The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #31 January / February 2018
Letter From The Editor
Up the Guru Path
by Erik Zidowecki
January / February 2018 | 

Why are you learning languages?

I am sure you have been asked this questions many times. I am guessing you have probably asked yourself this question a number of times as well.

It bears repeating because while for many of us, it is a hobby which we are drawn to, to many others, it is a path to something else. That "something else" might be a better job, a better relationship, a better experience in another country, or just better self-esteem. Whatever it is, we figure it will be "better."

But then what? While many have a goal, which is achieved once they have learned that second or third language, what about those who simply keep learning new languages. Is there a goal? Is there a time when the "better" stops happening?

I ask this because I have become particularly focused recently on the concept of a language "guru". This is the person who is valuable just for the fact that they have learned several languages, even if they don't actually apply them to something like a job or project.

As a computer programmer in my early twenties, I read an article one day which described a "programming guru" as one who had learned so many programming languages that they no longer actually programmed. Instead, they just wrote articles about programming.

I was horrified! Was I doomed to become like that... one day no longer use my knowledge to create but instead just sit, as if on a higher plane or mystical mountain ledge, drinking tea and telling people things like "C is its own virus"?

I haven't yet, but I am wary of picking up any more programming languages.

What about human languages? Does the person who eventually learns so many languages become only known for knowing them and no longer have to actually use them?

If so, is that a better thing?

Erik Zidowecki

Letter From the Editor - Up the Guru Path
Writer: Erik Zidowecki
Petey: Books

All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.


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