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An informal survey on languages

I was having a conversation with a friend in the Northwest US
recently who made an interesting observation. (She is a fiber and
fabric artist) She commented that the majority of the people she
knows who speak more than one language, seem to be primarily artists.

As I reflect on my colleagues, friends, and acquaintances, it does
seem like the largest portion of the bilingual/multilingual people I
know are indeed artists (several of whom are also teachers). Even
though our Orchid forum is posted in English, as there is such a
world wide assortment of our members, I thought it might be
interesting to ask how many Orchidians speak more than one language,
and which languages are spoken.

Since I brought it up I’ll go first: 3, English, Spanish, and Thai
(albeit not entirely fluent nor eloquent in any or all of them :wink:
Anyone else willing to share?

Michael David Sturlin

Since I brought it up I’ll go first: 3, English, Spanish, and Thai
(albeit not entirely fluent nor eloquent in any or all of them :wink:
Anyone else willing to share? Michael, Fluent Spanish after 7 years
in Taxco, Mexico, and enough German & Portuguese to read a bit…

Hi Michael, I am bilingual French and can also speak Japanese. Does
chemistry count as a language? Great question. Eileen

Hi, English, Dutch, Afrikaans, German, and Setswana Bye, Hans Meevis

I have tried through the years to learn other languages, but remain
almost fluent–and nothing else in English–but perhaps it is
because I am a geologist/mineralogist and not an artist? Liz

Russian, Ukrainian, English - all fluent. Not because I am so
talented :slight_smile: but because I lived for long enough periods of time
surrounded by those languages. Also comprehend Polish, but not so
good. Couple of years ago tried to learn Spanish - did not go further
then memorizing couple of songs…


French, Spanish, German and of course English.

Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts

It is neat to see the diversity of languages on this list. For my
part, I am bilingual spanish/english.



My friends would tell you that I am fluent in English, Gibberish and
Rubbish but, for the most part, I get by with Yorkshire!! I have
enought French, Spanish and Italian to find my way around on holiday
but German and some American are pretty much a mystery to me ;o)

Best wishes,
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK

English, used to be fluent in classroom Parisian French (only useful
in Montreal), and a smattering of Spanish.

David L. Huffman

Russian was the first language, learned English in school and
because of TV! No accent at all . … you’d never guess. . .

foreign language! I suppose a few words in Russian do not count!
Unfortunately for me, my grandparents only spoke the language when
they wanted to keep the subject of their conversation a secret.

Christina Sizemore–artist
Greenlaughter’s Simple Charms
webstore coming soon!
“It’s art for your glass”

Suawadee Khup Michael I love languages and dabble in many all of
them I would say I am pretty good with 10 of them

I am a Sikh of Punjab Origin, born in Pakistan, schooled in Burma
(Myanmar), college in Bombay & Graduate school in the US.

However I speak English, Burmese, Spanish, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujrati,
Marathi fluently & due to my travels I can conduct business Arabic &

Yet if I am some sort of an artist I have to discover what I am good

Kenneth Singh

Hi all, I speak Italian, having lived there on and off while growing
up, and some French and German. I started college not in art, but
headed in the direction of foreign languages, linguistics and speech
pathology- thought I would end up doing some kind of very
fascinating thing combining all those…and in a way, I think I
have- a couple of years ago I was asked to give a lecture about my
work, and after a lot of head-scratching finally came up with
"Jewelry as a Second Language" as a working title. The way we work
is so similar to learning and speaking a language it’s uncanny-
working within a kind of visual grammar, slaves to syntax, tone,
agreement, considering how context can affect meaning…I could go
on and on…right down to the wonderful little shock when one
discovers there is an expression in another language for which
English provides no equivalent! Maybe that’s why artists are prone
to sampling other spoken languages, or why people who grew up
speaking more than one language find the creative process
welcoming…someday I’d like to take this idea much further,
possibly in collaboration with one of my colleagues in the
Linguistics department. For now, it’s been fun to hear all your
stories! And speaking of working…

Best wishes from San Francisco,

Many thanks to all who responded to the informal survey on
languages. It is very interesting to see what a linguistically
diverse and cross cultural group is represented on this forum.

I would like to add a few footnotes. The last statistical
I heard (from NPR) indicated that the majority of humans
are bilingual. I know it is much more common for Europeans to be
multilingual than it is here in North America. I realize that this
is probably more often a cultural and environmental influence, and
has less to do with one’s chosen vocation or occupation. A colleague
of mine in Vienna, for instance, speaks German, French, and English
fluently, has studied Turkish, and is currently learning Spanish. I
imagine she has an understanding of other languages as well but
perhaps doesn’t consider herself fluent. She is a metalsmith and
goldsmith, in addition to being a teacher and musician. Hanuman, our
benefactor and Orchid moderator, is also multilingual, I have
observed him speaking three languages fluently, and I suspect he
speaks a couple more than that.

Michael David Sturlin

Hi interesting questionI too speak a couple languages. English and
Portuguese fluently (I’m from Brazil), and some French, Italian and
Spanish.ohand I learned a couple words in Hebrew with my Israeli

Rio de Janeiro - Brasil

I speak a form of English, the trashed American version of English
that is. I know very few people who actually speak real English. I
guess the closest people I know who could be considered to speak
English would be my Mother in Law from Melbourne Australia. She has
this complex which have her thinking she is Royalty… A royal pain
in the *** is more like it! Ok, not all the time, but she sure
qualifies much of the time. The other person would be my wife’s
sister in law who is a Pom ( British) She is really very eloquent
with her speech, but the slang still slides in there and ruins any
quality English she has.

English is from England and then here is everything else. But we
seem to be able to communicate with little complication. Australian
, American, Canada ( except for that QuE9bec place) , Ireland ,
Scotland , New Zealand all speak a mutated form of English. And
lets not even get started on regional dialect. Like South Carolina,
or Minnesota and such. Its all different no matter where you go.
Maybe it would be best to ask , What form of English do you speak,
and what other languages?

Oh, to answer the question. I speak American and a little
Australian, oh, and dont forget Pig Latin. ( or would that be
classified as Latin, like American seems to be English?

Please dont think Im serious about this. Unless you agree with me.
Then I am totally for real dude!

Daniel Hamilton
St Louis Mo. Midwest dialect American form of English
P.S, I did actually flunk most of my HighSchool “English Classes”

Christina, I know ASL pretty well. I love languages, but my
pronunciation is always too American. I can communicate reasonably
well in French, and can understand enough Spanish and German to
figure out what I’m being told. I thought I could get away from the
accent problem by learning ASL, but my teacher and deaf friends say
I have an accent when I sign too. Oh well :slight_smile:

Karen Hemmerle
Boulder, Colorado

Hi all, one common joke - or is it a misunderstanding ? - about
Belgians is that they don’t speak any language. Being in the States
for quite a while, I begin to make sense of this typical European
prejudice. Try to explain someone over here the difference between
Belgian Dutch and Dutch Dutch. Belgian Dutch is also called Flemish,
but I wouldn’t use this word, as it has political connotations I
don’t like - try to explain that too … Belgian Dutch is my native
language, but originally being from somewhere South of Brussels,
where many people speak French- Belgian French of course - I got
fluent of both languages pretty early. I studied German at the
university because it was obligatory - German is our third official
language. I babble in American English too. In 1993, I bought myself
Gaelic for Beginners and Hebrew without Effort and I still can’t
sleep at night. Best, Will

I speak real English. I’m born, bred and resident in England, and
I’m told I speak BBC English. The occasional Geordie word or phrase
creeps in, but I don’t use slang and avoid abbreviations. It’s just
the way I am, but in a long career in IT where I needed (and still
need) to communicate ideas and concepts clearly to others, usually
with little or no technical vocabulary, it has been of great benefit
to speak the way I do. I have an e-pal in Ohio, and we have quite a
lot of fun translating our communications. There is a common
misconception that English and British are synonymous, which they are
not. All the English are British, but not vice versa. Incidentally,
Scotland, Ireland and Wales all have their own native languages too.

Pat Waddington