My name is Natalie, and I am a language addict.
I am afflicted by this thing I call language lust, which I define as an irrepressible desire to learn random foreign languages for no good reason whatsoever. (Well, maybe that’s a bit harsh: I often have a reason, it’s just obscure and doesn’t always make so much sense!) Here are some signs to tell if you too are afflicted by language lust.
You can spend hours reading obscure discussions on the How to learn any language forum.
No joke, I’ve read extensive debates about which Slavic language is best to start with (it’s obviously, Russian, in case you’re wondering), how much Polish has influenced Ukrainian, and how Slovak is (allegedly) relatively easy for speakers of other Slavic languages to understand. Sounds fascinating? You might be a language addict, too!
You spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about which foreign language to pick up next.
On any given day, my thought process may be as follows: “Well, Spanish is so important regionally, plus if I knew it I could travel practically anywhere in South America. But Brazil also makes up a huge part of South America, and it’s also an emerging market, and they speak Portuguese there. But I don’t know if I have a true passion for either of those languages. I love Slavic languages so much, so perhaps Ukrainian or Polish (or both) would be better. After all, Ukraine and Russia have had such complicated relations throughout history. And what about Serbian, I’ve been wanting to learn that for a while. Oh, and Swedish* or Norwegian would be amazing too, especially since they’re Germanic and it would be interesting to speak a Germanic language other than English. But if I want to learn a Germanic language, maybe I should go with Dutch. Or even German…”
See the ridiculousness of what I think about? It’s enough to drive someone mad at times! And that is probably why I have not been focusing on my Serbian like I said I would. When people look at me like I’m crazy after saying this, I’m tempted to say, “I just want to know loads of languages, okay?!?”
You can spend hours on Mango Languages (or an equivalent program).
Mango Languages is the software my library has for foreign language learning. So far, I’ve done a bit of the following languages on there: Ukrainian, Croatian, Dutch, Norwegian, Spanish, and probably some others I don’t remember. I had fun. And I know how to ask you if you have a brother in Croatian: Imaš li i brata? I also know how to say what my name is (Zovem se Natalija), and what is your name (Kako se vi zovete?). I remember this because of all that repetition the program made me do. See, the Russian proverb is right after all: repetition is the mother of learning.
When you go to a bookstore, you immediately seek out the foreign language section.
The bookstore Blackwell’s in the UK has a glorious foreign language section. The one I frequented didn’t just have books for learning the language – it had actual literature as well. I spent hours there during my study abroad.
Bookstores in the US are lame. There are rarely any foreign language materials. However, there sometimes are some at the used bookstore, so that’s always fun to look at.
Your YouTube browsing consists of language-learning videos.
Have you seen this YouTube channel, GoSwedish? It is glorious. Lots of Swedish lessons, all free and recorded by a native speaker. I learned the Swedish alphabet earlier, in addition to learning my first Swedish sentence: Jag kan säga det svenska alfabetet nu. That means “I can say the Swedish alphabet now.” I am so absurdly proud of myself.
Are you a language addict?
Let me know in the comments.
*In the battle of Swedish vs. Norwegian, I think Swedish would ultimately prevail because of Michael Nyqvist, one of my favorite actors. He is Swedish. He has a wonderful accent when speaking English. And he is very, very nice to look at. See what I mean about using twisted logic to choose what language to learn?