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Indoeuropäische Sprachkompetenz

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Apr. 15th, 2012 | 10:33 pm

I'm still amazed by how easy it can (sometimes!) be to pick up at least the general gist of something that is written in another Indo-European language, even if you don't otherwise know said language.

It only really applies to written text for obvious reasons, but it can work amazingly well there. For instance, take this tidbit from the Italian Wikipedia's entry on a certain proverb:

Non c’è due senza tre è un noto proverbio della cultura popolare italiana. [...] L’idea alla base di questo proverbio è che se un evento non è unico, ovvero si ripete almeno due volte, molto probabilmente si ripeterà ancora.

Just read it a few times, and I'm sure you'll understand the gist of it even without knowing either the proverb or any Italian.

I sometimes wonder what new Indo-European languages feel like for those who already speak seven or eight reasonably fluently.

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Comments {6}

Sithy

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from: mssithy
date: Apr. 15th, 2012 08:54 pm (UTC)
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In my case I get most of it because in my mind I combine Latin and French :) This goes for a LOT of languages. In most cases I am fine with reading/listening, I just can't talk back...it's certainly a useful thing ^^

edit: I just scrolled past this entry on my Flist again and only now noticed the title is German xD Goes to show.

Edited at 2012-04-15 09:03 pm (UTC)

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Apr. 15th, 2012 09:34 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, knowing Latin in particular will help. I think variety is also good — if you know something Nordic, something Romance, and English, you've got a good start already. Throw in another central-European language like Dutch or German, and you're all set.

Myself, I don't actually really know French, but I knew enough for "ancora" to make sense, especially if you also add some schmaltzy pop, and a bit of Discworld (for the "questo"). :)

Heh, and yeah, the title's in German. ;)

Speaking of which, Dutch is actually a good example of this, too. I once read an interview with Alanis Morissette in a Belgian magazine, ten years or so ago, and I actually understood much of it despite not otherwise speaking any Dutch.

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Sandwalker

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from: greytail
date: Apr. 16th, 2012 11:55 am (UTC)
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I had to give up and resort to translating it. I didn't recognise much more than the numbers.

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Apr. 16th, 2012 12:19 pm (UTC)
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How many languages do you speak, besides English?

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Sandwalker

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from: greytail
date: Apr. 16th, 2012 09:37 pm (UTC)
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None, except maybe a limited vocabulary of Danish through learning some a decade ago. And a little Esperanto, though I'm rusty in that too due to no one around to learn/speak with.

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Apr. 16th, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC)
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*nods* No local groups for Esperanto afficionados to meet and converse?

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