The Very Interesting Topic of Languages

Several years ago, I read an article about a young Swedish student (Ola Wikander) who mastered more than ten dead languages. He basically approached languages the way I do, by learning the grammatical structure and the verbs, and then break down and interpret texts from there. I was really impressed and have thought about him many times since. The other day, I read about him again in the paper because he had been awarded a prize (Cliopriset) for the work he has done on dead languages, old texts, and on awakening a broader interest for this field.

From being a C student in English and barely passing French in school, I have with all the years I have stayed in different countries, and inspired by my sister Jessica’s knowledge of the latin languages, developed an interest in languages and etymology. While I could have lengthy discussion on this topic with my friends in Rome and in Chisinau, this is unfortunately not an interest that I share with many here in Washington DC. Instead, it often feels like the languages I know are slipping and though I am doing a course in Romanian at the University of Lund, I am certainly not developing any other language skills. So the other day, I just couldn’t resist picking up this Latin book at Barnes & Noble, though I think few others than Jessica can understand how excited I felt when I got the book! Am I learning anything? Yes, absolutely! My trick when I am learning a new language is to spend a bit of time studying every morning, at breakfast or on my way to work. Even if my goal is to spend an hour every day, 15 minutes is better than nothing. And by doing something every day, it adds up to a lot only after a few weeks and I progress quickly. Studying Latin is immensely interesting and stimulating, though of course completely useless except for when I am singing classical sacral pieces in choirs! But I do believe that developing ones knowledge has a value in itself, even if it is not for immediate use. And if nothing else, I can always turn into an unbearably elitist dinner partner by dropping latin phrases if I end up on a nightmarish date at some point…

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