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Which Language?

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12 messages over 2 pages: 1 2  Next >>
063 Abra
United States
Joined 3127 days ago

1 posts - 1 votes

 Message 1 of 12
2011 February 01 at 7:56pm | IP Logged 
I am in need of a mentally stimulating activity that I can do rather portably and I heavily enjoy dissecting language. I am a native speaker of English and am frankly bored of the language. While I am a poet and enjoy reading, I find foreign languages to be extremely interesting. The issue is that I have four options, none of which are very clear as to which I should pick.

My first option is ARabic, something which I have recently become interested in. In a practical sense, it could be useful due to the increasing demand for Arabic speakers within the United States for government employment, but this would still require classes and degrees. Either way, it seems to be fairly painless and I have an interest in the cultures from which it originates. The downside is that I will have to purchase all of my resources to learn this and have no one to speak with for practice.

My second option is Korean. I have a small interest in Korea and like Korean movies, but the cultural interest is not compelling. I own a Korean-English/English-Korean dictionary organized by hangul, but the lack of resources and low practicality provide little motivation to learn this language.

My third option is Japanese, which I am currently enrolled in a first-level course in and find it extremely easy. I have purchased many materials for this language and as soon as I hit time to learn kanji, I was discouraged due to the complexity involved. I am extremely interested in the culture and language, but kanji deters me from going further.

Finally, my fourth option is Spanish. I have taken two high school courses in Spanish and found it to be reletively painless. I can also easily obtain resources and have a ton of people to practice my language skills with, but my intrest in the culture is almost nonexistant. Practically, this language makes the most sense to pursue due to my United States residency.

Do any of you have words of wisdom to lead me to which path I shall choose?
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States
Joined 4866 days ago

166 posts - 195 votes 
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Japanese, French

 Message 2 of 12
2011 February 02 at 3:56am | IP Logged 
Well, let's take a look here.

the cultural interest is not compelling...little motivation to learn this language.

Quote: intrest in the culture is almost nonexistant.

I think you can rule those two out pretty easily. Korean is far too time-consuming a language to last in with a half-hearted effort, and while you could likely persevere long enough in Spanish to make a dent before your lack of interest in the culture killed your efforts, it's hard to recommend the attempt. (Granted, you could, in the time you spend with the language, establish an interest in the culture, but that's rather hit or miss.)

I think, then, that you should choose between Arabic and Japanese, the only two which seem to actually interest you. Barring a specific practical goal, interest will be a much stronger motivator than future utility, and will make the process considerably more enjoyable. I can't gauge the level of your interest in Arabic and related cultures, although there appears to be a sense of choosing it more for some future utility than enjoyment. And while I have no personal experience with it, "fairly painless" is no description I have heard of Arabic before.

On the topic of Japanese: Kanji is no insurmountable obstacle; it can be overcome. There are many resources available specifically to the aim of kanji conquest. If you shared what you've tried already, perhaps I or others could help you discover a valid strategy for you.

Whatever you choose, I wish you persistence in your studies!
4 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 3194 days ago

186 posts - 283 votes 
Speaks: French*, EnglishC1
Studies: Russian, Arabic (Written), Swedish, Arabic (Levantine)

 Message 3 of 12
2011 February 02 at 11:41am | IP Logged 
It also seems to me that you don't appear to be the attracted to Korean or Spanish! If you have learnt a foreign language before, which one would that be? I can't talk for Japanese, although I come probably assume safely that it will be the same, but Arabic requires serious motivation, unless you aren't very serious about it.

I don't think it's a language I would recommend for people learning their first language, because the sheer amount of grammar and vocabulary is not always enjoyable, and Arabic is not always that rewarding at all, so you don't really get that instant gratification other languages could give you.

The arab culture is amazing, and as a poet you would probably enjoy the poetry a lot, but there is a lot of efforts to be put in before you reach that stage. Of course Arabic is not impossible, but it's a language that requires commitmment and motivation, and I'd would recommend you think about it seriously, research it properly, try to take a couple of lessons and see how that goes.
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 3194 days ago

186 posts - 283 votes 
Speaks: French*, EnglishC1
Studies: Russian, Arabic (Written), Swedish, Arabic (Levantine)

 Message 5 of 12
2011 February 02 at 6:30pm | IP Logged 
Kuikentje wrote:
You're poet and therefore you better learn German. German is beautiful and has much poetry and literature. It's my favourite language and I recommend it.

So do Russian and Persian, and many, many more languages :P
3 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States
Joined 3615 days ago

1419 posts - 1765 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, Korean, Japanese

 Message 6 of 12
2011 February 02 at 8:56pm | IP Logged 
NuclearGorilla hit the nail on the head. In the long run motivation will always triumph over language difficulty. Yes, an "easy" language will make for fast progress early on, but when you get so far into it, motivation is what keeps you learning the language even when it starts to seem too much like work.

From your post it sounds like Japanese is the only language where you have an interest in the culture. For that reason alone, I would recommend Japanese over the others. Kanji can be intimidating but it isn't as difficult as it initially appears. I don't really *have* to learn Hanja (the Korean name for the Chinese characters) in my Korean studies (at least not early on), but I'm still learning them anyway, and in doing so I've found that learning them is not nearly as difficult as I had feared.
2 persons have voted this message useful

Joined 3111 days ago

22 posts - 36 votes
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Portuguese, Mandarin, Russian

 Message 8 of 12
2011 February 15 at 7:56am | IP Logged 
Whatever you choose, don't fall into the trap of thinking that you should learn it because "this language has so
many native/secondary speakers!", "I could make a lot of money if I knew it", or "that's what everyone else is
doing." Arabic and asian languages (especially Mandarin) are really "sexy" right now but attaining fluency will
likely take you years of diligent study, you can't just switch languages when they lose their current sexiness, what
would be the point?

I would recommend trying out each language in turn before deciding. You don't have to do a lot, maybe watch a
TV show or movie in the language or go to your public library and crack open a textbook on it. The idea is to see
if some part of the language really jumps out at you: do you like the way it sounds? Do you find the grammar to
be interesting? Maybe you're taken with the idea of learning a completely new writing system!

I would also ask my friends for advice, sometimes they can totally change your perception of a language that you
had already written off or suggest languages that you would never have considered before. Good luck!

4 persons have voted this message useful

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