Jason (jcreed) wrote,

Today: not too bad.
Ate some waffles. Watched some TV. Oh, wait, that part was really bad. Episode of Enterprise. So. Stupid. Beyond. Ability. Of words. To express.

Waited around the house for inspecty and purchasy people to show up. They did this time, and did their thing for a while. Left for food after that. Actually finished a whole sub this time. Go me. More progress reading Kredu min, Sinjorino!. Went back to wean. Futzed around for a while. Went to KGB meetingette. Cracked wise. Hung around wean a little longer. Headed home. Ran into theadana on the way. Chatted a bit.

Now I am at home and feeling like attempting to finish off this crazy book.

I cannot help but continue lately to savor the fleeting taste of almost-fluency in another language, the very idea that I can teach my brain to hear and read and see in (and not just translate to and from) a different, self-sufficient mode. I mean, of course I'm capable of learning new things and new words, nothing surprising there, but they are so often just little pieces fitting into a bigger machine. But to build up a fresh, new machine! To play with it, try out its limitations, stretch it here and there, to be encouraged to do so by its very structure! To see it expertly used and abused, to feel its poetry and puns, to hear its music and stories. Such a joy.

I am beginnig to have sympathy, too, for whichever among my friends and peers and colleages that think it's a crazy waste of time. Because I will grant that it certainly is a fucking crazy phenomenon. I've really only spent like six months or so doing any semiregular reading or study and I can read a non-dumbed-down novel somewhere around the rate of one dictionary lookup per few pages. And moreover the learning process that got me to that point was just far more pleasant than any of my attempts at learning "real" languages. So vastly many fewer (though I admit there still are some) stupidities and arbitrary warts to stumble over. And yet I can even understand the "waste of time" part of the argument insofar as I have no particularly good, practical way of justifying why I personally keep trying to learn the language.

I feel like I can only describe it as being the same reason that I like abstract math so much. The feeling of being mentally capable and agile, able to name things, and think about them, and push them around and put them together and take them apart, and build from them beautiful castles in the sky. Finding some new way to do this, a new theory, or a new language, is wonderful. I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy learning other languages as well - and I think I will start to try to now, more hopeful than I would have been six months ago - but it's hard to avoid how ridiculously easy this particular one has been, or rather, how great the payoff has been relative to the rather small effort. And I'm quite sure that it's not that I have any particular gift for human languages. I sucked at Spanish, and I haven't managed to pick up any significant Japanese or French with comparably half-assed attempts. I am left to conclude that there is something intrinsic about the language (and perhaps its body of speakers and writers) that has significant merit. It's far from perfect, but it is quite beautiful and skillfully organized so as to sweep away many of the cobwebs that would otherwise obscure its beauty.

As if any of you reading are crazy enough to have read this far...

  • (no subject)

    Well I am certainly glad I saw Arrival so that I get the wug joke in http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=29480#more-29480

  • (no subject)

    Saw "Arrival". It did have some nontrivial linguistics content, but it still felt kind of wrapped up in a discernible layer of Hollywood Woo. The…

  • (no subject)

    Had some dinner at Aliada with akiva and sasha and K, and afterwards saw Herzog's "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" in Socrates park. Enjoyably bleak.

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