If you could learn any language without considering outside factors...

General discussion about learning languages
aledda
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Re: If you could learn any language without considering outside factors...

Postby aledda » Fri May 18, 2018 3:56 pm

heartlandexpat wrote:I was thinking about this the other day: if there were no outside factors, what language would I want to learn?

By outside factors I mean: usefulness, ease of learning, where it's spoken and its culture, etc. In other words, focusing solely on how the language's sounds and its intrigue.

(...)

What about y'all? What language do you find really pretty/interesting and would learn if you didn't have any outside influences? Why? Do you think you'll ever learn it? I'm curious!

When I was little I wanted to learn Portuguese and Italian because I loved how they sound, and Greek and Latin because I found them interesting/fascinating since they were so "foreign" to me. I don't think I ever considered the "usefulness" when I said I wanted to learn any of them... maybe the ease of learning for Portuguese or Italian, but it wasn't the main reason.

I don't think I would spend my time studying a language that I don't like or that I don't consider interesting (English being the exception since my parents made me study it... now I like it). For me, those are the main reasons to learn a language. The "outside factors" just help me decide which one I want to start learning first.

That is why I haven't learned French (I only learned some basic sentences when I went to France) even though it has such a rich culture. It's not that I hate the language, but I don't love it either, and since it's similar to Spanish in so many ways, it doesn't even arouse my curiosity.

Just for curiosity, I would learn Ancient Greek, Latin, Esperanto and probably Arabic too. Another language I find very interesting is Mapuche/Mapudungun.

tastyonions wrote:With Portuguese, on the other hand, I always loved the way it sounded, and that has not worn off one bit after studying it. :-)

Same here.
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Re: If you could learn any language without considering outside factors...

Postby eido » Wed May 23, 2018 1:51 am

- A Native American language. I've found online classes for Cherokee, but I'm from an area where Ute has been historically spoken, so it would make sense to learn that. It's supposedly one of the easier ones to learn, but that doesn't really matter to me. Navajo sounds fun and is a bit more practical because there are more speakers than either of the two I've listed, but it takes a lot of time to master. I won't say it's hard, since people like to discourage people from saying things are difficult these days.
- A Nordic language, mainly Icelandic. I'm working on this, but it's a slow go. My fault, mostly. (I'm learning to say that, too.)
- Korean.
- Japanese.
- Chinese.
- Polish.
- Another language that's not widely spoken, like Greenlandic as @tarvos mentioned.

I think that covers it.
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Re: If you could learn any language without considering outside factors...

Postby mick33 » Wed May 23, 2018 3:15 am

I only considered outside factors once when I started learning a language and that was when I chose to take Spanish classes in high school, instead of French or German. Two of my friends told me I should be taking German like they were. They said learning German would be better for getting a job (particularly in international business, I believe) but I said that's only true if you live in Europe, whereas I could use Spanish without having to leave the US. These two friends did end up living in Germany for a couple of years, and they did get to use the German they had learned and even improved their speaking ability in the language. I still have never had a job where I really needed Spanish :oops: :cry: .
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Re: If you could learn any language without considering outside factors...

Postby rdearman » Wed May 23, 2018 9:53 am

eido wrote:I won't say it's hard, since people like to discourage people from saying things are difficult these days.

Who are these "people"? If something is hard to do then it makes it more satisfying to have accomplished it. That makes no sense to me. Just like when they had this fashion for making all children "winners" by handing out "participation trophies". Kids aren't stupid and they know who excels at something and who is mediocre. Participation trophies just made those who excelled stop trying, since they wouldn't get any more recognition than those that didn't even bother, and the mediocre children didn't bother to improve since they were going to get the same trophy as the best player. So basically it was a lose/lose situation for everyone. So whoever these "people" are, give them a slap and tell them to wake up to the reality of life. Some things are bloody hard, so suck it up and get on with it, and when you achieve it then be proud of yourself.
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Re: If you could learn any language without considering outside factors...

Postby eido » Wed May 23, 2018 2:05 pm

rdearman wrote:Who are these "people"? If something is hard to do then it makes it more satisfying to have accomplished it.

I've seen variations of the phrase I mentioned on various sites, but I can't remember where I've seen them now. I tried looking them up just now but all I came up with is "Japanese is challenging, but not impossible". AJATT's courses might be in the same vein. Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding the guy who runs the site. There's versions which are actually saying that the language is not hard, it's just your attitude toward it that makes it difficult. And me being me, I'm like, "Well, that's inspiring!" But I also know I'm one of the mediocre, to use your words. That's why I always give up on Japanese. I know not being able to defend my point looks bad, but I'll have to deal.
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Re: If you could learn any language without considering outside factors...

Postby Xenops » Wed May 23, 2018 7:16 pm

eido wrote:
rdearman wrote:Who are these "people"? If something is hard to do then it makes it more satisfying to have accomplished it.

I've seen variations of the phrase I mentioned on various sites, but I can't remember where I've seen them now. I tried looking them up just now but all I came up with is "Japanese is challenging, but not impossible". AJATT's courses might be in the same vein. Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding the guy who runs the site. There's versions which are actually saying that the language is not hard, it's just your attitude toward it that makes it difficult. And me being me, I'm like, "Well, that's inspiring!" But I also know I'm one of the mediocre, to use your words. That's why I always give up on Japanese. I know not being able to defend my point looks bad, but I'll have to deal.


I actually see this a lot on Facebook and especially on art community sites like DeviantArt. People don't like to acknowledge the existence of "talent", but rather have the attitude "you're not good enough because you haven't tried hard enough!" Without trying to be controversial, I do believe people are better at some things than others. People also like to downplay the effort it takes to achieve something.

As for the original topic, if I could not consider the outside factors, then probably Manchu would be something that I would tackle. The vertical script is beautiful, it has limited vowel harmony which interests my linguistic curiosity, and it sounds exotic. Arabic would be another consideration, because the script is cool and so is the phonology: it has attitude.
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Re: If you could learn any language without considering outside factors...

Postby Neurotip » Fri May 25, 2018 11:06 pm

Funny, you'd have thought there would be very little overlap but actually two of the three that jumped to my mind have been quoted already!

language -- reason -- outside factor
Japanese -- a whole world of beautiful differentness -- simply time and energy
Bella Coola or something similar -- the Everest of articulatory phonetics, get a medical certificate before attempting -- resources and pointfulness
Finnish -- because I've always loved you -- a third Scandinavian language? how would I explain that?
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Re: If you could learn any language without considering outside factors...

Postby Cavesa » Sat May 26, 2018 1:38 pm

If I could just ignore all the outside factors, such as the reality, I would learn a few fictional languages and go explore the galaxy in a spaceship! Klingon and Romulan would be a good start.
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Re: If you could learn any language without considering outside factors...

Postby Soffía » Sat May 26, 2018 2:08 pm

heartlandexpat wrote:By outside factors I mean: usefulness, ease of learning, where it's spoken and its culture, etc. In other words, focusing solely on how the language's sounds and its intrigue.


Without the culture, the people, the place, the literature, I don't think I would bother. I do enjoy the sound of a language and exploring the grammar and syntax, but no way would I learn a language for that alone.
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Re: If you could learn any language without considering outside factors...

Postby Expugnator » Thu May 31, 2018 2:08 pm

For learning out of intrigue my choices would all be Afro-Asiatic languages, starting with Hebrew which I'm already learning.
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