And now for a strange observation

As you might know, I like to think about human relationships and the reasons why they often go wrong.

So I am used to look closely at my behaviour and that of my dear fellow humans, which in the context of learning Polish leads me to establishing the following hypothesis:

A person who learns a slavonic language in their spare time, i.e. without an actual (be it professional or family) reason, is likely to have some unresolved issues.

I can back my hypothesis empirically based on my observations of the few people I know who actually learn a slavonic language “just because”.

Since I am used to looking for patterns, I came up with the following reasons for that strange phenomenon.

1. Social rapport. If you learn Spanish or French, native speakers may approve of your efforts. If you learn Polish, native speakers are likely to be carried away by enthusiasm, especially if you are really (“really” as in “knowing ancient polish war songs lyrics”) into language and culture. Given that you are used to being an outsider, this is an easy (and addictive) way to gain social recognition.

2. Convenient excuse for being an outsider. When you are an outsider living in a foreign country, almost every slightly deviant behaviour can be explained by the mere fact that you’re a foreigner. So yeah, you’re still different, but now it can be easily explained why.

3. A distracting intellectual endeavour. Learning a slavonic language is time-consuming. Every evening you learn some new grammar features or finally figure out how numerals work in Polish is also an evening you don’t spend thinking about all the stuff that went wrong in your life.

So in a nutshell, natives won’t peg such a person as a weirdo, but will rather be flattered that someone is so much interested in their country so that they’ll condone the more difficult parts of this person’s character.

This observation is not meant to imply any judgment, and by no means am I to say that all people who learn a slavonic language for fun are crazy weirdos. However, if they are then all the better, because those make for the most interesting people!

Published in: on April 7, 2011 at 9:38 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] Joe. After a certain line is crossed, language learning starts to become a nerd activity. There are few sane people who’ll start a blog on how to learn Polish because, you know, they just like learning this shit. So whenever you come across such a language […]

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