Saturday, May 12, 2012

"Language Gene Delusion." This. So much this.

A recent post on the blog "Fluent in 3 Months": Language Gene Delusion.  I love this post and I agree with everything he says.  And I love the whole blog.  Etc.

Summary: Some people talk about a "language gene" as if certain people are able to learn foreign languages and certain people just aren't.  Genetically.  But that's totally not true.  In many societies in the world today, the average person speaks multiple languages.  Like in Quebec where people speak French and English.  Europe where people speak English and maybe 1 or 2 other languages.  China where everyone speaks Mandarin and most also have a "local dialect" which is essentially a different language.  Etc.  So, everyone (except maybe in the case of a mental disability) can totally learn a second language.

I'm serious.  I completely believe that.

For those of us whose first language was English- well, you figured out how to speak English, right?  Aha, you have a natural talent for languages!

(So for anyone who feels offended because I called you "stupid" in Wednesday's post, you should feel good about the fact that I completely believe you absolutely can go learn any language in the world.  Have at it.)

The idea that "Americans don't learn languages" makes me so angry... where do I even start...

For now, I will ask this: To those who argue against this whole "anyone can learn a language" thing, to those who say that genetically a significant percentage of the world JUST CAN'T, to those who say "I tried to study x language, but my brain just isn't made for that"- why?  Why do you argue that?

Is it because you actually believe it?  Like, you're just interested in science and truth and you just want to spread facts, no personal feelings attached?

Or is it because you're jealous of people who speak 2 languages, and you have to have an excuse for why you can't be as good as them?  Dude, no worries.  You totally can learn another language, but it requires a lot of work, and you're not obligated to do it just because you have the potential.  That's fine; I respect that; you don't see me trying to study every language in the world.  But stop discouraging everyone else.

Is it because you put work into studying a language but didn't seem to get anywhere?  Maybe in high school you studied French and didn't do very well- that's an issue with the method you're using, not your actual ability.  Cheer up.  I believe in you, man.

Yep.  Well, what do you think, random citizens of the internet?  Agree/disagree that the average person totally has the ability to learn more than one language?

1 comment:

  1. I realize that you posted this in May and I am commenting in December. However, I thought it was important to let you know I agree completely.

    While it IS true that it is easiest to pick up a new language at a young age (hence, I speak and write English fluently), it is not NECESSARY to do so. I have a friend who was raised speaking Russian. She is an English teacher. She lives in Italy. She speaks all three languages, as well as some German and some Tagalog. I am rather impressed with all of this.

    I, as a Canadian, speak English, and the little bit of French I still remember from grade school. Am I jealous? Not really. Impressed? Yes. But I am more impressed with the work she put in than the ability itself.

    Also, I do enjoy music in other languages, but I barely listen to lyrics I DO understand, so perhaps this is not so surprising?

    Thanks for posting this. It made me smile.