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OT: American wants to learn another language!
#1830231 01/23/12 01:59 PM
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I want to learn another language! Which do you think would be the most reasonable for me, and why? Especially since I am someone who wants to be a choral conductor, probably study abroad for a while, and also keep up my piano playing, it would probably behoove me very much do do so.

I have four possible ideas, and some justification for them:

-German: Such a beautiful language, and lots of amazing choral repertoire is in German, from Bach to Per Norgard. This seems very reasonable for someone who wants to be a choral conductor
-Spanish: I already learned a bit of Spanish in high school, so I'd already have somewhere to go from
-Mandarin Chinese: Challenge myself a bit more
-Korean: Challenge myself a bit more, minus having to deal with multiple tones :p

So, to the Americans on this board, do you know other languages? And to non-Americans, I'm sure you know other languages, so what would be in your opinion useful for me and why?

I'm just hoping for some neat discussion on this topic. I really wish they mandated American children learning another language starting at a young age...

Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830247 01/23/12 02:31 PM
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Hmm, I'd go with German in order to understand fully what Beethoven means in his scores. :P

And Mandarin, but I'm biased: I already speak it. Soon enough, the entire world's going to need to know it anyway. You might as well get a head start!


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Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830256 01/23/12 02:39 PM
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With both English and German under your belt, you'd be covering a lot in the way of being able to fully understand much of the choral repertoire, but I think it would take you a long time to get to the point where you would fully appreciate the fine distinctions that may be important between the original language and a good translation.

Similarly with Italian if you ever tended in the direction of opera; many good translations of texts exist and, of course, you've already been schooled in the Italian terminology that is almost universally used as the lingua franca of music study and performance. Still, you'd need considerable time to get to the point where your knowledge of the language surpasses what may already exist in translation.

I'm not so sure how much a "working knowledge" of a foreign language is going to help in your hoped-for career in choral conducting; I think you'd have to develop well beyond that stage for it to have great practical value.

It might be interesting to do some research on good or great contemporary choral conductors to find out how many foreign languages some of them may have mastered, and how that mastery may have helped in their careers.

All this said, of course, there is no denying the mentally and culturally broadening aspects of learning a foreign language in which case the study of almost any foreign language will provide.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
BruceD #1830280 01/23/12 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
With both English and German under your belt, you'd be covering a lot in the way of being able to fully understand much of the choral repertoire, but I think it would take you a long time to get to the point where you would fully appreciate the fine distinctions that may be important between the original language and a good translation....

Still, you'd need considerable time to get to the point where your knowledge of the language surpasses what may already exist in translation....

I'm not so sure how much a "working knowledge" of a foreign language is going to help in your hoped-for career in choral conducting; I think you'd have to develop well beyond that stage for it to have great practical value....


You've made a similar point 3 times in your post! IMO, it's not really an argument for or against anything - merely a statement of fact that it takes a considerable effort and time to be proficient in a foreign language. I would say that even though it will take time, the sooner you get started on it, the sooner it may benefit you. I didn't start learning a foreign language until I was 25 (German), by the time I was 28 I had a scholarship to study music in Austria - and that included a language test to ensure i was capable of writing a thesis and understanding my classes. It's certainly quite an attainable task as long as you have the right motivation. Having a good working knowledge of spoken German is certainly a lot better than having nothing if you are a choir director. If for nothing else, you really need authentic pronunciation to sing in a language - even if you aren't totally on top of the meaning of all words that you are singing.

What's more, once you learn one language it is successively easier to pick up the next one. I say, get started!

Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830285 01/23/12 03:05 PM
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German is an incredibly useful language... German music and if you want to go and study in Germany

I know English, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830287 01/23/12 03:06 PM
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Not Greek! I mean not only it's damn difficult, but it's useless... plus it will be lost in oblivion in a little while along with the country itself! ;P

Greman, Italian or French is one of the obvious choices...

Then for me I'd say Japanesse, not only because I'm fascinated by their culture, but also because they are champions of the world: Coping with everything, dealing with amazing problems and getting back on their feet in no time! They really are a stunning bunch of 'little people' (<- joke...).

Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830305 01/23/12 03:20 PM
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German is good to know. If you love chorale music now, you will only love it more if you understand what they are singing! Someone played me Mahler's "Um Mitternacht" yesterday, with Kathleen Ferrier, as I read the libretto from the CD cover, and, gosh, it was almost overwhelming. Sort of embarrassing too because I had to reach for a tissue. First time I heard that song. I didn't get an early start on languages either, but it has given me enormous pleasure to have raspy-voice sing-alongs with Bach's Magnificat, and oratorios, and Schubert's German Mass, and Handel's Messiah (oh wait, that's English already), and "Eugene Onegin"... So I think you could identify with the love-to-sing part. You don't have to be completely fluent, but if you know what is going on when they are singing, it helps. Even to understand something 20% seems to open a door of appreciation, that you don't get at all with 0%. Good for you to want to learn, too. I also wish foreign language learning were a normal part of education and life for people in the U.S. I am thinking I would like to learn Italian so I can belt out "Che gelida manina" even though I am not really the right gender or vocal range to sing that, but who cares. wink

Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830316 01/23/12 03:29 PM
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Isn't Eugene Onegin in Russian?

Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830323 01/23/12 03:34 PM
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I vote for german too. Chinese is a good one too. Russian is also interesting.

Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830341 01/23/12 03:50 PM
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Orange Soda King, I can't advise you on which language you should learn. However, you also asked what other languages people speak; I can report that I speak French. I was fortunate enough to start studying it in 7th grade. I have smatterings of Latin, German, Spanish, and Koine Greek. I can read mathematics in Portuguese. The Latin was studied in school; the others I picked up after graduation.

I've been in a chorus for two years and so far we've sung in English, Latin, German, Old Church Slavonic, Taiwanese, and Japanese. And even Greek, Nikolas! (OK, pretty much only Christos Anesti, for visiting a Greek Orthodox church, but still, Greek smile .)


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Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830348 01/23/12 03:56 PM
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I am fluent in Greek and it has helped me tremendously during college and my career - and in speaking to my sister without anyone else knowing what we were saying.....

I vote for Spanish, purely for practical, obvious reasons (including you should be able to get sufficient practice in!)

**well, maybe not so obvious to non-Americans...

Last edited by piano joy; 01/23/12 04:17 PM.

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Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830357 01/23/12 04:05 PM
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Italian and German should be the most useful languages for choir work. I second French for beauty and cultural relevance, Japanese as the most interesting and Korean the easiest asian language (easy alphabet, no symbols for practical purposes)

One thing, beware: German is very hard and not very logical! laugh There are 3 articles to learn, one for every substantive (male,female,neutral) and for the conjugation, there are almost more exceptions than rules. Simple past and conjunctive forms are extremely difficult, although they aren't used very often (except in literature and music, haha). Also, most english native speakers don't seem to get the sentence structure.

Last edited by Sorcerer88; 01/23/12 04:07 PM.
Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Sorcerer88 #1830376 01/23/12 04:21 PM
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I need to learn Spanish because in Texas with our open border to the south we are being inundated by Spanish speaking people and many of them can't speak English.

I have a neighbor has to have his daughter translate when he wants to speak to me.


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Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830414 01/23/12 05:11 PM
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I'm in Australia which is closer to China than the USA or Europe, so I am learning Mandarin slowly (on and off for the last 4 years), more for the intellectual challenge than the goal of becoming fluent in it (which I realistically realize is unlikely to happen). The Chinese people that I have met in China are very intrigued by any Westerner who wants to learn their language. I posted here last year some observations on going to concerts in Beijing.

To answer your question directly, OSK, I'd suggest German because it will be more immediately useful to you with respect to your future musical career. If that's not enough, then add in Chinese, because there's a huge audience there!


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Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
piano joy #1830419 01/23/12 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by piano joy
I am fluent in Greek and it has helped me tremendously during college and my career - and in speaking to my sister without anyone else knowing what we were saying.....
REALLY?!?!?! That's impressive if you're not Greek. Πώς και έτσι; Εννοώ γιατί; Μου φαίνεται παράξενο...

sorry for the Greek everyone... It must seem all Greek to you! laugh

Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830450 01/23/12 05:51 PM
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One point that has only been hinted at. Pick a language that someone close to you is also interested in learning (or already knows). If you don't practice what you learn you won't retain it. Not very different from learning piano in that regard.

I took four years of high school German and a semester in college, at this point all I remember is "ein bischen."


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Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830469 01/23/12 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Orange Soda King

-German: Such a beautiful language, and lots of amazing choral repertoire is in German, from Bach to Per Norgard. This seems very reasonable for someone who wants to be a choral conductor

Just a little nitpicking: Per Norgard, or Per Nørgård as his name is spelled in his native language Danish, is not from Germany, but from Denmark. Although there has been a heavy German influence on the Danish language, you would not understand Danish, if you learn German.

OT: Since Denmark, is a very small country, foreign languages are obligatory in Danish schools. Everybody is exposed to Swedish, English and German, and if you go to high school, you have to get exposed to one extra language typically French, Spanish, or Russian. Many also have Latin.

Last edited by jens4711; 01/23/12 06:27 PM.
Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830470 01/23/12 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Chandler
I took four years of high school German and a semester in college, at this point all I remember is "ein bischen."

and then even with wrong spelling, that's sad laugh sorry, take it easy wink there's some truth in what you say, it's definitely easier to learn languages with interested friends, but you can always find language partners and succeed in learning a language alone.

Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
Orange Soda King #1830475 01/23/12 06:25 PM
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If you want to be a choral director, German is useful.
But if for traveling purpose, French is very useful. Because most of French do not want to communicate other than in French within France.

Re: OT: American wants to learn another language!
RonaldSteinway #1830499 01/23/12 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by RonaldSteinway
Because most of French do not want to communicate other than in French within France.


Faux !

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