My mother tongue is Norwegian, a Germanic language, and a Scandinavian language. From 4th grade, we learn English at school, and in 8th grade we have the choice between French and German as a third language. Some places they have additional languages to choose from as well, such as Spanish. I chose German.
When in high school we have the choice of continuing with the language we chose in the 7th grade. We can also decide to change to another one. I chose to continue on my German studies, giving me a total of 5 years of Goethe, Schiller and the other German authors and poets, as well as a huge amount of grammar.
German - Convenient and Hard
The reason I chose German is quite simple: My parents lived in Germany when I was born, and we had a lot of German friends when I grew up. We spent almost every summer traveling by car in Europe and visiting friends in Germany was a natural part of this.
After many years of neglecting my German skills, I'm now trying to reactivate the language. At least the vocabulary.
Italian - the Language of Love
When I was about 12 years old, my family and I went to Italy for the first time. After a little roaming around, visiting Venezia and the small country of San Marino, we ended up in Porto Ercole. Formerly a spanish citadel city, Porto Ercole is now one of the premier choices for the rich families from Rome. It's located on the West Coast of Italy, about 150 km north of Rome and houses one of the most exclusive hotels in the world: Il Pelicano.
In this beautiful city, amongst Roman and local teenagers, I learnt the basics of the Italian language. I will not claim to be fluent in Italian - far from it. It’s hard for me to speak it, as I have few possibilities to use that beautiful language in my daily life. However, I do understand a quite a lot of it and can follow most conversations or television shows without much difficulty. As with German, the Italian grammar is quite advanced. I started taking a Italian language course once, but dropped out after a short while due to other things in my life taking too much time. These days, I'm starting to reactivate whatever there was of Italian in my brain by adding words to my vocabulary. I bought some Italian flash cards to start this small project of mine. Let’s see how it goes.
Learning languages is fun!
Japanese - Strangely Familiar, And Yet So Different
Japanese has been a part of my life since the late 80s. In 1988, I started practicing Aikido, a Japanese Martial Art. Since then, I've heard Japanese almost daily and it's become something natural for me to hear. That said, I’m far from being able to speak japanese. Not even close.
However, during 10 days in Japan in 2006, I discovered that it was easier to understand the context of the conversation. The hard part is to understand the details. And therein lies the challenge. I’ll probably never be able to converse in Japanese, but I’ll always be fascinated by the language.
A New World - Hindi
Some months ago I was inspired to try out a lot of things after reading the book The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Among them was trying out outsourcing to India. I contacted GetFriday and got myself a Virtual Assistant. I still use him and he's helped me a lot. At the same time, I read the book Shantaram . The book, you probably read it already, tells the story of an Australian man who escapes prison and finds himself in Mumbai, India. The story is colorful, exciting and rough. If I ever wanted to experience India, the urge was even stronger after reading «Shantaram».
Not claiming to know these languages, I feel getting an insight into how they work and learn some words and phrases is inspiring. It’s also very convenient when meeting people from these cultures. Knowing a few words and phrases gives you a head start on getting to know a culture. It’s amazing how much goodwill you get from trying to speak the local language.
How about you? Are you inspired by learning languages? What language would you want to learn?