‘Why?’ is a question I often ask myself. Why do I enjoy languages so much? The obvious answer would be that I want to be able to communicate with more people, or that I wish to travel. Well, travel, yes, there is nothing I would like more than to travel, but communicating? Well, I’m quite an introvert, and a terrible verbal communicator even in my own language, and the last thing I would like is to spend my days meeting and communicating with strangers. So why do I want to learn different languages?
Well, I am interested in reading books, etc, in foreign languages, but that may be putting the cart before the horse. No, I just love them. I love the sound of each language, how different it is from my own. Some are gentle, some are harsh. All are interesting. Well, I say all, but really I am not interested enough to want to learn all (what is it?) 6000 odd languages on planet earth… That is just too much. But a good 10 to 15 or so would do me.
I recall as a child, looking at the entry for ‘alphabet’ in these great big Readers’ Digest dictionaries my parents had. There, they had the Latin, Hebrew and Cyrillic alphabets laid out for comparison. This was so interesting to me, I wanted to learn them like a secret code. Back then I had no idea of how many alphabets and writing systems existed. To get an idea of how many there are, have a look at www.omniglot.com.
So yes, I have an interest in the sounds of a language as well as the squiggles on the page that will confound me until I have learned the code.
But none of this answers my question: why do I love languages? And not just languages. Why do I like photography, and dislike rugby? Why do I like one thing and you another? Well, perhaps there is an answer in a psychology tome somewhere and one day I will find it…