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The Mystery of Language 27 June 2009

Posted by The Inimitable M in Culture, Society, Religion, Diplomacy.
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I’m starting that final transition this summer for the last part of my life.  Yeah, I’m old, but look at what Grandma Moses did in the last phase of her life.

My old life ends the 30th of July.  I’m taking a three-day don’t-make-me-work-damnit holiday, and then dig into my new life that following Monday. 

My birthday is July 29th.  This is my major birthday present to myself. 

But there’s another.

Most know that I did a really wild and crazy thing several years ago in order to help friends of mine who were devastated by war find food, shelter and lost family members.  I went on my own, not under the auspices of any particular government or NGO (which is how I got the phrase “rogue diplomat”), and nearly got myself killed.  The one thing that saved me was that I spoke with a British/American accent.  Not that I wanted to be dead, but it pissed me off that I was so easily identified by my lack of comprehensive language skills.

So I’m going to learn new languages.  There are two or three I’m probably going to need because of work I intend to do with the Sharbat Gula Justice Center.  There is another I want to learn in order to communicate with the Sudanese who live in the US.  I know people who speak Russian.  I want to really learn Serbian so that I can go back to where I had been and communicate effectively.

And I’m losing my beloved Scottish Gaelic from lack of use.

So here’s the list:

Pashto
Farsi
Burmese
Eastern Arabic
Egyptian Arabic
Russian
Serbian
Scottish Gaelic

I’ll only ever be able to sound like a native speaker in one, and that is Scottish Gaelic.  Thats because I had almost reached that point when I lived there.  I’m assuming the relearning process will be easy.

The rest, I’ll at least be able to communicate.

Every now and then I look at written languages and listen to native speakers, and I marvel at their similarities and progression through the world.  If you ever look at them, you can see how language developed and spread into various forms and dialects. 

Is there a particular origin anywhere?  You know, I’m not sure.  I haven’t honestly studied it that closely.  From what I can tell, you can’t really point to a place on the globe and say, “All language originated at this juncture.”  But at the same time, there are no real dramatic breaks, either.  Take a look at the languages I intend to learn, and be reminded that not a one of them is a Romance language.

I’m hoping by the time I am 60 I can honestly say I am multilingual.  I’m going to give it my best shot, anyway!

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Comments»

1. Deb aka St Colette - 28 June 2009

Ambitious list. But I know if anyone can learn those languages, it’s you!

2. SteamGeek - 28 June 2009

I want to learn Martian. Oops, I already know English.


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