As it turns out as I wrote this it turned out a little bit like a mystery novel. At each language I reveal a bit more of my interest and likes and dislikes but never really spill the beans on a significant part of my reasons for language learning. Because of my culture background and interest, I have often to an extent felt like a foreigner in my home country.
Ian Flemings alter ego was James Bond, a spy series that I absolutely love. If I were to have an alter ego it would probably be a writer who lives a carefree life in Central Europe and Northern Italy traveling wide and far within Europe. I think this reflects its self strongly in the linguistic choices that I make.
I think I was about 19 (in 2009) when I started to think about moving to Barcelona. At the time I was very passionate about football and a die-hard fan of FC Barcelona. I knew that if I were to move to Catalonia, I would have to learn Catalan as well but I figured it is better to start with the more wildly spoken language. I also liked the culture although I am not really sure why, I think it was more or less of the same reasons people like Italian culture and as time has gone by, I have noticed that I prefer Italian. Still I don’t regret study Spanish.
When I first started out learning languages there where many different paths I could have taken, study one language of a few different language group, learn the 6 languages of the UN (and others that I like) or study big European languages and study their sister languages.
I choose the studying related languages and becoming a master of each family. French is obviously historically a very significant language. I think French and Italian has the most gravitas out of the Romance languages. That was probably one of the first things that made me want to learn French.
I have also from an early stage been drawn to French writers, I love adventure books like Around the world in 80 days. Watching an animated version of the book is one of my greatest childhood memories. Jules Verne is an author whose work I really enjoy. The same can be said about the Count of Monte Cristo, Cyrano, Musketeers are all books and works that I find it would be fun to read in the original French.
Italian is one of those languages that I thought about learning for a long time but never got around to it until like the beginning of this year. I have always liked Italian cuisine, Italy as a travel destination is very appealing to me. As I have gotten more older, I have also become interested in Italian cinema, even if I have only seen snippets of La dolce vita, I feel that the main character seems like a possible alter ego of mine. The few Italian films that I have seen I have very much enjoyed.
Given that it is a relative of my native language (Swedish) it feels familiar and it also has lots of gravitas. Germany has of course played a huge part in European history (which is something I am interested in) and there are many places in Austria and Germany that I’d like to visit. Especially Vienna because I find it is very beautiful in the winter and it also has a certain charm in summer with river boat tours in the Danube while drinking wine.
There is not really much to be said about English, or is there (creepy inquisitive intonation). As mentioned, before I love history and linguistics. The British isle delivers on both fronts, I have been meaning to read all of Shakespeare’s work and familiarise myself with the historical context which within they are set. Old English is also very appealing to me as etymology is fascinating to me.
Being a linguistic/historical/generally cultural enthusiast Latin is the sanctum sanctorum of language learning. Most of the languages or the places where the languages that I learn are spoken have been influenced by Latin (Ancient Rome). It would also be a symbolical “reaching the mount Everest” if I could become really, really good at Latin grammar. Ten years ago I was not really in a good head space but language learning has really help build up my confidence so to speak.
Finnish and Swedish
It might be weird for a Swedish speaking Finn to “study” Swedish and Finnish. While I do speak Finnish fluently there are still words that I don’t know the exact meaning of (minute differences) and while I speak fluently it is intuitively. Having come so far in the last 10 years I think it would be nice to learn the language “properly”.
As for Swedish while it is my native tongue it is a distinct variety (sort of like Quebec French), there are lots of words that sound very Swedish that I would not use when I speak with other native Swedish speakers (in Finland).
Other languages that I’d like to learn
There are lots of languages that I’d like to learn but I’ll go through them sort of fast. There is Greek, sort of the same reasons as with Latin. I really like the sound of Greek as well. Turkish would be fun because it has some (most likely) unique features, I recently discovered it has something like 25-30 different tenses. I love verbs so that’ll be fun.
I have for a long time wanted to learn an African language, in order to add some diversity. Swahili is a main candidate as it is widely spoken and easy enough for me to actually get somewhere. About a year, year and a half ago I saw a video on Wolof which it also seems to be pretty much free of any ultra-difficult concepts. Also, a German language YouTuber mentioned it in a draw my life video, which completely caught me by surprise it might have had a yeasting effect on my curiosity for the language.
I’d be very disappointed if I don’t speak two Slavic languages reasonably well by the end of 2025. Main candidate is Russian. I love spy novels, the melancholic nature of the some of the authors (Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, etc.). For the second Slavic language I think maybe Slovakian/Serbian or Bulgarian.
My favorite Bond film is From Russia with love same goes for the book. The oriental Express plays a big part and it ran across the Balkans. Also I am a pretty eurocentric in terms of traveling and my culture interest.
Very riveting, motivating and overall a very enjoyable read, your post truly read like a spy novel. Thank you for taking out the time to share your story and insights on your journey.August 27 at 22:05
Virgin Islands, British
i have never heard french called gravidas beforeAugust 28 at 15:50
The reason I said that Italian and French have the most gravitas out of the Romance languages is because while opinions are relative, to me Italian and French seems to have that extra level of high culturerness.
While Spain did conquer large part of Latin America and one could argue that it is an international language. When I think of black and white classic movies (European), wine, food, etc. I think of Italian and French. French has the upper hand over Italian in literature and that French was spoken in the courts of Europe for centuries and was the lingua franca up until maybe the WW1, WW2 or somewhere between.
I don’t want to disparage the other romance languages by no means and it might seem a bit elitist to rate these to languages over the other ones but I feel that French and Italian have had a greater influence on high culture.August 28 at 16:32
I think this is certainly too, and that is what I took your statement of "gravitas" to mean as well. However, for someone who is an American, Spanish edges out Italian, even if that culture isn't too "high" so to speak.August 28 at 17:25
Virgin Islands, British
i would disagree with that statement spanish is very rich and thriving languageSeptember 10 at 12:01
Absolutely Spanish is "very rich and thriving." It's one of the reasons why I have committed to studying it so intensely over the years. When I wrote that it isn't to "high," I didn't mean that didn't score high marks for richness, versatility, or even culture.
Rather, I meant it in the same sense that SFGP meant contributions to "high culture." In that regard, French and Italian definitely beats out Spanish. Although in America, you will find fare more instances of Spanish's cultural impact more generally.September 10 at 16:56
I always wondered about which are the elitist languages and thought of Latin and Koine Greek as the potential front runners. But I’m general, I do agree that French and Italian from a living language perspective might be more fitting. Personally I do speak all 3 (Spanish, French & Italian) and I most enjoy reading Spanish literature.
I plan on one day reading Arabian Night (ألف ليلة و ليلة) in the original and maybe some Persian poetry.August 28 at 17:44