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It's been a while! :) 

This month we'd like to get to know our community better, and we thought it'd be great if we could learn more about the languages that you all speak and language pairs that you translate in. Please feel free to share the reasons that inspired you to learn certain languages, your experiences, anecdotes, and any language learning fun facts! 

In addition, if you were to start learning another language now - what would it be and why?

30 comments

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    Iryna

    I speak English, Ukrainian, Russian and translate any combination of these three languages. I know them just because I raised in a multilingual environment.

    I do not translate but can understand Belarusian, Polish, Bulgarian and some other Eastern European languages.

    Would like to learn Chinese because it's very popular in our time.

    Edited by Iryna
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    antporro

    I am Italian, I can speak English, Japanese and Korean.
    I recently began to study French and Spanish.
    I translate from English to Italian for Gengo, but I also translate from Japanese to Italian and Korean to Italian.

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    dberackova.translations

    My native language is Slovak. I started with German very early at school and later graduated in German and Slovak Philology. English, of course, was a must. German and English are my working source languages. Beside this, I speak Czech quite well as I lived in the beautiful city of Prague for a long time. I could also survive with intermediate Polish and I have a rather passive knowledge of Brazilian Portuguese – but in contact with my husband’s family in Brazil I still prefer English.

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    colthies

    My native languages are German and English, and living in France I speak it fluently as well. I normally translate between those three languages. I studied Spanish and Russian in a French university, then studied historical linguistics, Germanic philology and Turkish in Berlin. I learned Italian, Portuguese, Catalan and Dutch on my own, and I study Norwegian, Arabic and Persian now. Sometimes I dabble in other languages like Indonesian, Greek, Malgache, Gaelic but I try to stay focussed on the languages I already know fairly well. My dream is to speak all of the Romance and Germanic languages - so I still have to learn Romanian, Norwegian/Swedish/Danish and Icelandic.

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    tom-max-pom

    My native language is English

    I also speak: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Catalan fluently 

    I am a beginner and currently taking lessons in: Arabic 

    I am a beginner but not currently taking lessons in: German and Korean 

    I translate: Spanish and Portuguese into English (UK) 

     

    I would like to become fluent in Arabic and Korean, and eventually German. I would also love to learn Thai, Icelandic, Russian and Swedish!

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    David R.

    I'm from California and I translate from Japanese to English, my native language. I learned Japanese after I met my future wife while both of us were visiting New York. After returning to Japan, she sent me letters in very elegantly written Japanese. I asked my Japanese friend to translate them for me, but since they weren't the kind of letters you want another person to read, I determined to learn to read Japanese myself. 

    It took me years before I became skilled enough to read hand-written Japanese. By that time we were married and had moved to Japan where I taught English. I continued to perfect my Japanese reading skills by reading manga (Japaneses comic books), novels, then more serious stuff like newspapers and user manuals. 

    My first translation job was a user manual for a semiconductor test equipment company where I was teaching English classes. I did most of it on a laptop on the train and bus between my home and various English teaching jobs. They liked it, and so I began to look for other jobs on a Japanese/English translation mailing list.

    My second job was a big one for a much larger semiconductor equipment making company, and the one after that was for Yamaha music software.That job was huge, and had a tight deadline, so I moved temporarily into my wife's parents house, where I would wake up, translate until lunch, have lunch and chat over tea with my mother-in-law in Japanese for an hour, then go back to translation until late at night. I made the deadline and they liked the work so much that they gave me a $2000 bonus. 

    I realized I was good at translation, so I moved back to the US and got a job as an in-house translator at Nikon Precision, the American subsidiary that handled Nikon's line of semiconductor manufacturing equipment. I worked there for four years. I ended up as a technical instructor, because as a translator, I had completely read and understood all the manuals! I loved teaching, but I went back to freelance work in order to have more freedom for my family and volunteer work. 

    I recently worked for about five years for a computer hardware startup in the Seattle area as a product manager and programmer, but my Japanese skill was a major reason I got the job, because they wanted me to open up sales on Amazon Japan. I recently left there and have gone back to translation as I transition towards retirement. 

    One last story: When my wife and I were engaged, her father disapproved our marriage because his sister had married an American serviceman who later divorced her. I was determined to change his mind, so I studied how to write the Chinese characters used in Japanese, and wrote him a letter telling him I would always love and take care of his daughter. The writing and grammar probably looked like it was by a six-year-old, but my efforts moved his heart, and he completely changed his mind. I'm still married to his daughter 36 years later. 

  • 3
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    KevanSF

    I'm reading prior comments and thinking: Wow, what a great talent pool Gengo has assembled!

     

    I'm an American and a fluent (but non-native) speaker of Italian, and the only paid translation I currently do is Italian to US or UK English.

    I can also read Spanish and French quite well, and once considered taking the Gengo test for Spanish to English, but realistically, I already have more work than I can handle just from Italian. (Plus, the Sp => Eng pair is rarely open for testing, and I'm sure there is a great deal of competition in that language pair since so many people speak those two languages.)

    Other than that, I've completed basic courses (equivalent to a year at university) in Portuguese, Danish, Romanian, and Russian, and more than two years' worth of college German. I alternately review those languages from time to time and continue improving my Spanish, French, and German. I've also dabbled in various other languages, just for fun and out of curiosity. 

    My current language project is Turkish. I find it fascinating, with its non-Indo-European roots and elegant, logical grammar so entirely different from the languages I know. Also, the fact that so comparatively few Americans have ever studied Turkish is a plus (but it makes it harder to find quality materials.)

    I think once I become relatively proficient in it (probably around 2030, the rate I'm going!), I would like to do some Turkish to English translation. I imagine it would be a totally different ballgame working in a comparatively uncommon language pair. Despite Turkey being a big (populous) country, I imagine there would be very little commercial work (I don't think Gengo even offers it, right?), but on the plus side, there would be very few American translators of Turkish to compete against.

    I would likely follow the path I've found in Italian: translating literature. There's undoubtedly a lot of Turkish literature that has never been translated into English, and I could find my own work that way while introducing Americans to some new (to them) literature.

    Anyway, good luck to all of you in your translation adventures, and I look forward to reading more comments here!

     

     

     

     

     

    Edited by KevanSF
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    Manjeet Singh

    I am Punjabi, I can speak Punjabi and English.
    I translate from English to Punjabi for Gengo.

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    Silvia Merconchini

    I am Italian, but my father is from Cuba, so I speak both italian and spanish fluently!

    I'm so glad to have had this chance.

    My father does translations and language courses for a living so, growing up in the environment, I learned English pretty fast.

    I'd love to learn japanese one day, it fascinates me!

    For gengo I'm currently translating from italian to english!

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    Esraa

    I am Egyptian, hence I speak Arabic. I am also fluent in English. I translate Arabic into English at Gengo. I would like to also translate English into Arabic, I am waiting for my test result at Gengo for that pair right now. I have been waiting for almost a month now. I am actually a veterinarian, but I am passionate about linguistics and translation more. I am currently learning German as well. I would love to also learn Chinese and Korean.

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    jvigsopedersen

    I’m Danish, so I speak fluent Danish as my native tongue :D Besides from that, I can speak English, French and some Chinese (Mandarin). Because of my international lifestyle, I can also understand Swedish, Norwegian, some German, some Spanish, some Italian, some Arabic, and some Korean. I translate within two categories: Danish to English (UK) and English (UK) to Danish.
    I learned English and French all throughout school (plus I have French family, so I kinda had to learn how to speak the language :p), and I started learning Mandarin Chinese during my first year of my Bachelor’s degree of university. By the time I graduated (when I was 22), I knew Chinese well enough to pass the HSK 3 exam with good grades (for those who are not familiar with it, the HSK exam is one of the only [if not *the* only] internationally acknowledged Chinese proficiency tests). I am currently in my first year of my Masters degree at the university of Copenhagen (so now I’m 23), but I still try to study and learn more Chinese as often as I can, though unfortunately it’s a little difficult to find time for it nowadays. I decided to start learning Chinese because I have always been so incredibly fascinated by languages - I guess you could call me a language nerd - and my university was offering free courses; so I simply couldn’t say no to that. At first I thought it was going to be extremely difficult to learn Chinese, but to my surprise, it’s not! The most challenging part is remembering the new grammar and the stroke order of characters :p But the grammar rules of the language are very logical and the use of different measure words depending on the meaning of a character makes perfect sense to me, so Chinese has actually been one of the easier languages for me to learn! As such, my suggestion to anyone reading this is to not be scared away from Chinese just because they write with characters, rather than with an alphabet - like most Western languages. The same goes for Japanese.
    Lastly, if I were to learn a new language, it would either be Arabic or Korean - simply because I think they’re both such beautiful languages. However, if I absolutely had to choose just one language, it would have to be Korean, simply because I can already read, write and understand some of the language, and thus I think it would be easier for me to learn that as opposed to Arabic (though I would still like to learn that one day).

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    kiplangatbernard2

    I speak English fluently. My native language is Kalenjin . I have translated here on gengo from English to Kalenjin but also would love to translate from Kalenjin to English. In the near future, I would love to study Japanese and Italian languages.

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    Antonella Z

    I am Italian so Italian is my native language, however, when I first started to speak, it was not Italian but Piedmontese, a dialect spoken in one of the north western regions in Italy. I have been interested in languages since I was a child as I was mesmerized listening to foreign tourists at the seaside during my summer vacations with my family; unfortunately, I had to wait until I was eleven to start learning one at school. It was French and I immediately fell in love with it. When I had to choose what type of high school to attend, I choose one specializing in foreign languages where I added English and German as well. English ended up becoming the language I am mostly fluent in because I went on be an exchange student to the US at 17 and then, after graduating from high school, I attended university earning a degree in foreign languages and literatures, with a major in English. Becoming a professional translator was my dream job, but after working for some companies and doing technical translations for them, with excellent results, I switched to teaching English at Italian state school. I have been working as a teacher for 18 years now and I love it, but my I still longed for the opportunity to work in the translation field. That came with Gengo. One day I decided to look for online translation companies, found Gengo, took their test, and that’s when I started to translate from English to Italian for them. I would also like to translate from French to Italian, but I have not found an opportunity yet. I am also fluent in that language since I have studied it for many years and lived and worked in France. I would love to learn another language, but I do not have much time for it. I am fascinated by oriental languages and cultures and last summer I started to teach myself some Japanese, using free lessons I found online. Needless to say, I was hooked from the moment I started my first lesson with NHK Easy Japanese. Now I am also having fun learning kanji thanks to the WaniKani lessons but at the pace I am going, it will take me 20 years in order to be able to claim that I can speak Japanese.

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    Enric

     

    I speak Catalan (my tongue), Spanish, Portuguese and English. English and Spanish were not my choices, they were compulsory in my school and I began to speak them (badly) when I was six, I improved over time obviously. I started to study Portuguese when I was 19 because I felt it would be both easy and useful (most Portuguese grammar and vocabulary are almost identical with Spanish), but its phonology is truly challenging. I have also studied several other languages which I can't speak them properly. Among these languages the last one was German, I studied it in an academy and living in Germany probably also helped. I don't really want to learn any new language, I'd rather study again German as I'm already forgetting the little I have learnt.

    I became a translator over a year ago, when my youth organization asked me to translate their website. In Gengo I only translate English to Catalan, Sadly it's among the worst paid languages and there are very few available jobs. I have not seen open positions for other languages pairs so far. Nevertheless, I'd like to find something else related to increase my earnings.

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    JohnMichael

    My native language is Kalenjin, a Kenyan dialect popularly known world over because of the world beating athletes from my community. Swahili is our national language but people from my side of the country hardly manage to speak it fluently. I started developing my fluency in Swahili by listening to news on BBC radio Swahili service from my young age. I would switch on my dad's precious old time radio when he was not around and savored the newsmen's musical voices. African dads are tough. If I was caught, I would be severely spanked. But I think my dad somehow began to notice my developing Swahili and turned a blind eye to my stealing his radio. On the other hand, English is our national school instruction language. I had to learn it the formal way up the academic ladder.

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    krisfletcher174

    I translate from Japanese to English.

    I moved to Tokyo five years ago, but before that I studied Japanese for about a year. After moving here and essentially being thrown in at the deep end, I devoted pretty much every spare minute I had to studying. I was working full time so it took me about two more years before I could have a decent conversation that didn't involve me embarrassing myself. 

    From then, I self studied and occasionally attended evening classes or JLPT course for three month stints. (When I had the extra money. Japanese classes are not cheap in Tokyo, let me tell you.) For the last two years, I have been taking translation courses, specifically in the science and technology field and also working toward a medical translation certificate. 

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    Ingunn W.

    I speak Norwegian and English fluently, and translate these. English is part of the basic studies in Norwegian elementary school, and the language that taught me I am good at languages. I also understand Swedish pretty well, along with written Danish because they're so similar to Norwegian. I'm currently learning Romanian because me and my mom have a few friends in Moldova, where they speak Romanian and Russian, and wish to translate from that into Norwegian later. For now, I'm good enough to translate in private, and also Romanian to Norwegian is not an option in Gengo at the moment, so it would have to be in form of book translations or something like that. I studied German earlier, in school, and can still understand and speak certain sentences.

    In the future, I would like to keep learning German, because I feel it's such a waste to have so much of that language still, but not be able to speak it. I also have a teach yourself-course on Japanese which I would like to use, much because I've heard that many Japanese are terrible English speakers, so I figured it would be a useful language if I ever visit the country, which I'd love to do. I'd also like to learn Hindi, French, Russian, Spanish, and basically any language I can use when travelling. I love learning languages because I love to travel, and I love to connect with people without the need for an interpreter. Also I'm hoping for part-time jobs within the travel business, like hotels and stuff, and languages are key to getting those jobs when I have no experience whatsoever.

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    manab

    I am from India and I speak 3 languages including English, Assamese and Hindi. I can translate any pair from these three languages. 

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    hlprins

    I am from the Netherlands and I speak English and Dutch, I translate from English to Dutch.

    I can also understand and speak a little: German, Swedish and Norwegian, though far from fluent.

    I started learning English at a quite early age, I must've been 7, I think. I was always watching MTV and fell in love with the language, I really really really wanted to be able to understand it. So I kept watching MTV, but also started watching English movies and tv-shows with Dutch subtitles, that helped me learn it quite fast.

    Only a few years later we finally started getting English classes at school, where I learned the better details of grammar and spelling, etc.

    I would really love to learn more languages, specifically Norwegian, if I had to choose. I love the sound of that language, it's just beautiful. So is the country itself, by the way. Spanish and Japanese would be interesting as well.

     

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    Kashif

    I am from India. I can fluently talk, write and translate in four languages which are: Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and Kashmiri. Also I am learning Arabic and Persian nowadays.

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    Samuel

    I am from Cameroon. I speak and translate into and from English, French and Ntumu (my mother tongue). Here at Gengo, I translate from French into English.

    I speak basic Korean and German, and I am learning other languages like Portuguese, Spanish and Chinese.

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    Leon Liang

    I am from China. I translate from Chinese and English. I speak basic Polish and Portuguese 'cause I was working in Poland and Mozambique for several years. 

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    Francis Rodriguez

    I am from Venezuela.I speak Spanish (my mother tongue), English and German. I translate from English and German into Spanish.

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    squirrelli613

    I'm a British Londoner born and bred, and I speak French fluently because when I was in uni some of my French friends would take advantage of the language barrier to jabber about me when I was there! It was extremely annoying, and I vowed to them I would learn French so they wouldn't be able to do it any longer. Unsurprisingly, none of them believed me. But two years later, I am fluent enough in reading, writing, and speaking both slang and formally, that I am able to use it as a side income!

    Despite the fact that so many believe language-learning extremely difficult, it is possible, with a lot of determination, and a driving curiousity of what others are saying about you before your face!

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    khamik.wongthiang

    Dear Lara Fernandez,

     

    As I am so interested in learning new languages, especially Asian languages, I started enrolling two courses for BasicJapanese for about one year and also one course for Basic Korean for half a year.

    For Japanses, the writing system of this character-based language seems a little complicated because they use four different types of charactes: Hiragana (for simple Japanese words), Katakana (for foreign transliteration and Onomatopoeia sounds), Kanji (for complex Japanese characters in the ancient Chinese character forms) and also Romanji (for Japanese words written by the latin script for foreigners' learning). If you can read and write some characters in the first three types of Japanese characters, you are now good because its grammar and structure are much harder and more complicated. Trust me!

    For Korean, there is only one type of characters in this language with the influence from ancient Chinese characters, making its learners remember its writing system more easily if compared to Japanese. However, the grammar and structure of Korean is as hard as that of Japanese in my personal opion. 

    Although I did not make a good progress with these two languages, I feel good to once have a chane to try learning new languages, apart from English and Thai-- my mother tongue..

    If I have got some more time, I might consider learning these two languages again, but I would need to start from zero knowledge because I now forgot most of what I learned in the past.

    I hope that my inputs are somewhat helpful or interesting to you,

    Have a great weekend!

     

    Best regards,

    Khamik WONGTHIANG

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    gianlucapsouza

    I'm a little late here, but I'd like to share my story.

     

    I started translating for Gengo one month ago. I'm Brazilian and my native language is Portuguese. I learned English when I was little and I've always loved this language. I learned Spanish in High School and also by talking to some Hispanic migrants in Brazil (it was not hard since Spanish grammar and vocabulary are quite similar to Portuguese). After that, I decided to learn French and now I am fluent.

     

    I can translate from French, Spanish, and Portuguese to English and also from English, Spanish and English to Portuguese. Ps: Looking forward to French/English tests haha.

     

    Best regards!

    Gianluca Souza

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    Katrina Paterson

    Hello @gianlucapsouza and welcome to the discussion and to Gengo! Thanks to you and to everyone else for your amazing stories about language-learning. What a talented community - and what an interesting range of life experiences!

    @gianlucapsouza -  as the only native (as far as I understand) Portuguese speaker on this discussion thread, how do you find the differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese? I see that a few of us here have learned Portuguese as a foreign language and I wondered how the different variants sound to you as a native?

    I'm really enjoying reading everybody's comments!

     

     

     

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    gianlucapsouza

    Hey Katrina Peterson,

     

    My great grandmother was Portuguese. Brazilian Portuguese speakers can understand European Portuguese very well and vice versa. The main difference is about pronunciation and grammar. They have a much bigger difference than En(UK)/En(US) and Sp(Spain)/Sp(Latin America), for instance.

     

    Foreigners say it is easier to understand Brazilian Portuguese since we pronounce all the syllables of a word, whereas European Portuguese speakers usually don't speak some vowels and consonants.

     

    I guess it is easier for Portugueses to understand Brazilians because a lot of Brazilian TV shows are broadcast in Portugal, Brazilian songs are popular there and soap operas are on their TV all the time, whereas the opposite rarely happens.

     

    About grammar, there some major differences:

    - PT(EU) say "TU" as "you", whereas PT(BR) say "você" (in some regions of Brazil, they use "TU" as well)

    - PT(EU) doesn't use the accent ^; among other differences.

     

    It is important to highlight that there many accents in Brazil too hahaha (I'm from Minas Gerais), but it is easy to understand all of them.

     

    Best regards!

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    Katrina Paterson

    Hey @gianlucapsouza,

    Thanks for your lovely and very informative description of Brazilian versus European Portuguese. I was going to ask you if there's one type of Portuguese that's more prevalent and widely known throughout the world (for example, although I am British, I think it's fair to say that most people in the world are more familiar with American English because of TV and other factors). But I see that you've talked a little bit about this too when you say that Brazilian shows are broadcast in Portugal, but rarely vice versa.

    Do you think there's a following for Brazilian TV shows outside of the Portuguese-speaking world? I know that some popular Netflix series, such as Onisciente, are written about in the English-language media and even dubbed into English as well as subtitled. Do you think this is a general trend, and do you think this will inspire a greater interest in Portuguese as a language and Brazil as a country?

    Best regards to you too!

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    gianlucapsouza

    Hey Katrina Paterson,

    Brazilian Portuguese is the most prevalent type because Brazil has over 70 % of the total number of speakers. Most people who learn it as a second language try to get the Brazilian version, since it is easier to pronounce and understand others.

    Brazil has the potential to attract many students of the language, for it is expected to have the 4th GDP in the world by 2050. However, there are many other languages that may seem more attractive (like Chinese Mandarim, Spanish, French and Arabic). I don't think Portuguese will become one of the major languages of the future, even though it has so many speakers. However, some people who are passionate about learning languages - like all of the people in Gengo hahhaha - will continue to study it.

    Best regards!

    PS: I speak American English, but lately I've been trying to speak British English too hahaha

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