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«What other languages do you know?»

Also, what other languages do you know and why did you decide to learn them? (Hope you don’t mind all the questions!)

Not at all! Fire away, that’s why I am here for.

So let’s see:

I have established that I am Galician, so I speak Galician. Given that, my command of Portuguese is quite good because of their tight relation to each other (some of us might say, because they are just dialects of the same language. I won’t get into that now but feel free to ask if you want to know more). It gets wobbly when I try to approximate a pure Portuguese accent so I’ve been thinking of taking conversational classes. But writing and reading, on that front we are sound.

Being born and raised in Spain I speak Spanish too. I tend to call my variety Castilian (read: northern) to differentiate it from Andalusian, Canarian, or any of the distinctive Latin American branches. It’s not a established term though (some people equate Castilian and Spanish as synonyms) and to be strict, my variety would be Galician Spanish (that is, the Spanish spoken in Galiza and affected by the presence of Galician). Worry not, I try to make it as neutral as possible on this blog.

Next up on the obvious list we have English. I started learning it at 3-y.o. and all the way up until university (it’s a compulsory subject in Spain through primary and high school). At that point I had a good knowledge of it and a flood of American shows, singers and filmmakers made sure that it stuck—I am a certified C2. So though my substrate is British English (that’s what we get taught), what I absorbed is American English. I get a weird mix. I think it’s like this all over Europe. I like to call it Continental English, or European English, or Erasmus English.

For many years I’ve studied French, during high school and also afterwards, and I am supposed to hold a B2 level. It comes and goes depending on how much contact I have with my French friends. Like, if I moved to France I’m sure it would come back right away, but right now it’s mostly dormant somewhere in the back of my brain. I like French though. Sounds very nice.

Down the list we have German, which I studied for two years until A2 level, and I really like even if only because they have so many cool German bands and I was motivated to be able to sing their lyrics (my favourite is Wir sind Helden, they ROCK!). It’s starting to fade away so I’m worried and thinking of picking it up again.

Bottom of the barrel we have a mishmash of languages that I wouldn’t put on my CV but that merit a mention (by the way, useful Spanish term: chapurrear, meaning “to speak a limited, broken version of a language”: chapurreo algo de francés, “I speak some limited French”). Head of this list would be Catalan, because of a particular show that I happen to enjoy that features frequent content in catalan (APM?). Eventually you pick up things. It’s followed a bit later by Italian, if only because speaking so many other Romance languages you can get by as a tourist with very little effort. Then the remnants of my two years living in Sweden (but I lived in an English bubble so there was not much there to begin with) and the two years that I studied Japanese (it was such a long time ago that I can’t even remember my Hiragana now. But it was sooo fun and different and I regret not going forward with it).

Whew! That was long. Now you know me better. But if you want more, just ask 🙂

Originally published in Talk like a Spaniard.

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