How do some people on here have more than one native language?

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uomo di scienza
Joined: 15.01.2010
Pending moderation

subject says all.

Member
Joined: 21.06.2010

Lol maybe they're from italy for instance but were born and lived in france.. Tongue smile

Retired Moderator
Joined: 31.01.2010

Or perhaps their parents speak different languages and they learnt both simultaneously as they grew up

Retired Moderator
Joined: 16.02.2010

Yes, simply, lol Biggrin

Member
Joined: 21.06.2010

Yeah yours makes more sence Tongue smile

Товарищ/Comrade
Joined: 16.05.2010

Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian is brother languages, and if you speak one of them you speak others.

Fio
Member
Joined: 02.08.2010

I know even some people who are not bi- but tri-lingual. Happens easily. If you grow up in an environment where 2 or more languages are spoken simultaneously, you grow up speaking both, without even noticing it's two different languages. Once you are big, you don't know which one you know better.

I have a friend who is Swedish, his wife Argentinian, they speak English with each other and they recently moved to Brazil, where also their daughters were born. So their girls have some 4 languages to start with Regular smile

Novice
Joined: 19.08.2010

8) Yap ur right.=))

Novice
Joined: 19.08.2010

What uR lookin' for?
I speak:French_persian 'n english... Regular smile

Retired Moderator
Joined: 17.01.2010

For example: people from Switzerland have 3-4 official languages, in Belgium there are 2-3,
even in Spain there are 3-4 languages at least! And there are minorities from neighboring countries living in many countries over the world... (unless they are forced to leave by some crazy politicians: then you have refugees speaking at least two languages)

Moderator
Joined: 29.07.2010

I have a friend from Catalonia whose parents are English... he has 3 native languages!

Senior Member
Joined: 26.09.2010

A somewhat more mundane suggestion than people lucky enough to know 4 languages natively:

Don't forget that if you're from one country, but move to another at a young age, or are born there, you could easily speak your parents' language (which may even be more than one) perfectly fluently at home, and pick up the language of the country you're in to a native standard, too.

Many people I know are bilingual, schooled in one language and fluent in another from home. I guess they would put both as their 'native' language on LT, because 'fluent' as separated from 'native' implies a language one is very well schooled in, rather than something one has spoken since birth.

I guess it depends on what you consider a 'native' language: the one you have spoken at home since birth, or the one you are educated in? My two cents is that both can be, depending on the circumstances.

As an aside, a lot of Slavs (like Nemesida pointed out) share very similar languages, especially the ones that branched off the most recently. if you considered, say, Serbian as your native tongue, you might perhaps list Bosnian and Croatian as also native languages, because (with a bit of attention to new vocabulary etc) you might well be very confident in translating those languages, beyond just fluent.

Novice
Joined: 02.12.2010

The only cases where you can have a speaker who is native in more than one language is if they grew up in envrionments with different languages, like Switzerland, etc.

If you grew up say in the U.S. but your parents also spoke to you in say Italian, you are not technically a native speaker of Italian but rather a heritage speaker. Heritage speakers actually are not perfect speakers though are close to it.

Natural multilinguism is of course irrelevant in many cases. Being able to speak more than one language natively does not necessarily confer the ability to perform quality translations between those languages, though it certainly does help.

Retired Moderator
Joined: 23.09.2010

What I really wonder about is how you can have a "unknown" native language?????

Senior Member
Joined: 26.09.2010
sethmachine wrote:

If you grew up say in the U.S. but your parents also spoke to you in say Italian, you are not technically a native speaker of Italian but rather a heritage speaker. Heritage speakers actually are not perfect speakers though are close to it.

That's a really good way of putting it, actually. My only regret is that this term isn't more widely known, even relatively well informed people normally frame things in a relatively limiting 'native' vs. 'learned' context. And don't even get me started on the 'first versus second' language and what one's 'mother tongue' is...

It also means many people who would better be described as heritage speakers defining themselves as native speakers because that's the term they're familiar with. Add to that the fact that for many people language cannot entirely be separated from one's sense of identity, and it can get complicated.

sethmachine wrote:

Natural multilinguism is of course irrelevant in many cases. Being able to speak more than one language natively does not necessarily confer the ability to perform quality translations between those languages, though it certainly does help.

I agree with this, too Regular smile I think that it's important to remember that native speaker status doesn't guarantee a perfect (or even particularly competent) ability to translate. There are plenty of people out there with no particular interest in their vocabulary (hey, there's other things in life!) whose functional language abilities pale in comparison to others who've learned them the hard way. I guess the fact that within each category people's skills vary widely just serves the importance of not relying too much on a classification based on how you learned a language, not how much time or effort you've put in.

@ Ginada: I guess it's because it's not a language listed here so wouldn't come up in the list, kind of like when you have to click/tick the 'Other (please specify)' box.

Joined: 04.01.2011

"A heritage speaker" - nice, now I know how to name the thing I am always fighting about with my stubborn friends emigrants ... about their kids speaking "mother" language, and the kids not beeing able to form a phrase by themselfs, but repeating what they hear and learn like parrots!!! Those kids that never visited their parents original country I am talking about.

Super Member
Joined: 11.01.2011
Linerva wrote:

As an aside, a lot of Slavs (like Nemesida pointed out) share very similar languages, especially the ones that branched off the most recently. if you considered, say, Serbian as your native tongue, you might perhaps list Bosnian and Croatian as also native languages, because (with a bit of attention to new vocabulary etc) you might well be very confident in translating those languages, beyond just fluent.

As an aside, if Slavs speak so similar languages, can they be called different languages? In Japan most people don't understand the Okinawan, a dialect in the Okinawa island to the south of Japan. I suppose the differences between the Welsh, the Scotch and Queen's English are much greater.

Junior Member
Joined: 21.02.2010

I grew up in a household where my mother, who's a native Pole, spoke Polish to me, and my father spoke English. (Although my heritage is very widespread so there's German in there too)

Guest

İf the official language is different from your native in your country , you should learn it well.Ask to any Uzbek , or Kazak or some others , who lived in URSS times...Or ask to Kurds in Turkiye , many of them would say that they can speak in official language better then their native...so which one is native ?

Junior Member
Joined: 13.02.2011

Welsh, Gaelic (Scottish language) and English are completely separate languages. Queen's English is a type of pronunciation of English. Is Okinawan a dialect or more like it's own language?

Super Member
Joined: 11.01.2011

Okinawan is a dialect, as I said in my previous comment. Are there people who still speak Welsh or Gaelic?

Quote:

İf the official language is different from your native in your country , you should learn it well.Ask to any Uzbek , or Kazak or some others , who lived in URSS times...Or ask to Kurds in Turkiye , many of them would say that they can speak in official language better then their native...so which one is native ?

In my view, native language is a language in which we think. Even those who have more than one native languages think only in one language, don't they?

Retired Moderator
Joined: 17.01.2010

@snorio: There are three groups of Slavic languages: Western (Poland+former CSFR), Eastern (former USSR) and Southern (=Yugoslav+Bulgaria), surely there are words that are (almost) the same in all these languages, but others can differ!

Senior Member
Joined: 26.09.2010
snorio wrote:

As an aside, if Slavs speak so similar languages, can they be called different languages? In Japan most people don't understand the Okinawan, a dialect in the Okinawa island to the south of Japan. I suppose the differences between the Welsh, the Scotch and Queen's English are much greater.

Mauler summarised it quite well. Yes, they are. When we say they are similar, we mean that a certain level of overlap makes a language from another branch possible to comprehend the gist of, if you're lucky. I doubt most people speaking one Slavic language could translate another from a different branch well without study, the grammar is a barrier and many regional variations in vocabulary. Part of the reason they can understand each other comes down to sharing stuff like music and being exposed to each other's languages and making intelligent guesses, it's not necessarily a given. Personally, I would not be able to turn to my Russian friends and claim that I speak Russian, but I could understand something of what they say, given context.

I don't think an English speaker can understand Welsh or Scottish Gaelic based on English, but then again, they're technically in different language families, so not comparable to the Slavic languages. It's much more like learning Latin benefits you when it comes to Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or French, it just makes it easier to guess what they probably mean. I'd like to hear what the Scandinavians think about this, I hear there are quite a few similarities in their languages Regular smile

As for Japanese dialects, I think that goes to show that what is a dialect and what is a language is as much a political notion as a linguistic one. Where a people consider themselves one nation, they might class very very different forms as dialects*, whereas between warring ethnic groups who want to emphasise their uniqueness, a smaller difference may be enough for each to consider its own a language (and have several dialects within it, to make matters more confusing). And to attempt to define some languages as dialects in such a fraught context would be as much a political as a linguistic act. To quote Loring Danforth on the subject:

''Linguists recognise that determining whether something is a dialect of something else or whether it's a separate language is an issue that depends on a political situation, and not something that can be answered purely linguistically.''

(incidentally, that exerpt is taken from here , wherein he discusses that issue in the context of arguments that some Slavic languages are supposedly dialects.)

* Though maybe part of that is the Japanese language's propensity for richness? I hear keigo (very formal speech) is pretty radically different on quite a few levels to normal fairly formal Japanese or Japanese slang.

Super Member
Joined: 11.01.2011
Quote:

"Linguists recognise that determining whether something is a dialect of something else or whether it's a separate language is an issue that depends on a political situation, and not something that can be answered purely linguistically.''

Okinawa was formally incorporated to Japan as late as in 1872. Before that it was a separate kingdom, even if under colonial rule of Japan. Before 1872, therefore, Okinawan could have been regarded as a foreign language. On the other hand, however, Korean was never regarded as a dialect of Japanese language even while Korea was annexed to Japan.
The definition of "dialect" can have political aspects, but with some limit, which must be a linguistic one.

Senior Member
Joined: 26.09.2010

Very true. I didn't know that Regular smile

Member
Joined: 20.11.2010

you either live in a country with more than one official language, or you grew up with more than one language at home.
for example: I live in Israel and parents are immigrants from Russia. with them I speak Russian, with everybody else I speak Hebrew.

Member
Joined: 15.04.2011

My mother language is Portuguese, but my grandparents come from Italy, i understand italian very well, but im not "fluent" in italy, and if u know any latinum language, is more easy to learn others latinum language (portuguese, spanish, french, italian, "LATIN").

I never "learn" spanish, but i understand spanish very well.
Elsewhere maybe is different (like russian and ukranian and etc), but the people have "ONE" mother tongue.