My Polyglot Ambition

Last night, I watched the breaking news on TV that the Korean hostages in Afghanistan had just been released by the Taliban.

Finally!!! ^^

Thank God. Nope, I no longer have any kind of affection or penchant towards South Korea or its ppl whatsoever but still, I’m happy and relieved for them. Their family’s prayers are finally answered. What makes me even happier is this sub-headline of today’s The Jakarta Post: “RI plays key role in hostage release”

Great! My (current) homeland has made a gesture of kindness that would indeed, become a debt that the Koreans would feel subjected to repay someday. Indonesia’s role in promoting peace with its power as ‘The Most Populous Muslim Nation in The World’ has finally been materialised. Viva Indonesia!

Today, Ranma ½ is starting to air again on Animax channel. Gosh, I wonder how many times they have aired it. I’ve put it on my booking list, though. It’s quite a funny anime. Another anime I’m watching is Kamichu! (a.k.a. Teenage Goddess).

Anyway, let’s change the topic now. I think I’m on the mood to type abt languages today.

Now anybody who visits my blog here would know that one of my several ambitions is to become a polyglot. What languages to acquire do I have in mind? Here’s the list:

1. Indonesian-Malay (native)

2. English (high command)

3. Japanese (I’m learning it!)

4. Esperanto (I’m learning this one too!)

5. French

6. Spanish

7. Italian

8. Portuguese

9. German

10. Dutch

Yup, you see it right, 12 languages. There were some other methods that I considered in deciding the languages. Those languages listed as No. 1 to 4 are either the ones I’m studying now or the ones I have mastered, whilst no.5 to 10 are those I wanna learn – one by one – commencing next year. So don’t take it as if I’m learning all of them at once, I perfectly know that language-learning doesn’t work that way!

First, how widely used the language is. I want to emphasise the “how widely used” here, bcoz it’s totally a different meaning than just “how much used” the language is. Now anyone knows that Hindi has a total speaker just a bit less than Mandarin. But why did I, for instance, choose to have Portuguese instead of Hindi?

The reason is clearly bcoz Portuguese language is much used all over the world, from Macau in Asia to Portugal in Europe to Brazil in South America. What abt Hindi? Without any mean to treat Hindi as an inferior language here, Hindi speakers are “contained” only around India and its surroundings. If I wanted to meet a Hindi immigrant in Mexico, for example, how big is the chance that I meet that person outside of the Indian embassy? The chance is of course higher for me to meet a Portuguese speaker by accident outside of the Brazillian embassy there.

The same reason goes for languages like Dutch, German, French, and Italian.

Secondly, I choose a language due to its language family. I choose to put Dutch on my list bcoz it’s German’s “sibling”, you know, and it would be easier for me to learn Dutch than Russian after acquiring German. And any Spanish speaker would certainly agree with me that Portuguese is much easier to learn than English. Learning a language among the Romance family trio Spanish-Italian-Portuguese would certainly ease the acquiring of the other two.

Thirdly, I choose a language bcoz the language is easy to learn. That’s the only reason I choose Esperanto. Esperanto today only has approximately 2 million speakers around the world, which is indeed far less than the total number of, for example, Vietnamese which has 90 million speakers in Vietnam, Europe and USA alone. Yet why did I choose to learn Esperanto instead of Vietnamese? To be fluent in Esperanto, even a totally asinine language-learner would need at least a mere 3 (three) months. On the other hand, to be fluent in Vietnamese one would need at least 3 (three) years.

Oh, and don’t forget that I highlighted the “at least” up there.

Last, I choose a language bcoz I like the language. This method applies only to Japanese and French. I like French bcoz of its mellifluous sound to the ears, you know, French language has this smooooth flow of with its soft intonation…

I like Japanese bcoz of… what else? It’s kinda obvious, isn’t it?

Now let me see how I’ve been going so far in my language-learning. I’m a native speaker of Indonesian, which means it was automatically acquired. I’ve been learning English since I was 6, which means my billingualism is almost automatic too.

Now speaking of Esperanto and Japanese… I study both bcoz they’re easier to acquire than the rest in my list. Japanese has always been my priority since two years ago, and Esperanto has become my second priority since last May.

Now one may ask, why didn’t I wanna study Mandarin despite the fact Chinatown exist everywhere from Africa to Alaska?

Well, Mandarin is……. hard. It’s one of the hardest languages to learn.

For instance, one needs to learn at least 4000 kanji (Chinese characters) to be able to read a Chinese newspaper well. In comparison, one needs only ¼ of that to read a Japanese newspaper.

Another thing that turns me off is its 4-intonation system, with one word can have like, hundreds of unrelated definitions.

The only language harder to learn than Mandarin is Cantonese, I think (bcoz it has a 5-intonation system).

Anyway, I would like anybody to know that I ain’t starting a debate of “Which Language is Better” or “My Language is Better than Yours” here. My arguments above are my own opinions, so if you think that Mandarin is easy or Vietnamese is better than Esperanto, I prefer that you keep it to yourself or just write a blog of your own to rebut mine.


To be noted here, I personally believe that all languages in the world have an equal status however much or less their speakers are. The list I had just typed above or the argument I elaborated upon were just an explanation abt the things I feel good for myself, not the things I feel is good for everyone.

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