I’ve been spending a while reading about languages. Well, by a while, I mean three or four weeks, but for a relatively new hobby, that’s a long time! I’ve been trying to brush up on my Spanish, and while taking a break, I’ve been dabbling in Greek, Toki Pona and Lojban!
It all started with a Spanish conversation I had recently. I learned Spanish when I was younger, but had never really spoken it. But I sat down on a porch one day, and said “Hola” to the guy next to me. What followed was an almost 100% Spanish conversation. Admittedly it was probably about the weather, and such, and I was speaking terribly broken Spanish, but I was speaking it! I had dabbled in it a bit recently (Duolingo) but this was the first real Spanish conversation, and from then on, the spark was struck!
So I have been spending hours on Memrise, Spanish newspapers, podcasts, radio, grammar lessons (on youtube), language learning theories, a bit of Duolingo, bringing it up to scratch. This is my serious language learning. But on the side, I started dabbling in Greek…
Now Greek is a fun language, first of all because of that unreadable αλφάβητ. And then you also have modern greek vs. ancient greek (and the two ways of pronouncing the latter). I personally chose Ancient Greek (and Im going for the trickier, Ph = P + H and not F pronunciation), because I hope to one day read Aristotle’s Organon in the original (I think I dabble a bit too much to get that far, but one lives in hope!)
Side Note: If you are interested (or want to become interested) in languages, I highly recommend the NativLang Youtube Channel, in particular their long video on the history of scripts. I found it absolutely fascinating! As a result, I started to dabble a bit in The Hiragana and Kanji, and of course the beautifully elegant Korean Hangul (which I was happy to find was printed on my Go Stone Box):
Recently, I’ve also got a better handle on Toki Pona’s grammar (the 120 word langauge), which I tried memorising (on Memrise) a while back, but gave up because I couldn’t get past the grammar. My first (IRC) conversation also wasn’t very promising due to this fact. Though, I must admit, whilst I love the concept building in Toki Pona, I do not like the sound of the language (to be honest, I think it sounds very silly), nor the philosophically shallow foundations (imagine if it was built around Aristotle’s metaphysics!).
Side note: Yes, I had a look at Elvish, but the writing system (although beautiful) frustrated me, and writing system tends to play a big part in language for me!
Now, whilst I don’t think learning constructed languages (Sindarin/Elvish, Esperanto, Ithkuil) are the most practical thing in the world, it is a lot of fun, and its also fascinating to see how much one can mess with grammatical systems, but still remain a usable language. For example, Lojban doesn’t even have verbs, but these strange constructs called “brivla“. Now that is one language I actively avoided before, but after learning about how elegant their system is, I can see myself being drawn in (I had a similar impression of Esperanto after reading this page).
I know this article has been a bit disjointed, but if you want to take something from it, it’s this: Languages (real and fake) are hugely complex, extremely diverse, and therefore endlessly fascinating!