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I minored in Yiddish in college, and also studied Hebrew when I did a semester in Jerusalem.  When I got back, there would be funny moments when my grandmother asked me a question in Yiddish.  I understood the question, then answered in Hebrew without thinking about it.  It's been hard to keep up with my skill when I'm not immersed in it (and in the case of Yiddish, when the native speakers keep dying off.)  Now my minor is actually a marketable skill as more people are interested in learning it and synagogues want to offer classes.

My two biggest triumphs of speaking Hebrew when I was in Israel:

To a bus driver on a long-distance trip:  "My stomach is not feeling well.  I need to use the bathroom." (We were coming back from Egypt and I felt a case of "Pharaoh's revenge" coming on.  We were approaching Masada and I knew there were bathrooms near the bus stop.  The driver laughed and replied in English, "Ok, we'll stop for you.")

To a soldier on a bus:  "Please move your gun.  My father needs to sit."

My mom took German because it was similar to Yiddish.  She studied all through high school and half of college.  She got to the point where she could understand it without translating in her head.  Unfortunately, she felt she had to give it up because she was entering a rigorous physical therapy degree program and she felt she would not have time for it.  She still regrets giving it up.

My dad took French.  At one point, his teacher told him, "You are speaking French with a German accent.  You sound like you are barking orders."

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@VelociRapture I took Arabic for two weeks before dropping out. Our teacher was Jordanian and she said the first couple months would be learning syllables and full words. It was so hard! 

She gave us a whole slideshow of parts of the mouth, tongue and throat to use for certain pronunciations. Had a sore throat by the end of the week. 

But damn, I really want to learn Arabic. 

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I took Irish Gaelic for two semesters, never really had much grasp of it. The difference between the sound of the word and the spelling blew my mind. I remember approximately two phrases, the most important being "Pog mo hoin" which means kiss my arse. :P 

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15 hours ago, HarryPotterFan said:

My dad took French in high school, but when we went to Costa Rica he tried to learn some Spanish. He ended up embarrassing the family by speaking Spanglish in a French accent :pb_lol:


I knew an older French gentleman who had learned his English from the soldier he met up with from the 101 while he was in the resistance.  He had an amazing Texan accent mixed with his French one. 

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I took 13 years of Hebrew, starting in kindergarten, and STILL got asked "Are you a new immigrant?" when I went to Israel. I can't roll my R's at the back...the telltale Ashkenazi American giveaway. It was great for developing an understanding of language and grammar, though.

@GeoBQn, if you think native Yiddish speakers are dying off, you really need to visit Brooklyn.

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@Carm_88It took me forever to learn to roll my "r"s and I still manage it pretty inconsistently. And I also likely overemphasize it by accident. Better than nothing though. 

I found something online that explained the tongue placement is similar to the one used when pronouncing a "d" sound in English. So you place the tip of your tongue against the back of your upper teeth and then you keep it there while you say the word. Here's the link:


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6 minutes ago, VelociRapture said:

It took me forever to learn to roll my "r"s and I still manage it pretty inconsistently. And I also likely overemphasize it by accident. Better than nothing though. 

We were discussing rhoticism (or de-rhoticism) over in Maxhell the other day.  I unable to roll my "R"s too.  At 62 I have stopped trying and I can fake an "R" sound most of the time when I concentrate.  I had speech therapy but not until I was in college.  

I found this video that explains the issue really well.  Enjoy.


We apparently don't have speech impediments.  We just say "R" differently! 


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If anyone is a Duolingo user, there's a Yiddish course in development. The Hebrew course is out already too.

I love languages. I took French for many years and studied abroad in France and can speak it pretty well. I also took four semesters of Russian and loved it. On Duolingo I've completed the German, Danish, and Esperanto courses and am halfway through the Spanish course.

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Coconut Flan

Carry on here:


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