Which language should I learn next?

by Suw on February 1, 2004

I decided last night that it was about time I really buckled down and started on my third language. Ok, so it's not like I couldn't do more with my Welsh, but I'm at a level now with that where what I need to do is read a lot, rather than actually sit and try to learn anything new. Expand the vocabulary, that's what I must do.

So, yes, it's time to get to grips with whichever language comes next. I've always wanted to be multilingual, for some reason, and the only way to achieve that is to get on with it. Thing is, I can't decide which language I want to learn next. Instead of making my own mind up, I'll give you the options and you can decide for me using the wee poll. In return I promise to make a new blog category and give weekly updates. How's that for a deal?

The choices:

1. Dutch
I started learning Dutch a year ago, and have a couple of coursebooks with cds and tapes, a phrase book and a dictionary. I've a few Dutch friends who've helped me out in the past, and I already belong to a 'learn Dutch' Yahoo group, even if I never do read the posts.

Pros – it's a bit like English and I already have some Dutch in my day-to-day vocabulary, usually words to do with hugging people
Cons – have you tried pronouncing Dutch? I mean, if the ch and g wasn't bad enough, the sch is impossible! Causes actual bodily pain to say. That's why the Dutch hate their own language and would rather speak English. And who am I to argue?

2. French
I did French at school and hated it. Now I have a few French friends, though, and it'd be very useful for me to be able to speak it, considering that I could then launch a Get Fluent in French. That was the plan a while back, but it all went arse up, unfortunately. I have a French dictionary and grammar book, some crapy course books, and some tapes.

Pros – useful, commercially as well as personally. The phrase 'la bite' may just redeem the rest of the language. May. Just. Jury's out.
Cons – bloody hell, but I hate French. Reminds me of crappy school trips to Cherbourg, not to mention the collapse of my business last year.

3. Russian
Started learning Russian a year or so ago. My close friend Svetlana's half Russian, and has helped me with pronunciation, and we keep saying that when I've got some money we're going to go over to see her family in Bulgaria. It'd be so cool to be able to say something to her Mum in Russian. I have a Linguaphone PDQ course.

Pros – it sounds cool.
Cons – Cyrillic. Need I say more?

4. Polish
Used to work with a Polish woman called Elsbieta, and she taught me to read Polish. I had a perfect accent, apparently, but never understood a word of what I was saying. Still know the numbers though, but I bet my accent's slipped a bit. Have a Polish phrase book.

Pros – it sounds cool and has those really groovy sz and cz digraphs. I don't know why I think that's a pro, but I do.
Cons – not sure how useful it would be, or how many of the people I know whom I suspect speak Polish will actually help me. But then, that doesn't really matter because I'm sure that there are a million Yahoo groups packed full of Polish learners/speakers who will.

So to which of these four languages should I turn my attention? You choose, I'll learn!

A visitor February 1, 2004 at 4:03 pm

I voted for Russian, but your poll told me to “go hang”.

iM [derek@somethingfromjapan.com]

Suw February 1, 2004 at 4:06 pm

My poll was rude to you? oh, that's unforgivable. I shall add your vote for russian on at the end. 😉

Sam Kuntz February 1, 2004 at 4:43 pm


My vote didn't count either. I voted for Dutch, and don't ask why. I don't know.


Sam Kuntz February 1, 2004 at 4:44 pm

Opps. I just didn't wait long enough. Sorry.


Suw February 1, 2004 at 4:47 pm

LOL. Well, every vote counts. 😀 Although some will count twice if need be. 😉

A visitor February 1, 2004 at 5:03 pm

Cyrillic really isn't that difficult. It takes a bit of getting used to, but the concepts are the same. It's not like learning Chinese or Japanese where the underlying concept of the writing system is completely different.

Not that I can speak any language written in Cyrillic, mind you, but I've looked at a number of documents written in Ukrainian in the course of my genealogy research, and I really have found that it all starts to make sense after a while and I can sound out the words and everything.


Suw February 1, 2004 at 5:06 pm

I think the key to Cyrillic is to learn the sounds that go along with the letters, rather than attempting to transliterate into the latin alphabet. Given enough time and effort, I don't think it would actually prove to be a problem. It's just a slightly different challenge.

Besides, it's a bit like having your own secret code, that only you and several million other people understand… LOL

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