Solving My Personal Linguistic Dilemma

BalboaSince pretty much forever I’ve been learning French. Not full time or anything, but its been an ongoing subtle effort. Being Canadian means I got plenty of it in school. Plus I’ve taken classes and tried myriad online learning sites. I think it’s a lovely language, and I really like it a lot. How good am I at it though? Pretty damn sucky. So sucky that I don’t even know how to say, “pretty damn sucky” in French. Fast forward to October 2010, inside a burger joint in Oxford. My dining companion, who is a ridiculous super-genius, broaches the subject of which language she should learn next. You know, after having mastered 44* other ones or whatever. This is naturally a traumatizing conversation for those of us who don’t even feel like we’re good at our native language yet. Fast forward to this morning, I don’t know the date. You can look at your calendar though. I was considering this language dilemma, while murdering a bowl of Corn Pops, and started building this comparison in my wee mind. So the following is my logic on where I should focus the full glorious power of my futile linguistic learning cannon.

I decided to make a list for the three languages I am most interested in. The theory being that this effort should help me visualize my best choice.

French

  1. Already mediocre at it
  2. 16th most spoken language in the world
  3. Hate the food (I love the pastries though)
  4. Very few nearby locations for immersion (Quebec is about it in the Americas)
  5. Natalie Portman speaks it
  6. Generally considered the moderate difficulty of these three to learn
  7. Quite good movies and music
  8. High likelihood to be useful post-zombipocalypse
  9. Hard because I can’t roll my r’s
  10. Pretty good at foot-soccer-ball, but lame at hockey

Spanish

  1. I’ve seen some Dora episodes
  2. 2nd most spoken language in the world
  3. Love the food
  4. Very few locations not nearby for immersion (Canada is about it in the Americas)
  5. Natalie Portman doesn’t speak it, but maybe will someday
  6. Generally considered the easiest of these three to learn
  7. Okay movies and music
  8. Moderate likelihood to be useful post-zombipocalypse
  9. Hard because I can’t roll my r’s
  10. Very good at foot-soccer-ball, but horrible at hockey

Japanese

  1. I never know what they’re saying in Anime movies
  2. 9th most spoken language in the world
  3. Like the food, but can only eat a teeny percent of it all
  4. Nowhere in the Americas is good for immersion
  5. Natalie Portman speaks it
  6. Generally considered the most difficult of these three to learn
  7. Really good movies and music
  8. Super likelihood to be useful post-zombipocalypse
  9. Yay, no rolling r’s
  10. Okay at foot-soccer-ball, but not good at hockey

Well, if you judge by the reasoning, then I’m changing my focus to be Spanish. Maybe I could putter at learning Japanese some too. The list shows that French is what I don’t need to keep learning though. I’m going to nap on it, then go grab some tacos, and consider if I’m ready for that change. In the meantime, share your linguistic dilemma comments below in either French, Spanish or Japanese, but not English. Oh, or Esperanto because it’s cool too.

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//shawn

* 44 of course being an exaggeration, but you get the point. It seems like 44 to us normal folk.

Photo Credit: My friend Charles took it in Panama City while I loitered. Turns out photography is more useful than loitering in the long run.

3 thoughts on “Solving My Personal Linguistic Dilemma”

  1. I enjoyed your lists =) I learned French in high school, much to my father’s horror (he’s Italian – born there – my Nonna and Papa didn’t speak much English, what was I doing and all that). I don’t remember much but knew enough to order food and get around Paris when we lived there a couple of years ago. But I really wish I’d learned Spanish or Mandarin or something I might find more useful today. It’s not going so well, though – I signed up for a traveller’s Spanish class in November and it got delayed, then cancelled…and we’ll be in South America in three months. Good luck with it all!

    1. Thanks, Andrea! I am definitely list driven. If something doesn’t have some form of bullet point I quickly become sad and confused.

      I bet you can learn quite a bit of Spanish in three months. There’s a lot of free online tools to get you started. Of course you’ll learn far more once you’re there.

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