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what language should I choose??

As I said in another post I got this weird habit of reading - I say weird because mostly no one reads like me and you mates from this forums - and we all know that it’s always better to read a foreign author’s book in it’s original version than reading a translated version, even tough there are many presses that do a fine translation work in many classic or not classic books.

So I was thinking about learning a new language. But I must choose which one I’ll be learning in the next year. I was thinking about french. It would be awesome to read any Balzac’s “Human Comedy” collection volumes in the original text version. Oh yeah it would be really a unique felling.

But there are also other languages I’d like to learn such as italian and russian, because there are many authors - and I say great authors - who published their jobs in those languages.

So what do you people think?? What would you choose if you were looking for a language only for the fun (reading)??
 

Zolipara

New Member
While I agree with some of what you say it can be hard to appreciate the book in its original language unless you really know it well. And I dont know about you but I find that when I dont use the language often I tend to forget a lot of it. I did learn german for some years but I find i hardly ever use it, so even though I could read a book in german (slowly) i'd get more from it if I read it in a language I know better.

You might be much better at learning languages than I am, but if i have to look up words and such the reading experience is not the same. It lacks the natural flow of reading in a language you really know, and you cant really fully understand the way the author uses the language.

If i wanted to learn another language it would be more for talking to people than for reading. Then i'd consider french (as its such a pain to be in france if you dont know french), or Italian (because I like Italy). But if it was just for reading i'd probably go with Russian as I like their style of writing.
 

Tasku

kickbox
I agree with Zolipara. I'm quite good in English. Not counting the slight (ahem) accent, my English is almost like my second language. I can have a conversation and listen to it without any need to enhance my focus, but even still, I rather read the translated book in my own language, because of the amount of uncommon words used in literature. It really kills some of the atmosphere of the book when every now and then you have to stop for the dictionary or disregard a word because you don't want to stop.

It sounds like a fun idea, but learning a language from scratch and then reading a book with it also sounds like a whole lot of work and patience.

No harm in trying, I guess, and no harm in learning new skills either. :)
 
Yeah... I think you’re both right.

But if I really go for it and start studying a foreign language I would re-read the books I’ve already red in my language (translated versions) but by this time I would use the original versions. Even tough I would have to use the dictionary many times and also that I might fell tired sometimes, the idea of improving my skills in this new language and the idea that I’d be able to read other books (that I’ve never read the translated versions before) in the future would make me keep the learning job… I guess lol.

Oh, and I’m sure it would also be a lot useful for talking with people from abroad, after all I may travel to Europe... someday. And Italy or France would surely be promising destinations.
 

Tasku

kickbox
Good luck with it :)

I might also add that knowing more than one language will also broaden your verbal skills on your own language. Although most of the grammar and structure are completely different and straight out translations are impossible in many cases, you can and subconsiesly will eventually mix them up a little bit in your head. You will take the good stuff from English and your new language and one will enhance your skill in the other.

I think so atleast. :rolleyes:
 
I suggest Malayalam to study. It is a good language. It is user friendly and very easy to understand.

But my goal with learning a new language is to be able to read the original versions of foreign books that I've read only the translated versions so far... I wanted to learn french, russian or italian because these are languages that in which there are many published books I'd enjoy reading. The only two languages I am able to understand now are english and protuguese. But - even tough malayalam it's surely an interesting language to be learned - I don't know any author that published anything in this language.

By the way, would you plz suggest me any nice malaylalam author? It's interesting to know any other language spoken in India since as far as I know (I've never been there unfortunately) the most spoken language in that country is english... (and also by the way, am I right to think English is the most spoken language in India?) It's a country that I'd like to know more about...
 

agentmahoney

New Member
In my case as I'm a student from Poland, my native language is Polish, and my second is English. I read a lot of Polish books and recently I tried to read some in English. When I'm reading in English, of course I don't know all words, but sometimes you can get to know the meaning from the context, so there is no need to work with a dictionary, anyway there are cases, that there is no way to avoid to use a dictionary. I subscribe that it sometimes could be boring and destroy the pleasure of reading, but for me it's a great way to improve my skills and amount of words.

If you want to read some of Polish book, you'd better read translated versions, because sometimes even for me it's hard to understand the meaning of the phrases, especially when it comes to poetry.:)


Sorry if I made grammar mistakes, I'm still learning.
:)
 

lies

New Member
I was thinking about French. [...] But there are also other languages I’d like to learn such as Italian and Russian
I wouldn't recommend Russian, as it's (in my opinion) mighty hard to learn. As for French and Italian... I guess you should probably pick whatever appeals to you most, cause I think the learning curve is just about the same on those two. (And once you know one, the other will come easy, and vice versa.) If you plan to travel, French will probably get you more places than Italian though.
 
As for French and Italian... I guess you should probably pick whatever appeals to you most, cause I think the learning curve is just about the same on those two.

You're right. These two and also my first language came from the ancient Hellenic so that’s why they got some characteristics in common.
 

lies

New Member
I'm guessing you speak Portuguese?

In theory it shouldn't be too hard to learn other Romance languages for a native speaker of one of them... Most likely (and even without studying the language) you're already able to figure out quite a bit by yourself.

If I were you, I'd probably just skip the learning part and dive straight into the reading bit. Just make sure you start with relatively easy stuff (so no Balzac at first!) and take it from there.
 

chuephödli

Member
As a Portuguese speaker, it should take you very little effort to pick up enough French or Italian to read books in those languages. Russian is a different story altogether. I did it for a few years in high school, and that IS a lot of hard work.

I guess the question boils down to how much you think you'd be willing to put in - if you are ready for it, I can only recommend Russian.

German would be somewhat easier (at least it's the same alphabeth), but, again, only if you have got the stomach for serious study.

But maybe the obvious point of departure would be the question, which books would you REALLY like to read in the original language?
 
As a Portuguese speaker, it should take you very little effort to pick up enough French or Italian to read books in those languages. Russian is a different story altogether. I did it for a few years in high school, and that IS a lot of hard work.

I'm guessing you speak Portuguese?
[...]
If I were you, I'd probably just skip the learning part and dive straight into the reading bit. Just make sure you start with relatively easy stuff (so no Balzac at first!) and take it from there.

Yeah, Portuguese is my first language. But what would be exactly a "relatively easy stuff"?

Oh, and yes, unfortunately no matter the French language learning way I choose I'm sure I wont be able to read Balzac as soon as I desired.

Anyway, I was wondering if even being a Hellenic-based language speaker a French language course would accelerate my learning proccess. And if the answer would be "yes", I would then wonder how faster it would be...

But maybe the obvious point of departure would be the question, which books would you REALLY like to read in the original language?

Exactly!! Well, the first thing that comes in my mind is Balzac, as I said in another post in the authors discussion board. Yes, Balzac is something that makes me very interested.

And I'll say another works that I'd like a lot to read in the original version - excepting the English ones, which I am already able to read the non-translated versions.

I could start with Italo Calvino, who wrote many novels in Italian which, as a firend of mine said, are very pleasant. He writes in a different way that this colleague of mine called surrealistic. But I can’t say if it’s really surrealistic and I can’t even say I’d like this author. My curiosity is only due to this friend’s recommendations and I listen to him because he usually gives me good recommendations (lol) including some concerning music. And I’d like also to read Giovanni Boccaccio, author of “The Decameron” novels. I also don’t know this guy’s works very well. My guess would be that it’s like an ancient Marquis de Sade. I don’t know for sure.

So as you can see, I don’t know very well the Italian literature, but this language would be an option for me since there are many academic books I’d better read for college and professional improvement that were originally published in Italian.

Now, turning to French, well I can figure out lots of books... besides the Balzac’s “The Human Comedy” up to 80 volumes, I’d also love to read Simone de Beauvoir (I’ve even read “She Came to Stay”), René Barjavel (I’ve already read “The Ways to Katmandu”), Zola (already read “Germinal”), the Marquis de Sade, maybe a little more from Stendhal and other stuff I don’t remember now or I don’t know yet.

Surely there are also books not originally published in these languages that I’d love to read like the Kafka’s ones (I’ve already read only two books by him - and I just loved it, A LOT), but I don’t know if learning German would be as useful as the other two languages I talked about above.

And, by the way, I can say the same about Russian.

hum.......

Hey, I’ve just realized the language I should choose is French!! :)
 

chuephödli

Member
Sartre might be a good author to start reading in the original - the language is fairly no-fuss. Looking at the other stuff you mentioned, I think you'd like his plays (try Les Mouches or Le Diable et le Bon Dieu) or his early short stories (Le Mur). Sartre, incidentially, is one of the very few playwrights whose plays grabbed me long before I saw any of them on stage.

Being a native Portuguese speaker, why don't you just try Calvino in Italian? If you are into the book-inside-book type of stuff (maybe comparable to Borges, if anything), check out Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore. Do not start out with Boccaccio in the original - great stuff, in my view not comparable to De Sade on any level: Il Decamerone is very upbeat, lots of fun (yes, sexy of course). Rather difficult to read, I thought, though: very archaic Italian.

Kafka, of course: imho, one of the great writers of all times. If you would really want to learn German, his stuff would be an obvious place to start reading originals - much like Sartre in the sense that the language is deceptively simple, very concise, but dealing with very profound stuff.

I never got far enough with Russian to tackle a book, so I cannot help you there. I am told it is a very long and hard slog, but worth it... sadly, I never got there.

Of course, the one language to learn is Chinese, so you can read Ah Cheng's The Chess King, but that is another story.
 

lies

New Member
But what would be exactly a "relatively easy stuff"?
I'd suggest you either start with books you've already read in English or Portuguese or you start with young adult novels or books you know won't be too heavy on big words and complex sentences.

(By the way, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese are Romance languages (i.e. based on Latin), and as such have very little to do with Hellenic.)
 
I'd suggest you either start with books you've already read in English or Portuguese or you start with young adult novels or books you know won't be too heavy on big words and complex sentences.

Yes, you're right. Balzacian sentences’ constructions are kind of complex for newbies in the French language. I'd start with original French versions of small tales or books that I've previously read in English or Portuguese translated versions. This may be the best way to learn a new language. AND after that stage, oh yes, then I'll take an original French version of a Balzac tale for self enjoyment. :)

(By the way, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese are Romance languages (i.e. based on Latin), and as such have very little to do with Hellenic.)

Well, no... or maybe yes. Actually "Hellenic" generally refers to anything pertaining to the well-known historical phenomenon performed millenniums ago which one was the fusion of the Eastern and Western cultures, culminating in the classical Greek culture and all of it’s peculiarities, including the ancient Latin language. So many modern Western languages are based in the ancient Latin, mostly the Mediterranean civilizations’, what is the same as to say those derives from the Hellenic. This term (Hellenic) means simultaneously this ancient culture and its language. That's why this word has many meanings, and by the way - concerning an online dictionary conception - "Also called Greek. a branch of the Indo-European family of languages, comprising a variety of ancient, medieval, and modern dialects and languages, all of them called Greek." Although it, I got here an old dictionary that concepts Hellenic only as 1) the individual from that ancient culture, what does not applies to the nowadays Greeks, taken Greece as a modern model of state, of course; and 2) that culture itself, but not it’s pertained language. Weird. So I guess both of us are right (or not wrong :rolleyes: ). This is a simply and insignificant word's meaning issue, what naturally happens since the various dictionaries are not bounded to each other’s conceptions.
 
Then French it is.

I have to brush up on mine. I studied it for nine years total, but I've forgotten a lot.

Oh you didn't, mate! I bet you'll remember it gradually by restating its usage. Pick a nice tale you'd like to read - any French text - and go for it. Such attempt would not be boring... I think. And you got nothing to loose anyway. Well, you've already took nine years of your life for this goal. I'd like to say it's like riding a bike, but I don’t know for sure. Anyway I wonder why wouldn't everything be like riding a damn bike?
 
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