Just A Thought: How "Jacked-Up" Is English To Native Speakers Of Spanish?

Discussion in 'The Barber Shop' started by OV1kenobi, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. I have always wondered about this.

    What I mean is: Do we that speak English as our native language sound like Germans would sound to those of us that speak English? Perhaps a better comparison might be made comparing a speaker of English trying to understand someone that speaks, as a native language, something like Romanian?

    Do native speakers of a language, such as Spanish, at times get tangled-up between the various Germanic languages, including English? Does English, at least initially, sound like a bunch of gibberish?

    How difficult is it really for someone who speaks a Romance language, such as Spanish, to learn English?

    I have often heard that unless English was learned and spoken as a mother tongue, it is an EXTREMELY difficult language to learn, as there are differentiations between British English and American English (not even taking into account the various colonial dialects and accents) - aside from being very challenging in its own right; regardless of which version of the English language one might attempt to master (British or American.)

    Would American English be as difficult to learn for someone that speaks Spanish as it would be for an American to learn, for example, Portuguese?

    Again, I am very curious about this.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  2. I was born in Germany and learned both English and German as a child because my father was in the US Army and my mother was a Germany civilian. All German children grow up learning English. By the time they are adults, they can speak better English than most Americans. Many even end up being trilingual.

    I spent last year studying abroad in Germany. All non-American students were bilingual. Several knew five or more languages. The one language that everyone knew, though, was English. While they may be learning English out of necessity and not because it is an easy language to learn, they are all learning it, which, at least for me, shows that English is very learnable.
  3. i have also heard english is the hardest language to learn. i believe that is true because of the size and complexity of it all.
  4. As we don't speak very good English in New Zealand I feel I'm not qualified to comment. Aussies are even worse but that's to be expected.

    I have heard it's difficult to learn but then so is Czech or Russian if you are not taught at an early age.

  5. Uncle Brian:

    If you think you Kiwis and Aussies are bad: What do you think of those South African Springboks? They should stick with Afrikaans, instead of pretending to speak English.

    At least we Yanks can understand you Kiwis - at least with the assistance of a British West Indies interpreter.

    Forget the Aussies - they are "No Hopers."

    The above comments were written in jest, thank you!
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
  6. I lived in South Africa for a long time and the accent sounds perfectly normal to me :biggrin1:

    which might explain a few things about me ... a bit strange at times!
  7. Legion

    Legion Moderator Emeritus

    Tough thread to be an Aussie in. Jeez...:001_tt2:
  8. Uncle Brian:

    Well......you must indeed be a warped man to be able to understand/converse in that Springbok patois!

    Sir....there is only one hope of a cure for you.

    Perhaps, after a term of rehabilitative therapy, and accompanied by a lengthy session of "Overangloitis" and massive infusions of either roast beef, mashed potatoes, and brown gravy or fish and chips with malt vinegar and tartar sauce you might yet recover from your ailment.

    For the sweet tooth, enjoy some warm peach cobbler or pecan pie topped a la mode with French vanilla ice cream, or perhaps a deep dish of banana pudding.

    To top it off and wash it all down, quaff huge tumblers of sweet, Southern U.S. iced-tea!

    Yes, sir! Now your talkin'

    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
  9. Legion:

    Well, despite being an Aussie, you were able to read and reply to the thread....probably due to the assistance of your Spanish-language tutor!:biggrin1:
  10. Legion

    Legion Moderator Emeritus

  11. This video is supposedly what it would sound like:


    They're using phonemes that exist in English, but in a nonsensical order so you can focus on the sounds without being distracted by the meaning of the words.

    Yeah, English is still a challenge. At least writing makes things easier.
  12. The difficulty of learning a second language depends where you're coming from, but Spanish to English is hardly difficult compared to Japanese to English or English to Mandarin. English to Japanese is far easier than English to Mandarin because there are no tones and every sound used in Japanese is already familiar to a native English speaker. Differentiating between sounds in Mandarin can very very difficult indeed. And then if you go to Cantonese, with more tones than Mandarin and a distinctly different range of sounds, it gets even more difficult.
    I've heard from a native English speaker who can speak quite acceptable Mandarin, that Arabic is excrutiating!
    So, in context, while the articulation of a Spanish speaker might be somewhat stylised compared to any theoretical norm, it is perfectly clear what sounds are being employed. For me using the same alphabet is a huge bonus, notwithstanding the relatively small difficulty in going from a non-inflected to an inflected language. A new language system can seem daunting but the leeway given a non-native speaker is rather large and it's amazing how much can be communicated while mangling syntax and grammar
  13. As to the difficulty of learning English: I teach English as a foreign language (I'm German myself) and my impression of English is that it is a bit like Chess. It's easy to learn and very difficult to master.
    German is quite the other way round imo.
  14. I was proud that I can understand and even to some measure speak English language, but I don't understand one word of what you meant to say.

    Please don't try to elaborate your post for my sake, I'll try with Google translator.

    Google translator English to Croatian and back to English again:

    The difficulties of learning a second language depends on where you're coming from, but Spanish to English is hard to hard against the Japanese in English or English to Mandarin. English to Japanese is much easier than English to Mandarin, because there are no sounds and each sound is used in Japanese is already known to the native English speaker. Distinguishing sounds in Mandarin can be very difficult indeed. And then, if you go to Cantonese, with several shades of tangerine and distinctly different kinds of sounds, it gets even harder.
    I heard from the original English speaker who can speak fairly acceptable Mandarin, Arabic, which is excrutiating!
    So, in context, and the articulation of Spanish speakers may be somewhat stylized than any theoretical standard, it is perfectly clear what the sounds are employed. For me, using the same alphabet is a great bonus, despite the relatively small difficulty in going from influential to non-influential jeziku.Novi system language can seem daunting, but the leeway to give non-native speaker is quite large and it is amazing how much can be communicated and damaging the syntax and grammar.

    OK, I get it now.
  15. My native language is Dutch and in school I was taught French, German and English. Although German and Dutch have many similarities, I found it the most difficult to learn. Especially the nominativ, akkusativ and dativ is difficult to master.
    English was, to me at least, by far the easiest to learn. Part of that is also because we are exposed to English on TV and internet from a young age. That is much less the case for French and German.
  16. I think that the English language is easy to learn, at a basic level, for an Italian guy (different thing is to master it and get all the details and the language "nuances"). The language rules are easy, with few exceptions, the words are few, compared to the complexity and the huge vocabulary we Italians have.

    From a practical point of view, easier is probably better. In a whole, native English speaking people, that is those with Anglo-Saxon roots, are more pragmatic compared to latin-rooted languages and people like Italian and Italians: maybe the psychosomatic characteristics of a population are transferred to the language they speak. I love the English/American pragmatism.

    We Italians are complex, just like our language, and complexity is beautiful but impractical. We can write wondrous poetry, but can't drive a boat :D

    An example? You just say "language", we can say it like:
    linguaggio, idioma, codice, parlata, modo d'esprimersi, espressione, lessico, vocabolario, terminologia, fraseologia, dialetto, gergo, slang, argot...

  17. The Defense Language Institute claim Mandarin and some African language, which I can't begin to pronounce,are the two most difficult they teach.
  18. My father got FREE Japanese Language training courtesy of the US Army during WWII. At one point for advanced training, they sent him to Yale University!

    (Most of the guys he was with were 2nd or 3rd generation Japanese-American ... he was a platinum blonde Georgia boy!)

    In Japan, the people told him that he spoke very proper Japanese - the US Army forgot to teach him slang! :001_tt2:

    Personally, all I speak is American English and American Southern!
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
  19. I'm hearing two questions in the OP -

    Yes, when you're learning a foreign language at first the whole thing sounds like a jumble of sounds. It's only with time that you figure out the rhythms and cadences and learn to hear individual words, even if you don't understand the actual word. Knowing a related language helps, as the patterns are similar. An Italian speaker learning French will have an easier time than a Japanese speaker will, but that Japanese guy will have an advantage learning, say, Korean. And remember, to all of them, ENGLISH is the foreign language ;)

    And yes, English is particularly hard to learn to speak well. French grammar is easy - every rule is clearly written out, you just memorize the 11 exceptions and you know how to use those words in every single context. In German, There. Are. No. Exceptions. Those languages have commissions that maintain the purity of the language over time.

    English is mutt mixture of dozens of languages all jumbled together over hundreds or thousands of years. You can have Welsh noun modifying a Latin verb using Greek rules of grammar, and then still have an uncountable number of exceptions to those rules. It's a "learn as you go" type language.
  20. English is a hard to learn language especially because of the fact we use a lot of slang and like others have said we have absorbed words from other languages like German and Spanish. If I was born and raised in Europe I would probably be taught several languages because of the simple fact that neigboring countries speak other languages and are in close proximity of each other. My step-sister lives in Germany and speaks German (obviously), French a bit of Italian and Spanish on top of English.

    Also if you factor in where you live the English language changes a bit. If you travel to the UK, Canada or Australia they use phrases or spell words differently than we do in the U.S and vice-versa.

    There was a great documentry several years back on PBS called "Do You Speak American" which was about differences of how people spoke English in the U.S.. Very interesting how the the language and accents change slightly when you travel from New England to the Midwest, Deep South to the Southwest.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012

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