Friday, 12 December 2014

The Little Babel in my Head

So even though I'm far from being completely fluent in Italian, I decided to add another language to my repertoire.

I began preparing for this in the last week of November, by downloading Duolingo on my tablet, fishing out my books/CD (German in French, which I bought before leaving France), and finding a good site for Grammar etc. I then officially started the process on the 1st of December, giving myself 9 months in which to learn, and achieve the goal of being able to communicate effectively and confidently. An initial look at the language gave me the impression that it was logical, similar to English and familiar (from learning Swedish briefly a few years ago, sadly all gone now from lack of use). I therefore overconfidently thought I was going to have a very easy ride. However, I hadn't banked on getting interference from French, which also seems to have left its ravages on my poor brain.

The main problem (apart from declension, which is another issue entirely) is that I often think in French and so use French constructions for German sentences. A typical example would be use of the verb "to be," where the verb "to have" would have traditionally been more appropriate. Case in point, to state my age in French I would say "J'ai 30ans" (literally, I have 30years). However, in English and German the verb "to have" is replaced by the verb "to be" so we end up with "Ich bin 30 Jahre alt" or "Ich bin 30" which literally mean I am 30years old and I am 30 respectively. Intellectually, I know this, but I cannot seem to stop myself from mirroring the French phrase and saying "Ich habe 30 Jahre". 

As if this wasn't enough, my brain (perhaps cognizant of the fact that English and French are kind of forbidden), has decided to come up with a coping mechanism to deal with the stress of learning yet another language. I now sometimes find myself using Yoruba and Italian words to fill in the currently large gaps in my German vocabulary. I think my poor brain feels like a melange of languages is its only way of producing anything intelligible at the moment!

Still, I'm not one to give up...I'm hoping to achieve my goal in spite of the challenges, but I've decided to restart the count from the 1st of January after the holidays when I'll be less distracted and more able to dedicated myself to the hard work ahead of me. By the 1st of October 2015, I hope to be able to express myself clearly in German, and have reached level C1 (to be assessed objectively with a test from the Goethe institute). 

And my English? Also going down the drains it seems. Living, thinking and working almost exclusively in French has done a number on my brain. For example, whenever I do a long piece of writing I have to re-read it a few times, since I've realised that I sometimes forget to add the preposition "to" in English when using the infinitive form of verbs. This is a really silly mistake to make as a native English speaker, but a quick glance through a list of verbs in both languages reveals how this becomes possible (to have = avoir; to be = être; to do= faire and so on). In other news, I've also taken to writing English with French spellings, for example, ou for or, Décembre for December, familiarity as familiarité, accompany as accompagne, and my construction of English sentences is also unfortunately undergoing a change for the worse. I now say things like "he is more big than you" or "the car of the man" (to think I used to be so proud of my English language skills!). Worst of all, I've noticed that I'm gradually morphing into that obnoxious person who corrects others and gets irritated when I see/hear people using bad French :(

Anyway, over to you. Are you learning a new language? How that's going, and/or what impact does it have on your first (or second, third, etc.) language(s)?

With that, I say...A lovely weekend to all/Bon weekend/ Ein schoenes Wochenend!

20 comments:

  1. Warm greetings from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. My mother tongue is English, but I am fluent in French. This is very helpful, as all the signs and everything here in Montreal are French. You have a very nice blog.

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    1. Hi Linda,
      I initially started learning French because I had plans to move to Montreal, you know, but the visa issues were too stressful for me to handle...Anyway thanks for visiting and reading my blog! I'm off to visit yours too.

      have a lovely week,
      Clara

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    2. Hi Clara, so sorry to hear about the Visa issues, and I can totally understand. (even though I have never traveled overseas or relocated), but I know many who have.

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    3. Yes it was a bit annoying at the time, but I am so glad now that it didn't work out! It meant that I got to discover my own backyard here in Europe, learn a few more languages and meet my lovely lovely boyfriend. So now I say thank God Canadian working visas are so time-consuming to acquire!

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  2. heehhehehehehehe Did you say you think in French! chisos.. Where you at the Tower of babel when GOD shared all those languages? I mean how can you know all these languages in one brain.. In short i am challenged.. **Wears straight face... ahan ahan!! what hapin?! my fellow human being knows all these plenty plenty languages, and common igbo i am yet to perfect. heheheheheh Infact, i must learn Igbo this Christmas. lmao

    In other news, I think its mega super cool to know all these, and i am just amazed coming here.. So on top of all these you are Ambidextrous too? mehn you must be like Super human, can we exchange brains? :) So Clara of Life is a Yoruba fine geh, that thinks in French, acts German, and is learning Italian... You are a very ghen ghen somebori oh! in short, i wanna be like thee when i grow up.

    P.S: Turn up Turn up Bubba, its Christmas in 9 days, we want Christmas give away ooo.. hehehehe I am fighting for this on all them cool blogs... You know i haf longer throat nah **Shines teeth. Cheers Bubba. xx

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    1. You DON'T speak Igbo?! No o Duru, that I cannot accept that o! Oya assignment for xmas, you must come back fluent from Enugu. Seriously though, I think I just like making friends and speaking all these languages helps (as my bf says, I'm like a friend pimp) haha!

      Duru, shey you want me to block you and defriend you and delete you and "get mad" at you until after xmas ni? Chisoos, you haf put me on the spot with your longer throat ( such a long time since I heard that phrase!!!). This year is too late na, next year God willing, there will be a giveaway, a good one too.

      So anyways in case we don't talk again before, Merry Xmas and happy 2015. Enjoy your gallivanting in Enugu and stay away from all those pretty yellow Ibo girls o, shey you hear me! 2015 is the year of unbroken hearts. X

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    2. Nomso inugo?
      I can't even speak igbo, I'm learning Hausa as I'm serving in sokoto but the hausa they speak here is mixed with fulani and different from what is in the hausa book nysc gave us but I'm trying kadan kadan

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    3. All these naija children running around speaking only English, chai!!! My some of my siblings can't speak Yoruba either, but my children WILL learn. I think Nigerian languages are so beautiful...

      But well done Amaka for learning Hausa, hopefully by the end of next year we'll both be fluent!

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    4. I speak yoruba quite fluently jare! We grew up speaking english and the schools I attended were the "Speak vernacular and pay 5naira" type so I made sure I purged my tongue.....lool
      My target is February though

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    5. Good girl! Are you Yoruba too? I'm quite jealous of you now, I'd like to be able to speak at least two naija languages...

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  3. Speaking of correcting, you should c me in class. I'm completely surrounded by ppl who have lived 5-15 years in Germany and yet don't read properly and for some unexplainable reason, this upsets me.

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    1. I know right! I feel like an obnoxious old lady though, when I correct ppl. Oh well...

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  4. Oh as deine Lehrerin, du hast das e vergessen. Ein schönes (shoenes) Wochenende.

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    1. Danke Lehrerin.

      Deine Studentin ;)

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    2. Haha. I just got corrected by G that it's schokoladenmuseum....all the time i write schokolade museum! We learn sha haha

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    3. Ta! I really love this three way thing. I learn from you who in turn learns from G. I feel like the bottom feeder sha, but hey whatever works right? I WILL learn German, if it's the last thing I do! :)

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  5. Salut Clara!

    J'ai etudié Français pour 5-6 ans. J'ai oublie beaucoup de Français mais j'aimerais practique avec toi!

    Tu m'aides avec Français et je peux t'aider avec ton allemand et anglais :)

    Xoxo,


    La Deutsche Diva

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    1. Coucou Shahidah,

      Ah bon? Tu parle le Français? Bah je suis contente de l'entendre!

      Ok, je suis d'accord avec ta proposition. Tu m’écrire toujours en Français et moi, je te réponds en allemand. Comme ça on fera toutes les deux beaucoup de progrès au moins a l’écrit...

      Bisous et a bientôt

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  6. Wow...now I feel so intimidated *running away*

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    1. Please don't run away, come back lol!

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