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Help me choose a foreign language

TheungryTheungry Registered User, Array
edited December 2006 in Help / Advice Forum
Background: I am in the process of building a 5 year plan to go back to school for a Masters/ Doctorate in linguistics contingent on my wifes career success in the interim. English is my first language and i am taking some Spanish classes to brush up on what used to be a pretty strong second language for me to be followed at some point by an American sign language refresher.

What i need help with: I want to choose another foreign language that uses a completely different alphabet to begin self study on this winter. My first inclinations are to study a Chinese dialect or a middle eastern language (thinking that these two areas are the major world players outside the U.S. and will be very important to future developments.), but I'm very open to suggestions. I'm interested in recommendations on
    - Languages you have found interesting to study and why - What dialect of Chinese makes the most sense to start with - Any resources you've ever found helpful in picking up new languages (cheap/free= mad bonus points) - Any advice you may have on preparing for a linguistics program (especially in NYC) -

Thanks in advance.

Unfortunately, western cultures frown upon arranged marriages, so the vast majority of people have to take risks in order to get into relationships.
Theungry on

Posts

  • TheungryTheungry Registered User
    edited November 2006
    I forgot to mention that my undergrad degree is in Visual and Media arts with a concentration in film.

    Theungry on
    Unfortunately, western cultures frown upon arranged marriages, so the vast majority of people have to take risks in order to get into relationships.
  • JarmoJarmo Registered User
    edited November 2006
    Why not finnish language?

    If you want really to challenge your self learn it (if somebody teaches it where you live ;) ). Lots of people say that it is one of the hardest languages to learn. Even our neighbouring countries claim that (Sweden, Norway, Russia, Baltic countries) :D

    Check out the link I gave ;) and good luck for your studies

    Jarmo on
  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited November 2006
    I don't formally study languages... but I've been taking Japanese for about 4 years now and I recently got into Chinese.

    Both languages are very, very fun! The reason I like them is because the grammar and writting are so diffrent from English or Spanish (wich I also speak).

    The Chinese spoken in the booming buisness world is Mandarin. I say learn this one first.

    As for Japanese... when you really get into it... it's actually pretty similar to Spanish in some ways. The pronounciation is similar... and you can omit alot of words that are usually esential parts in an English sentence.

    Before I start learning a new language, I usually listen to the radio in that language for some months. Then I try to imitate how they speak. The purpose of this excersice is to learn what part of your throat to use to get an acurate pronounciation. It helps me alot!

    MagicToaster on
  • RecklessReckless Registered User
    edited November 2006
    I've always found Hebrew to be very interesting to learn. I haven't attended a Hebrew school in a long while, though, so I'm not too adept at writing or speaking it any longer.

    I would imagine sitting through a few congregations at a temple would be a boost to anyone learning the language.

    Reckless on
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  • NeadenNeaden Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    I would think that Arabic and Farsi are both pretty high in demand right now if you want to be assured of the job. If nothing else I'm sure the army would want you.

    Neaden on
  • SenjutsuSenjutsu thot enthusiast Registered User regular
    edited November 2006
    Chinese isn't a bad choice, if you've got the ear for it.

    Mandarin might have a commercial edge, but if you live somewhere with few Mandarin speakers but many Cantonese, I'd go that route just for the extra practice you can get.

    Senjutsu on
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  • Google Image SearchGoogle Image Search Registered User
    edited December 2006
    Mandarin would be your best bet for Chinese, and most likely the one most widely offered. It hasn't been too hard for me to pick up. The grammar and sentence structure is very different, which is kind of fun to work with.

    Plus Chinese will possibly lead to some nice positions in business later, and there are some real good Chinese film makers.

    Google Image Search on
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  • Lone_SuicidalLone_Suicidal Registered User
    edited December 2006
    I'd recommend Arabic. There are many different dialects but the one that is normally taught is...I can't remember the name of it, but it's the one that they use in news broadcasts, it's considered the formal version of arabic.

    Whatever language you decide to take, a tremendous learning tool is this software called Rosetta Stone. It's extremely simple to use does a pretty good job in helping your memorization of the language.

    Neaden is right about the high demand for Arabic speakers. That area will always be the focus of a lot of attention.

    Lone_Suicidal on
    eagles may soar but weasles don't get sucked into jet engines
  • HiredGunHiredGun Registered User
    edited December 2006
    Just a reminder: the kinds of languages it looks like you're interested in are, by most people's standards, difficult to learn. For Arabic, at least, I know that there are tons of people who take it for two or three years and frankly have very little to show for it other than grades and a very crude ability to read childrens' books; i.e. they've gained nothing marketable.

    So I definitely think this is a great idea, but whatever language you choose, I hope you're prepared to really work at it.

    As a lover of Arabic myself, I wholeheartedly recommend it. The written language is uniform across the Arab world and is used in formal settings and education, region-wide broadcasting, etc. The conversational languages vary from place to place; the most widely understood is probably Egyptian, but as far as foreseeable demand, the eastern dialects (Syrian/Lebanese or Iraqi) will probably be more important in government work, and the Gulf dialects in business.

    I should also point out that pretty soon the market will be saturated with mediocre Arabic speakers (i.e. all the people who are flocking to take it now at institutions like the one I attend). If you're good at it, you'll be fine. If you really want a leg up, I do have to say that Mandarin Chinese is the way to go at the moment.

    HiredGun on
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