More languages, more likely to have spelling mistakes?

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by GabyG, Oct 8, 2006.

  1. GabyG

    GabyG Member

    Mexico (Español)

    Do you think learning more languages could affect your spelling?

    In my case, I have a good visual memory, so for me it’s easier to remember the way a word should be written by remembering how it looks like (and not only by remembering the rules), so I know sometimes that a word is not right because it just does not “look” right to me.

    But I’ve found the more languages I learn (well, that sounded like many :D, when it’s only English and more recently Italian) the harder is to apply the visual rule for some words.
    For example, we have the word “escribo” in Spanish, and in Italian is “scrivo” which if related to Spanish would look better as “scribo”:cross: . “Automobile” in Spanish is “automóvil,” two very similar words, one with a “b” and the other with a “v”, so the one picture that I had on my mind is no longer correct in English.

    And I guess it could happen the other way around too, I mean, that some words in you native language, which so far have looked good on your mind, start not to look so good making you hesitate before writing them.

    I was just wondering if someone has gone through the same.

    Best regards,
  2. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    It's very rare that I say "phrase" In English, wheras the Italian "frase" translates "phrase" AND "sentence"..
    Whenever I am writing in English and I go to write "phrase" I ALWAYS write "frase" first, and I bet there are a few times I haven't even realised and corrected myself.

    I don't think the issue is about spelling when you become a polyglot, it's about mixing words up in speech as well, and thus affects spelling, it's annoying sometimes!
  3. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    There is also that incredibly irritating stage in language learning when you become semi-lingual rather than bilingual, feeling unable to speak, read or write anything intelligible in any language. It passes, but not soon enough.

    I do sometimes find myself writing French when I want English or (rarely) Italian, because that is my primary lanugage these days, even though not my most fluent. (I was recently complimented on my English and asked where I had learned it. :( )
  4. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    My spelling has always been perfect, no matter what language I'm writing in. I have very good visual memory, and once I see and remember a word, I'll never do a mistake in its spelling.
    Of course, I can make typos, but it's another story. :)
  5. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    Not in general, just like you, unfortunately I also have only good visual memory, so.... :) and the brain is working strangely, I haven't ever had problems with words like cuando-cuanto, quando-quanto on the other hand it took me 20 years to memorite the spelling of the "football" in some languages. :D Not to forget we have two spellings in Hungarian for that word, one formal and the other one informal. Now I am sure: futbal (Hungarian), fotbal ("Bohemian"). :D Or am I wrong?
  6. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    May or may not. Depends on the similarity of the languages. But risking making a few more spelling mistakes would still not be an argument or not learning one more language.
  7. Yondlivend Senior Member

    American English
    I've actually found Spanish has improved my spelling in English. English has unstressed vowels, such as the schwa, while Spanish does not. For example, with the word "separate" I know the second vowel is an a because of the Spanish word "separar."
  8. xmarabout

    xmarabout Senior Member

    French - Belgium
    Personally, I know that English affect my spelling in French (my mother language) and vice versa if I don't pay enough attention to what I write. The best example is the word "connection": I saw it too often in English and forgot for a while that in French it is written "connexion". A lot of words are so close that you can easily mispell one. I don't have the same problem between Dutch and French.
  9. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    Knowing both English and French ruins the spelling of both as there are numerous cognates between the two languages but the spelling of these words often does not coincide: Address/Adresse, Traffic/ Trafic, Phantom/ Fantôme.
  10. Kasrav Senior Member

    India - English
    I have seen in English documents written by my fluent English speaking French friends often "transfert" and German friends write "dokument"
  11. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Somehow I used not to make mistakes in my different languages, but as the connections grow (as does the number of languages), so do the mistakes due to interference, but mostly I see them in the moment I make them.
  12. aprendiendo argento

    aprendiendo argento Senior Member

    Premantura - Croatia
    Croatian (Chakavian)
    Double letters are always difficult, if you learn English, Spanish and French at the same time, it can get nightmarish,
    double consonant in one language is single consonant in another language, and vice versa:

    English: imagine (not immagine)
    Italian: immaginare (not imaginare)
  13. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Italian is original, since it not only has a propensity towards double consonants, sometimes it also reduces them, like in comune, comunale and so on,

    Spanish isn't really that nightmarish, since it only has 4 consonants which may appear geminated: those which appear in the name CaRoLiNa. Neighbouring cs are always parts of diifferent syllables (like in ac|ción or dic|cio|na|rio) and represent diifferent sounds, double l is not a longer version of the single sound, but another sound altogether. The words which contain a double n are really few (perenne, innegable... I can't think of more right now. Remains r, but then you always hear it, and double r in Spanish is (almost) always audible.

    My personal nightmare are the shifts between French e/é, Spanish e/i and Italian i/e, like se/si. I haven't been able to make out a system, so I've got somewhat of a thumb rule or very lousy intution (like that Italian prefers i (there are exceptions!), whereas Spanish prefers e. Ergo, I have to crosscheck spelling in dictionaries all the time.
  14. Madrid829 Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    US English, Great Lakes area
    Funny—my spelling has always been good, but it got worse as I got better at Spanish. I got increasingly spoiled with a phonetic language and then found it harder to transition out of it. But I also agree with some of the above comments that it's a result of having multiple languages floating around in your head, as opposed to spelling per se.
  15. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    When I looked at the French versions, I was :eek:

    There was a time which I wrote a lot in Portuguese, and when going back to Italian, I would write "que", "porque" and "como" instead of "che", "perché" and "come".
  16. Nino83 Senior Member

    In order to avoid spelling mistakes I suggest a comparative method.
    I wrote all personal, demonstrative, indefinite pronouns and adjectives, conjunctions (indicating for each one if it takes indicative or subjunctive mood), prepositions in Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese and I put them into tables.
    I did the same with syntax (more important differences are between infinitive clauses in English and in Romnace languages).
    Neverthless I often have spelling doubts when I have to write in French, Spanish or Portuguese, maybe because they are more similar to Italian or because I utilize English more often than other foreign languages.

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