Speaking in tongues in Europe
- A survey of the use of languages in the European Union showed that
about a half of its inhabitants say they can participate in
conversation in at least one language other than their own. And
within Central Europe, Slovakia has the highest percentage of people
whose mother tongue is not the language of the country:
My mother tongue is the national language where I live:
95% Czech R.
I can have conversation in at least one foreign language:
60% Czech R.
However, the answers are probably skewed not only by the differences
in people's self-assessments, but also by the differences in what the
respondents thought was a "foreign language" for them, what was
"conversation in" that language.
For instance, many Slavs feel they know (some) Russian due to the
former compulsory classes at school, but also to the proximity of
that language, although they'd probably fail any test in it. The
Swedes and Norwegians, the Slovaks and the Poles, and many other such
pairs, can have a basic conversation with hardly any capacity to
perform in the other language, but they sometimes imagine that they
do have it when they throw in a few words from the other language and
understand the other person reasonably well thanks to repeated
exposure, for example in the border regions. The mutual
understandability of Slovak and Czech has been heightened greatly by
their common history.
Some Slovaks, Czechs, Swedes, etc., did and others didn't include
such close languages among their foreign language skills in their
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