Feeling embarrassed for your passion for languages + Stuff language nerds say
Do you sometimes feel a little embarassed of your passion for languages?
Sometimes i'm afraid to get too enthusiastic when speaking about languages, or to tell others that I'm learning less "important" languages and I'm enjoying it ...
PS: Aren't languages so fascinating? :)
"There's a word for that in German!"
"Did you know that the Chinese character for ... is made up of ... and ... ?"
"Oh! I just realized that this word in this language is related to this word in this language!"
" Semitic languages have a really cool root system"
"Japanese loan words are just adorable!"
explains the interesting origins of random words
It does get kind of old when people constantly associate my languages (Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish) as "terrorist-related" languages over and over again. I get why they say things like that, but I just wish they'd be more creative with their jokes....
That being said, my Arab friends love that I am learning their language and help me.
I think it's a matter of social grace to not gush too enthusiastically about something about which an interlocutor has little interest (something hobbyists or aficionados of many a stripe would do well to take to heart, it seems to me). Should the topic come up, yeah, I probably reference more familiar-seeming things like Russian or Latin quite a while before I mention my efforts in Georgian and Guaraní.
People really ought to understand, "I just find them fascinating," though. Why do people knit? Spend so much time watching sports on TV? Sing and dance? Play video games? I'd be tempted to suspect anyone who was too vociferous in their disinterest or claims of uselessness of being at least somewhat motivated by regret of their excessive time expenditure in mindless channel surfing.
I am very passionate about learning German that I once brought a CD player to school so that I can listen to German audio. I got so many weird looks from other students here, but I don't care what they think, because German is something that I want to learn. I am passionate about it. That is what counts.
You don't have to be afraid or be ashamed about this or anything. It's awesome and incredibly cool. The more languages you learn the easier it gets to learn new languages and to see patterns that are similar in certain languages... Language allows you to actually communicate with the people who live in other countries and to learn more about them, the way they live... To me there are no "less important" languages, there are only languages that are spoken by more and languages that are spoken by less people. People may disagree with me, but I think that it is much easier to connect with people and learn more about their culture if I know their language. Therefore it is never useless to learn a new language, no matter how many people speak it.
By the way, I chose to learn ancient greek and latin in high school for years additionally to French and English and absolutely loved it. Now that I'm finished with school I have started learning the scandinavian languages (I intend knowing all of them at some point). Sometimes people think I am strange, but most people understand and are very supportive. Everybody is passionate about something and languages are something that's definitely worth being enthusiastic about, because they're absolutely amazing:)
... one would learn languages for fun for a million reasons! Because language is the key to the world. Language is the logic of communication. It is sound. It is patterns. It fosters understanding of culture and history. It is the basic of music (or maybe the other way around, who knows, I'm just letting my passion run with me...! ) :-)
Hobbies (if I'm allowed to call it this way) are ofttimes inherently a bit "embarrassing" since they often include / start with an amateur level and therefore come with a connotation of "amateur". While people often make fun of the "amateur" hobbies of others they forget to think about their own hobbies. Thus, simply do what like / want to do (what else are hobbies for?) and ignore other people. It's also a good idea to keep in your mind that whatever you like, somebody else might not, thus it's generally a good idea to not overly "pressure" them with it. A comment stemming from your personal hobby is ok to mention once / occasionally but not for the 9001st time (unless the person shares the same passion). Certainly when it comes to things like learning languages, where it's likely to be perceived as a "humblebrag", something many people dislike (especially when done repeatedly) - just something to keep in your mind.
For me its like: "AH! There are so many languages that I want to learn! I should be working on my German, but I should improve my (very much neglected) Spanish. But I also want to learn French and Japanese and Korean and Swedish and- goes on for about half an hour talking about language goals"