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This is a list of pages about languages I've taken an interest in, written in journal fashion. This project is really for my own benefit; it'll interest me to be able to look back later and see when and with what I was having difficulties. As for anyone else... other language learners may find they're not alone in being baffled by Armenian consonants, Finnish cases, and such challenging topics as those.

Badly Learnt Languages

I'm not a linguist, in fact my real world language skills are quite poor. As I'll describe in some of these pages, I can with some extended effort pass an elementary exam in a language. But my ability to converse in a relaxed way in any of them is open to question. So if I'm bad at languages, why all this dabbling?

The simple answer is that it's become a hobby. I'm fascinated by languages, have been from the moment the light dawned and I started to understand the ins and outs of English's lack of a phonetic writing system; and then learned about the way languages are related to each other. And sometimes aren't.
Fascinating! How different languages can have such different characters, even languages as closely related as French and Italian. How each language can have a special kind of musicality - it's certainly why certain languages have appealed to me. Most of all I love the sheer variety of the world's languages. My interest has reached much further than the list above. I'm semi-embarrassed to admit that I have stacks of phrasebooks and booklets on different languages, some very obscure indeed. No, I didn't have any intention of learning them, as if I'd have been able to. I was simply hungry for a glimpse into something different. You wouldn't believe some of what's out there, for instance languages which employ almost impossible sounds compared to what you're used to. And in each other language, you seem to end up thinking a little differently. I love it, and feel the extinction of so many languages as is happening at the moment, as I do about the extinction of familiar species of animal.

But yes, I have spent time learning certain languages; why was that? Some of them I had to study in the normal course of things at school, and some of those I returned to more recently. The rest, well I had particular reasons which I'll explain on those pages. You will understand that it's in the very nature of it that most of what's written will be about difficulties. And I know that I'll never be a good speaker of any other language, certainly not fluent. But I'll never regard trying to learn another language as wasted time. It's one of the best exercises for the brain there is. And most of all, it's such an amazing privilege to be allowed to play in the box of delights which is what a foreign language is. All these new sounds and letters and words and expressions - isn't it wonderful!?

1 August 2006

Link

OmniglotOmniglot started off as a site devoted to all the world's scripts. Every language's writing system is covered, whether using the Latin alphabet or not. Not just well known languages, but lots of obscure ones, many interesting dialects, historical languages and even fictional ones. There are a host of interesting and useful features, including a guide to learning resources. The site is well designed and easy to navigate around.