My Language Learning Motivation
History to me is not necessarily about remembering the dates.
It's more about experiencing that history while I'm learning the language. Hi there, Steve Kaufmann here again, uh, talking about languages of course, and today I'm going to talk about languages and history. Uh, remember if you enjoy these videos, please subscribe, click on the bell for notifications.
If you follow me on Spotify or at least any other, um, podcast service, please leave a review. Why history? Why do I want to talk about history? Because history fascinates me. And I think, you know, I realize that people watch my videos either because they're working on improving their English or because they find them, you know, my videos, in some way motivating and encouraging and therefore encourages them to continue with learning languages, which in turn motivates me to make more videos. And so I was thinking the other day, you know, what motivates me to learn languages? So it started with a professor, as I've said before, that I had at McGill university, because we had French at school, I wasn't very interested.
Uh, there were, you know, in a city of 3 million people in those days in Montreal, and there were 2 million French speakers and 1 million English speakers. I could have gone out and found people to talk to if I wanted to, uh, I wasn't very motivated until this professer, we had this course, French civilization, and we had this tremendous book and, you know, between, uh, you know, Moliere and... Voltaire and, and reading all these, uh, bits and pieces of what, some of the thinkers among thing and others, or even seeing, uh, you know, the famous painters like David and Watteau and all of this it for whatever reason it turned my crank and maybe it was the professor. But it was largely a matter of history. I suddenly became conscious of this, this French civilization, which like all civilizations went back in history, but I became interested specifically in French civilization. Not that it is any more fascinating or more valuable than any other civilization, but it has its charm.
Its works of art. Its, its architecture, its literature, its history. And I can still remember when I first arrived in Paris, when I had hitchhiked across the ocean on a, on a small German tramp steamer and hitchhiked into Paris. And I saw the Arc de Triomphe and I said, I was just beside myself because this is this history that I had become so, uh, you know, interested in. Um, and so that was... and then I went to France and I studied for three years and then the next language was Chinses. And I can remember when I got into Chinese, what fascinated me again was history. Uh, I remember, of course, when we first start out, we have to read things that are relatively uninteresting, and I've mentioned that we have to deal with relatively uninteresting content
uh, with a lot of repetition, but once we're able to start climbing our way out of that, and we go after things of interest, to me it's history that I go after. And so with Chinese, it struck me as so romantic. The idea that this ancient civilization of China had all of a sudden come into contact with the West, with different ways of thinking, with science, with different political systems and how did they cope with that?
And so for me, some of the literature and the history of the sort of first half of the 20th century in China was, was absolutely fascinating. And I devoured material on that subject, unfortunately, in Chinese to read about ancient history very often is more in sort of literary Chinese and there is just a limitless, limitless number of names to remember.
And I found that while, you know, it was fascinating to conjure up the Tang dynasty and how they lived and so forth or other dynasties, the Han and the Shang, but the portion of history that fascinated me wasthe early part of the 20th century. So that was Chinese. When I came to Japan, I've mentioned before I listened over and over to the history of the Showa Era, which was produced by NHK, which had the real voices of the real people in radio programs and elsewhere or radio announcers describing events during the Showa Era, which began...and again, I forget, you know, I love history, but I forget it as fast as I learn it but it was some time in the twenties up until the second world war. And then after the second world war, um, yeah, the Showa Era... I can't remember. It doesn't matter. History to me is not necessarily about remembering the dates.
It's more about experiencing that history while I'm learning the language. So through the language, I'm getting a flavor of the country, which then influences my perspective on the country. So that was true of, uh, of Japanese. And I can recollect, recollect listening to history, history of Poland. As soon as I got through the mini stories I found on, uh, publio.pl I think it is, um, a book where I could get both the audio book and the ebook.
And so I could read it on LingQ and I could listen to it. History of Poland, history of Ukraine, history of Russia, uh, even certain novels, like every Italian person I've ever met say tells me that they find I promessi sposi by Mazzoni very boring cause they have to read it in school. But for me it conjures up 17th century, I believe it is, uh, you know, Northern Italy. And so again, it's history and to me, it's... I, I remember jogging, uh, listening to it, I promessi sposi, and I listened to a lot of it. Wonderful rendition by, uh , il narratore which is a great site for people who are learning Italian. I mean every language, when I was looking... and Greek the same way. I found a podcast where they talked about how the, the, uh, Parthenon was built stone by stone.
And that was very difficult for me because I didn't have the words, but at least it was interesting. And so I, and, and even now, you know, it's, it's so fascinating. Like, I, I stopped listening to, or at least learning Korean because there was a lack of content at my level, but, sort of interesting... there was interesting content it was too difficult.
Htere was content that I could understand that was uninteresting. Uh, but lo and behold, my wife has started watching these historical dramas, Korean historical dramas. And so that just gets me keen again. So there's this one called the, The Crowned Clown, which is like most of these historical dramas, not very believable, but still fascinating.
And of course it presents the costumes and, and in that it's, it's, it's that period where the Manchus who are described there as being the late Jin, because the Jin dynasty invaded the Song, China, a Chinese dynasty back in the, I guess the 12th century. And this is the same Manchu people. Uh, and they're once again, go invade China and they invade Korea and they then become, they start calling themselves the Manchu and they call themselves the Qing Dynasty.
But the interesting thing there, again, So I look up on Wikipedia and you see pictures of the sort of, uh, Ningjiasu or Ningjiasu however he's pronounced, who is the leader of the Jin, later Jin and eventually, uh, which are known in English as Jurchen or, uh, anyway, so he dresses like it's all Chinese, culturally Chinese, and yet the sort of scrolls behind him are written in this vertical script.
Then when I look it up, it's the Mongol Manchu script, which is an adaptation of the Uyghur script, which is in turn an adaptation of the Sogdian script. The Sogdians are, are an Iranian speaking people who controlled the silk road. Uh, and that in turn has its origins in the Middle East, uh, you know, Aramaic or I don't know, Syriac or Phoenicia, and there's that it's all connected.
And once you begin, once you start to realize, after a while is all history is connected. So we tend to, you know, the major countries in the world, they did all the history plus our own country. But of course, you know, the Manchus had their history, the Mongol's have their history. Uh, they connect through Central Asia to Central Asia, which a thousand years ago was a major center of, of world cultures.
Uh, connecting the Arab world with the Indian world, with the Persian world, with the Chinese world, uh, Persians had a major influence as did Arabs in the Tang dynasty. There were many Persian and Arab traders and, and literary people and artists in, uh, I guess it was... I can't remember. So all of this stuff is connected.
So when I learn Persian now, of course I, um, I'm just loving because a lot of the historical stuff is too difficult, but again, uh, Sahra has created these 26 episodes of Iranian history in easier language for me. And so I listen to that and read that. And, and that course, you know, stimulates me to go off and read about the history of Persia elsewhere.
So I just want to pass that along. I mean, I could go on, I'm trying to think of other... like Ukrainian, again, to understand Ukraine, you have to read Ukrainian history and you have to read Ukrainian history written by Ukrainians. So if you're going to do that, then may as well read it in Ukrainian and may as well listen to the audio book in Ukrainian, which I have done. And so that gives you a perspective on Ukraine, which is different from a perspective on Ukrainian history written by someone from Poland because they dominated Ukraine for hundreds of years, or written by someone from Russia. Russia also dominated portions of Ukraine for many years.
And so when you get the history of the people spoken by the people in their language and you can access it and their history and their culture and their various, uh, cultural creations throughout their history, that motivates me to learn a language. It's not simply the fact that I might be able to speak to someone.
Of course, I want to speak to someone, but the motivation for me in these languages is largely history and, uh, watching that Netflix video the other day has gotten me motivated again to go and brush up my Korean. We'll see what happens. All these competing, uh, you know, attractive languages to learn.
Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you. Uh, thank you for listening and remember to get a, to, to, to achieve your goals and language learning, you have to be motivated. You have to find things that motivate you. Uh, and you have to read and listen on those subjects of interest and I'll leave a few videos that relate to that.
Thanks for listening. Bye for now.