Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Languages, Linguistics and Plans.

The more language systems you have installed in your mind - a.k.a., the more languages you know well - and the more diverse these languages are, the deeper is your understanding of language. I've got native-speaker competence in Russian and English, along with some leftovers of German and rudiments of Latin; that's better than nothing, but still only good enough to begin to understand what General Linguistics is all about. I wish I knew French, too, but the real breakthrough means stepping outside the Indo-European family. My long-term plans are to learn a language from every major family: Chinese or Japanese, Hebrew or Arabic, an American Indian language, Hungarian, Swahili – in no particular order. And, when I’ve got four or five language families covered, I want to learn Ancient Greek – to read Iliad in the original, that's why - or maybe another dead language, like Sanskrit. And some really primitive language, of the ones that require travelling to exotic places and learning by talking to native speakers. People in my family die in their 80’s or later, so I think I have a good chance to complete the plans and still have time left to put this knowlenge to use J

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