American Sign Language

When I was younger and living in Berkeley, I studied ASL (American Sign Language) for a semester, and I found it to be the most beautiful language I have ever seen. If I could pick a second language in which to be fluent, it would be ASL. (Unfortunately, I am not one to pick up second languages. For over 10 years, the Canadian government tried to get me to learn French, and they failed miserably.)


Web:

http://www.aslinfo.com/
http://www.handspeak.com/

Listserv Mailing List:

List Name: teachasl
Subscribe To: listserv@admin.humberc.on.ca


Arabic

If Arabic is on your list of things to learn before retirement, you are in luck. Download audio lessons, films, music and pictures. Or if you don't have time for a multimedia experience, check out some vocabulary and nifty-looking Arabic fonts.


Web:

http://cecilmarie.web.prw.net/arabworld/arabic/
http://www.i-cias.com/babel/arabic/

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.languages.arabic


British English

Although it seems as if the English and the Americans speak the same language, there are a lot of words that are used differently in each country. For example, an Englishman who has had a little too much to drink may think nothing of eating a chip butty. An American wouldn't know a chip butty if it bit him in the face. To help you avoid unnecessary confusion -- or perhaps create some intentional confusion of your own -- here are some resources to fill the transatlantic gaps in your vocabulary. (By the way, a chip butty is a bread and butter sandwich made with French fried potatoes.)


Web:

http://www.hps.com/~tpg/ukdict/
http://www.peak.org/~jeremy/dictionary/dict.html
http://www.quinion.com/words/
http://www.uta.fi/FAST/US1/REF/us1refs.html


Chinese

Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world. In total, the various dialects (varieties) of Chinese are spoken by well over a billion people. By far, the most popular dialect is Mandarin, which is the primary language of about three-quarters of the world's Chinese speakers. Mandarin is spoken in China, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan and Thailand. English speakers find Chinese a particularly difficult language to learn, because the language has nothing in common with the European languages upon which English is based. For example, instead of using a simple alphabet, Chinese employs thousands of different symbols, each of which represents one or more words or ideas. This requires a student to memorize a huge amount of material just to become literate. In addition, Chinese is a tonal language, which means that words must be pronounced with an exact tone. A specific sound, when pronounced with different tones, will often have completely different meanings and, unless you are a native Chinese speaker, it is almost impossible to discern or reproduce the tones properly.


Web:

http://www.deall.ohio-state.edu/chan.9/c-links2.htm
http://www.mandarintools.com/

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.chinese.story
Google Newsreader alt.chinese.text
Google Newsreader alt.chinese.text.big5
Google Newsreader alt.chinese.text.hz
Google Newsreader alt.languages.mandarin
Google Newsreader alt.usage.chinese


Cyrillic Alphabet

The Cyrillic alphabet is used to write Russian and certain other Slavic languages. The name comes from St. Cyril who, in 863 A.D. -- along with his brother St. Methodius -- introduced the alphabet during their missionary work among the southern Slavs. Little did they know that, one day, their work would one day be used to translate this book into Russian.


Web:

http://www.friends-partners.org/friends/cyrillic/


Czech

The Czech language (spoken in the Czech Republic) is a Slavic language with roots in the Indo-European family of languages. Here is information about Czech as well as an English-Czech dictionary. Mluvite anglicky? Dekuji.


Web:

http://www.bohemica.com/
http://www.muselik.com/czech/czau.html

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.languages.czech


Dutch

Dutch, the language of the Netherlands (Holland) is spoken by about 20 million people in Holland, Belgium, France and Suriname, making it the 48th most widely spoken language in the world. Many words in Dutch are similar to their English counterparts but, overall, the language is quite different from English. Still, if you are an American visiting Holland, you don't need to worry: virtually all Dutch people speak English as a second language (which, personally, I think is very considerate of them).


Web:

http://dictionaries.travlang.com/DutchEnglish/
http://www.learndutch.org/
http://www.notam.uio.no/~hcholm/altlang/ht/Dutch.html

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.reddingsbrigade


Eastern European Languages

Would you like to learn basic words and phrases in an Eastern European language? Just select a language and you will be shown a small but useful list of words in that language. Although the vocabulary is limited, you can at least learn enough to stay out of trouble. The word lists are available in Albanian, Croatian, Estonian, Latvian, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Bulgarian, Czech, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Romanian, Serbian and Slovenian. As they say in Lithuanian, "Nesuprantu".


Web:

http://www.cusd.claremont.edu/~tkroll/EastEur/

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.pl
Google Newsreader alt.pl.uzywki


English

The sun may have set on the British Empire, but their language lives on around the world. Here are a variety of interesting resources relating to the English language. To discuss English, try Usenet and the mailing lists. Interesting true fact: More Harley Hahn books are written in English than in any other language.


Web:

http://work.ucsd.edu:5141/cgi-bin/http_webster/
http://www.ebbs.english.vt.edu/hel/
http://www.english-at-home.com/
http://www.thediscouragingword.com/
http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.english.usage
Google Newsreader bit.listserv.words-l

Listserv Mailing List:

List Name: words-l
Subscribe To: listserv@listserv.uga.edu


Esperanto

Esperanto is a language invented by the Polish doctor L.L. Zamenhof in the late 19th century. His idea was that if everyone spoke the same language, we would all get along better, and war would be much less likely. The idea of an artificial language is not uncommon: hundreds of such languages have been proposed in the last few centuries. Perhaps one of the most interesting was Solresol, developed by Jean Francois Sudre (1866). Its vocabulary was based on the notes of the musical scale, making it possible to sing as well as speak the language. Esperanto is the most well-known and successful artificial language. Because it is based on the European Romance languages, Esperanto is difficult to learn for people with a completely different mother tongue (Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and so on). However, as languages go, Esperanto is straightforward and sensible, and there are many enthusiasts around the world who enjoy speaking and promoting the language. Esperanto trivia: The 1965 low-budget horror movie "Incubus", starring a young William Shatner, was filmed entirely in Esperanto. (It has English sub-titles.)


Web:

http://www.esperanto.net/veb/faq.html
http://www.esperanto.org/

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.talk.esperanto
Google Newsreader alt.uu.lang.esperanto.misc
Google Newsreader soc.culture.esperanto


French

French is a member of the family of Romance languages, and thus has much in common with Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and other such languages. However, French has a distinct personality, a certain je ne sais quoi that makes it unlike any other language. French is the 11th most widely used language in the world. Of course, French is spoken throughout France, but you also find the language in parts of Belgium and Switzerland, as well as in areas that were formerly under French control, such as Algeria and French Polynesia (including Tahiti). There is also a form of French spoken in the province of Quebec in Canada, as well as a Creole version used by Cajun speakers in the south-central United States.


Web:

http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/french.html
http://globegate.utm.edu/french/globegate_mirror/oral.h...
http://polyglot.lss.wisc.edu/lss/lang/french.html
http://www.jump-gate.com/languages/french/
http://www.lamc.utexas.edu/tex/

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.french

Majordomo Mailing List:

List Name: cerclefrancais
Subscribe To: majordomo@lists.uoregon.edu

Majordomo Mailing List:

List Name: francais
Subscribe To: majordomo@bagira.iit.bme.hu

Listproc Mailing List:

List Name: frenchtalk
Subscribe To: listproc@list.cren.net

IRC:

#francais (EFnet)

#french (EFnet)


Gaelic

Gaelic is the English word used to describe Irish Gaelic, Manx Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic, the three languages that form one half of the Celtic language family group. This site offers examples of spoken Gaelic, a short history of the Celts, mailing list archives, lists of Gaelic books and tapes, Irish National Radio news, and links to many other Celtic-related topics and resources. The mailing list will allow you to experience Gaelic interactively.


Web:

http://www.daltai.com/home.htm

Listserv Mailing List:

List Name: gaelic-l
Subscribe To: listserv@listserv.heanet.ie


German

German, the 9th most widely spoken language in the world, is the mother tongue of about 100 million people. German is the national language of Germany and Austria, as well as one of the four official languages of Switzerland (spoken by about 64% of the population). (In case you are wondering, the other three official Swiss languages are French [19%], Italian [8%] and Romansh [less than 1%]). Although many German and English words sound similar, there are significant differences between the languages. For example, German nouns (like Latin nouns) have different forms depending on how they are used. What I find really odd is the German habits of capitalizing all their nouns and placing verbs at the end of sentences. (However, let's not make the Germans feel bad. It may just be that they are foreigners, and they don't know any better.)


Web:

http://dict.leo.org/
http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/german.html
http://www.germanfortravellers.com/learn/
http://www.iee.et.tu-dresden.de/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/wernerr...

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.usage.german

IRC:

#german (Undernet)


Greek

The word "Greek" actually refers to two different, but related, languages. First, there is modern Greek, the language spoken today by more than 10 million people in Greece, a majority of the people on Cyprus, as well as Greeks around the world. Ancient Greek -- the language of Homer and Aristotle -- is a family of dialects that was used over two thousand years ago. These Web sites have many resources related to modern and ancient Greek. If you want to know about the language, there is something here for you -- whether you are a serious scholar or just planning a vacation trip to the Greek Islands.


Web:

http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/gr-off.html
http://www.greek-language.com/
http://www.kypros.org/greek/

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.languages.greek


Hawaiian

The Hawaiian language has five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and only seven consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, t, w). Thus, for English speakers, Hawaiian words, at first, can look confusing. For example, ho'alohaloha means "to make love" or "to give thanks"; elemakule means "an old man"; and hoaloha means "a friend". (I'll leave it to you to put these words together into a sentence.) Would you like to learn a bit of Hawaiian? Give it a try -- I bet you'll enjoy it. By the way, my favorite Hawaiian word is nananana ("spider").


Web:

http://www.andhawaii.com/hawaii/vacation/culture/trad.h...
http://www.olelo.hawaii.edu/

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.languages.hawaiian


Hindi

In India, Hindi is spoken by about 480 million people (180 million as a mother tongue, 300 million as a second language). Hindi is an especially expressive language. A poet writing in Hindi can use simple words to convey sophisticated emotional overtones. There are also many beautiful Hindi songs which are loved by people around the world. (In English, of course, we have our own lovely songs, such as "Satisfaction" and "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer".) Here are some Internet resources to help you learn about Hindi and the cultures in which it is spoken.


Web:

http://philae.sas.upenn.edu/Hindi/hindi.html
http://www.ukindia.com/zhin001.htm

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.languages.hindi


Icelandic

Icelandic, the official language of Iceland, is a Scandinavian language that is the purest descendent of Old Norse. Here are sites for learning about the language. Hint to guys: If you are traveling in Iceland, and you meet a beautiful young woman, here is the right thing to say: "Ů˙ ert engill af himni ofan. ╔g hef aldrei se­ yndislegri konu. Getur pabbi ■inn l˙bari­ mig?"


Web:

http://babel.uoregon.edu/yamada/guides/icelandic.html
http://www.eng.ysu.edu/~jck/nemendja/islenska/#internet
http://www.ismal.hi.is/ob/index_en.html

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.usage.icelandic


Italian

Italian is spoken by about 40 million people, mostly in Italy. It is the 27th most popular language in the world. To English speakers, Italian is relatively easy to learn and has a beautiful, melodious sound. In case you are ever in Italy, here is a sentence for you to try out when you meet a policeman: Ho bevuto un bicchiere di troppo, e sono al limite della sopportazione. ("Thank you for being a guardian of the peace and protecting me during my visit.")


Web:

http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/modlang/carasi/site/
http://www.cyberitalian.com/
http://www.eleaston.com/italian.html

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.usage.italiano

IRC:

#italia (Undernet)


Japanese

Is your kanji a bit weak? Or do you just need a bit of help with pronunciation? These resources will help you with Japanese vocabulary and pronunciation. So the next time you go out for sushi, you won't have to just point at the menu and say, "I'll have that thing." You can ask for raw tuna with such a good accent, the fish will sit up and bow to you.


Web:

http://www.japanese-online.com/language/
http://www.japanesetutor.com/
http://www.savergen.com/onldict/jap.html

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.japanese.misc
Google Newsreader alt.japanese.text
Google Newsreader sci.lang.japan

IRC:

#japan (Undernet)


Korean

Korean is an interesting language, because there are two distinct levels of formality, and young people must use the more formal expressions when addressing their elders. Moreover, within everyday discourse, there are many markers that indicate the relationships between the people who are speaking. For example, my copy editor Lydia is of Korean descent. When she talks to her older sister Debbie, she is supposed to address her as Debbie-ohnee. If she had an older brother, say, Harley, she would address him as Harley-opah. (She should only be so lucky.) Here is one more example: there is a specific term for your father's younger married brother's wife (chah-goon oh-mo-nee). Interesting note: In English, Lydia's last name is Hearn and my last name is Hahn, but in Korean, both names would be pronounced "Hawn" and would be written the same way. (Is that cosmic, or what? I wonder if maybe I am her older brother. She is certainly cute enough.)


Web:

http://korean.sogang.ac.kr/
http://www.arts.monash.edu.au/korean/centre/resources/
http://www.interedu.go.kr/
http://www.langintro.com/kintro/

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.talk.korean


Latin

Latin is the language spoken by the ancient Romans, although the Latin we learn today has been modified over the years. Latin is important for three main reasons. First, many ancient documents and books are written in Latin. Second, Latin is the basis of our modern Romance languages (such as French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese). Finally, Latin is important to the traditions and liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church.


Web:

http://www.csbsju.edu/library/internet/latin.html
http://www.nd.edu/~archives/latgramm.htm

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.language.latin
Google Newsreader alt.languages.latin


Middle English

After the Norman Conquest (in 1066), the use of Anglo-Saxon -- the native language of England -- was diminished significantly in favor of French, which became not only the official language, but the language of polite society. Anglo-Saxon was depressed into an illiterate dialect, which underwent rapid and radical changes, emerging in a new form that we now call Middle English. The period of Middle English lasted from 1100 to 1500 (give or take a day or two). If you are interested in Middle English, here is a resource where you can look at a nice collection of literature. My favorite work is "The Harley Lyrics", transcribed from Manuscript Harley 2253 from the British Museum MS. Here is a direct quote: "Middelerd for mon wes mad / vnmihti aren is meste mede".


Web:

http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/mideng.browse.html


Native American Languages

There are several hundred different Native American languages. These languages can be categorized into a small number of major language groups. For example, the Athabascan group includes the languages of the Athabascans (in Alaska and northwest Canada) and the Apaches and Navaho (in the southwest U.S.). Even as late as the 1950s, young Native Americans were discouraged from speaking Indian languages and were often punished when they did so. However, in recent years, Native Americans have shown a strong interest in preserving and encouraging the use of their languages, which are now taught actively within many native communities.


Web:

http://www.hanksville.org/NAresources/indices/NAlanguag...
http://www.nativenashville.com/tutor_syllabary.htm
http://www.zompist.com/indianwd.html

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.languages.lakota


Pronunciation in the American South

Unless you grew up in the United States, don't even think about trying to understand this Web site. It's full of a great many colloquial pronunciations common in the southern part of the United States. The words are there somewhere, but unless you are from the South (or have watched a great many Andy Griffith reruns), you may not get it. For example, to truly appreciate modern American culture, you need to be able to understand statements like: "Lawd willing and the crik don't rise, I sho do hope that thuh President don't get us kilt by sum farn gummit. He's a nice enough feller, but he can lilac a dawg."


Web:

http://www.netsquirrel.com/crispen/word.html


Russian

Russian is the 7th most popular language in the world, spoken by over 170 million people. Russian is a phonetic language, which means that it is pronounced exactly as it is written. However, the Russians use the Cyrillic alphabet, which looks completely different from the English alphabet. Learning how to read and understand Russian proficiently can take a long time, but it is worth it. Once you learn Russian, you will be able to read the original version of "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910). If you adopt this as your goal when you are young, it can work out nicely, because you can spend the first half of your life learning Russian, and the second half of your life reading the book.


Web:

http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/language/
http://www.freedict.com/onldict/rus.html
http://www.masterrussian.com/

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.tanya.shalayeva
Google Newsreader alt.uu.lang.russian.misc

IRC:

#russian (DALnet, EFnet, Undernet)


Serbian

It has been said that Serbian is one of the easiest languages to learn to write because it is so phonetic. See if this is true, by brushing up on your Serbian as well as the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets.


Web:

http://www.krstarica.com/dictionary/
http://www.nypl.org/branch/central_units/d/f/language/s...
http://www.travlang.com/languages/serbian


Slovak

As early as the 11th century, Slovakia was associated with Hungary. Following World War I, the Slovaks separated from Hungary and joined the Czechs (from Bohemia) to form Czechoslovakia. From 1939 to 1945 -- thanks to the invading Germans -- the Slovaks and Czechs were "declared" independent of one another. After the war, they rejoined to reform Czechoslovakia. Finally, however, on January 1, 1993, the Slovaks separated for the last time and formed their own country, Slovakia. Throughout it all, they managed to create and maintain their own language, Slovak, which is now the official language of their country. If you plan to visit, here is a nice glossary of Slovakian words to make your trip a pleasant one.


Web:

http://slovakia.eunet.sk/slovakia/nat.asp

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.languages.slovak


Spanish

I studied Spanish in high school, and I sure wish I had the Net back then: lots of Spanish language resources as well as an IRC channel to talk to people in Spanish. Hint: If you are not sure what to talk about, say: "No quiero quedarme en casa este fin de semana. Vamos a salir para bailar."


Web:

http://mld.ursinus.edu/~jarana/ejercicios/
http://www.spanishunlimited.com/
http://www.studyspanish.com/tutorial.htm

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.language.spanish
Google Newsreader alt.languages.spanish
Google Newsreader alt.usage.spanish

IRC:

#spanish (Undernet)


Tagalog

Tagalog (pronounced Ta-gaw'-log) is one of the major languages spoken in the Philippines, mostly by people from the Tagalog regions on the main island of Luzon and in Manila, the national capital. Tagalog serves as a base for Filipino, and has a strong affinity with Malay languages. Over the years, Tagalog has incorporated a significant number of Spanish words and expressions, and also includes words and phrases rooted in English and Chinese. In the United States, Tagalog is the seventh most commonly spoken language, and the second most commonly spoken Asian language.


Web:

http://www.copewithcytokines.de/tagalog/cope.cgi
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/tagalog.htm
http://www.seasite.niu.edu/tagalog/tagalog_mainpage.htm