferred language.Your initial cruising grounds would be Spanish but s you cross the Pacific French would become important. Through Australasia English will get you by ...
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Old 07-04-2016, 05:09   #4
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Re: Best second language

Kathy Parsons’ SPANISH FOR CRUISERS and FRENCH FOR CRUISERS
LANGUAGE GUIDES for Boaters who Travel ... : SPANISH FOR CRUISERS and FRENCH FOR CRUISERS
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Old 07-04-2016, 05:15   #5
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Re: Best second language

our first trip - tropical circumnavigation - we used French much more than spanish, our second trip where we spend quite a bit of time in patagonia Spanish was more used.

So, I guess the key question for you is how much time you will spend in S America vs in tropical islands (many of which are french).
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Old 07-04-2016, 05:35   #6
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Re: Best second language

I have no schedule and no idea how long we'll spend in any region. When we leave we'll have a general direction based on weather, winds and waves.
I have a limited working knowledge of Spanish; construction work, so i guess i'll start there.
My wife can learn French and we'll teach each other.
I posted in Provisioning assuming that would be the most likely time to use the language.
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Old 07-04-2016, 06:11   #7
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Re: Best second language

If you want to communicate with other non English speaking cruisers then French would be the most useful. Communicating with the locals you meet then as others have said, Spanish or French depending on the area.

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Old 07-04-2016, 06:11   #8
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Re: Best second language

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?
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Old 07-04-2016, 06:14   #9
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Re: Best second language

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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Old 07-04-2016, 06:17   #10
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Re: Best second language

For studying spanish if you learn Cuban spanish you'll manage everywhere where it's spoken.
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Old 07-04-2016, 06:22   #11
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Re: Best second language

We found that even a little bit of French or Spanish goes a long way. Also the two language guides mentioned previously are terrific since they are aimed at the needs of cruisers, for example they tell you what various boat and engine parts are in the language. You don't get that in a regular two language dictionary. We also had an app on our iPad that did translations between languages. It would both say the translation and print it on the screen. It was free when you used it online and cheap ($7 or $8) for one language. It worked quite well for ordinary conversation - we translated something and then translated back as a test. It was called Jibbigo but last time I looked for it I could not find it. Probably others on the market.
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Old 07-04-2016, 06:30   #12
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Re: Best second language

As others have said, it depends on WHERE.

In the Western Hemisphere, no doubt whatsoever, Spanish.

In the tropics, and Africa, French.

In Northern Europe, German used to be the lingua franca. Disappointingly (since I speak that language, and it's my best foreign language), German has completely given way to English, and you don't really need German even in Germany.

After Spanish and French, I guess the next most useful language is Russian. This is spoken in large areas of the world as a second language especially in Northern Eurasia, Central Asia (no interest for cruisers, though!), Central and Eastern Europe, Balkans, and parts of the Middle East, but also in Cuba and parts of Africa. If you were going to be sailing around the Arctic, or the Black Sea, definitely Russian.

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.

English is probably more widely spoken as a second language than all other languages combined, so with that you have a good start, anyway!
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Old 07-04-2016, 06:44   #13
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Re: Best second language

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For studying spanish if you learn Cuban spanish you'll manage everywhere where it's spoken.
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.
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Old 07-04-2016, 06:55   #14
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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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Old 07-04-2016, 07:34   #15
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Re: Best second language

One of the toughest subjects I've ever studied is Latin American Spanish. I first learned Serbo-Croatian, then came to the States and learned English, studied French all through school and college, then Japanese in grad school. No problem.

After 15 years in Colombia, I'm still barely intermediate, and my wife only speaks Spanish. There are still many people that I don't understand a word they're saying. I know the words and grammar, I just don't have an ear for the different dialects. Some natives speak absolutely horrible Spanish.

You might want to start with this excellent app.....it works! You put your ipad between you and someone else, and it instantly translates as you're conversing. This app is awesome, understands everybody.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sayh...437818260?mt=8
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