27
May
2014

A Violation

I recently had a disturbing conversation with a friend named Lucy*.  Lucy and I have a strange and tenuous connection.  We chat online and have only done so a few times.  We don’t know each other’s last names.  We are veritable strangers.  So it was odd when one morning when I woke up and saw a message from her asking for my help.  She told me a guy did something bad to her.  And that she might need the help of the police.  She wanted someone to talk to and, as you will learn below, she had some reasons for choosing me.

What happened to her is terrible and private and humiliating.  I suppose one of the reasons she came to me is because we are so disconnected–such strangers to each other–that she could tell me something she could not share with her close circle in her home town.  Below is this story. {Read More}

17
Jan
2014

Benefits of Studying Another Language

LanguageA couple months ago I found this article on the benefits of studying a second language.  Sometimes it helps motivate me when my classes are frustrating.  A few highlights from the article:

  1. Stave off dementia.  Bilingual individuals apparently are likely to stave off dementia by up to five years.
  2. Increased attention.  As those that meditate know, practice concentrating and it is easier to concentrate on all problems.  Language study and the attention required to interpret an unfamiliar language is such an act of concentration.
  3. New views on life.  The article references and example of Japanese but I like this one of Chinese: did you know that the Chinese word for thin (?) includes a component that is used in words that describe disease and sickness?  That shows how much the early Chinese admired their plump friends and family.

In summarizing many of my previous observations and rants, I will offer a few reasons of my own on the benefits of studying a second language:

  1. Exercise your humility.  Learning any language will always introduce you to people fluent in that language.  Comparing your proficiency with theirs is a constant exercise in humility.
  2. Build confidence.  The most accomplished linguists are fearless.  They use every word they know at every opportunity without fear of the listener’s response.  Force yourself to do this and it must translate into life’s other activities.
  3. Round out your intelligence.  Language intelligence is a distinct component of our multi-dimensional intelligence.  Develop it.
  4. Broaden your cultural horizons.  It is veritably impossible to learn a new language without meeting people from different cultures.  Cultural understanding provides an incredible context to history and national politics.