Languages are beautiful; the way the same group of letters can be arranged in a different order, said in a different way, and mean something completely different depending on where you are in the world, is honestly fascinating. The fact that to each letter of every alphabet, a certain sound is assigned and when you connects series if “sounds” together, a longer sound – or word – is formed and it means something to someone somewhere, never ceases to amaze me.
Languages are not just form of communication, but a key to the culture and values and history of a country. By learning a language, you’re learning a way of life and gaining an understanding of how the hundreds of billions of other people on the earth live and breath.
Sometimes, when learning or reading about another country, I find myself daydreaming about how there are people living their lives completely differently to me, on another part of the world, speaking another language and am in awe of how diverse a planet we live on.
How different languages came to be also intrigues me, like how there is so much variation – or similarity – between two different languages, or how languages are all interconnected, taking leaves from each others branches and tweaking them a bit. Languages remind me of patchwork quilts, formed of different words and phrases from different countries stitched together to create something that a whole population of people can use to make themselves understood, and yet is still different to the voice of a neighbouring nation or community.
Since I started learning French in school about 5 years ago, I’ve been gradually falling in love with languages. Languages are part of who I am, or who I aspire to be. I’ve always had a curiosity for the world and it’s people, and how things came to be the way they are today, and languages is just another part of that, another adventure.
The more I’ve become invested in studying languages – and the more my language skills have developed – the more I have discovered about the world we live in and about different cultures. Languages really do open doors, the are the key to civilisations past and present and possess a wealth of knowledge and history and roots that help tie down communities to the ever changing world.
It’s no surprise that because of this, languages are difficult to learn. Hundreds of years of generations of people have shaped and remade each language into what we know them as today, and in order to learn them – to truly understand them – we have to respect the fact that languages are constantly growing and changing. From the moment a means of communication is established, however primative, the seed of a language is sown. And as more and more people use words, phrases passed in through generations, the seed grows, branching out from it’s stem and developing into a language, a tongue.
The rewarding thing about languages though is the constant journey of discovery they lead you on. With every word and rule you learn, you uncover more and more about a country and it’s culture, and, most importantly, the power of words. And the feeling you get when you are able to speak in another tongue is worth all the hours and years of hard work.
And that’s why I love languages. They are as much a part of me as my emotions and thoughts; they are my voice and the voice of millions and billions of others. Sometimes, we just need to take a step back and admire the beauty of our languages.
It can seem impossible at times to master a language and encompass the culture and nature of a country within it’s words, spoken or heard or written; shared. To unlock the door into another world, another life, that languages offer can seem but a distant dream. The real key to language learning for me is not being able to speak or write fluently, or understand every single word belonging to that language, but to be able to feel the language. To feel the weight of centuries of generations of speakers roll off my tongue with each word I say or to feel the buzz of another culture make the hairs in my skin prickle at the sight of foreign words, that’s really understanding a language. And that’s the best feeling ever.