Friday, August 28, 2009

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Twenty-Three


Aprenda línguas novas apenas para o divertimento

Μάθετε τις νέες γλώσσες ακριβώς για τη διασκέδαση

Выучьте новые языки как раз для потехи

Impari le nuove lingue appena per divertimento
23. Learn new languages just for fun.

I was going to have this one be Teach kids a new language each year of school, beginning with first grade, or even kindergarten but then I widened it out because I saw some books on sale at the store the other day that promised to let me learn languages while driving, and the only reason I didn't immediately buy at least one (if not more) was because Mr F and Mr Bunches were acting up and I had to wrestle them into submission.

Almost literally.

I still think kids should learn languages more early and learn more languages. We'd be better off cutting out "social studies" and putting in language teachers (who could be part time, after all) and exposing kids to languages and cultures before their brains are all old and calcified like mine, but learning languages isn't great just for kids, it's great for everyone.

I've learned at one time or another four languages (in addition to English), and not all of them were learned by necessity. I took Spanish in high school, because I had to take a language and it was easier to learn to say El medroso Senor Gill y las ranas than it was to say der gefürchtete Herr Gill und die Frösche.

Then, I learned Japanese in college just for the heck of it. That was the second-best class I took in college. Well, third, I guess, behind "guitar" and "astronomy."

Then I learned Arabic because I went to Morocco and didn't speak it but had to get around. That's where I picked up a bit of French, too, as well as being taught the key to proper French pronunciation (the key being: never say the last letter of the word.)

But I want to learn more. I'd really like to learn Russian. And Chinese. Not because I need to, but because I want to.

Learning new languages exercises parts of the brain that never get used otherwise, and creates an appreciation for the culture of the country or group whose language you're learning. It also helps make you more of a citizen of the world. Even if I only remember a few words of Arabic, and don't know how to read it anymore, (ماذا يعني هذا القول ، على أية حال؟ ?) I think the Moroccans I ran into appreciated my efforts to speak their language. Would I still like samurais if I hadn't studied Japanese? Probably. But I like to think I appreciate them a little more than the rest of my countrymen.

Learning someone else's language also helps make foreigners a little less foreign, and offers an insight into the culture that produced the language. Empathy, almost. I'm not saying people always learning other languages will end all wars or result in a unified world government. But it would result in everyone being a little smarter, and understanding each other just a little better.

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.


lisapepin said...

Don't get me started on astronomy. I took that class because you raved about how great it was, and it ended up being nothing but a bunch of math to help you figure out how far away stuff in the sky is from other stuff in the sky. We didn't study a single constellation. I was super pissed.

Briane P said...

Didn't you have a professor who tried to dump liquid nitrogen on you and it evaporated or sublimated before it hit you, making you glad you sat in the front row?

Not only that, but my class was supposed to go look at the stars and draw a star map. I faked it.

the bingo suite said...

Speaking about languages, it's also cool to know sign language.. helps you communicate with the hearing impaired ones.

Magandang Araw! (Tagalog)
It means Good Day!