OK, i couldn’t resist, here a few more comments about languages in that Slashdot article about languages:
I’m currently living with four (4) girls (three daughters, wife) all of which are able to speak in riddles and conundrums that they themselves understand, while leaving me completely at a loss of any valuable information.
Interestingly enough, this Girlspeak language transcends cultural boundaries! It is simply amazing how two girls can communicate without actually knowing the native tongue of the other.
adding German to my curriculum tacked one extra semester onto my studies. To say it was not encouraged is understating the case: I was told not to waste my time. Years have passed and the rest of my studies are some vague blur involving plumbing; but I can still speak German.
I learned German for three years, thinking it might be good for science. I even stayed with a German family for six weeks one summer. What I discovered: The Germans mostly speak better English than 3 years worth of German, and they’re usually eager to practice it. Had I learned Spanish instead, at least I could converse with the gardeners around here.
Germany is the only place where I’ve asked a question in english to someone off the street and have the person turn around and walk away. Sure the french may berate you, but I’d rather like that. Choose your poison.
Russian is rarely spoken outside of Kaliningrad and Karlovy Vary, but is widely understood (though rarely very welcome.)