“How many languages do you know?”
I occasionally get asked this question.
From the beginning, let’s get at least this str8. I consider myself bi. I know English and Japanese. C’est tout.
Everything else is just tease.
But I love language. Probably nothing attracts me more. Oh, wait, there is one thing.
Did a year of French in year 8, Japanese years 9-12. When I entered university, they suggested Mandarin to complement Japanese (major bum-steer).
But I’ve had loads of friends who are speakers of languages other than English (LOTE), and I’ve always been envious, having been brought up in a monolingual family.
When in Indonesia in my 20s, I bought a beginner’s guide to the language and tried to learn some on-the-jalan-jalan.
When I then travelled to Thailand, I strongly felt it was wrong to expect them to understand English, so I enrolled in a Thai language course for 2 months. Great teacher. Knew exactly how to get foreigners to warp their mouths to form Thai sounds. Major respect. Learnt more in two months than in two years of Mandarin at uni.
In my 30s, I worked in a call centre for Swiss Airlines, which catered for the three main languages of Switzerland plus English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. Apart from the monolingual Manager, everyone there spoke at least two languages. Many knew more. We had native speakers of Swedish, Spanish, Dutch and Turkish, to begin with. Many knew three or more languages fluently. I was awestruck.
The connections between languages–the overlaps–fascinate me.
The new ways of thinking: the 200 words for snow scenario.
And people.
And the fun in communicating in other ways.
Language has for years spiced up my life.
I’ve tried to reignite my Mandarin, as it seems a waste to have taken it daily for two years at university and never mastered it. My three week trip through China in 2007 probably taught me more than those two years.
Re-starting French in 2014 and now flirting with Dutch and others reinforces this. I also feel drawn to Korean, due to the supposed similarity to Japanese.
I may never be fluent in another language, but I’ll keep feeling fascination.