So many languages, so little time

Often I wonder whether it would be better for me to concentrate on learning one or two languages really well, rather than trying to learn as many languages as possible. Although I’d really like to be fluent in all the languages I’ve studied, am studying and plan to study, I realise that this is perhaps an unrealistic ambition. So my aim, at the moment, is to become as fluent as possible in Spanish, Welsh and Irish, while continuing to study other languages.

Yesterday I came across an interesting blog by someone who describes herself as an “Aspiring Polyglot“. It seems she faces a similar dilemma to me – it’s good to know I’m not the only one!

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13 Responses to So many languages, so little time

  1. Tomensnaben says:

    I know the feeling. I have several times found myself compleatly forgetting about languages due to others. Currently, Latin has suffocated all of the others, but I still to glean information from Frisian Radio.

  2. Chibi says:

    Oh, you AREN’T the only one ;)

    I used to have a list, 35 languages long, of languages to learn. After quickly realizing how dumb that was, I shrank it down to only a few including German, French, Mandarin, and Russian (those alone might take a whole lifetime, hehe).

    I wish I could become fluent in every language possible, but no, I only have x amount of years to live T_T;

  3. Adam says:

    My “dream list” of languages to learn is only 15 long, but I could pare it down to 9 if pressed :-). I wish I could have languages installed into my brain, the way software is installed. I would then collect every language I could possible get my hands on!

  4. Mike says:

    I feel the same way. There was a time when Japanese held my total attention, but then German caught my eye, and Japanese was more or less set aside. These days, both of those are taking a back seat to Hebrew and Korean.

  5. TJ says:

    In my case I was interested in languages in general since I was in highschool … but I was like a bee going from one language to another and learning few words only from each … but I realized that I must conquer english first because lot of educational stuff will be coming from this. Moreoever I found myself drifted toward studying and learning more about how to understand the connections between languages and the relation between the language and the total content of a culture and by that way I can understand the person of that culture much better and if I HAVE TO I would learn more words.

    The old kuwaitis, before the discovery of oil in Kuwait, used to travel as far as china and india for trading purposes and you can find some of them that can speak several languages from india or chinese or even Greek and turkish and persian all together simply because for some time they needed such communications skills!

    So I do believe that our learning should be guided heavily by our needs and necessities, and also for our love for something but we shouldn’t stuff our minds completely for things we might not use at all!

    I like all celtic languages but I like to concentrate more on irish rather than welsh or breton, and for my needs I find myself learning more english as much as I can and also german if I can because I need it from time to time for ocmmunications as well!

  6. Kelly says:

    I think one of the biggest obstacles to learning lots of languages is what some call ‘wanderlust’. It’s very easy to get distracted and want to learn a bit of language X when you should be studying language Y! I sometimes find it hard to concentrate on one language at a time and end up failing at them all. :s

    I’m constantly torn between the desire to learn as many languages as possible (after all, life is so short) and the feeling that I should master one before moving on to another.

    Thankfully, my list of languages I want to learn has been streamlined a little as I realised that it takes so much time and effort to get anywhere with any one language. Still, I hope to take on a few other languages in future, including Swahili, Persian and maybe even Georgian. :)

  7. Thomas says:

    I know how you feel… given that sites such as yours that contain information on a variety of languages, each with features that I find fascinating, it’s incredibly difficult not to become engrossed and amazed each time I come across something new. One week, it’ll be tonal patterns in Hausa, the next, Georgian verb structure, and then I’ll end up halfway across the world (where I currently am now), trying to compare Khmer and Vietnamese words… there’s too much knowledge to be had, of course, but it’s hard when learning a language yields such tangible results immediately.

  8. Sam says:

    You’re not the only one. I studied French and Spanish in high school. After graduate school, I took some German classes at my university. There are lots of Italian-Americans where I live, so I took some inexpensive lessons through a local Italian organization.

    I am trying to pick up some Latin on my own, but I find that I do much better when I take a formal class. It’s a matter of my personality and temperament. I find myself distracted by the possibility of other languages. I want to learn Portuguese and (modern) Greek sooner or later, but there’s also Russian and Hebrew and….

  9. John says:

    Absolutely! I have currently studied (to some degree) five languages in formal settings (classroom), it is very easy to become distracted by new languages as they are encountered. Japanese remains my favorite and German appears to be the one that I will have the most success with in the long run. I have acquired resources to pursue 28 different languages! If nothing else, learning OF other languages is a noble pursuit and the learning of non-roman scripts opens the doors to beautiful artistic pursuits.

    Thank you for tis website, I have enjoyed it for quite some time.

  10. Chase Boday says:

    You’d be amazed how much gets stored in the back of your mind and put away for later! I started taking Spanish in High School, and then started learnign Portuguese on my own. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it) they are very similar. When I got into college, I pursued advanced Spanish my first year, Hindi the following two years, and Russian beginning the same year as my second year of Hindi. I got so confused for a while, my pronoun usage was…well, odd. Its been a while since I spoke Spanish to anyone, BUT, randomly, I was able to completly understand a whole newscast. I have a theory that we humans remember everything, but our access to the memory can get tricky. I say, learn as many as you can! My list grows every month!

  11. Jon Diamond says:

    You’re certainly not the only one. At the moment, I plan on studying five to six languages this school year, French and Spanish at school, Mandarin Chinese with one of the school’s counselors, Japanese with a private tutor, and Persian by my self. I may or may not continue Italian with my French teacher. But even those languages can’t quench my thirst. I still avidly want to learn Arabic, Hebrew, Korean, Russian, and many others. If I had my way I’d learn every language that exists, but there just isn’t enough time in a lifetime. :(

  12. Bode Sheshom says:

    I am a native Iranian which means I understand and speak Farsi(Persian) and I have been living in North Europe for the past 20 years which makes me able to understand and speak Norwegian, understand and speak Swedish and just understand and try speaking Danish and I have exposed myself lately (actually before christmas) to Hebrew, Arabic(eastern and western), Japanese, Mandarin, German, French, Dutch, Italian, Bosnian(Serbo-Croatian), Russian and since yesterday Swahili(Kiswahili), but unfortunately the thing is that I just use a few days on each and jump to the next one, but the one which has kind of stuck with me is Hebrew, Not quite sure why but I guess it is on account of the sounds in the language like(gh, ts, kh and sh) which somehow resonate with me and keep me hooked and that’s why ai believe Dutch is coolest language in Europe. The one which fascinates me about Swahili which is my latest project is the amount of words which I find that have Arabic and Farsi roots, quite fascinating…as we all know so many languages and so little time…

  13. Sam says:

    Yeah, I love languages so much. I currently speak arabic as i am from egyptian background, french (been learning it for 6 years) and english obviously because i live in australia. I’m really dying to learn German, Dutch and Spanish, but i know it’s hard hard work. I’m willing to spend as much time as it takes to master these languages, i would love to speak fluently and understand reasonably well.