Bilingual conversation

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Bilingual conversation

Postby Delodephius » Sun 12 Jul 2009 3:04 pm

Have you ever been in a conversation with a person who's native language is different than yours but he could understand your language perfectly and you could understand his language perfectly? But, neither of you speak the other one's language well enough so in conversation you speak in your and the other person in his/her language?

Such situation are almost everyday where I live. Just few seconds ago my dad's friend who is from Dalmatia and speaks only Serbian came and talked to my grandfather who can speak Serbian but does so seldom. So now I was watching through the window and they two were talking: my dad's friend in Serbian and my grandfather in Slovak. And they talked like for 20 minutes. It's harvest time so there's a lot of work going on and plans to made when and which field to harvest. I witnessed such conversations many a time. Even I'm part of them sometimes. Sometimes when I talk to my uncle who is a Bosnian I just forget and talk to him in Slovak. Since my aunt is Slovak he understands it all. And I found myself many times talking to my dad's friend in Slovak too while he talked to me in Serbian.

Wonderful thing this transculturalism.
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Re: Bilingual conversation

Postby linguoboy » Sun 12 Jul 2009 4:14 pm

This happened to me once on a trip to Budapest. I met an aspiring young filmmaker who understood English fine but was too shy to speak it. He was much more comfortable in French, which I read but can't really speak. So I spoke English, he spoke French, and we had a very enjoyable conversation about aesthetics for about an hour before I had to go.
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Re: Bilingual conversation

Postby Sobekhotep » Mon 13 Jul 2009 2:42 am

Delodephius wrote:Have you ever been in a conversation with a person who's native language is different than yours but he could understand your language perfectly and you could understand his language perfectly? But, neither of you speak the other one's language well enough so in conversation you speak in your and the other person in his/her language?

I've never had the pleasure.

Delodephius wrote:Just few seconds ago my dad's friend who is from Dalmatia and speaks only Serbian

He doesn't speak any Croatian?
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Re: Bilingual conversation

Postby Delodephius » Mon 13 Jul 2009 10:53 am

To most of us there is no difference between Serbian and Croatian. Locals call their language whatever they like, whether it is Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian or Montenegrin. He being a Serb calls his language Serbian which is not like Serbian in Serbia but like Croatian, but since he is not a Croat he calls his language Serbian. And he is a Serb because he is Orthodox while Croats are Catholics. In the same ways Bosnians are Muslims, but not all Bosnians, like my uncle who is also a Bosnian and speaks a language called Serbian because he is Orthodox, even though internationally name Bosnian language is reserved only for Muslim Bosnians which they call the Bosniak language to make difference from other Bosnians, that is Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats. Montenegrins on the other hand are Orthodox but their difference from Serbs is that their are traditionally a tribal and clan society so you can speak of a Montenegrin language only as a language of the Montenegrins who belong or belonged in recent past to a certain clan.

During the period of Yugoslavia there was only one language, Serbo-Croatian as the Serbs called it and Croato-Serbian as the Croats called it. In the 19th century it was also called Illyrian by traditionalists. Today sometimes it is called Neo-Štokavian by linguists.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbo-croatian
(I do suggest you read the entire article)


So when I say: "I speak Serbian" it also means I speak Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin as well for there is little difference between them, much like between American and British English. The only reason because these languages are called differently is because of nationalistic and religious reasons. Linguists simply treat them as dialects of one language. If you are an ordinary person you call this language by your ethnic affiliation or if you are a non-native like me you call it by preference, but never say the wrong name of the language in front of the people to whom it is native. God forbid you say to a Croat he is speaking Serbian or to a Serb he is speaking Croatian. Stick to the nationalistic labelling if you don't want to get into trouble, unless they start the discussion, in which case you may state your opinion. But usually, as a Slovak hence an outsider I leave them to argue on their own.
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Re: Bilingual conversation

Postby Sobekhotep » Tue 14 Jul 2009 1:18 am

Delodephius wrote:He being a Serb calls his language Serbian which is not like Serbian in Serbia but like Croatian, but since he is not a Croat he calls his language Serbian. And he is a Serb because he is Orthodox while Croats are Catholics.

I see. So it depends on one's ethnicity, not nationality. Even though he's from Croatia, since he's an ethnic Serb he call his language Serbian. It makes sense.
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Re: Bilingual conversation

Postby sokuban » Mon 27 Jul 2009 11:22 am

I've had it once. (Though not exactly your situation, as I could converse Japanese fine.)

There was a Japanese girl who knows a little English/is learning English whose family wanted me to talk to her in English to practise her English. I was with her family and we were talking over a phone, so her family could only hear me speaking. I spoke completely in English and she spoke completely in Japanese.

The funny part is that her family thought we were both speaking to each other in English.
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Re: Bilingual conversation

Postby Red » Wed 17 Feb 2010 12:51 pm

Quite a few times nowadays, people will speak Zeeuws, Frisian, Flemish, or Limburgse (or an entirely different dutch dialect) to me, and I'll speak Dutch to them without even realizing that they're speaking an entirely different language!

(Because they all are completely different. Don't EVER mistake them, if you visit Holland!)

Similar things happen with Spanish and Portuguese friend and I had a thrity minute long conversation in Spantuguese without us realizing it!
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Re: Bilingual conversation

Postby telal » Wed 17 Feb 2010 1:41 pm

i experience this quite often with spanish speakers and have encountered it even with arabic and hebrew speakers
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Re: Bilingual conversation

Postby Sobekhotep » Thu 18 Feb 2010 2:43 am

Red wrote:Spantuguese

Portunhol! :P
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Re: Bilingual conversation

Postby Talib » Thu 18 Feb 2010 7:45 am

There's no need for it. Portuguese is just ugly Spanish anyway.
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