Wed, 02 Apr 2003 00:48:24 GMT

The Language of Imperialism.

The Language of Imperialism

I am finding it fascinating to learn the Dutch language. Especially fascinating is how perfectly bi-lingual so many Dutch people are. And amazingly, there are so many Americans who seem to think than's just fine and why shouldn't they be? And these same folks would figure, why should we learn any other languages anyway? And why should we bother funding language programs in our schools? What's the point? Everyone learns English anyway. Let them do the hard work of learning another language. And I cringe when I run into this attitude. When we speak English with this attitude we are speaking a language of imperialism. We could learn a lot from the Dutch — they were once imperialistic like us and and now have a much less brutish and overbearing attitude. Their history and all the lessons learned there are in that beautiful language of theirs.

I am in awe of the mastery of languages most Europeans have. I took a helluva long, grueling time to learn French. Learning a language is just sheer uphill work unless you're three years old. And so next time you speak with someone bi-lingual, I invite you to KISS THEIR ASS, because they are handing you a gift that took as much as 10 to 20 years to make. They had the courage to fall on their faces repeatedly learning your language — that's the only way anyone ever DOES learn a language. They had the perseverance to keep enlarging their vocabulary, their accuracy, their present, past and future verb tenses, the whole ball of wax. They had the gigantic respect and humility to study YOUR WAY OF THINKING, because nothing helps you understand someone else's thinking like learning their language. I learned that in French and I happen to love the French language and in an unpopular time, also love the French.

And now, as I learn Dutch, I am enthralled to hear the echos in the language of the way the Dutch think — it's so interesting — and the way the Dutch language still holds so many French and German words in it — like a delicious haute cuisine six-course meal with delicacies from the other languages that once lived within their now modern borders, but the remnants of old visitors marching through those lowlands and leaving some of their tasty words behind. < [Halley's Comment]

about 6 months ago,i was at a confernece held in the room where the dutch west indies trading company did its business. it was a good conference, if a bit overwhelmed at times by the venue.