https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Darren_Mart

Learning a language... almost like being in a relationship!

I recently had a discussion with a co-worker who is fluent in several languages, and her passion for language made me reflect on my own journey. It also made me realize that learning a language could almost be compared to being in a relationship.

I set out to learn French in 2012. If I'm being honest with myself, I wasn't necessarily in love with the language at the time, I just loved the idea of speaking it. It didn't even dawn on me that one could love a language. After all, it was just a tool to convey messages, no?

A few lessons (dates?) went by and I was having a good time, but I wouldn't have been heartbroken if we'd gone separate ways. But slowly we integrated with each other's routines, and each time we met I learned a bit more. Sometimes I was intrigued, sometimes I was perplexed, sometimes I just wanted to be left alone so I could watch football.

In the best of times, I spent entire weekends immersing myself in the beauty of it all, talking until the wee hours of the morning and falling asleep with a smile on my face. In the worst of times, I'd curse under my breath and resist the urge to cry out, "You make no sense, why do you insist on being this way!?!"

Fast-forwarding to present-day, I can't imagine NOT having French in my life. She challenges me, broadens my perspective, makes me see things in exciting new ways. Sure, we have our occasional spats (she always wins), and whenever I start to take her for granted she quickly reminds me that there's so much more to learn.

I can't pinpoint the exact moment when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I truly fell in love with the language. And we're just getting started.

May 22, 2014

56 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slogger

In another forty years it'll be sitting with you in the evenings, comfortably, happily knitting. :)

May 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dancingbears

I don't have a very stable relationship with languages, unfortunately...

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mist1997

That's a beautiful METAPHOR. :)

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/E.T.s_Son

So when will you and French have kids?

May 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Darren_Mart

Hard to say, I barely have the energy to keep up with French, let alone chase a bunch of little Frenchies around the house.

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/E.T.s_Son

lmao

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sigmacharding

Feeling quite emotional. J'aime cet histoire d'amour entre un homme et la langue de française

May 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/puppy7989

Moi aussi, j'ai eu une petite larme à l'oeil. Je dois être fatiguée - j'ai sorti avec DL hier soir :)

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/buunny

I'm not really in love with any of them, except for Chinese, but the thought of making one more important than the others or leaving any of them would kill me. So if learning a language is like being in a relationship, what does that say about me? Lol.

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/duonks
  • 1967

Somehow I think I know what you mean :-D

May 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/buunny

Lol. I'm sure you do!

May 25, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FiveMagicsMaster

Your story reminds me the time I learnt English. First I was almost forced to learn it. Then I started liking the language because I could understand the lyrics of some of my favorite songs. And now I can't imagine my life without English, it was just like discovering another universe.

May 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/estefaniammm

In a way, it could be like another universe. As a spaniard living in UK I find sometimes sad that not many people know of the richness of the hispanic culture (some many writers, so many poets!!). There is a wonderful world out there! :-)

May 25, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FiveMagicsMaster

I just found this phrase in the discussion forum, and I couldn't agree more: "Cada idioma es un forma distinta de concebir el universo". -Jorge Luis Borges

The post: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/3148282

May 27, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gracescl

I like languages and first I learn English and now I'm learning Portuguese with Duo... at first time it was hard but now I love it!

May 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FiveMagicsMaster

Yeah! learning languages is pretty cool, and with the similarities between Spanish and Portuguese it was easy to learn faster.

May 25, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kimojima
May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TanteGeorgette

I just broke my 150 day streak and I'm kind of sad....now I think Duolingo and I are going to move into a different phase- less intensive honeymoon phase, and more mature "I'll always be there for you but I need some time as well to focus on other things" phase. I hope he will accept my "honestly, i was too busy at work, and then..." excuse for breaking the streak. Je t'adore, Duolingo!!

May 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alipaulam

I think 150 days is like that - that happened to me too around the same length of streak. Now I rarely get beyond a two or three day streak. J'ai d'autres chats à foutter, même si j'adore le francais et l'italien et commence une liaison illicite avec l'espagnol!

May 25, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Harvest1986

Could not agree more, this is also my experience with trying to learn Spanish. I did not really love Spanish when I started, however now I love the language and I'm addicted to learning it.

May 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Karleedemierre

I can't believe I'm going to say this... but that's so romantic!! :-) I'm actually going to print it out and give it to my ESL (English as a Second Language) students here in Honduras to motivate and encourage them to keep on learning! Merci beaucoup!

May 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dessamator

Interesting, and then one day you just cheat on her with German, Italian or Russian. If she's accepting, then you become a polygamist, if not then she kicks you to the curb. :)

May 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/driusan

Luckily, Duolingo teaches France French, which is pretty accepting, and not Québec French, which is insecure and prone to jealousy.

May 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mystick

I am a Quebecer and I am surprised to read that.

May 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cephlin

You sir, have a great mind! Eat a lingot.

May 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SpaceMichael

Duolingo is so good it encourages you to cheat for other languages

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MThoriqMalano

This is so me and I love the story lol. Made my day x3

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/xtene_

The personification in this was just great haha

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nailya.sha

Well by this logic I've been promised to English since I was a child, and we finally got married years later. Now, five years into that marriage we started having these occasional threesomes with French, our old fling, which are getting more and more frequent. She even sometimes stays for dinner. :p

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aaditsingh8

Nice way of writing! :P

May 25, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_splendor_

haha english language is my husband and french is ma petit et jolie enfant !!! lol ! i adore languages too ... its about 10 years that im learning english and i still didnt discover it compeletly :)

May 25, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Christochi

Funny and inspiring at the same time.

May 25, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jackmchugh12

i've been cheating on french with german. i still love french but i feel there is also something between myself and german.

July 11, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cephlin

Like a baws! Have a lingot!

May 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mundusfr

What you have described is what I feel sometimes ! We are two ! :) I don't know if you have read a subject entiled Les amoureux de la langue de Molière ? And someone has asked me maybe the term "amoureux" used for a language is not appropriated. And I insisted on it ! You have just confirmed the idea of the subject that I was the author. :)

Of course, it is not the same love that we could have for a human, a woman or a man, but it could be another kind of "love", a passion, something that you like more than other things. What you are ready, not to sacrifice your life, it is so hard to use this word, but something to spend your time for it without regret...

May 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/puppy7989

De prêter les paroles d'une chanteuse célèbre - "Non, Je ne regrette rien" :)

(Je ne sais pas si on peut le dire en francais - de prêter les paroles de qqn. Est-il une phrase qui est mieux? Peut-être on devrait le dire autrement??)

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mundusfr

Une voix envoûtante qui résonne longtemps dans vos oreilles ! :) Qui ne connaît pas Edit Piaf ?

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lazouave

You can get out of the difficulty by saying: "Pour citer une chanteuse célèbre..." ;)

May 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/puppy7989

Thanks - I couldn't think how to rephrase it! Still curious to know whether the expression in so and so's words or to borrow the words of so and so exists. One of the things I enjoy most about languages is the different ways (language aside of course) that thoughts and experiences are expressed. Sometimes exactly the same, othertimes not the slightest bit similar :)

May 25, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tonywangtj

Bonne chance mon ami!

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dallan.taco

Nicely put!

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nightingale63

so well put!

May 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/boglena

Good for you! However, not everybody is as lucky with that French of yours. I did try to date her couple times. But she treated me like a complete ❤❤❤❤❤. I could not understand her, she refused to understand me, you know how it goes... So I decided to date around for a bit, gain some experience with Spanish, maybe Italian dudes as they appear to be a bit friendlier. Maybe then I can approach her one more time and hope for a better relationship?

May 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Eveningnight

I truly agree with you.

May 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SoongJiaLiang

Nice

May 25, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Susan.Moore

Well said, I too am in a relationship with French, for now he is the more dominant of us two.

May 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dexterneutron

Well, this did happen to me in english; it has become not only a main part of my life, but it's influenced my family too. Moreover, my relation with french is very different: french is like the girl who is out of your league, and that only goes out with the wealthiest guys (Money=Time), so although I keep loyal to english, I take advantage of all opportunities I have to hit on french.. I'm not sure if there will be a day when I dedicate more time to study other languages than English (I'd really like to live in an English speaker country to learn the language by my interactions with natives and use my spare time to learn french or another language)

May 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chase_Thor

Mmh. Boring.

May 28, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ontalor

I didn't originally intend to respond to this, but seeing it daily in the top posts frustrates me a bit each time.

I know you didn't mean any harm by it whatsoever and were simply drawing a comparison, but this post does ring of objectification of women in that it draws a parallel between a person's relationship to another human being to a person's relationship with something that is not a person. It basically says that women are as meant for utility and one's personal enrichment as language is and in so doing removes women's independence and individuality as their own people.

I'm sure people are going to protest this using a variety of (often overly used) arguments but my conscious wouldn't be in the right place if I didn't speak up.

May 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/boglena

Ontalor, I am sure you mean well and thank you for your concern for women. However, as a woman (and quite independent one) I would like to assure you that this post is not offensive. I am pretty sure that any mentally stable woman will see it as what it is - a JOKE. Judging from your profile you use Duo to learn many languages. That is very cool! Try to learn one more - language of humor. Your life will be so much more fun :) Cheers!

May 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alipaulam

I am a (straight) woman. For me, Darren's post is gender neutral. The metaphor of learning a language as being in a relationship strikes a chord with me, and works both ways, so for me, the languages I'm in a relationship with must be male. Perhaps I am objectifying men, but I would rather see it as a useful metaphor for expressing the romance, excitement and obsession of learning another language.

May 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kimojima
May 26, 2014
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