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    #1

    German literate

    Good Evening!
    I was wondering if I could use the verb literate to express that I do not know the German language.

    "Sorry but I am note German literate"

    I know literate could be used to say that you are not computer literate but is it possible to use it also for a language?

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    #2

    Re: German literate

    It's OK but I would prefer "I am not literate in German" or more simply/casually "I don't speak German".

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    #3

    Re: German literate

    Quote Originally Posted by billmcd View Post
    It's OK but I would prefer "I am not literate in German" or more simply/casually "I don't speak German".
    Could it also mean that although one may speak German he or she cannot read or write the language?

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    #4

    Re: German literate

    Quote Originally Posted by billmcd View Post
    It's OK but I would prefer "I am not literate in German" or more simply/casually "I don't speak German".
    Thanks. But can you use I do not speak German when you reply to an email? This has nothing to do with speaking but with reading German.

    Best Regards

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    #5

    Re: German literate

    Quote Originally Posted by dervast View Post
    Thanks. But can you use I do not speak German when you reply to an email? This has nothing to do with speaking but with reading German.

    Best Regards

    I think it is assumed that if you don't speak German, you also cannot read/write it.

    You could also say "I am not familiar with the German language".

    I am not a teacher. (But I do speak, read and write German)

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: German literate

    Quote Originally Posted by dervast View Post
    Good Evening!
    I was wondering if I could use the verb literate to express that I do not know the German language.

    "Sorry but I am note German literate"

    I know literate could be used to say that you are not computer literate but is it possible to use it also for a language?
    Interesting point! Given that 'literate' means 'lettered', one might suppose it would apply more to a language than to a computer. But I agree that, although you'd probably be understood if you said 'German-literate', it's certainly not a strong collocation.

    b

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    #7

    Re: German literate

    Quote Originally Posted by Searching for language View Post
    I think it is assumed that if you don't speak German, you also cannot read/write it.
    I know it is not so common but it is perfectly possible to read German without being able to speak it. The same may happen to other languages.
    I have many friends who do not speak or understand spoken English but can read it quite well and even write scientific papers in that language.

    In fact there are English courses aimed at only reading skills, many of the teachers in these courses mispronounce the English words on purpose to show the students it is not necessary to reproduce the correct pronunciation in order to understand written English.

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    #8

    Re: German literate

    Were it in German it would be easier:

    Entschuldigung, Ich kann kein Deutsch.

    I guess the German verb "kann" allows the reader to decide from context whether it is to mean "speak" or "read".
    Last edited by Abstract Idea; 23-Apr-2010 at 04:29. Reason: spelling correction

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    #9

    Re: German literate

    Quote Originally Posted by dervast View Post
    Good Evening!
    I was wondering if I could use the verb literate to express that I do not know the German language.

    "Sorry but I am note German literate"

    I know literate could be used to say that you are not computer literate but is it possible to use it also for a language?
    "I am not German literate" actually sounds wrong to me. You might say, "I am not literate in German." However, I would be a little confused about what you were trying to say. When we say, "I'm not literate," we generally mean that we cannot read or write. I doubt that that is what you are trying to say here.

    I would say one of the following, depending on the meaning:
    "I do not speak German."
    "I read German but do not speak it well."
    "I speak German but I can't read or write it very well." (This is possible, by the way.)

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    #10

    Re: German literate

    I would like to thank everyone that participated in a constructive manner. I would still need to ask something that I am not 100% percent that I got it right.
    Suppose that I do not speak German and at the same time I can not not read and write German at all (which is actually true). When I receive an email written in German and i reply "sorry I do not speak German" does this imply that I cannot also read them?

    Best Regards
    Alex.

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