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When you want to express in russian that you speak a few languages besides russian. What is the common practise?

"Я говорю на нескольких иностранных языках." is acceptable grammar-wise? and would it be ладно to say: "странных" instead of: "иностранных"?

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    "Странный" means 'strange, weird, queer, odd, unusual', it never means 'foreign'. And 'ладно' is not actually 'OK', it means 'well, if you wish...' or 'alright, I'll do it (so that to get rid of you)', it expresses agreement, often reluctant, and is used only as an answer, never inside a sentence.
    – Yellow Sky
    Dec 9 '15 at 15:50
  • the word: "ладно" as taught in the book we are using means "ok" but there was no indication of relectuant agreement. Is there a word that is better in your opinion and is neutral or leans towards positivity?
    – Ева
    Dec 9 '15 at 16:39
  • "Ладно" may or may not have the shade of reluctance, it depends on your intonation. The most neutral answer meaning agreement is "хорошо", but it cannot be used in the question above, either. What fits that question is 'правильно' - 'correct'.
    – Yellow Sky
    Dec 9 '15 at 17:06
  • copy your answer into the answer area and i will award you the points.
    – Ева
    Dec 9 '15 at 17:11
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    It is grammatically correct, but sounds a bit formal in style (suitable for filling a questionary about skills). Traditionally, another expression is used much more widely: "я знаю (он знает) несколько языков". The reason is that for long time in Russia (Soviet period) language learners had almost no opportunity of communication with native speakers, therefore the word "говорю" in the context of bookish knowledge used to sound a bit unnatural.
    – Alex_ander
    Dec 10 '15 at 5:40
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"Я говорю на нескольких иностранных языках." is absolutely correct, both lexically and grammatically.

Странный means 'strange, weird, queer, odd, unusual', it never means 'foreign'. Иностранный is a compound adjective formed from иная+страна ('another'+'country'). Странный is also derived from страна, 'country', but in a rather tricky way: first, the noun странник, 'traveller, wanderer' was formed from it, and странный is an adjective from странник. The meaning of странный developed from its original meaning 'pertaining to travellers, wanderers' in such a way: 'travelling' > 'from far-away lands' > 'of different culture, unusual' > 'strange'. Nowadays the connection of the words страна, странник, and cтранный is not obvious for an average Russian native speaker, and cтранный does not mean 'foreign' any more.

And ладно is not actually 'OK', it means 'well, if you wish...' or 'alright, I'll do it (so that to get rid of you)', it expresses agreement, often reluctant, and is used only as an answer, never inside a sentence. Ладно may or may not have the shade of reluctance, it depends on your intonation. The most neutral answer meaning agreement is хорошо, but it cannot be used in the question above, either. The Russian word that fits that question is правильно, 'correct'.

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    I thought that Странный developed from Странник because for agricultural, settled people, it's kind of weird to be a stranger. Something alike with how in Lord of The Ring Hobbits were suspicious for Aragorn, because he was a stranger, which was unusual and weird for them. Please correct me if I'm wrong, and sorry for bad English
    – Alissa
    Dec 10 '15 at 16:16
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    Also, ладно is sometimes used in sentences like "он был ладно сложен". I assume it's a bit bookish or even archaic, but it is grammatically correct.
    – Alissa
    Dec 10 '15 at 16:18
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You could also omit the word "иностранных" altogether:

Я говорю на нескольких языках.

I speak several languages.

"Foreign" is implied here.

Or you could say

Я знаю несколько языков.

I know several languages.

Note the genitive case here.

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    "Foreign" is not usually implied if you speak several languages, for example, a person living in Chuvashia, Russia, can typically speak several languages, usually Russian, Chuvash, Tatar, and a Mordvinic, and none of them is foreign, those are the languages that are native and widely spoken in Chuvashia.
    – Yellow Sky
    Dec 9 '15 at 22:36
  • @YellowSky, IMHO, this is a rather fuzzy distinction... I would think that to most people in Russia, Chusvash is just as foreign as English. Is French a foreign language to a German, but not to a German-speaking Swiss?
    – Dima
    Dec 9 '15 at 23:24
  • In a multi-lingual area like Chuvashia, the many local languages are not foreign, they are native and have been spoken there for centuries. Such areas are many in the world, that is why 'I speak several languages' doesn't always mean 'I speak several foreign languages' as you said, that's all I want to tell you. Could you translate your phrase "to most people in Russia, Chuvash is just as foreign as English" into Russian? Will you use 'иностранный' for 'foreign' in it? ))
    – Yellow Sky
    Dec 9 '15 at 23:53

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