Any of you *not* know another language?

A. Vine avine at ENG.SUN.COM
Fri Jun 30 17:44:06 UTC 2000

Lynne Murphy wrote:
> > To the esteemed linguists and language experts on this list:
> >
> > Are there any of you who do *not* know a language other than English?
> >
> > Yet another snooty "my world is the only world" posting on another list, in case
> > you were wondering.  But I'm also curious.
> That depends on what you mean by 'knowing another language'.  I can say 'hello,
> how are you? fine, thanks.  and you?' in a number of languages.  I don't think
> this counts as knowing languages.  I can read French with a dictionary.  But
> although I've taken courses in something like a dozen languages, I cannot hold a
> conversation in anything but English.  (I want to try to regain the French,
> however.)
> I always tell people that asking a linguist how many languages she speaks is kind
> of like asking a doctor how many diseases he has.

What a great statement!  Can I use that?

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