This will be a short list:
- English. This is the language I was raised with, and the only one I know really well. There are words, though, that I learned from reading, and never heard spoken. Until that occasion when I’d use one in conversation, garbling the pronunciation embarrassingly. And strong accents often throw me. Beyond that, I’m pretty comfortable with the English language.
- German. My great-grandparents, on my father’s side, were born in Germany. My paternal grandfather, whose parents were always more comfortable with the German language and who saw two world wars fought with Germany, used to boast, “we may have been poor, but my children didn’t speak German.” Still, a few things persisted. We sometimes said “danke” or “danke shoene” for “thank you” and we always heard “gesundheit” after a sneeze. That was about it, though.
- Latin. I never studied Latin, but I attended Catholic mass when it was still said in Latin. Our prayer books had Latin on one side, the English translation on the facing page. Though I’d have to think a minute about the translation, phrases like “et cum spirii tu tuo,” “Pater noster,” and “Dominus noviscum” still sound very familiar to me.
- Pig Latin. Easy-peasy. Too easy to serve it’s purpose of keeping what we were saying a secret. Others soon caught on to the trick, and we had to evolve.
- Carnie Talk. It’s more difficult to decipher than Pig Latin, mainly because it can be spoken so rapidly. Sometimes, at family gatherings, my sister Brenda and I are still called upon to speak to each other in Carnie Talk, mainly so that all the young people can laugh at us.
- Spanish. I took only one semester of Spanish in college. I loved it so much, though, and did so well at it (and forgot almost everything I learned so very quickly!), I kick myself for not continuing with it.
- Russian. I spent a few weeks learning a little bit of this language several years ago, with an on-line program. The Cyrillic alphabet. A few pronunciations. How to write my name, and the names of my family. That’s it.
And that’s about it for what I know of languages!