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Thread: Who speaks which language?

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    Почтенный гражданин xXHoax's Avatar
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    Question Who speaks which language?

    Does anyone else look at a post and sometimes just not know what the person's native language is, or is that just me? Shouldn't we be able to put our native language, and the language being learned on our profile and have it displayed under our name on any post we make?

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    Властелин Medved's Avatar
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    Over time you will figure out who is who here.
    Though I think it's a good idea, I don't mind being able to see person't native language displayed under their location on the left of the post's frame, similar to that done on WordReference. On the other hand, this feature is of little practical use because if you, for e.g. spot Sweden under Hanna's location this is not going to help you in any other way than to compliment her on her good command of English.
    In addition, we have a couple of threads like "what's your native language"; you can look them up.
    The only bad thing about such threads is that it's practically impossible to get a random person's mother tongue found in them.

    Kindest regards,
    Native Russian Medved
    Another month ends. All targets met. All systems working. All customers satisfied. All staff eagerly enthusiastic. All pigs fed and ready to fly.

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    Почтенный гражданин Soft sign's Avatar
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    I support the idea!

    (My native lang is Russian).
    Please correct my English

  4. #4
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medved View Post
    Over time you will figure out who is who here.
    Though I think it's a good idea, I don't mind being able to see person't native language displayed under their location on the left of the post's frame, similar to that done on WordReference. On the other hand, this feature is of little practical use because if you, for e.g. spot Sweden under Hanna's location this is not going to help you in any other way than to compliment her on her good command of English.
    In addition, we have a couple of threads like "what's your native language"; you can look them up.
    The only bad thing about such threads is that it's practically impossible to get a random person's mother tongue found in them.

    Kindest regards,
    Native Russian Medved

    Yes, I agree this would be helpful. I have had my Russian here corrected, mainly by Russians (and Ukrainians/Belarussians and even somebody from Kazakhstan, if you want to be pedantic). Also, a German person whose Russian is a lot better than mine, has corrected me.

    Several native Russian-speakers who participate here, live in North America... So the location for them might be confusing too.

    I assume that anyone who corrects me, is confident they are right
    , and that others will shout if they are not.

    I am not technically a native English speaker as Medved pointed out, but I have spoken English since childhood and am not a typical Swedish person in any respect. I have lived in the UK for 15 years. I am definitely competent to advise 99% of non-native English speakers here (and probably some native speakers too, hehe...) I have helped out quite a few people here in the past,when I have felt I wanted to "give something back" to the community. I occasionally make minor mistakes, usually because I don't proof-read what I post, but I don't think it's any worse than most native speakers.
    To put it in perspective. I am a manager in a large British corporation. For all extents and purposes, my English is good enough..

    The reason I put EU as my location is because I have lived in three different EU countries while I have been a member here. Mainly England, but also Sweden and Holland. Plus, I am quite a private person and genuinely have quite a broad perspective - so that's why I don't give a specific location. If I put UK, people will assume I am British, but I am not, and don't want to be. In case anyone is interested, I am currently in the UK though.

    It's probably possible to add a section in the profile about native language if it's necessary. It's something that Admin should look at, in that case. I.e. adding a bespoke field to the user profile.

    But I hope people will only correct or advise others if they are completely confident.

    Also bear in mind: Native speakers usually don't have a distanced perspective of their own language.
    They are not aware of where the difficulties lies, for non-native speakers. Sometimes another foreigner is better at explaining something he/she already learned earlier themselves. Foreigners who speak clearly and slowly can sometimes be easier to understand, than native speakers. Native speakers get impatient and say things like "that's just the way it is!"
    The learner needs to understand the reason, for it to stick.

    So don't dismiss somebody as a teacher, just because they are not a native speaker -
    this can be an advantage in many way. As long as they are better than you - and don't guess or speak out of hand, there is no problem!
    Soft sign likes this.

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Я родной коренной сын Пнидостана -- American English is my native language, but I greatly respect Hanna's authority on English, especially in respect to British usage, but also in respect to English overall. If you have a very specific question about American slang, then perhaps you should ask me instead of Hanna -- but if your question is about British slang, then Hanna can probably give you better advice than I can.
    Hanna and RedFox like this.
    Говорит Бегемот: "Dear citizens of MR -- please correct my Russian mistakes!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    ...Пнидостана...
    Do you mean "Пиндостана"? Switched letters make this sounds fun, like composition of "пни-" (kick), "достать" (piss off) and "-стан" in "Afgani-stan".
    Throbert McGee likes this.

  7. #7
    Hanna
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    There is one guy who is a member here, who is a translator. He is Russian and lives in Russia but his English is absolutely outstanding. He writes very elegantly.

    He knows every little nuance, shade and expression. He never makes any grammatical mistakes and his vocabulary is first rate.

    I couldn't believe my eyes when he said that he's never been abroad! He's never been outside the ex USSR area, let alone to England, even though his written English is better than that of most Brits. Respect!!!

    Haven't seen him on the forum for a long time but he used to be quite active.

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    Властелин iCake's Avatar
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    Hanna

    Who might that be? You piqued my curiosity.
    I do not claim that my opinion is absolutely true.
    If you've spotted any mistake in my English, please, correct it. I want to be aware of any mistakes to efficiently eliminate them before they become a habit.

  9. #9
    Hanna
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    Edit:
    Just wrote a comment to explain that I can't for the life of me recall his nick, when it suddenly came to me: it's translationsnmru.

    I assumed he had lived in the UK had some kind of international connection. He never explained the reason why he's so good at English. Now that I named him, I hope I am not mixing up his comment about never having been abroad!!! Sounds a bit unlikely to me... or?

    I can compare him with myself, and I'd say he's better at English: He's native tongue is further removed from English than mine. I had a lot of exposure to English, growing up, while it's unlikely that he did. Finally, I've lived in the UK for 15 years, whereas he never lived in an English speaking country. Yet, I have the feeling he's better than me. Plus, he can explain both English and Russian grammar, while I can't.

    But remember: It's not necessary to be a wizard in order to successfully use English for work. As long as you don't make obvious grammatical mistakes on a regular basis, and you don't misuse expressions and confuse people, vrthere is no problem.

    PS - iCake - you seem pretty good yourself! I have never paid too much attention to your English but "piqued my curiosity" is rather elegant English, and it's something only an educated person would say. Might well be British rather than American. I know the expression but I wouldn't have used it. I would probably just said "I got curious" or something like that.

    Another Russian person who speaks really nice English, is Sergei Lavrov. Hardly no European continental politician speaks English as well as Lavrov does.

    Of course, he has an accent, but his vocabulary is great and there is no issue with his grammar. He conveys every nuance of what he wants to get across. His accent is totally unobtrusive and sounds rather chic.
    Don't know how he got as good as he is - maybe he worked abroad at some point in his career.

    I've seen a few in-depth interviews with him, in English, on RT and he comes across really well. It really works to Russia's advantage to have somebody as eloquent as him to represent its foreign policy.
    RedFox likes this.

  10. #10
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    Я родной коренной сын Пнидостана -- American English is my native language, but I greatly respect Hanna's authority on English, especially in respect to British usage, but also in respect to English overall. If you have a very specific question about American slang, then perhaps you should ask me instead of Hanna -- but if your question is about British slang, then Hanna can probably give you better advice than I can.
    You are right - occasionally I come across American slang expressions I don't know.
    It doesn't happen in films, but on the rare occasion I tune in to a US reality shows I've come across it.

    There is a whole host of US words which are never used in England. "Oftentimes" (is that really a word?!) or "my bad" are some off the top of my head are really common. As well as endless business jargon inspired by baseball or American football. It assumes you know the rules of these games and the related vocabulary, which I don't...

    My view on slang is that it is to be used only by native speakers, or people who are native AND have lived in the country in question for at least 10-15 years. I have learned this lesson the hard way, hehe...

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    I just love the Russian language. I am addicted listening to the pronounciation and the accent. I like the culture and the customs. I am Filipino-Canadian. I speak Tagalog. I was a drop out in law school in the Philippines. But I had a degree in Bachelor of Science in Marine Fisheries. I am determined to finish a Bachelor of Arts in Slavic Studies major in Russian literature and history. The books that I am currently reading are:

    1) NATASHA'S DANCE, A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes.

    2) TROTSKY by Robert Service.

    3) STALIN, The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebac Montefiore.
    RedFox likes this.
    Russian should be the universal language. Seriously.

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    Завсегдатай Antonio1986's Avatar
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    Why not. But as Medved said you will figure out who is who. Active participants are not so many in this forum

    Btw my native language is the language of Gods, philosophers, scientists, artists and ... why not ... lovers also.

    Greek!
    Чем больше слов, тем меньше они стоят.

  13. #13
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antonio1986 View Post
    Why not. But as Medved said you will figure out who is who. Active participants are not so many in this forum

    Btw my native language is the language of Gods, philosophers, scientists, artists and ... why not ... lovers also.

    Greek!
    Isn't English a sort of "second language" on Cyprus? I haven't been there, but I have noticed that there are a lot of Cypriot people in the UK who seem to have known English really well before they came here.

    Another question for you: Can Greek people read the New Testament in the original language, without any changes? I am asking because every time I go to church, in the sermon they spend ages trying to explain some Greek word, with the motivation "if you want to understand what Paul really means here, you must understand the Greek word xyz". Usually it turns out to mean two or three things at the same time, and have some complex grammatical subjugation....Allegedly a lot of key terms have no really good equivalent in other languages, so the translators had to settle for "inferior" words which don't really convey the full meaning of the original text. One of the obvious ones is the many different words for "love", in Greek (or ancient Greek, anyway).

    So it's occurred to me that Greek people would then have a much better understanding of the Bible, in that case . Just something I am a bit curious about....

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex80 View Post
    Do you mean "Пиндостана"? Switched letters make this sounds fun, like composition of "пни-" (kick), "достать" (piss off) and "-стан" in "Afgani-stan".
    Alex80, thank you, now I like the word "Пиндостан" even more!

    What I already knew about the very interesting word пиндос:

    (1) It comes from the Greek geographical name of the "Πίνδος" горная система ("mountain range") in northwest Greece;

    (2) Historically, it was used in Russian as a rude term for ethnic Greeks who lived на северном берегу Чёрного моря ("on the northern shore of the Black Sea");

    (3) During the Kosovo War of the late 1990s, Russian troops began using "пиндосы" in reference to US military personnel, instead of using it for Greeks -- and although no one knows the true explanation, it's possible that...

    (4) ... "пиндосы" was a phonetic replacement for an already-existing taboo term, such as pidor (cf. episode S13/E12 of South Park , "The F Word"), or maybe something derived from pizda -- because Russia and the US were theoretically "UN allies," but did not really trust each other, and the Russians knew that American translators would probably know the older terms, but would not understand "pindos".
    Говорит Бегемот: "Dear citizens of MR -- please correct my Russian mistakes!"

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    I have never paid too much attention to your English but "piqued my curiosity" is rather elegant English, and it's something only an educated person would say. Might well be British rather than American. I know the expression but I wouldn't have used it. I would probably just said "I got curious" or something like that.
    Hanna, allow me to disagree, a little bit! In my experience, a great many not-very-elegant speakers of English, on both sides of the Atlantic, are able to SPEAK the phrase "пикт май кьюриосити" (using Cyrillic transcription because I don't know the proper IPA characters!). But on both sides of the Atlantic, people who are less educated will use the written spelling "peaked my curiosity" or "peeked my curiosity" -- when, as you know, the correct spelling is "piqued." (If I'm not mistaken, the word originally meant something like "колоть иголкой")

    Just to re-emphasize the point: the SPOKEN phrase will sometimes be heard even at lower levels of education, in both the US and the UK -- but in all dialects of English, it's relatively rare to find someone who knows the correct spelling -- even well-educated people often use the spelling "peaked."
    Hanna likes this.
    Говорит Бегемот: "Dear citizens of MR -- please correct my Russian mistakes!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    (4) ... "пиндосы" was a phonetic replacement...
    I think it is true. Despite of "pindos" sounds inoffensively in russian, but it sounds consonant with some words which are fun or offensive.
    I will add to your examples:
    - попадос (slang "disaster, accident", derived from "попадать в неприятную ситуацию")
    - pidoras (this long form of 'pidor' is more consonant)
    Even "утконос" comes in my mind.
    Also, there is a little words ending with "-дос" in russian, another examples: кальвадос, кандидоз - they sounds as foreign (which is true) words, so it adds some aroma of alieness too.

  17. #17
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    Just to re-emphasize the point: the SPOKEN phrase will sometimes be heard even at lower levels of education, in both the US and the UK -- but in all dialects of English, it's relatively rare to find someone who knows the correct spelling -- even well-educated people often use the spelling "peaked."
    Ok - perhaps that expression is more common than I thought - but I am not used to hearing it.
    I agree with your view on the spelling/grammar of English speaking people.
    I think about 15% are really good at it, and will write correctly at all times.
    But in my working environment (in IT) I see so much bad grammar and spelling from native speakers with a university degree. It's pretty shocking.

  18. #18
    Hanna
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    In addition to language questions, I also feel that anyone who plans to be active in discussing culture and politics ought should be open about their own background.

    This is so that others can understand how well founded the person's view is; whether they have a personal experience or a personal stake in the matter.


    • Has the person learned his info from CNN or Wikipedia?
    • If he's writing about a place; does he live there, or was he there on holiday 20 years ago?
    • Maybe he's from a neighbouring country and has a well-informed outsider's perspective. That too can be interesting, if it is clear.
    • Is he writing about a cultural phenomenon he has participated in regularly?
    • Has the person got personal experience of a certain practice, ideology etc? Or did his parents have that experience?


    Other participants can sometimes glean this type of information from location or alternatively if the person mention it at the outset.

    But without a little bit of background, comments can be misleading or just uninteresting.

    It goes without saying that the more personal experience somebody has of something, the more relevant and interesting are there comments.

    If a person (and yes, I have a particular person in mind) chooses not to reveal his location, background or native language, then he can not expect to be treated as a genuine source of reliable information.

  19. #19
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    Unfortunately, the background formula isn't going to work exactly as it's planned. One would say the idea is great, but what we're missing is that we live in the era of globalization, and every person now gets various info from tons of online sources, and so in the end, it doesn't matter where s/he lives, but what matters is what filter s/he has in mind for incoming information.

    I'll give you just one example from my personal experience: just 5 years ago, if I was asked what I thought of the possible political / economic views of a person who had been born in Sweden, lived in the UK, and worked in IT, I would seriously say they totally matched mine! But later, as I came across one person of that background (online), it turned out the person's views were exact opposites of mine! If I was offered to figure out the person's location based on those views (while not knowing the real one), I would go with Syria, Iran, Cuba, or a number of CIS areas! So, that made me realize the historical background of a person, as well as their current location, and working field could sometimes be of little importance, or even misleading, if you're trying to understand what the person is.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric C. View Post
    if I was asked what I thought of the possible political / economic views of a person who had been born in Sweden, lived in the UK, and worked in IT, I would seriously say they totally matched mine! But later, as I came across one person of that background (online), it turned out the person's views were exact opposites of mine! If I was offered to figure out the person's location based on those views (while not knowing the real one), I would go with Syria, Iran, Cuba, or a number of CIS areas! So, that made me realize the historical background of a person, as well as their current location, and working field could sometimes be of little importance, or even misleading, if you're trying to understand what the person is.
    Sounds like you've been a victim of propaganda in the place of you living, because clearly you:
    - Never lived in Sweden but assumed that you knew the country
    - Assumed that all IT people in Sweden are pretty much the same
    - Assumed that all people who have views that are different than yours supposed to live in Syria, Iran, Cuba, or a number of CIS areas
    Sounds like you've been brainwashed, big time.
    Think about it.

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