If you understood the title above from the first read, congratulations.
If you didn’t, let’s break it down in each language that I’m hinting at.
Voulez vous apprendre une langue nouvelle?
Would you like to learn a new language?
Quieres apprender una nueva idioma?
Vre?i s? înv??a?i o limb? nou??
I will continue now in English, as this is the “official” language of this blog, at least for the last 15 years.
I always loved to learn new languages. Apart from the ones I’ve touched on so far in this article, I’ve also dabbled in Russian (it was compulsory in school, during communist Romania), Japanese (learned a bit in college), Chinese (thought it would be a good idea to know a bit of Mandarin, given the fact that’s it’s spoken by one in 5 inhabitants on this planet) and Portuguese (just because I moved to Lisbon this year). Clearly, I’m not as proficient in any of these as I am in French, English, Spanish or Romanian. But still, I have an idea. Should I put a little discipline and spend a few hours every week trying to improve any of these, I would most likely progress much faster than starting from scratch.
I think knowing more than one language affects not only our ability to communicate, but also how we understand the world. It kinda gives us more lenses, more angles from which we can describe the same thing. And each new angle carries a new meaning with it. It’s not the same if you say “soul”, “âme”, “alma” or “suflet”. Each of these words, while still designating the same concept, carries something unique, specific, that can be expressed only with that word.
Knowing more than one language is not only a question of flexibility, it doesn’t only helps with getting around in a foreign country. It acts deeper, forging a much more complex, and richer image of reality entirely.
And it goes beyond that.
Any skill that you learn, any craft that you master is, in a way, a foreign language. It helps you describe and manipulate the world in a different way. It gives you more opportunities, it enlarges the experience surface, it increases your survival odds, and it becomes part of your life toolkit.
Now, if you decide to live for ever in the same country, in the same place, surrounded by the same people, there might not be a need for you to learn a foreign language. You may not have enough peers with whom to share these new lens. You may be just ok with only that image.
But even if you decide to remain physically in the same place, knowing another language, and being able to read stories in other languages will open up at least a mental window to some other, unexplored yet parts of reality.