En réponse à Philippe Caquant : >The idea is that, if I happen to travel through Russia >for instance, and want to buy a newspaper from a >native mastering only his native language, which is >Russian, I don't have to study Russian for 12 years, >which seems to me to be the minimum to master it more >or less. Please don't exaggerate! It doesn't take anyone 12 years to master the distinction between the two Russian l's! And I'm not talking about actually speaking like natives, only to try and make the effort! Success in it is not what I'm arguing against. I'm arguing against not even trying. *That* is a lack of respect. > This is even more true if after Russia, I go >over to Ukraine, and from Ukraine to Georgia and so >on. According to you, I should spend about 500 years >to spend all the languages a need for a single 3-weeks >trip, or just talk French all the time, be it in >Moscow, Kiev or Tbilissi, because it would be more >polite !? Please don't be ridiculous! Nowhere in what I said you can find such a ridiculous opinion, so don't try to argue against my statement by misinterpreting it! You've heard Russian speakers telling you that the distinction between the two l's is important, whether it has a strong distinguishing load or not. Still arguing that it's not worth trying to distinguish is indeed a lack of respect! >My wife is Ukrainian ans speaks a very poor and broken >French. I noticed that every time she tried to utter a >sentence in French somewhere: >1/ French people immediately understand that she is >not French >2/ They nearly always (90% of cases) feel very >grateful that she tries to say something in their own >language, and make all necessary efforts to understand >and correct her if necessary. But she tries! You're not even trying! >This was usually the same for me in every country I've >been travelling. Even saying "hello" and "thank you" >in the local language is perceived as very friendly >and brings usually a bright smile on the >interlocutor"s face, be it in Helsinki or in Ankara. >Everybody understands that very few people really can >master more 1 or 2 foreign languages. I'm not talking about actually mastering languages, I'm talking about trying to pronounce them correctly. If you're not even trying, there's no point in even learning the language nor go there at all! >I would be very curious to know how you pronounce >English, for instance, and what the English think of >your pronunciation. I nearly never met a French that >can pronounce English "correctly", it this concept >exists. If I myself immediately recognize that >somebody talking english is French (or German), >imagine what the natives think. Of course my pronunciation is not native, but I make the effort of putting the stress on the correct syllable, pronouncing my r's as alveolar approximants rather than uvular fricatives ([R] isn't used for /r/ in *any* English dialect, so it's normal to make the effort), actually pronounce my h's, try to pronounce lax vowels correctly (i.e. make the distinction between "it" and "eat", although it took me years to even learn to hear it) and try to aspirate my initial voiceless stops (not something that I always manage, but at least I try), all things that according to your opinions are unnecessary, because most English speakers would still understand me. In my experience, English-speaking people are glad of my efforts, and that makes contact easier (they don't think automatically: "here's another froggie", but "here's a froggie that actually tries to speak English". The distinction is important). Same with Dutch. Although I've known Dutch for only 2 years, I make a point in making my pronunciation as Dutch-like as possible (i.e. I pronounce my g's as velar fricatives, my r's as alveolar flaps, and try to make the correct vowel distinctions). This is also very much appreciated from Dutch speakers. My point is: don't abandon without even trying. In my experience, people hear the difference between someone who tries to speak correctly and fails and someone who doesn't even try. Christophe Grandsire. http://rainbow.conlang.free.fr You need a straight mind to invent a twisted conlang.