What languages do you speak and how often do you use them?

I am, as they say, polyglot and speak a total of about 15 languages.I say ‘approximately’ because I speak few languages very well, but many languages are less good. 15 But these are the languages in which I can at least communicate in the land. If I could only memorize tourist sets, I wouldn’t count that. So, it’s going to be a bit long…

  • German is my mother tongue (and Upper Saxon is my native dialect), I use it every day because I work in Switzerland.

Many of my colleagues here are Swiss or German, and I also use German outside the university. Unfortunately, I do not speak Swiss German, but I can understand it.

  • Esperanto is my second best language.
  • I write them at least every day because I talk and write with my girlfriend on Esperanto. But since she lives in France, we don’t see each other as often. I (or but we often go to Esperanto meetings, e.g. here in Zurich, at home in Leipzig, to local meetings, or even internationally, as at the end of the year in Poland.

  • I also need English every day, as many of my colleagues come from other countries.
  • Or when I meet other people with whom English is the common best language. Of course, I write and read a lot of English for professional reasons (I am a doctoral student in linguistics), and most of the films and series I watch are in English. It seems almost redundant to justify how often I need English. 😉

  • Chinese (Mandarin) would follow.
  • I can still do it quite well, but was a lot better. Unfortunately, I don’t need much. Sometimes I meet Chinese or Taiwanese friends, but I don’t usually have that much time for it. A few sources I need for my doctoral thesis are in Chinese, so I read something about it every now and then.

  • Dutch I can also do quite well, but I have almost no practice.
  • We have a Dutch colleague at the Institute, but somehow it is unnatural for us to speak Dutch instead of German or English. I like the language, i would like to talk it more often.

  • Thai, I can also talk about everyday things, not just small talk.
  • I am often in Thailand and try to talk Thai every day, go to conversation groups, meet Thai friends when I am passing through Bangkok. Here in Zurich I rarely have time for this. I sometimes chat with laots or Thais in Thai. I should do tandem again, that always worked out great. But I keep my vocabulary fresh with Anki, a clever vocabulary learning program with which I practice vocabulary every day.learn new ones.

  • Jinghpaw is a minority language from Burma, which I “need” for my doctoral thesis.
  • It is relatively easy for me and is also easy to write thanks to Latin script. When I am in Zurich, I occasionally chat with their speakers (they are also called “Kachin”) on it, have grammatical questions, or I analyze texts or sentences. When I’m in northern Burma, I try to talk Jinghpaw as much as I can. Also because it is easier for me than Burmese.

  • Burmese I may be a little less good than Jinghpaw, I have some difficulty with listening comprehension, and the writing is sometimes not easy to write on the computer and phone, since the Burmese do not use Unicode.
  • On Wednesdays, a few other learners and I have a kind of Burmese self-help group where we read texts and talk a bit in Burmese. Sometimes a friend from Burma is there.

  • I used to learn Russian, but I don’t use it actively anymore.
  • If it has to be, I can say a few things, but I’m very out of practice.

  • Klingon, I may even be better than Russian.
  • I use Klingon now more often because I teach the language (at the beginner level) and because there’s a lot of Klingon touson in Star Trek: Discovery (also to be read when you activate the subtitles on Netflix).But I should probably also meet more often with other Klingonists.

  • I can still speak French from school, but I never use it.
  • Spanish as well.
  • However, I sometimes hear Spanish at the institute and sometimes still understand quite a lot.

  • I use Vietnamese almost only when I’m in Vietnam.
  • I still keep it fresh and learn new words via Anki, as well as with Thai, Burmese, Jinghpaw, and Shan (see below).

  • I once learned Latin, but I don’t “take” it anymore.
  • Shan is another language from Burma, closely related to Thai, which makes learning a little easier for me.
  • I have some books on Shan that I want to read, but I don’t have the time. Also in Burma I use Shan very rarely, because the opportunity does not arise. Since I don’t want to forget the language completely, I practice the 835 vocabulary I can use in the language, just on Anki (with the smartphone).

    So as you can see, I actually use German, English, Esperanto, and from time to time Chinese, Thai, Jinghpaw, and Burmese, as well as Klingon.I wish I had more time for language tandem. Ideally, I should meet with a different person for lunch and dinner every day of the week to practice their mother tongue. 😉

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