Monday, March 5, 2012


A language changes the way that you think. I really enjoyed the book “Sophie’s World” because it was translated to English and is about philosophy. Some cultures have concepts that are really hard to translate into English, purely because there are no words to describe any of it. So for a long time I have thought wouldn’t it be cool to speak a foreign language. But in my early years of schooling I kept changing languages, French, then German then Indonesian. All Indonesian did was make my English spelling go from bad to worse. And so by the time I finished school, all I can really do is count to ten and say Hi.

Arabic sounds musical and looks very arty when written, but there doesn’t seem to be many interesting things in Arabic culture. Like most of the countries that speak it have been at war for centuries and I don’t think I’d have much reason to speak to those people. Maybe the Turks would be interesting. I like the stories of Lawrence of Arabia, Aladdin and Sinbad the Sailor.

Russian I like because I got romantic ideas of the country from reading “War and Peace” when I was in primary school. Also before that we had a game called Troika, that was a series of puzzle games. None of it was in English and that made it more fun than it otherwise would have been.

Spanish, I could be like Zorro, or Don Quixote. One day I plan to do that pilgrimage where you walk across Spain but I don’t know when. I also still like fencing. So there may be opportunities to use this language in the future and it be useful. Maybe I could go and see Carlos in Columbia, the bloke I boarded with at Uni.

Japanese has only recently become interesting. Mainly because of anime but also because of my old SNES games. Part of the allure of them is the foreign language and the alternate fantasy settings, their spirituality is nothing like ours. Subtitled is definitely better than dubbed and I’ve picked up the odd word through repetition. This is probably a language I can use with computer games. Plus Brother Jo is quite good at it, so I have at least one person to practice talking to. And using a skill like this is the only way to keep it. I have learnt quite a few programming languages not that I have never used once I learnt them. It seem like a bit of a waste of effort now.

These are the ones that I have been more interested in. German and French are a bit too familiar for my liking. Particularly German I seem to be able to guess what topic people are talking about from a paragraph or two. There are enough words that sound the same. Also these languages use the same Cyrillic alphabet and my Indonesian experience tells me that my spelling and grammar will get worse from reading it.

There is also ancient Greek and Hebrew. If I decide to be a Lutheran pastor a part of the training includes reading transcriptions of the original translations, Dad and Brother Levi can already do this. But there would not be many day-to-day uses for either of these languages.

Oh and there is chemistry, that qualifies as a language too, although I’m getting a bit rusty in it of late.

Why am I still interested in learning a new language? I like learning; I still think it’s romantic. It will also be useful in the eighth continent, the internet, when playing computer games. I believe everybody in the world should be able to play games together, League of legends is a good example of this, or at least it was. I remember trying to talk to people in Spanish.

I also have a fondness for fantasy, LOTR, TOME, ADOM, SLASH’EM, those sort of acronyms. It’s nice to hear where a culture was developed and how they base their outlook on life. Some cultures fundamentally believe in Original Sin, they need to work hard to learn to be good. Some believe they are destined to be god, if only they work hard enough. Some that there is nothing after death but the decaying flesh and so we should enjoy it while it lasts. For some people their ancestors are sacred, for some it is sportsmen, some have holy ground and others holy relics. Note that your philosophic outlook on life is fundamentally tied to your parent’s religious beliefs. The way that you express yourself and communicate is colored by the means that you use to communicate.

So when will I get the motivation required to fluently speak another language? Can I find someone somewhere to practice enough to be fluent?