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What language to learn?

  1. May 28, 2005 #1
    I'm a native english speaker who took latin in high school. What language do you think I should learn in college? I'm considering ancient greek because I might go for a classics major, but I'm also thinking about something that would make it easier to travel the world. Other possible majors include philosophy, mathematics, physics and international relations. My school offers French, German, ancient Greek, Russian, Chinese, and Spanish. Any advice?
     
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  3. May 28, 2005 #2

    Pyrrhus

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    Take Spanish, because it's the language most printed (books, encyclopedias, etc..) [if i remember correctly :tongue:]
     
  4. May 28, 2005 #3

    JamesU

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    italian. I learned some sentances in it..I need to listen to those CD's again

    EDIT: you don't have italian, so french. I learned some of that too
     
  5. May 28, 2005 #4

    arildno

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    Do not take Chinese; the Chinese language is extremely difficult to learn for a native English speaker. Among other things, there are phonetic nuances used frequently in Chinese that is not present in English.
     
  6. May 28, 2005 #5

    JamesU

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    Why would anyone want to learn ancient greek?
     
  7. May 28, 2005 #6

    arildno

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    Because they are geeks? :confused:
     
  8. May 28, 2005 #7

    JamesU

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    oh..that's me...uuhhh...I'm gonna go learn ancient greek...NO! MUST RESIST...GEEKINESS!!! :uhh:
     
  9. May 28, 2005 #8

    brewnog

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    Spanish or French would both be pretty useful, from a practical point of view.
     
  10. May 28, 2005 #9

    JamesU

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    oh, practical...spanish
     
  11. May 28, 2005 #10

    jma2001

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    Some of the greatest literature in history -- Homer, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle -- was written in ancient Greek. Who wouldn't want to learn it?
     
  12. May 28, 2005 #11

    arildno

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    People who don't read great literature, perhaps?
     
  13. May 28, 2005 #12

    mathwonk

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    It depends obviously on your intended use for the language.

    Ancient Greek is presumably for reading the classics in the original and impressing some people.

    The scientific language of foremost usefulness is English, and after that French and German for reading classic works of the 19th century.

    A few 19th century works of science are in Latin, from a wrong guided prediction of what the international language of science would become.

    Italy is many people's favorite country to visit, and hence it would be useful to be able to speak to the locals in their own tongue.

    Latin America offers a huge variety of destinations where Spanish is the chosen language, and there is a lot of wonderful literature in Spanish.

    China is the one of the most populous countries, and with the current rapid decline of US capitalism, may become the most powerful economically in your lifetime, making Chinese a potentially useful language for business as well as travel.

    The rhetorical question above reminded me of one i got from an otherwise intelligent parent, when I was trying to advocate teaching French to junior high children at a local private school: "who needs to know French?"

    Only a person remarkably untraveled could ask such a question. Having visited France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Chile, and having friends who are Russian, Swedish, Bulgarian, Turkish, etc.. etc.., I have at times wished I knew all these languages.

    I have learned more than a few words of 6 or 7 of them, and can accomplish some basic duties in French, Spanish, and German, and read some of these as well as Russian and Italian.

    Even back when I was reasonably fluent in Mexican Spanish, I encountered whole villages of indigenous people in that country who could not understand a word I said in it, presumably indians.

    I can say thank you to shopkeepers in Korean and for a time in Bulgarian, and goodbye in Mandarin, but it slips away if you don't use it, like math.

    My Dutch, Portugese and Norwegian are pretty non existent though.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2005
  14. May 28, 2005 #13
    Ancient Greek would obviously be for reading original texts, which would be useful in both a philosophy and classics major (two of the several I'm considering). On top of that I'd probably go with German because my course catalogue recommends that people looking into graduate school in the classics would benefit from French or German. If I don't do classics German could still be useful in philosophy or science, since I hear a large number of scientific and technical journals are published in German.
     
  15. May 28, 2005 #14

    cronxeh

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    why learn obsolete languages and other inferior ways of things

    study math and physics instead. those obsolete philosophical ideas of ancient Greece - who cares? Its not relevant today - wont be relevant tomorrow or hundred years from now. No matter what anyone tells you - its history, and only those who have no better knowledge of understanding of the Universe around them will study ancient texts of Greek philosophers
     
  16. May 28, 2005 #15
    Learn Chinese ... Even though its hard, its definately gonna come in use due to its growing importance in the world.
     
  17. May 28, 2005 #16

    mathwonk

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    cronkxeh, I assume you are just kidding.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2005
  18. May 28, 2005 #17

    cronxeh

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    im serious

    and if you have an argument for otherwise - post specific examples of why learning Ancient Greek will be benefecial for future of humanity?

    What positives, if any, can we take from Greek culture?

    The centuries of blodshed and what little scientific achievements they've had are obsolete today. Sure they are significant, but not significant enough to be studied. They are obsolete. Plain and simple
     
  19. May 28, 2005 #18

    mathwonk

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    no really, i know when someone is pulling my chain. this is obviously a joke. but i'm not biting. you are obviously a smart guy, so this is a gag, qed.
     
  20. May 28, 2005 #19
    I took 3 years of Japanese in high school. I am fluent in Polish, though, so the pronounciation of Japanese came much easier to me than someone who only speaks English. However, I forgot 90% of it over summer break. :(

    I want to re-learn some of it over summer, I'll get some books and such.

    PL
     
  21. May 28, 2005 #20

    mathwonk

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    i spent some time in japan and was surprized that pronouncing japanese is much easier for english speakers than say german or russian, hence presumably polish.
     
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