Making Myself Feel Smart

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Today I’m thankful for languages.  No, really.

I studied French in high school.  I remember enough to be understood and I use my phone to practice.  At university I took Russian.  I was very tired of French.  I can ask, in Russian, the location of the train station but I won’t understand the answer.

Languages fascinate me.  I don’t go to the extent of tracing the history of every diacritic, but seeing how words evolve from common roots is truly interesting.  It shows the evolution of ideas, when groups divided or came together.  Learning another language exercises the brain and broadens a person’s horizons.

I’m a native English speaker.  English is a stepchild language if there ever was one.  First it was just another Germanic language, but then the Norse came and give it all sorts of North Germanic influences that made it unique.  THEN the Normans invaded, who had originally spoken Norse but changed to French, and they had a massive impact, leaving Latin and Romance traces everywhere.  As English speakers spread their particular varieties starting including traces of native languages.  English in India is influenced by hundreds of Indian languages.  Spanish is a large player in the United States.  Even in New Zealand Maori has had a large impact.  I think it’s cool, that languages are adapted to circumstances as they arise.  It isn’t a formal progression.  It’s messy and organic, like the rest of life.  They evolve!

I’m trying to learn some Italian.  It’s easier to speak quickly than some others.  In Finnish it seems like every word is 30 letters long, but they are fun words.

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