So I’m Learning German (and some other languages on the side)

I needed three more units in order to get a full load this trimester for my master’s degree, and the only other subject was German as a Foreign Language 1.

And so I thought to myself, Why not?

THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS

I never dreamed of being a linguist, although the state of things in Philippine culture does not give anyone the liberty to be otherwise.  Within the archipelago itself, there are hundreds of different dialects.  The same words in one city or province may mean different things in another.  So, given that you are (of course) born within a locality outside of the country’s capital, you learn: (1) Your dialect.  To add to that, there’s Filipino (or Tagalog), the national language, which is widely spoken in the capital and other neighboring regions.  Even that has many variations.  And so there goes the second language: (2) Filipino.  But wait, there’s more.  National leaders in education continually see to it that Filipinos remain competitive in the global market.  Consequently, when children go to school, the medium of instruction is in another language: (3) English.  To summarize, if you are a natural-born citizen of the Pearl of the Orient Seas, you are expected to be inherently well versed in at least three languages.  [Not to mention that in previous years, Spanish language was part — and may possibly be reinstated as an integral part — of the curriculum].

MORE?

Generally speaking, those three languages were more than enough for me.  So long as I could communicate with the people in my city, my country, as well as the majority of people in the world, it was all good –that is, until I discovered Sign Language.  I came across the alphabet in an encyclopedia when I was around eleven years old, and since then I was hooked.  My sister and I learned how to sign letters and we would spell out secret messages to each other in front of our parents (who couldn’t understand any of it), and we felt invincible, like secret agents out to save the world from some nonexistent terrorist attack.  Kids our age lived for role-playing games, and since I had a freakishly rabid enthusiasm for playing detective and solving crimes and finding hidden treasure, sign language was like a goldmine I just happened to stumble across and just as conveniently installed to be the omnipresent implement in all my other adventures.

Weirdly enough, although some dreams and interests usually fade as people grow, this one never did.  Even as I finished high school and went on to college to be a nurse I continued to want to learn American Sign Language — and still do up to this day — not anymore as merely part of child’s play but in order to communicate with kids and patients with sensory disabilities who cannot speak or hear.  My mother bought me an ASL dictionary a year ago, and until now I still haven’t gotten past the A’s.  It’s been a rather hectic couple of months so I decided to just place that target in the background for a while, but then it continues to be a dripping faucet at the back of my head: Study me. Study me. Study me.

SO, GERMAN…

I had my first German as a Foreign Language class today, and already I’m getting the hang of it.  I could say that compared to other languages it can be relatively easy to learn (if you just put great effort into it and are genuinely interested in speaking and understanding it) because the grammar and structure of the language is similar to English.  There are even several words in Deutsch and English (such as: come-kommen; hello-hallo) that sound alike.  We’ve covered greetings, introductions, addresses, and many other basic things in the first session, and already I’m eager for more.  I’ve already browsed the web for supplementary resources or German-dubbed/subtitled movies I can familiarize myself with.  I do not intend to let this course pass by simply to comply with my credit requirements; I have a genuine interest to know the tongue.

JAPANESE, GREEK?

No, no, I’m not learning these too.  But technically speaking, I actually am.  Aikido terms are all Japanese, and even though we are nowhere near writing any of the characters, my classmates and I use and memorize the terminologies (attacks, grabs, hand positions, stances, footwork, etc.) every day when we practice.

Greek is essential to any student who enrolls in Bible school; in fact, it is one of the components of the curriculum.  And even though I have no intention at present to finish a four-year pastoral degree (which means I won’t have to take up Greek), we do still study the language in part, because it is important in the interpretation and understanding of the New Testament.

And yet it is important to always remember:

I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. [1 Corinthians 13:1]

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5 Replies to “So I’m Learning German (and some other languages on the side)”

  1. Oh German. I learned it because I had to, but it’s probably one of my least favorite languages. Viel Glück.

  2. Least favorite? How come?

  3. I just don’t like the way it sounds. My favorite language is Portuguese. I can’t speak a word of it, but it sounds so mellifluous.

  4. Yes, I see what you mean!

  5. Good luck with your new venture! I have tried to learn other languages, with not much success but I so enjoy the challenge! For the last five years I have been struggling with Irish Gaelic!