6.01.2009

Personalized Language list

Reading an article from a Lebanese linguistics professor and people had been asking him about what "essential" "key" or "must learn" languages they should study. Many people would put Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, French etc (aside from English) on this list, but his was not a static, hard-and-fast list of the most important languages. He stated that for someone with an interest and motivation to learn various languages, a solid half-dozen is an attainable goal, and they should be under the following guidelines:
1. Classical language related to your culture
2. Modern Culturally significant language
3. Language of International significance
4. Exotic language
There will be opportunity for more than one language for more than one of these listings, but for someone of American background or culture he suggested Classical Greek or Latin for the first Criteria (I took Latin for four years, but you'd be CRAZY to pore over it alone for no reason), something like German or Spanish or French for the second, English naturally as the predominant international language, but Chinese certainly qualifies. For the exotic languages, people were suggesting everything from Thai and Russian to Breton and Basque. They're obviously less useful, as are learning Classical languages, but I understand their significance. Arabic can certainly make it in there in one category or another, as well as Hindi or Japanese.
I found it interesting.
And I should be updating about my recent much-awaited trip to Thailand. I was only there for three days and intended to post three separate entries for each one. I probably still will, but I didn't bring my computer with me and have been swamped since I got back. Thoughts and impressions of Bangkok are forthcoming.

5 comments:

la viajera said...

so did that article make you change your list? I think mine might have.

Alan Missroon said...

Not sure. I've studied Latin... it's a great start grammatically (it's grammar bootcamp for English speakers), but I wouldn't spend any more time with it now. For classical/cultural significance (and even international reach, aside from the factions of all the dialects and that it's not 'classical' arabic that's spoken today), I'd say Arabic. for #2, I'd say German and/or Spanish/French. International is covered by English and Chinese (to which one could add Hindi), and for exotic, I've got Thai and Russian to continue working on. You...?

Bill Chapman said...

I'm all in favour of any language learning. One useful language you have not mentioned is Esperanto. Take a look at www.esperanto.net

Alan Missroon said...

I took that Esperanto course years ago. Nice theoretical linguistically unifying concept, but I fear it doesn't go much past that. 2 million people is a lot, but not when dispersed among 7 billion. Chinese and English take the cake there. There was a study I was reading about, the results of which suggest students learning TWO unrelated languages will learn both faster than students learning one alone. I feel this might be the niche of the 'planned' language, or IAL, but even so, if you're going to learn two languages, why not pick two widely spoken ones and learn something else useful like Indonesian or Spanish?

la viajera said...

Ok, so here's my list.
1- greek if I ever get to it. But this category isn't on the top of my list.
2- French
3- Spanish
4- Aymara...maybe
I also want to learn Chinese but don't know where to put it.
:)