Even in my stronger foreign languages I run into situations where I lack relatively basic vocabulary. It is a life long commitment to all languages. Sometimes you open up new fields of vocabulary with a change in profession or interests, when you start cooking and shopping ingredients, you try to fix a car with a foreign friend, you have to explain medical complaints to a doctor abroad…Do you recognise that?
These are great examples and I don’t know all of them, but there are a few that I know in some of my languages.
For me, the vocabulary surrounding hair, haircuts, and hair dressing is very important and rarely taught. I am a hairdresser and I’ve worked with international clients and they almost never get taught how to get a haircut. I have to very specifically look up and learn hair dressing vocabulary.
I will have to brush up on learning some new vocabulary for ordinary things.
Thanks for your comment. Hairdressers vocabulary is an interesting example, indeed. My hairdresser lives in the French speaking part of Belgium. But I am not a snob with international coiffeur. It is pretty much down the road from Maastricht in the south of the Netherlands. She speaks Dutch and French. Maybe I try to explain in French next time what I would like. ( she actually knows, because I do not use to change my haircut)
I only know some. Definitely not all. But i must say, i don’t know the Dutch word for funnel (if there is one). I only use that word in English. And i had to look up what kind of grain Barley was. So i didn’t really know that word in English.
It’s what i find fun about language learning. I used to feel that i wasn’t fluent in a language because i don’t know these specific words. But then i heard from family whom have been living in England for years that they don’t know the names of birds and plants in English. So we all need to keep learning.
For me, I only know some of these words in 1-2 out of all the languages that I know/have studied. Actually, one of these words (hard shoulder) I had to look up in a dictionary. Seeing this makes me wonder what the true definition of fluency in any given language truly is.
I would not consider most of these to be everyday words. I’m a native English speaker, but couldn’t tell you what a carnation is (besides that it’s a kind of flower) or what the spleen is (besides an organ). I’ve never even heard of a “hard shoulder”? What’s that?
Some of these are words I know in more than one language, but most of them are not what I’d consider to be everyday words.
The Dutch word for funnel is “de trechter”.
Hard shoulder. I had to look it up in (British English) as well first time I wanted to name the stroke next to the lanes of a motorway where you are not supposed to drive. In German and Dutch we have common words for it, everybody knows: Seitenstreifen, Standstreifen, vluchtstrook.
Natürlich! I use the word funnel a lot in Google Analytics, which we only use in English. De trechter is for me what i use in the kitchen.
Ron do you feel you need to know all these words? You call it a life long commitment, is it one your happy with?
Ja in der Statistik haben wir den “Funnel plot”. Das benutze ich auch häufiger als das Haushaltsgerät. Die Beispiele waren schon aus der Praxis, als ich meist auf Französisch das Wort nicht parat hatte.
I wouldn’t really describe “Spleen”, “Sage” or half of the words on your list as “relatively basic.” Unless you’re a botanist or a doctor, that is. I can recognize the situation though. I often find myself having certain themes and subjects that I can talk completely fluently about in a given language, but I might not know how to say rather basic things. I think the answer is to prioritize what you learn and then look for more specific words you might not have realised that you are neglecting.