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Men and Foreign Languages


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The PC Police might not allow this but I'm asking if men aren't as good at foreign languages as women. I've been to France regularly as my wife is a languages teacher and she has friends all over France but I've never got beyond very basic stuff learned at school and I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

What got me thinking about this was my wife tut-tutting at Novak Djokovic thanking his male wife, "mon femme", at the French Open and her reminding me of my similar problems. Asked if I'd like more food in France I told the company I was pregnant then changed it to "No thanks, I'm pished". Later, they must have thought I owned a stable of geldings as I said I was going to get my horses cut rather than my hair.

Amongst my circle of friends there is only one guy who can cut it with languages but maybe that's an indication of who I choose as friends more than anything else. At school though, more girls take languages than boys but again maybe that can be explained more by girls trying to avoid physics or whatever.

Thoughts, personal experiences and anecdotes please.

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That's right.

Most foreigners eventually get the message if you shout loudly enough.

'Course they do. They are incentivised by their constant need to get your money. I am incentivised to get drink and grub, we generally reach an understanding.

I should be put in charge of sorting out Greece.

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From my experiences it's usually the wives on holiday which expect their other halves to learn the local lingo for them.

Not at all, just back from Turkey, my wife really went out of her way to do the local lingo, and made a better fist of it than me, so I pretty much left it up to her

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Not at all, just back from Turkey, my wife really went out of her way to do the local lingo, and made a better fist of it than me, so I pretty much left it up to her

Aye, let her handle it until you've had a few. It's important to blend into the background and try not to be noticed at all until then. Try to ignore British people as well, the common language doesn't help, as they are invariably morons.
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I would disagree. I don't think it makes any difference, I teach English as a foreign language, and my best students are a mix of males and females.

I lived in Vietnam for a bit, the company I worked with provided free Vietnamese lessons. Out of the 20 odd or so of us, only one girl stuck at lessons and tried to learn, whereas there was about six guys.

Learning a language is about effort. You need to study, you need to practice, and you need a lot of patience, as it takes a long time. I currently live in Spain, so I'm learning Spanish. It can be frustrating as f**k, if I was learning Spanish in the UK I reckon I'd have given up by now.

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My missus is fluent in Romanian, German, English, Portuguese and Spanish. She's conversational in Hungarian. Although she can't speak a word of it she can understand Italian when it's spoken. Same with Dutch. When we went to Croatia she could get the general jist of anything in Croatian despite having never heard it before in her life. She learnt Gaelic for a month just to annoy me and spent the following few weeks greeting me in Gaelic and asking me questions in Gaelic knowing fine well I can only say two words of the fucking language.

I can say "nice arse" in Swahili

So you may have a point

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J'mapelle Geedub-MFC. J'habite Motherwell en Ecosse.

You mean "Je m'apelle". Maybe I'm better at it than I think. Then again, does it matter as long as you get your meaning across.

Trouble is, a little language can be worse than none at all. I heard a weather forecast and thought it was going to be cloudy. It was actually cloudless skies.

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I wouldn't like to jump to any conclusions, but in my own experience, men who become fluent in a language tend to take more time with the exacting details of grammar structure and pronunciation, while women are content just to let themselves be understood. Sweeping generalization, but it's definitely a pattern I've noticed living abroad, hearing other people trying to speak English to me

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Shout and point, never fails...except when it does. If so, move on and shout at someone else.

Well said. Languages are important. I think people need to be skilled with their tongues if misunderstandings are to be avoided.

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My missus is fluent in Romanian, German, English, Portuguese and Spanish. She's conversational in Hungarian. Although she can't speak a word of it she can understand Italian when it's spoken. Same with Dutch. When we went to Croatia she could get the general jist of anything in Croatian despite having never heard it before in her life. She learnt Gaelic for a month just to annoy me and spent the following few weeks greeting me in Gaelic and asking me questions in Gaelic knowing fine well I can only say two words of the fucking language.

I can say "nice arse" in Swahili

So you may have a point

Some skills are transferrable. Spanish and Portuguese and even Italian have some commonality through their Latin roots and German and Dutch have a similar link. I'd have thought that maybe Romanian and Croatian have links but I believe Hungarian is only linked to Finnish! There is actually a family tree of language. I know a bit about that but it doesn't help me learn them.

Basque is the b*****d child in the family, by the way.

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Romanian isn't linked to Croatian but was very similar to Dalmation which still has some left over in Croatian.

Also Romanian is a latin language but with Slavic influence. Probably closer to Italian than any other language but lots of Slavic words so can pick up things when someone speaks anything from Eastern Europe for the most part. She's also from a place in Romania where Hungarian is first language for nearly half the population. She's the only member of her family who isn't fluent.

I can get by in Spanish/French/Romanian for the basic touristy stuff.

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