cynocin asked: I once heard someone say that being fluent in a language meant to be able to have a conversation with no problem. Would you agree/disagree?
Nope, I disagree.
That’s very general. A “conversation”. Ignoring the fact that a conversation is speech-based (assuming not a written conversation) and that there are plenty of people who can’t speak the language but can read it (especially in cases where someone is learning from a book and not a person; so they recognize the words but wouldn’t know proper pronunciation)… A conversation about what?
A conversation could be about the weather. Or about a game. Or life. Or hardcore philosophical concepts like Plato and Socrates, or you’re discussing World War 2 with someone. Which means that conversations are dependent upon a certain amount of vocabulary and knowledge of a certain list of vocab, a lexicon, speech, dialect, pronunciation… etc.
So for instance, I could discuss the nuances of Medieval Spanish but if someone doesn’t know words like alejandrino or redondilla or things like that, what are you going to do? If someone doesn’t know about the Kingdom of Aragon or the Kingdom of Naples and various politics or even words connected to the Black Plague, then they can’t have a true “conversation”.
If you don’t have the vocab, then you can’t use it. It doesn’t mean you’re not fluent, it just means you don’t have a specific lexicon.
Even more generally, if you’re discussing politics and you don’t know all the names of countries or even certain cities sometimes in a certain language, by that definition you aren’t “fluent”.
I’m fluent in English, but I don’t understand legal conversations. I can’t discuss legalese with people without feeling like I’m lost, but I can ask questions.
To me being fluent is the ability to be fluid. If you don’t know something, you know how to ask about it. You know how to ask questions and you know how to learn.
To me, you start to become fluent when you’re learning things in your target language. Because a non-fluent person needs their native language to be able to get to a place of fluency.
A fluent person might not know what la sandía is but a fluent person is able to ask someone for help learning about what it is, or to be able to look it up in the target language and actually be learning.
I guess for me, fluency is acquired by an ability to flow with a language. If I don’t know how to say or write one thing, I have five other ways I could say it. I would have the ability to learn as I go, acquire new words and skills as I go like a native speaker, and not being dependent upon my native language to learn things.
I disagree too. I am able to have a conversation in Afrikaans hut nevertheless, I am not fluent in the language. I can’t even say that I speak it. It’s just conversational things I am able to say.