LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||27/OUT/2009 11:22 AM|
This is the first time I have ever heard "average" used to describe the ability to speak a foreign language. It simply makes no sense to me. Does it refer to the Spanish of the average native speaker? The Spanish spoken by the average shepherd in Andalucía? The Spanish of the average monk in Tibet? You can see the problem.
Speaking another language is not in the same league as being a virgin. It´s rarely a case of "yes" or "no", or ¨Does he or doesn´t he?" What sounds "fluent" to one person may impress another as being merely "conversational". Everything is relative, including relatives.
Yes, I have heard "functional" but I would suggest:
He is conversant in Spanish.
He has a basic knowledge of Spanish.
He speaks basic Spanish.
Even with these descriptions, they mean little. I thought it was hilarious when a fellow told me that a man he met in Mexico spoke "pretty good Spanish". The man was a native speaker! Yeah, I´d say he spoke "pretty good Spanish" too! What an idiot.
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