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Nap Time!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Oh, noes!

Languages! Everyone needs to know more languages!
Although less than half the student body reports learning only English as their first language, many say that their non-English native languages have somehow become foreign as they have grown older.
Yes, when you live in an English-speaking country, other languages are foreign. The longer you live there, the more foreign those languages become to you. Check this out from "Meghan":
English taught me rules. Spanish made me a revolutionary. In English I can clearly express myself. Words flow out in essays of sound, and just as I can speak to a professor about politics I can drawl to a friend about Friday night plans. My English is a tyrant. It is regulated. Controlled. Divided and conquered until every piece is analyzed and stripped of meaning: patriotism, morality, freedom. My Spanish is raw and changing. It is a rebel fighter. In Spanish the words tumble out. Sometimes too fast, sometimes too slow, sometimes words that I don't even know the meanings of in English. Spanish lets me into a world where otherwise I could not be.
I would suggest that Meghan learn some English, then, to discover that conversational English need not be regulated, controlled, divided and conquered until every piece is... (how does someone write that with a straight face?) Obviously, if you spend your entire life seeing Spanish as your language of casual, unstructured communication, then English will seem rather rule-bound. For me, as a native English speaker, English is my "rebel fighter." Spanish is extremely rule-bound to me, because the only place it has in my life is "that extra language you're supposed to learn so people think you're smart." I certainly didn't gain any communication ability by learning Spanish, as any attitude or persona I could communicate in Spanish I could communicate far better in English because I'm proficient with it. Every language has its versions for various settings, and you aren't going to gain anything by learning another one, besides an ability to communicate with people who speak it. Meghan's Spanish "rebel fighter" came at the cost of an English one.

Point being, it's not like being multilingual gives you more humanity, puts deeper meaning in your life, or any of that crap. It gives you the ability to communicate with people who speak a different language. No more and no less.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 11/13/2007 12:03:00 AM #
Comments (1)
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the crux of the author/meghan's argument seems to be that "we are different people in the different languages we speak". um, maybe that's because "we" speak to different people differently? i certainly don't speak the same english around my grandparents as i do around my friends.

and besides, english is already a clusterfuck of a bunch of other languages. we have such an embarrass de riches of foreign phrases that we don't even bother to invent our own words for things like... embarrass de riches. the only goal of that seminar is to make people feel smug about how clever and worldly they are. ciao.
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