New Language suggestions

One of my life goals is to learn a new language (the actual goal is to learn 7 - one for each day of the week). I speak a little German now, but I was thinking a Latin/Romance language might open other doors (spanish could lead to potugese could lead to Italian etc.) Can anyone suggest a good language to start with? Are there other language families that I might want to consider (Germanic, Slavic)?

PS: In finnish a real language or just a huge inside joke to see how vowels and umlots they can you in a word and get away with it. I saw a finnish newspaper once and JEESH!!!

I was always partial to sanscrit. The only problem is it’s hard to find places to practice it.

Well, what’s your goal? If you want an easy language, and your native language is English, pick something Germanic or Romance. English is a Germanic language that has borrowed a substantial amount of vocabulary from Romance languages, so these will seem relatively familiar. If you want a language that is spoken by large numbers of people, you might consider Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, or Spanish. French, Russian and Swahili don’t have the same numbers, but are, you’ll pardon the bilingual pun, lingua francas for some areas. If you want to seem a bit bohemian, consider Esperanto; a pointy-headed intellectual type would speak German, I should think. French or Italian would be good choices if you want people to think you’re artistic. Or maybe you want to learn the language of your ancestors.

If you want to pick up chicks, find out which language classes in your local adult education program have the highest percentage of female students…

The only language that allows you to communicate from the cone os silence: sign language. If you’re a right-brainer, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can retain the vocabulary.

I’m partial to the Romance languages myself, but if you already know a little German, Dutch might be a good one to follow up with.

If you do decide start with a Romance language, there’s two ways to go about it, IMO: easiest to hardest, or hardest to easiest. If you want E to H, I would start with Spanish, because it will then make Italian and French much easier, and once you have the French and Spanish, Portuguese will be easier still.

Or, you can go H to E, in which case I would go with either French (easier grammar) or Italian (easier pronounciation and spelling) first, which will make Spanish a snap. I’d still do Portuguese last because you could build it on the French and Spanish you would have already learned.

Then it’s on to Romanian.

As a practical consideration, I’d say study something that people speak where you live, because this will give you a chance to practice. I live in California where there’s a large Spanish speaking population, but I studied German in high school and college. I rarely encounter German people, so I never get to use it, and without repetition it disappears really fast. At this point all I can remember are children’s poems and Christmas carols.

Der Esel, sagt man, ist sehr faul,
hat lange Ohren, grosses Maul.


People say donkeys are very lazy.
They have long ears and a big mouth.

Well, speakin’ as one whose hobby is collecting languages, there’s a whole wide world of opportunity out there waitin’ for you. If you’re going for 7, I heartily suggest trying out languages from different families. Since you’re here on the East Coast, not so far from two major mid-Atlantic metropoli, I think Latin-American Spanish would be the best bet. A series of books I swear by, in most cases, is “Teach Yourself”, which does have a title for LatAmSpan. That and a decent dictionary (Random House has one, IIRC) should set you well on the way towards trilingualism.

Further on, these might be good choices:


A smattering of the more commonly spoken languages, any combination of which would certainly impress anyone.

Gotta go with flodnak and urge a study of Esperanto; very simple construction, easy to learn - and contact with the Esperanto League of North America will get you a catalog chock-full of reading material to practice with. Plus, since it does use the same grammatical concepts as the European and Slavic languages, it’ll facilitate study of the other languages suggested above.

Sorry this went on so long; I have a very soft spot in my heart for people who make a conscious effort to be multilingual. :slight_smile:

I’d like to third the Esperanto motion - I learned the grammar in less than a month, and was speaking fluently in less than a year. YMMV - Leo Tolstoi reported he could read a letter in Esperanto after two hours of study.

I’d also advocate Spanish, which is the easiest language other than Esperanto I’ve learned so far. My next act will be ASL.

I wouldn’t recommend Dutch as a follow up to German:

  1. It is much more difficult, mainly because German has many rules and few exceptions (in terms of grammar) whereas Dutch has few rules and many exceptions. It is much more a language that one “feels” rather than learns.
  2. Dutch is a dead-end. There’s no step up from there, unless you want to learn the marinally applicable Afrikaans.
  3. All Dutch people speak English anyway :wink:

I’d start with Spanish. After that, Portueguese should be relatively easy. Italian is beautiful, but less widespread than Spanish. Hell, I’m thinking of learning Spanish myself!

How about Yiddish? My father would love to have somebody to chat with.

Esperanto was so easy for me that after being trained in French, Latin, English, and smatterings of German, Korean and . . . crap, a lot more languages . . . anyway, Esperanto was no problem for me. I can’t write anything in it, but the vocab is really . . . well, we had a debate where the affirmative was arguing that esperanto should be the official lang of the world and this guy was writing stuff in Esperanto. I had no problem with it.

Anyway, Esperanto is way cool, but it’s also a bastardization of a lot of other langs. I’d think, personally, that you’d want to stick to the same family of languages to make things more easy. Of course, this may not be what you’re going for, in which case go Russian, Mandarin, Spanish and, oh, I dunno, French.

Keep in mind there are lots of dialects of all of these languages, so just b/c you learn the book version doesn’t mean you’ll understand a lick of what a person on the street says.