How many languages do you speak?

Oh, I’m constantly asked that as a linguist and polyglot, and every time I say: it depends on how you define “talk”. Some put the barrier higher, some lower.For some, it’s a matter of speaking, knowing a few words and the simplest basic grammar.

By my own definition, I speak 15languages:

  1. German (German) fluent, it is my mother tongue.

I grew up in Leipzig and now live in Zurich. I also speak Saxon, but I do not count it as my own language.;)

  • Esperanto (Esperanto) fluent, I started learning in 2002 and use the language almost daily at least in writing.
  • I travel a lot in Esperanto circles, at meetings, etc.

  • English (English) fluent, but possibly
  • not quite flawless (see e.g. my answers in the English Quora), I also have a slight accent and have never spent any time in an English-speaking country.But don’t have any problems speaking or understanding English.

  • Mandarin () was quite good, but it was better.
  • I think from the level between B2 and C1. I speak fluent lyrism in everyday Chinese, but if the topics get more complicated, I know many words only passively or get swayed.

  • Dutch (Nederlands) quite good, albeit with some Germanisms, since I also never lived there.
  • I can read better than I can write, and speak better than hear, in a way.

  • Thai ()quite good, but a bit stagnant.
  • I need more practice to become more fluid. I know the grammar well and over 2500 words, that’s enough for almost all everyday conversations and something beyond.

  • Burmese () mediocre, I’m not very satisfied with it.
  • I can almost always say what I want, also talk, but my listening comprehension is really very bad. I know about 2300 words in it.

  • Jinghpaw (Jinghpaw ga) mediocre.
  • Um, this is a minority language from Burma, spoken by about 900,000 people, I currently need for my doctoral thesis. I feel a little safer in her than in Burmese, but I know fewer words (1400) and have less practice in speaking. I write it with people a lot more often. Get along quite well.

  • Klingon (tlhIngan Hol) mediocre.
  • I know the complete grammar and about 700 to 800 words (out of a total of about 4000), which sounds like little, but really forms the basis. Yes, I can communicate well in Klingon in “everyday situations” and Have already done so. I also teach the language in beginner courses here in Switzerland (see here: Do you speak Klingon?, does anyone feel like it?).

  • Russian ()less good, it was sometimes much better.
  • I need some time to get back in and make a lot of mistakes, but I can communicate and understand people if they don’t talk too fast and too complicated.

  • French (Francois) less good, just school French (4 years), and that was a long time ago.
  • Because of Esperanto, however, I can derive a lot. Most of the time I understand when written or spoken slowly, and I can also communicate, but it makes me a lot of trouble.

  • Spanish (Spain) less good, just like French.
  • Slowly it may go, or in writing, but it is quite tedious. But I wouldn’t have any direct problems, and after an hour or two of crying, I’m sure things will be better. 😉

  • Vietnamese (tion Viet) bad, because very slow.
  • I know almost 1200 words, the grammar (which is very similar to Thai) has a good pronunciation, but a poor listening comprehension and takes a long time to understand or speak. But it may be a matter of need.

  • Latin (lingua Latina) bad, but it was better.
  • I once read the New Testament in Latin and was also present at some Latin conversation rounds. Talking and reading and understanding is so halfway, but I lack practice and also the modern vocabulary. I would not dare to give a lecture in Latin. 😉

  • Shan ()bad, 860 words only, the rest I have to derive from the Thai, which is relatively closely related.
  • Oh yes, also a minority language from Myanmar. So I speak very slowly, but if I have time, I can also have a conversation, such as level A2.

    Other languages in which I can say or understand some things, such as Polish, Lhaovo (also from Myanmar), Japanese, Toki Pona (another artificial language), Slovak, classical Chinese, Italian, Danish, etc.I prefer not to count, because I can’t really maintain a non-trivial conversation and would have to guess a lot. I used to be able to do some Basque, Sumerian, Middle Egyptian and Quechua (so on A2 or so), but I almost completely forgot about them. Too bad.

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