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Mohammad
Why we should learn our own language.
[EDIT]: There is an easy version at the end.

Many of us are trying so hard to improve our language skills when learning a second language, however, the fact that we already speak a language at a high level almost slips our mind. 
Some would say their intended language is complicated and impossible to learn, others would say it's hard yet possible and that they are almost there.
Different people look at things from different angles, however, I think all of us would agree with the fact that we are already "there" in our native language.
 
Every single language has a plethora of words, along with unique ways to describe what we think or how we feel about something. In the past, synonyms for the same word were used to express the same thing in different degrees of intensity, now we tend to intensify what we say using, for example, "very" or "totally", each in their own language, instead of using one direct self-explanatory word that doesn't need any kind of emphasis.
For some reason, a considerable amount of powerful words has fallen out of daily use, which has left us with a language that might not accurately reflect our thoughts or feelings in all situations.
I believe the language that is used by novelists, for example, has the greatest impact on the reader far more than anything else does. Reading the same novel but written in the spoken language rather than the literary one would enable us to tell the difference.
I think we should pay a visit every now and then to our beautiful language, learn more and put into words what is going through our mind in the most wonderful ways.

Easy version:
- Our language has so many words but we only use a few of them every day.
- Our language can describe one thing with many different words.
- When we repeat the same words so many times, they lose their meaning.
- We love reading stories because the people who write them always use the right words.
- Here on Italki, we all love learning languages and we want to be better at the language(s) that we are learning but we sometimes forget that we are very good at our language.
- We should visit our beautiful language more because if we do this, we will speak and write more beautifully.
May 7, 2020 2:23 PM
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Comments · 19
@Mohammad, I would like to add two skills that people can also learn/practice in their own language: conversation and negotiation.

Conversation: "a talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged."

A person can have a very deep knowledge of their own language but still not know how to have a conversation. It is painful to talk with someone, even other native English speakers, who answers all questions with only "yes" or "no" and never adds anything, nor asks any questions in return. It is equally painful to talk with someone who talks non-stop, also never asking any questions.

Negotiation: "discussion aimed at reaching an agreement."

I have encountered native English speakers who cannot negotiate a simple meeting to hike or have coffee together. Eventually I stop trying to meet with them. Those people often complain that it's so hard to find friends. They don't seem to understand their role in the problem.

I can't be a friend if we can't mutually agree on a day/time to meet. Likewise, I can't be a language exchange partner if we can't mutually agree on a day/time to meet.

--------

Both skills are important in one's native language. Even if your native vocabulary is 5th grade level, you can work to improve your conversation and negotiation skills. (Have you ever heard a 5th grader negotiate for a later bedtime, or for dessert? Some of them are master negotiators.)

If you don't have these skills in your first language, how can you have them in your second or third language?
May 12, 2020
@Guyomar
I wholeheartedly agree. On a slight tangent: among people who are well read and into "the humanities" it's not uncommon to actually boast that one has no clue about mathematics, physics or biology. Ignorance, no matter in what subject, should never be a point of pride in my not so humble opinion. Not necessarily something to be ashamed off, either, some people simply don't have a knack for certain things, it's just like with physiology. Not everyone is going to be a marathon runner, not everyone can climb Mt Everest. But playing the things someone else can do well down and pretend they're not worthwhile because oneself can't do them is just about despicable.

@Mohammad
I'd like to think that I'm always the same. The truth, I'm afraid, is somewhat less simple. While I'm always driven by the same principles my actions/words can express these in quite different ways; some might see them as personalities or, with a more negative connotation, masks. I see them as facets of who/how I am, and what others see will vary both with the light (circumstances they meet me in) and the angle (what their current state of mind is, from which angle they look at me, what I'm doing at the time).
May 9, 2020
Mohammad, yes, isn't it wonderful when one comes across a word that encapsulates a concept that would otherwise require a combination of more common nouns and intensifiers? How much more powerful "It was a blissful day" is than "It was a very happy day." In fact, "very" seems to diminish the happiness in my mind, just as "Her face is exquisite" is more expressive than "Her face is extremely attractive."

That's part of the joy of foreign languages. Some languages encapsulate certain concepts better than others. The classic is the Portuguese "saudade." I suppose that those lists of words that "don't exist in other languages" are popular for this reason.

človek, isn't it strange that although many people seem worried about coming across as pretentious, few worry about being ignorant and unable to discuss great ideas with any depth due to a lack of familiarity with the books that shape the conversation? In my hometown, it is common to proclaim proudly that one doesn't read and hates books. Meanwhile, educated and well-read people I know regularly make statements such as "I don't want to alienate anyone." Perhaps some alienation is good. We all have to grapple with our ignorance and attempt to remedy it. We can't do it without first feeling quite small and ignorant.
May 8, 2020
Very good observations both @Guyomar and @Mohammad

Where I live I witness almost daily what could be described as the "tall poppy syndrome" of language; people who enjoy well-written books with rich language both in terms of vocabulary used and a wealth of variation in the use of structure will speak to each other as if they barely made it past 5th grade.

They're afraid as being seen as "high brow" or "uppity", I think. Which is a shame, because the split second to make a phrase enjoyable to listen to is surely well-spent, no matter how busy our lives are.

"Good morning, how are you today?"
"Morn, howzit?"


May 8, 2020
@Guyomar
When it comes to our native language, we believe we speak it perfectly
based off our daily conversations with friends. We also have no doubt in our mind that we write perfectly in it based off our WhatsApp chats.
I mean WOW.
We think having the title "native speaker" is a given and that we just have to be born one to be one, simple!

@človek
I believe there are words that can describe entire sentences in every language and actually this makes me wonder why we have gone from using a rich variety of words to repeating a small number of them ad nauseam.
Laziness is such a powerful force which certainly plays a major role in this because, evolutionarily speaking, memorizing a lot of words would be a blatant waste of one's valuable energy, however, it's weirdly okay if that energy is focused on nonsense.
I wonder what the future holds.
May 12, 2020
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Mohammad
Language Skills
Arabic, English, Portuguese
Learning Language
Portuguese