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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Am I Speaking Your Language?

Learning a new language can be terribly difficult. Taking the time to try to speak to someone, only to sound like a two year old is utterly frustrating.

But a little success with a new language can go a long way.

I spent two weeks in France this summer and in the year preceding, took at least fifteen minutes every morning learning new words, phrases, and tenses in French.

When I finally arrived in Paris, the real education began. I only began to make real strides in mastering the language when plunged into conversation with its native speakers. 

A few fun French to English translations:
  • A “speed bump” is literally translated to “back of the donkey”
  • Taking off on an airplane flight is literally translated to “ungluing”
  • … on second thought, I’m not going to translate all those fun gros mots (bad words) I learned. :)
Beyond the fumbling of the masculine and feminine nouns, and trying not to sound like a noob—I found a hidden gem on learning a new language.

There are a multitude of ways to get your general point across, but it’s the ultra specificity and the mastery of your native language, that allow one to make their message succinct, specific, and generous to the benefit of the listener. Great communication is at the heart of ever success, poor communication at the center of every failure.

PS. Some great ways to learn a new language if you want to do it:
  • Duolingo (
  • the ever classy Rosetta Stone
  • emailing or Skyping or meeting up with a non-creepy native speaker of another language and practicing conversation with them
  • TPRS publishing has some rudimentary short books and fantasy novels designed to help you learn new words and phrases (unfortunately pretty limited to Romance languages)