Finnish and English fluently, some Swedish and a bit of German and Estonian. Let's say 3, I thought I couldn't speak Swedish enough until a friend's grandmother didn't know any English and I still found myself having an actual conversation with her.
I only speak English with people outside my family.
I have a passing understanding of German, but I don't use it for much of anything outside my family beyond listening to music. Mostly for a lack of knowing many German speakers in the southern United States.
I know enough Spanish to get by in menial day-to-day stuff, I can tell when someone is talking shit to or about me, and I can threaten to impale someone with the nearest blunt object. That last one is important because when you've caught someone talking shit about you in another language, your threat has to be linguistically complex enough to make them have no doubt you understood everything.
I travel a lot and I used to live in Europe and Japan and have conducted business globally. Now, that I think of it, I probably qualify as a polyglot and I'm really good at picking up languages. I'm fluent in English as my mother tongue. I read poorly or not at all, but am more than conversational in the following: French, German, Swiss German, Italian, Czech, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Thai, and Hebrew. I speak enough of the following to get around, but I am by no means conversational: Gaelic, Sinhala, Portuguese, Cantonese, Hindi or Urdu (I can never remember but someone told me they were mostly the same). Mandarin kicked me in the head because I have no inflection in my voice and the tonal changes don't come out for me, so I it gave up. I can piece together Polish and some of the other Slavic languages from a mix of Russian and Czech. Slovak and Czech are really close, so I guess I can count that one, too.
EDIT: Sorry, that was probably confusing. Reworded for clarification.
I speak English and German. But not so much the latter after 2-3 years and have become somewhat rusty. I remember the times I spent learning it, going from regular to an ap class, even buying German short stories and reading for hours to test my knowledge on it. Ah... the caffeine / doughnut filled craze of that room, and meine Deustch Leherer during my other wise boring three years in high school is one of the few cherished memories I could care to keep from that time.
British English, learned enough German in school to desperately get by in Germany (though they all speak English now anyway...), also learned enough Korean to desperately get by in Korea, and I can read, write and speak Chinese 'properly' now. I say 'properly' because I can talk about pretty complex things, could be dumped anywhere in China and have no problems at all with anything, but I'll still regularly be stumped by something because new words are just too new - if I've not heard it before, I have no chance of hazarding a guess at what it means. There's no Latin, Greek, Germanic or whatever other basis for me to go from. It's just pure Chinese. Either way, I can use Chinese forums with relative ease now, if that's any measure to go by.
My question is: At what point do you consider yourself 'capable' in a language? I often wonder if people claim themselves to know XYZ languages and hence consider themselves multi-lingual, yet the reality is they can only say maybe the ten basic phrases given in a typical guide book.
I've mentioned here that I have abilities with four languages, but for the reason outlined above, I chose 'two' as my response to the poll. English and Chinese. And even then, I think my German and Korean is good enough to be considered something of a genuine language ability. I guess the main factor for me is that I haven't a hope in hell of being able to conduct any kind of in-depth dialogue with a German or Korean person. Yet in English and Chinese I can do that. @Doktorin Zylinder , are you seriously 'more than conversational' in 16 or so languages? I'm surprised you're able to do Cantonese yet had to cut out Mandarin. Cantonese has more tones and inflections than Mandarin and is grammatically far more complex.
@Doktorin Zylinder , are you seriously 'more than conversational' in 16 or so languages? I'm surprised you're able to do Cantonese yet had to cut out Mandarin. Cantonese has more tones and inflections than Mandarin and is grammatically far more complex.