In message , geoff
Doesn't the answer required depend on this persons native language in
the first place? It's little point in recommending a site that is in
English if he cannot understand English:)
It's important to know what the starting point is.
English is an incredibly difficult language to learn.
The vocabulary is enormous because for most things there are at least
two words (with latin or germanic origin) plus a smattering of celtic
and ancient nordic words.
Pronunciation is completely inconsistent across the range of some very
commonly used words.
Grammar is all over the place.
Someone who speaks one of the other European languages has a starting
point with some of this.
What is the native language of the person concerned?
What struck me as odd was that mostly the Germanic words tend to be
treated as the poor relatives. Those derived from Latin and/or medieval
French seem to be regarded as posh. Examples are things like "cess" as
in "cesspit" which is posher than "shit". However in Italian "cesso" is
regarded in much the same way as saying "shit". One that's the other way
aroudn for some reason is lamb/mutton where the French version is the
inferior term and the German is the posh/better regarded.
It's definitely a funny old language.
In message , Andy Hall writes
As I said - Hungarian
If you think English is difficult, the only word I know in Hungarian is
cheers - which is Aggisheggdera (might not be spelt 100% correctly)
How do they say that after 10 pints ?
I think you're right on that. I wonder if it has something to with
Latin as a language of classics and historically the establishment
church (in some countries) and French as a diplomatic language.
Although I can speak acceptable daily French and a certain amount of
German and understand a great deal more, I do sometimes have situations
of being with someone who speaks some English but doesn't use it daily.
I've found that one good solution that works for communication is to
avoid complex sentence constructions and tenses and to use the English
word derived from whichever language where possible. For example, in
France I found that using the word "firm" (for a company) gets a blank
look normally, whereas "company" is understood (I know that societe - I
missed the accents - is the correct word) There are plenty of other
Another aspect is what is done in a language in order to preserve it
and identified cultural associations. One measure of this is the
extent to which words for new things are borrowed from English and
whether the trouble is taken to coin new ones in the language.
Often, the smaller the language in terms of native speakers, the more
that there are words invented. The extent to which they are used is
I thought that "merda" was the Italian word for the brown stuff. It
seems to be used by taxi drivers when they actually end up having to
stop at red traffic lights; although they are good at giving traffic
hand signals with the middle finger of the left hand.
I don't know how suitable it is for complete beginners but there are
lots of different aspects catered for on the BBC Learning English websites.
Not online, but have you tried your local library?
But you only really need one, for beginners. No-one will get upset if
you ask for a cowburger in MacDonalds.
But at least our plurals are reasonably consistent.
But is much simpler than some other languages.
After all, we can make a fair guess at what Dribble's on about most of
I know that in most languages.
Hungarian is distantly related to Finnish in the sense of being in the
same (Finno-Ugric) linguistic family.
A Finn once told me that there are about 200 words in common, which is
not many. Finns are people of few words anyway, and he went on to
tell me the story of two Finns going into a bar.
One orders the first round of drinks and they are set up on the bar.
They pick them up and one says "kippis" (word for cheers). The
other says "Are we going to talk or drink?"
Coming back to your Hungarian friend, I wonder whether an online thing
is really the way to go. Are they living in Hungary or the UK or??
If it's the UK, I would have thought that finding a local Hungarian
community and finding out what they have done would be a better bet.
Otherwise, exposure to English in a non threatening way works well.
When I talk to people in different countries about how they learned
English, after the obvious answer of school, TV is a common answer, but
more so in countries where English programs are subtitled rather than
dubbed. Swedes and Norwegians often tell me that this made a
difference for them. Others have told me that they listen to the
news on the World Service. The announcers do speak very slightly
slower and more carefully, so as to be helpful without being
patronising - I don't mean the stupid English habit of speaking very
slowly and increasing the volume because Johnny Foreigner must be deaf
I think as well, it depends on what the objective is - i.e. enough to
get around and get by day by day or a much more intensive level.
In message , clot
No don't complicate things
WHat is required in learning a language is firstly a nucleus of
vocabulary and a basic grammar to string it together with
basically common vocabulary is all that is really important to
communicate, the rest falls in line with use
believe me, I've been there on a number of times
I asked both Finns and Hungarians about that one. They have the same
linguistic root but are not close enough to be able to use that many
common words. Think of the distance. Finns and Estonians can
understand each other with a slight struggle. Finns have become
good at English for other reasons. Languages figure significantly in
school because learning Swedish has been a requirement in their
(officially) dual language environment and English was recognised as
important a couple of generations ago when Finland became a trading
gateway between the west and the Soviet Union.