Well, I haven’t written a post in a while, and I suppose it’s clear why: just because you can write in a bunch of languages doesn’t mean you have anything meaningful to say. On that note, maybe I’ll try again. Instead of boring you with swaths of text you probably can’t understand, I’ll let you know a bit about the process of learning how to produce those swaths.
I started getting into languages and linguistics while in college (that means 2001-5). I started out with my good old American English, plus a fluent Israeli Hebrew gained from five years in Israel as a kid (ages 8-13).
Now, I started college as a math major, but not, perhaps, your average math major. At the time, I was obsessed with math, as obsessed as I now am with languages. I remember in my senior year of high school, I would sometimes stay home from school (not so unusual as a symptom of senioritis) in order to spend the entire day doing math (maybe a little less common). I would buy Dover (cheap!) books on math with names like “Modern Algebra” and “Topology” and “About Vectors”, and spend my free hours going through them page by page, doing every single problem.
Why was I able to do this? Well, I was inspired to do well in math, in part at least, by my math teacher Doug Shy, whom I invariably called ‘Mr. Shy’. His own passion for math, but more so for doing things that are intellectually challenging, was infectious. Not that I didn’t do such things before, but having a math role model allowed me to focus my energies on this one subject.
I used to get told regarding math, and now do regarding languages, that I must be a “genius” or at least “gifted”. My view, meanwhile, has been that most people could do the same thing if they put as much time and energy into it. Sure I knew more math than almost anyone I knew (in high school). But I’d also put more time into learning it than anyone I knew. And sure I have a better command of more languages than most people I meet, but I also spend way way more time learning them than almost anyone I know. If I was able to somehow catch on to a new language after a few hours of hearing it, then I’d agree that I was a genius. But it’s not like that! It’s really hard work. Except it doesn’t usually feel like work because I enjoy it so much.
OK, I gotta go study some Russian. If I come back to write more, this idea was a success!