Well, it seems you've put in the time to make up for it. (looking at your flair)
All the Romance languages are where you tested out... French level 10, Italian level 5, Spanish level 4, Portuguese level 2, and you say you don't have a good memory? That's ignoring high levels in some Germanic languages.
Honestly, those - Portuguese in particular - were mostly intelligent guesswork. (And I mostly did them to look at the bonus skill sentences because the flirting ones are hilarious!)
French I studied up to first year of uni, eight years total, so while my grammar is appalling, I understand the written language fairly well.
Italian was a mix of stuff I knew (I'm a musician, and you can't help but pick up a lot if you play music for long enough, because almost all the directions are in Italian) plus attempting to turn my best guess in French into something more Italian (works surprisingly well in some cases, not at all in others!). I can understand a lot more Italian than I can produce.
Spanish I did study a little, once upon a time, which added to the tricks I used for Italian did help out. Portuguese was entirely guesswork and luck.
It's at least partly a matter of pure luck; I have a dummy account in which I do test outs on the trees to see how many skills I'd skip now, as compared to when I started, and when I did the placement tests in the Romance languages I got level 6 in Portuguese on luck and guesswork alone, which made me laugh aloud, but only like level two in Italian?
Seriously, don't be too impressed on the Romance languages. I could say hello and wish you a good day in Spanish and Italian, probably, on a good day, but I can't produce either with any reliability (even on the most simple stuff), and I think the only thing from Portuguese that's stuck in any kind of productive way is menina which I believe means girl. If you gave me some (very, very) simple Portuguese (I mean the girl eats, the cat eats, this is a boy simple) to read I might get the gist; understanding spoken Portuguese I'd be hopeless. And I couldn't even say hello!
I kind of wish I could keep the trees (to amuse myself with bonus skill sentences!) but remove them from my flair, because they're really absurdly misleading. It would be so much more accurate to keep it down to the languages where the level at least somewhat reflects my skills or where I am actively learning.
(Though I'm sort of being hypocritical in fairness because I really want the Catalan flag on my flair purely because I like it, and am actually throttling my brain by attempting to learn a language in which I know nothing via a language in which I know hardly anything. Oh my. That's some serious brain gymnastics. I went to do the placement test, as I do pretty much every time I start a new tree, and realises when the first question came up that even on the off chance I could take a wild guess at the Catalan, it didn't matter, because I didn't have the first clue how to translate it into Spanish..)
Pretty much the only ones you should pay any heed to are Slavic languages, German, Esperanto, and I am trying to pick up a little Norwegian and did have a good go at Dutch (eventually decided it really needed to wait until I had some decent grasp on German). And also be aware that German, for instance, is mostly high because it was the first language I ever studied on Duolingo and I've revised it a lot because it kicks my butt LOL ;) because the levels refer only to time spent/XP gained, not to actual competence. (I cannot overemphasise how badly Turkish kicked my butt. I'm not sure I can remember anything except possibly how to say Alex is an owl...)
.(As most of my progress test scores would attest... ;) I recently got over 2 in a German progress test and I practically threw a party!)
(The English flag is from me doing English-from-Russian. Which again, I studied pretty intensively once upon a long ago.)
ETA: this got really long. Sorry! I just feel like taking credit for all the apparent skills on my flair is highly misleading!
Even without the Romance languages, to have got that far on the Germanic and Slavic languages, Turkish and Esperanto must have taken some pretty serious work.
My French is about like yours, probably. I can read it OK but not really speak it. Especially since now whenever I want French I can only think of the Russian... Between French, the Latin I was made to study years ago, and what I've picked up from classical piano, I can understand a bit of Italian and the odd word of Spanish, but I can't speak them at all. Portuguese I would be totally dependent on guessing and luck.
What is ETA? To me that means Estimated Time of Arrival.
What was that Russian word? огласное or something of that sort. I agree with Theron126 about the work you must have done. (And about ETA) :-)
I don't think of Russian when I want French, I generally think of either English or German (why German I don't know, since I didn't actually do much and it was a while ago). I can generally get the general idea of spoken French, but native speakers always speak to fast for me. With written French I tend to run into lots of vocabulary I don't know. I also know some Italian from musical terms, though not much, and a few words of Spanish (I can say hola!), with random words of various other languages from all over the world, but not enough to be much use. I can even say egg in Navajo! (Ayeshi)
A_User: Close! согласна/согласен.
Hahaha, I also tend to pick up random words in foreign languages that I like even if I speak nothing else in the language <3 I'm kind of a magpie when it comes to words. And what seems to stick in my head is often the interesting, more than the useful...
ETA: Internet shorthand that I've got so used to I forget it's not actually all that common, meaning edited to add!
I had a huge leg up on Ukrainian because there's a lot of similarity between it and Russian. I started it pretty tentatively, because I wasn't sure how much Russian was still in my head and whether I'd just be confused, but it turned out to be solid enough to be genuinely helpful. I've been slowly attempting to get the tree to solid gold, but then Russian came along and has taken all my attention in the meantime.
Turkish is hard. I'd have to go check and see how many skills I actually made it through, but when people were just blasting through and finishing the tree, I was 8-o because I was struggling to get through lessons in less than 30 questions (and it was often many more). You know, it was a huge relief when Ukrainian came out, because Turkish was making me think I was a total dunce at languages and any previous success I'd had must be a fluke. That's how hard I found it.
The levels get further apart the higher you go, so I am pretty pleased with my Esperanto and German :D that does represent a lot of work. Esperanto I feel like I have a fairly good grasp of, German... not so much. But I've been picking away at German since January, so the XP has built up!
I know exactly what you mean about French; I can almost pinpoint when Russian became my default foreign language, the one that most easily sprang to mind, because there was a French girl living in the same building as me during my first stint in Russia, and when she spoke to me in French, I could understand her just fine, but when I opened my mouth to reply, I felt like I couldn't get at the French to say something! such a weird experience. I also went to Paris with a friend in my fourth year of uni, and I remember how weird it was that I understood, but trying to speak was like wading through treacle. I remember asking for un billet pour le métro and having to force myself not to say один билет на метро (I think that's the right preposition there, I'm very tired today...) - in that case in particular, the two phrases are so similar that it felt so weird, and I'm pretty sure the ticket lady thought I was very stupid LOL it was fun!
I think the only things I can reliably say/come up with on my own in Italian would be prego and goodbye (which I'm not going to attempt to spell...) but written Italian often makes a surprising amount of sense.
I've never studied Latin, but I was in the college choir at uni and we did several nunc dimmitus (that doesn't look like it's spelled right but I don't know enough to correct it)/Magnificat combinations, and I've sung other things in Latin, and you can't help picking up a bit here and there. I'm sure that's also helped with the Romance languages.
I'm actually really looking forward to Romanian, because I feel like as a Romance language with cases and Slavic influences and stuff, it's intriguing enough I might actually enjoy it. Also it's one I might actually get to use; there are more Romanian speakers near where I live than really any of the others. Not that there is a particularly high number, but there are at least some. By contrast I think I know one Italian speaker (and her English is incredibly fluent) and I don't remember the last time I met a native French or Spanish speaker outside their respective countries, or a Portuguese speaker at all ever!
I have come to the conclusion that different people resonate better with different language families. Romance languages don't do much for me, Germanic languages I like, Slavic languages GIMME I WANNA LEARN THEM ALL, basically LOL. I don't find them easy, but I find them manageable, and I like the sound and feel and everything about them enough that I will deal with the stuff I find hard without giving up.
I wish I was one of those natural learners, but I'm not. I'm good at the very basics; I can learn enough to be polite to the natives in any given country well enough that I was the designated translator in my family from the age of 12 8-o LOL but I don't find the more complex stuff and fine detail easy at all, and I have a very patchy memory for vocab.
I remember two language geniuses discussing in front of me one time how they liked languages because unlike other subjects if you put in the work then you'd understand. I didn't have the confidence and articulateness (is that a word) at the time to point out that some people felt that way about maths, and maybe they were wired differently!
All the best people are slightly off their rockers, I'm just saying...
Haha, that's true about the complex stuff, I didn't express myself so well there 8-o
I guess part of what I mean is that it's not even learning the rules that I find the hardest thing, it's seeing where to apply it.
I actually find Slavic languages easier in this regard, because there are lots of rules but they seem to make sense to me, and I can understand more or less how to apply them.
In contrast, I have distinct and frustrating memories of my last year of French, of being given stuff to learn and explanations and worked examples, and honestly believing I'd understood it all, then getting all or most of it wrong and not being able to see why.
With Russian, usually when I make a mistake I can see why, or it turns out there's a rule I either didn't know or had improperly understood. With French, I never got to that point, despite studying it formally for twice as long and from a much younger age. With Russian, it always seems like I can improve my knowledge and understanding. With French, I got to the point where the more I learned, the less I understood.
Russian fine detail can be tricky, but I feel like I might get there eventually, whereas with French I eventually got to the point where I was too confused to continue!
I can say hello in Italian as well! And I think I can say Merry Christmas (why do I know that?).
I think you want Nunc Dimittis (I had to Google that). Latin had enough influence on Romance languages (there's a reason they're called that, after all) that knowing some would probably help a ton.
Romanian is another I want to tackle at some point. When life isn't so busy and I'm better at Polish, Russian, and French.
So we both want to learn all the Slavic languages. :) I have a feeling you'll do it sooner than I do.
Huge advantages aren't fair!
Yep, magpie is the word. Although not all the random words I learn are the shiny ones. :-D Maybe we should just call ourselves language burglars?
I'm a language burglar... what does the average person think when they hear that? Of course, the average person is already convinced that I'm off my rocker anyway. :-)
Sadly I don't have time to learn them all. Russian is hard enough. I have a friend who is just able to flip a switch and turn on another language and it's not fair. Besides a number of other languages he knows somewhat, he's fluent in French and speaks Russian like a native. He's been living Kazakhstan for a few years so I bet he's fluent in Kazakh by now too. I am envious.
I wouldn't care what the average person thinks, because I wouldn't be saying it to the average person. :-) And if they decide that I'm off my rocker, they're probably right!
You've made me envious too! Russian was one of the languages diplomats used to all know, wasn't it? And they would just switch to whatever language best expressed what they were trying to say. It makes me want to have been a diplomat back in those days. :-)
I'm usually not too bad at vocab after I know a few basic sentence forms to stick them in. But I agree about the complex stuff. I suppose that's why it's the complex stuff, because it wouldn't be very complex if it were easy. :-)
Articulateness is indeed a word, according to dictionary.com. I suppose everyone is wired differently, it's just that some people have more similarities than others.
согласна. Entirely. Which means that if people say I'm off my rocker they must be right.
YES....it's not technically correct, but if you said it to any native English speaker they wouldn't bat an eye...despite what everyone else is telling you.
That would not be natural English outside of the specific computer memory analogy mentioned below.
Am I correct in guessing that this means "I have a good memory" in the sense that "I am good at remembering things" as opposed to "I have a pleasant memory of something?"
Yes, you are correct. "A memory of something" is воспомина́ние (note that the root is the same, even though the vowel is different: пам-/пом-).