Learning A Language To Discover The World
By Cheval John
You may have heard these quotes:
“To Have Another Language Is To Possess Another Soul” Charlemagne
“The Limits of My Language Are The Limits Of My World” Frank Smith
“Language Is The Road Map To A Culture. It Tells You Where Its People Come From And Where They Are Going” Rita Mae Brown
The last quote is very profound.
When a person wants to learn more about the culture of a country or a tribe, the best way to access the culture is through the language.
It is true that we see great poetry like Don Quixote translated into English and being taught in schools.
However, it is difficult to really understand and appreciate the story of Don Quixote if a person is not a Spanish speaker.
And to bring on another example, Columbian super-star singer Shakira, who speaks Spanish, English, and Portuguese, made an excellent song back in the mid-2000s called, “No” in her native Spanish.
The song is really beautiful and achieved a smashing success like her other songs.
When the producers or music executives of the record company wanted her to make the same song, “No” in English, she said “no” to the idea even though she recorded her other Spanish songs in English.
The reason why she decided not to record “No” in English was that it would not have had the same impact that it had when she sang it in her native Spanish.
So fans of Shakira who were only English speakers, missed out on an opportunity to hear the beautiful song, “No.”
Now the same fans could do what few in this world have done, learn another language.
The only thing that will keep them from learning another language is their limited belief that they can’t learn a second language.
I would suspect that they feel that they don’t need to learn another language because of the belief that the world is learning English.
It is true that English serves as the important language of organizations such as the United Nations and the language for aviation.
That should not be an excuse to not learn another language.
You might have to start learning from scratch if your are not a first generation American.
For those who are offsprings of immigrants, they have a fast start because they grow up listening to their parents native language and also English.
Ladan Jiracek is one of those people who had the fast start to knowing multiple languages.
His parents immigrated from Slovokia and he had the fortune of growing up in a different culture and has traveled to over 80 countries.
What is really cool is that he took advantage of the opportunity to intern in Berlin, Germany while he was an undergraduate student.
Now, he lives in India and host the Travel Wisdom Podcast, where he interviews best-selling authors, world travelers, polyglots, etc.
The most important thing is that if you want to understand a culture that is different than yours, you have to speak the language.
When you know another language, three, 6, etc., you will have more options to work anywhere in the world and also enjoy your travels.
Video courtesy of Shakira Vevo