Genie grants you a language, which would you choose?

General discussion about learning languages
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Re: Genie grants you a language, which would you choose?

Postby Nogon » Sun Oct 11, 2020 3:34 pm

A difficult question.

Japanese maybe? It's such a fascinating language.
Or Hebrew? Would love to be able to read Amos Oz's and David Grossman's books in their original language.
Or Polish? For Olga Tokarczuk's books.
Or svenskt teckenspråk (Swedish sign language)? It's beautiful and fascinating. And totally different from all languages I ever learned.
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: 1281 / 2000 Pages read in Afrikaans
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SC 2020/2021
: 55 / 100 Books
: 26 / 100 Films

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Black Belt - 2nd Dan
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Re: Genie grants you a language, which would you choose?

Postby Iversen » Sun Oct 11, 2020 3:50 pm

I assume that I can keep all my current languages? In that case I can't see any reason to choose a language where there are so many sources available that I could do without the assistance of an otherwordly entity, and - following the suggestions put forward by Earth - I would choose the receive an extinct and lost language for free - like for instance Etruscan, whose last known torch-bearer is said to have been the emperor Claudius. I would then write a textbook and a grammar and a (small) dictionary, and maybe 67 or 68 fullblown linguistic nerds in the academical world would come to beg me for more information, and I could allow myself to do hourlong speeches about a subject where nobody else would dare to contradict me. Maybe a few of them would even go as far as to learn to speak the language, and then I would have somebody to speak to.

Etruscan grave monument for signore Alpha Apna (Antique Museum, Århus).jpg
Etruscan grave monument for signore Alpha Apna (Antique Museum, Århus).jpg (7.08 KiB) Viewed 564 times

Other extinct and lost languages might also be tempting - like for instance the language spoken by the inhabitants of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. Their language may have been some kind of Proto-Proto-Dravidian, but nobody knows. However the genie only allowed me to choose one language, so I'll probably have to leave Mohenjodarianandharappan to somebody else (preferably a person with a working knowledge of some modern Dravidian languages to assess the possible connection back in time).
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Re: Genie grants you a language, which would you choose?

Postby SCMT » Sun Oct 11, 2020 3:54 pm


Of all of the languages I would like to someday learn, it's by far the most daunting.
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Orange Belt
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Tempted by: Latin, German
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Re: Genie grants you a language, which would you choose?

Postby jmar257 » Sun Oct 11, 2020 4:32 pm

Either Mandarin or Arabic. I will probably dabble in both eventually, but unless something changes (and it can) I don't foresee myself interested in them enough to reach that high a level. But it'd be cool to get one for free, and I think I'd lean Arabic. I see myself more interested in those areas and their history than in China, but also knowing Chinese as a gateway to learning more about Asia seems cool.

It'd also be fun to pick some obscure but hard language, but then when would I use it? And while I agree that the fun is in learning the language (vs. just being given one), there's plenty more languages to learn after being given this hypothetical one.
2 x

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Re: Genie grants you a language, which would you choose?

Postby sporedandroid » Sun Oct 11, 2020 4:57 pm

If I could, I would just ask to know Spanish at a perfect native level. It’s already my heritage language, so it’s at some rusty intermediate level right now. I feel guilty for not being better at Spanish, but I honestly don’t feel like putting effort into improving. If I have to go with the original offer maybe Icelandic. I already tried to learn it nine years ago, but it was incredibly hard because of how obscure it is.
3 x

Orange Belt
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Re: Genie grants you a language, which would you choose?

Postby lichtrausch » Sun Oct 11, 2020 6:34 pm

Arabic. It's the language with the biggest gap between wanting to know it and (lack of) enthusiasm to put in the work.
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Re: Genie grants you a language, which would you choose?

Postby tarvos » Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:20 pm

3 x
Look at the shell that is you
Empty, fragile , weak
Soon the battle is over, lost to apathy

Is a girl.

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Re: Genie grants you a language, which would you choose?

Postby garyb » Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:46 pm

Russian is probably at the top of the list of "would like to speak but can't be bothered studying" for me, plus it would make the rest of the Slavic family more accessible.
4 x

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Green Belt
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Re: Genie grants you a language, which would you choose?

Postby Neurotip » Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:50 pm

tarvos wrote:Finnish

I was going to say Finnish too! I just can't see myself ever learning it; I'm drawn to it for its phonaesthetic beauty but not for any other reason, so I don't think it would ever reach the top of the list. But it is so beautiful that years ago when I used to work on a ward with several Finnish nurses, I would literally hide behind doors just to listen to them talk to each other.

I am a little bit disturbed by how often Icelandic (one of my current langs) and Arabic (next year's project) are appearing in this thread :shock:
4 x
Corrections welcome here

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Re: Genie grants you a language, which would you choose?

Postby David27 » Sun Oct 11, 2020 9:35 pm

I’ve enjoyed all the answers here. I intentionally picked B2-C1, because there will still be learning and hard work to put in, and for me that’s the most fun stage to be in. And as mentioned it will help expand horizons to other languages in the sprachbund of your chose language. But I respect those who say they would walk away (I would not), after all, maybe it’s a naughty genie who has hidden strings attached à la monkey paw.
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