Fantastic article about embracing a second language

I just read this fascinating piece about an American/Indian author who has just published a book in Italian, which she learned in adulthood, from scratch.

I'm kinda cheating by posting this in the German forum, but that's the language I'm tackling, and everything she says I think will ring true for any language learners and/or literature students.

January 31, 2016


Thanks for the great read! And you actually really helped me, because I couldn't remember the name of that book I absolutely wanted to read... And there it is!

January 31, 2016

Very interesting read. I experienced something similar when I started writing scientific articles in English. I never liked writing in my native Portuguese when I was in high school, but when I started writing in English (by obligation) I started enjoying it. Because of this, I can totally relate to her when she says writing in another language is liberating.

January 31, 2016

I feel a bit like you... Although I've always loved writing in my native German. But as using English became a part of my everyday life, I became more and more comfortable with the language to the point that it became my favourite for scientific discussions. Many terms are English anyway and just sticking to the language seems more graceful than riddling my German with English expressions that don't have a proper translations...

Still, while I most definitely enjoy fiction written in English, I feel much more like myself writing fiction in German. Doing so in English is possible but... it lacks the spirit. The small expressions that make words feel like old friends and give characters a face. I still try it once in a while and sometimes, English comes more natural than German. Rarely though, and never as natural as my best moments in German.

February 1, 2016

Actually I feel the opposite of you. I am a native English speaker, and apart from hundreds of millions of People knowing it, I have this inner feeling that English was never meant for me. As I learn more and more German I get this sense of comfort as I am learning my "true" native Language. I just find English dull and methodical with no flavour to it.

I was skyping with a native German speaker not to long ago and she said that English was a "beautiful" Language, I don't share the same sentiment... Is it right to think in Europe, that non English native speakers find other European Languages easier to learn than Englisch speakers because they are used to dealing with Cases?

Did you find English difficult to learn, or did you have trouble with word order or anything at all? Tut mir leid if I seem to be putting you on the spot, I just tend to ask many questions when conversing with a native speaker XD

Vielen Dank für deine Zeit.

February 1, 2016

Well, glad you found a language that feels like home to you! And in my (slightly biased) opinion, German is quite a nice language - I'm glad about everyone who appreciates it instead of complaining about its supposed harshness =)

Personally, I don't think that English is a particularly beautiful language. It's nice enough but I mostly appreciate how useful it is. So many things I do on a regular basis would be much harder or outright impossible without English. German children and young teenagers often consider English to be super cool though (at least they did about 10 years ago, I don't know for sure if it changed since English instruction started earlier) - I guess because it feels international?

Regarding the other European languages... Many don't even have cases like the Romance languages... The only language I studied with cases was Russian and despite only briefly dabbling with it, it became quite confusing because the prepositions indicating a certain case were different etc.

However, I definitely think that it makes me more comfortable with the existence of cases and genders in general. Understanding the Esperanto -n or the Japanese を particle was pretty easy for me and when I read the discussion boards here, gendered nouns and their lack of logic seem to be a great source of confusion... Not saying I never messed up genders in French or Spanish but I definitely never struggled with the system in general. Paying attention to the agreement of adjective and noun just is logical to me.

English was the first foreign language I learnt and I started at age 10 so my memory might be slightly blurred but I don't remember it as particularly difficult. The word order is pretty similar to the basic German SVO and at age 10, it's easier to keep sentences simple until you're familiar enough with the language to increase the complexity. Now, I always struggle to limit myself to simple sentences in the languages I'm learning because they sound so bland... But bland and correct is better than fancy and illegible ;)

My major problem in the early years were false friends as there are so many true cognates... But I usually got them right after their trickiness was pointed out. "sensitive" vs. "sensible" is a particularly mean example as the German word "sensibel" means "sensitive".

Now, my major concern is to maintain a consistent spelling. I used to learn British English but was mostly exposed to American English and over time, the two mixed. Some months ago, I made the decision to stick to British English (it just seems more vivid to me) so I'm trying to sort them apart again... Spell check helps, luckily.

My accent also seems to be a funny mix. My colleagues thought it resembled the Scottish variety quite a bit, a Scottish gentleman heard a hint of American accent too and I strongly doubt that my German accent is completely gone (but maybe it merged with the Scottish - they use a lot of similar sounds anyway!).

February 1, 2016

Did you learn anything about deine MutterSprache von Englisch lernen? As in did you find it was easier to just naturally speak the correct endings rather than to be presented with charts and examples? My biggest problem (and this is prolly because I learned english first) is that when I am asked to translate a sentence into English, unless it's a plural I don't look at the endings! you could have xyz at the end of Grun and it wouldn't matter to me. Same with dative: em en er don't take a big importance to me since I know what the root word is so I can figure it out without them, but they are needed because of what is doing what to whom (whom is an example of the dative in English)

As for your accent....unless you're hell bent on sounding like an American it's fine if you have a German accent, actually I have recently acquired a German accent when I speak English (not Arnold heavy but enough so you can tell the difference.) I was told yesterday by one of my native friends that my spoken Deutsch was "very good".

We have tons of dialects in America, but the most hated one is that of New Jersey. Z.B: Yu and neu Joiysee, poifekt tugetheh (you and new jersey, perfect together, I tried to spell out how they would say it).

I don't think I speak any dialect of English, so I would just say that ich spreche HochEnglisch XP

February 1, 2016

Hmmm... I don't know whether I learnt something specific about German by learning English... I guessed it helped to reinforce the tenses but I definitely learnt more by helping people who learn German.

And well, if you're a native speaker, the endings don't require charts etc. You just know what sounds right (although this doesn't match the standard for everyone). We actually learnt about the cases the other way round: First, we formed a correct sentence, then we looked at the endings and finally we identified the case used there. And someone using the wrong case definitely makes me itch! I have a few friends who use the dative instead of the genitive (which isn't that uncommon in colloquial German, e.g. "dem Mann sein Apfel") and it's cruel. I've known them for years and still occasionally correct it because I just can't stand it... There are few people who are indifferent about this usage of the cases. Most either do it that way or they think it's ridiculous.

And I don't worry much about my accent, especially NOT that it doesn't sound very American (you know, just a generic American accent, not based on a particular region). If anything, I'd like a real Scottish accent but I guess that might impede my understandability.

February 1, 2016

It would not let me respond to it, so I had to put it here. I have similar issues with English speakers. .. they consistently get got have confuzed, along with me and you/you and I. It also irritates me that for it being some sort of baby language in terms of difficulty for people to learn, native speaker don't put forth the effort to correctly use their own speech!

I haven't gotten to the genitive case yet (wenn fall?), so I will cross that bridge when I get there.

February 2, 2016

There is no "Wenn-Fall", I guess you either meant "wen" (which is accusative) or "wem" (dative). The genitive would be "wessen" - it expresses belonging (and often also causality). Can be simple if you're talking about a named person (Peters Apfel), can be a bit more messy if you can't attach the -s to something (der Apfel des Mannes) and apparently gets lost easily when used with prepositions (wegen des Apfels).

February 2, 2016

Interesting read, thanks for sharing. I do hope people can gain inspiration from it, and I wish you luck with your German endeavours.

January 31, 2016

thanks for sharing,in fact all the needed steps to embrace a new language are mentioned here,love ,adventure ,sacrifice,and big efforts..

February 1, 2016

Wow, what a terrific article. I really enjoyed it and I thank you for posting the link. Here's a lingot!

February 2, 2016

Ganz gut! Aber, ich weiß dass es am besten ist wann Sie leute mit wem zu sprechen finden. Obwohl DL sagte dass Sie irgendwas 90% flußig sind, man braucht Zeit eigentlich zu sprechen--oder sollte ich sagen, denken--kann auf Deutsch. Ich werde Sie folgen in DL. Viel Spaß, viel Glúck!

February 2, 2016
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