Saturday, 2 August 2008

Parlay Voo Too

Saturday morning French lessons are great.

It's the highlight of my week at the moment, which either says something wonderful about the place I'm learning it, or it says something a little sad about my life.

No, screw that. Learning another language is terrific.

The amazing thing is how much it's teaching me about English. I've learnt more about English grammar by studying French than I ever learnt by studying English at school.

But it's even more than that.

Going from one language to another is not a simple word-substitution exercise. The meanings subtly change. Statements become loaded. The culture that underpins the language, and the assumptions that go along with it, come out.

Learning another language teaches you that the way you express yourself, and ultimately the way you think and feel, can be controlled by the words you have available.

Orwell knew this, and wove the fact into 1984 with devastating effect.

In learning a language, you learn so much more than words. You learn about a people, you learn about a culture, and you learn about yourself.
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