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Programming with as a English secondary language

 
Bartender
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The Internet is a vast place with many people communicating in different languages like English, German, Spanish etc.
I grew up speaking and learning English. I know some 'low' German taught to me by my Mom when I was growing up, but schooling was all English (North America English).
I also know a very small amount of French because I had to take one semester of French in school. This is/was Canadian law.

Given that many of the programming languages use English keywords, the non English developers first have to learn English or at least some English keywords.
My question/though is when you first hear/read a programming problem do you think of that programming problem in English or a different language.

I ask this because not every language processes things in the same order. For instance most people in North America we say one dollar, but we print it as $1.
Yet the French in Quebec Canada do not print $1 instead they print 1$. I'm sure that there are many other examples out there and not just English and French doing things in a different order.
 
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My schooling is completed in Marathi language ( one of the regional languages of India, spoken in Maharashtra state ), graduation and post graduation everything was in English but passing exams and studying is something different than understanding English. Programming keywords can be understood not big deal but sometime I also face difficulty understanding questions and explanations.

Sometime I get the notion but can't put that into English statements which leads me writing long explanation then someone's post explain in short line then I like yes that's what I meant to say    

I love documenting all the stuff I study I've made .txt file for the new words and idioms I encounter, you can see picture of text file having pending list of words and idioms to be written in note book which are gathered from English flicks, serials, news and of course from our forum too.

Pete Letkeman wrote:My question/though is when you first hear/read a programming problem do you think of that programming problem in English or a different language.

Initially I think in English which I think help to improve, when I find It's obscure then I search It's meaning in Marathi language and how they are used in English.

Reading and documenting new words, idioms with my own examples helped me a lot to improve my English understanding which I was very poor before. IMO Non-English speakers can tackle this problem If keep practicing in correct direction.

PE: attached picture of one of the txt files
EnlishWords.png
[Thumbnail for EnlishWords.png]
 
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omg im so glad I speak english...  Can't imagine trying to read documentation in another language, considering the names of methods can be somewhat abstract even for english speakers.
 
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If the problem is described in English I think in English.

Your question is maybe typical of people who grew up in an area where there is only one main language spoken. I am from the Netherlands, and I am since my childhood pretty much used to hear and speak different languages. It's also something that you are not even aware of sometimes. I am not switching from English to Dutch or visa versa at a deliberate moment. I just notice myself that now I am thinking in English, now in Dutch. And when I was married to a Spanish girl, also in Spanish. There is something like language code switching. I have that with my daughter who is fluent in Dutch and Spanish. We used to switch language after even a few sentences, or even say one part of the sentence in Dutch and the subordinate clause in Spanish. Without even thinking about it. It is actually 'dead easy'. They are just different tools in your mind. One time you 'grab' English, another time Dutch, then you use Spanish. Like a craftsman switches screwdrivers.
 
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I'm a visual thinker. I don't really think in a certain language, it's more that I have diagrams and physical objects in my mind which I translate to words on the fly when I'm writing or speaking. I was raised bilingually and I've had many people wonder why I switch language mid-sentence when I speak with them. These days, I also use random German words when I talk to people, on account of speaking lots of German with my girlfriend's friends and family.

The same with reading code, I just translate it to tangible concepts in my mind and then forget the language it was written in.

Having said all that, it really grates on my mind when a program is written in a different language than English (at least, when the keywords of that language are English).
 
Pete Letkeman
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That sounds like an interesting way to get things done Ganesh.

Jan de Boer wrote:Your question is maybe typical of people who grew up in an area where there is only one main language spoken.

Without a doubt, nearly everyone in the 100 square miles from me speak/communicate in English (at least publicly).

Jan de Boer wrote:We used to switch language after even a few sentences, or even say one part of the sentence in Dutch and the subordinate clause in Spanish. Without even thinking about it.

I've experienced this many times when talking with my Mom.
While I can understand some Low German when it's spoken, I always respond in English and I cannot write in low German.
Wikipedia notes/articles on Low German and High German.

Al Hobbs wrote:omg im so glad I speak english...  Can't imagine trying to read documentation in another language, considering the names of methods can be somewhat abstract even for english speakers.

If you work with some SAP products then you may experience some difficulties. Some SAP products are first developed with by Germans with the German language in mind.
As a result some database field names (and other things) are not translated into English and you simply have to remember what those fields are used for even if you cannot pronounce or read the field name.
I know this because my brother works as a SAP HANA integration/system admin and has been working with SAP systems for more then ten years.
 
Jan de Boer
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Pete Letkeman wrote:I've experienced this many times when talking with my Mom. While I can understand some Low German when it's spoken, I always respond in English



Good. Low German is almost Dutch by the way. But it is not really what I was referring too (code switching). Both me and my daughter are fluent in Dutch and Spanish. So we bóth switch languages. Like I say something in Dutch, she answers in Spanish, then I reply in Spanish. And two minutes later she says something in Dutch and suddenly we are both speaking Dutch again instead of Spanish. Fluent and grammatically correct in both languages.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code-switching





 
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I have read more than my share of documents written by people whose native language was English, but you could hardly tell from their writing, plenty of stuff written by people used to unspecified Indian languages, and innumerable hardware manuals written in "Chinglish". For the most part, I could deal with all of those.

What really drove me crazy was a major software product whose authors were evidently Slavic - so their native tongue was something more or less like Russian.

Russian does not employ the definite article, and there's a big difference when doing nuanced explanations in English between "a" blivit, "the" blivit and simply (and generally abstractly) "blivit". Especially since the other thing Russian doesn't do is form plurals as easily as English does.  Actually. if I remember aright, the Russian past tenses, like Spanish ones, don't match up precisely with how English does it.

At any rate, it made it really very difficult to decode some of their descriptions and explanations.

I guess you'd call that the flip side of the coin of reading things in another language.

Anyway, when you read or hear something in another language, trying to translate on the fly slows you down and can cause you to mis-interpret what was said, thanks to the differences in grammar, word meaning and idiom. It's best if you can consume it "as is", then translate it as a gestalt into your native idiom. Which actually for me, as for Stephan, is primarily visual.
 
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(Slightly off topic)

For people whose primary language is not English, I recommend

   http://www.learnersdictionary.com

It's created by the people who make the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the gold standard for American English (as the Oxford English Dictionary is for British).  If you google define moot you will get dictionary.com, which I feel is less reliable.  I noticed this in Ganesh's text file of meanings and idioms, where the definition of moot is "subject to debate."  But in the US, it often means almost the opposite: "deprived of practical significance".  This is where learnersdictionary.com shines:

 
Tim Holloway
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"Moot" is a good example of a word which can be almost equally confusing to both native speakers and foreign audiences. And thus should be avoided when writing for an international or even non-technical audience unless you specifically want all the nuances to be considered.

It's an old word from before English was invaded by French, and originally more likely to be used as a verb than an adjective(?). You almost never see it in this sense anymore except in the past tense and relating to parliamentary proceedings, where "So-and-So mooted something." Which actually means more like "opened a debate on...". Older writings (and I think Tolkien) may reference it in its original noun meaning, where it actually means (and is related to) "public meeting",

The term "moot point" may be interpreted naively as "settled", but actually means more like "we could debate this all day, but there are more important issues to address". So we could form a moot to work out the details, but we probably won't.

And I still think we should bring back þe letter "þorn!"
 
Ganesh Patekar
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Knute Snortum wrote:For people whose primary language is not English, I recommend
  http://www.learnersdictionary.com


Thank you wasn't aware of the dictionariy specifically for NAE. I've been using Oxford online dictionary for both UK and US. I do have hard copy of It too, English to Marathi.

Most of the time I see both versions to know how words are pronounced in both by looking at phonetics.
Example: Vitamin UK: /ˈvɪtəmɪn/ US: /ˈvaɪdəmən/

It's created by the people who make the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the gold standard for American English (as the Oxford English Dictionary is for British).  If you google define moot you will get dictionary.com, which I feel is less reliable.


Yes there is so much wrong information too on the internet being available. Recent example, for this post I was looking for an idiom for additional benefits to something which is already good then I found meaning of an idiom
"icing (NA: the frosting) on the cake" whose meaning here -->idioms.thefreedictionary.com is

An additional benefit or positive aspect to something that is already considered positive or beneficial. Example:  Having all of you here for my birthday has really been wonderful. This gift is icing on the cake.
Just to make sure I checked on oxford online dictionary which gave different meaning i.e. An attractive but inessential addition or enhancement. which could have made my post mean something totally contrary.
 

I noticed this in Ganesh's text file of meanings and idioms, where the definition of moot is "subject to debate."  But in the US, it often means almost the opposite: "deprived of practical significance". This is where learnersdictionary.com shines:


I am not sure but here on Oxford dictionary:moot second meaning says Having little or no practical relevance, typically because the subject is too uncertain to allow a decision. doesn't this mean same as "deprived of practical significance" ?

This is how I use Uk and US version interchangeably.
OxfDict.png
[Thumbnail for OxfDict.png]
 
Knute Snortum
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"icing (NA: the frosting) on the cake" whose meaning here -->idioms.thefreedictionary.com is

An additional benefit or positive aspect to something that is already considered positive or beneficial. Example:  Having all of you here for my birthday has really been wonderful. This gift is icing on the cake.
Just to make sure I checked on oxford online dictionary which gave different meaning i.e. An attractive but inessential addition or enhancement. which could have made my post mean something totally contrary.


Yes, I feel that the OED definition is better, as it almost always is.  But the two definitions aren't that far apart.  You could say:

This cake is all I need, but the icing makes it even better!

So you see that the icing is a nonessential, yet very welcome, addition.
 
Knute Snortum
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Knute wrote:I noticed this in Ganesh's text file of meanings and idioms, where the definition of moot is "subject to debate."  But in the US, it often means almost the opposite: "deprived of practical significance". This is where learnersdictionary.com shines:


I am not sure but here on Oxford dictionary:moot second meaning says Having little or no practical relevance, typically because the subject is too uncertain to allow a decision. doesn't this mean same as "deprived of practical significance" ?

This is how I use Uk and US version interchangeably.  


The two meanings are close, but not quite the same.  I'm not a British English speaker, but I could imagine a conversation like this: "Is Tom guilty?  Well, there was a hung jury, so the point is moot."  I don't think an American would say that.  The phrase an American would use is "Too close to call."

Note to those in the UK: is my example something you would say?
 
Ganesh Patekar
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Knute Snortum wrote:You could say:
This cake is all I need, but the icing makes it even better!
So you see that the icing is a nonessential, yet very welcome, addition.


Ya! that sounds good now.
 
Tim Holloway
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Knute Snortum wrote:The phrase an American would use is "Too close to call."



Actually, as we've had recently illustrated, the American response would be "the judge declared a mistrial".

BTW, Ganesh, around here, we say /ˈvaɪtəmən/ , not /ˈvaɪdəmən/ !
 
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I think to me as a foreigner, the main challenge is not the programming constructs themselves (i.e. syntax; classes, methods, variables naming), but the communication we need to maintain in an understandable manner or documentation we need to produce (in presentable format).

So I think more of a challenge is for native English speakers to work with/among foreigners.

Using several desktop and web applications, I don't recall seeing some obviously wrong expressions (i.e. in tooltips), or grammatically incorrect buttons names or similar (not that I could undoubtedly identify that), but do you, English speakers spot these type of errors?

Probably not many companies in nowadays have linguistics department and not many companies who employ only native English speakers.

 
Ganesh Patekar
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Tim Holloway wrote:
BTW, Ganesh, around here, we say /ˈvaɪtəmən/ , not /ˈvaɪdəmən/ !


Made my eyes pop    Interesting to know that Oxford dictionary could go wrong too(?) since learnersdictionary:Vitamin has phonetics as you wrote i.e. US: /ˈvaɪtəmən/ but learnersdictionary also went wrong too(?) about UK phonetic where It has  /ˈvɪtəmən/ and on the other side Oxford says /ˈvɪtəmɪn/ Difference is mən and mɪn.

Why I'm focusing on phonetics because I was told in Eltis Symbiosis where I had joined English speaking course.
NAVitamin.png
[Thumbnail for NAVitamin.png]
Phonetics of NA:Vitamin according to OED
 
Ganesh Patekar
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Liutauras Vilda wrote:I think to me as a foreigner, the main challenge is not the programming constructs themselves (i.e. syntax; classes, methods, variables naming), but the communication we need to maintain in an understandable manner or documentation we need to produce (in presentable format).

So I think more of a challenge is for native English speakers to work with/among foreigners.

Indeed. Different in languages is a Big barrier to understand each other. Though most of Indians ( Educated?) speak English good enough to convey what they meant. I was introduced to English subject when I was in 5th standard at the age of 11 since my education was in Marathi medium but new generation I mean like my nephews who started learning ABCD... at the age of 4 will be very good in English communication.
 
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