Wednesday, August 01, 2018

On Foreign Languages

One of the things I wish I was better at was foreign languages.

I have, over the course of a lifetime, picked up smatterings of (in no particular order) Italian, Spanish, Russian, German, Old English, Latin, New Testament Greek, Hungarian, Russian, Cornish, Welsh, Breton, Irish Gaelic, Scots Gaelic, Manx Gaelic, Icelandic, Korean, Japanese, French, and Klingon.

You would think, with this fabulous list, I could actually speak more of these languages than I can.  Sadly, my abilities are limited.

My best (if you had to press me) would be Japanese and German (which is really based on my high school German).  Everything else was either class or self study - but never really to the point of actually being able to use them.

Which is the part that really bothers me.

Because I really wish I had some level of fluency.  It is one of those things that actually puts me to shame, that others can speak my mother tongue as well (or better) than I AND speak their own mother tongue in a way that I cannot.

I mean, it is not (these days) as if one does not have access to the ability to learn almost any language one wanted (except, sadly, Bactrian.  We simply do not have enough to know what it was).  It really is a matter of the will - and the ability to focus.

I do not know that I will every reach fluency in anything - but I am determined to reach a better level of communication in something.  It sure is a better use of my time than simply seeing what the internet news is.


PeteForester1 said...

It's all a matter of need, TB. It's natural not to expend more energy than needed. Learning a language you have little use for is one of those expenditures. True; a foreigner coming to America may be able to speak English better than you can speak their language, but that's a matter of necessity on the foreigner's part, as English is the language of business.

In my mind, the shame is on the person who comes to this country and doesn't learn OUR language, expecting US to accommodate THEM. Indeed, if I moved to Mexico, I could and WOULD become FLUENT in Spanish. It would be a matter of need (and want) for me, and a matter of respect from me to the people of my host country...

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I suppose that is true, Pete: I probably know Japanese better than anything else because our Sensei is Japanese and so having some Japanese is both polite and allows me to follow his conversations a bit. That said, I do still wish I had more. I have found learning other languages helps me with the structure of my native tongue.

And yes, were I to move somewhere else, I would have to learn the language. Heck, if I travel to another country I try to learn something.

deborah harvey said...

more than one language-optimum 5- staves off alzheimer's.
watch internet soap operas and mysteries in language of choice. duolingo and other language teaching sites on internet.
ability to learn languages is inherited. i have none but husband and daughter a fairly good at it.