This past weekend was fall break. I traveled to Hilton Head Island, SC with my room mate and a mutual friend for the weekend. We had studying and work to do and initially planned to stay on campus but ultimately decided that doing work at the beach is infinitely better than continuing the daily monotony of Nashville. It was an interesting weekend. We took a day to trip to explore the historic district of Savannah, GA and even went to some local Hilton Head dive bars. For whatever reason I decided to be on the prowl when we went to the bars, something I typically shy away from. I figured “screw it”, I was on vacation, and my friends needed a wing man.
What is a wing man? A friend who accompanies you when he’s trying to hit on or pick up women. Having another person with you diverts some of the attention and relieves some of the pressure when approaching a girl or groups of girls. A wing man ultimately makes you look good by talking you up, referencing your awesomeness and offering plenty of admiration. They act as moral support. They help to distract the girl’s other friends so that her attention is on you and you alone. Anyway.
Even though I had every intention of being a wing man this weekend, it didn’t end up totally working out that way. I have a tough time turning down a good looking girl. Especially one who eye fuck’s me from across the lounge. Especially one that stands sensually by herself and makes no obvious effort to seek the company of friends or other guys. What girl stands by herself in the middle of hoppin bar, lookin all seductive and pretty, just ’cause? No girl. Unless, of course, she has motives. And this one definitely did.
So I’m a sucker for the slender, fragile looking ones with delicate features and voluptuous curves that radiate with the purity of youth. What can I say? Something inside me takes control and justifies why I must make her apart of my life, if only for a moment.
Anyway. I don’t feel like going into details about the various women I picked up this weekend. All I’ll say is it was fun and refreshing. And women are funny.
When I woke on Sunday I found myself still resting in the comforting embrace of yesternight’s dream. I recalled that I was a reknown intellectual whom everyone revered and respected as a polyglot and world traveler. What stood out what my ability to speak so many languages. People automatically attributed a deep respect for the culture they perceived me to possess. The dream left me impassioned with a residual glow that lingered behind my thoughts as I gathered myself for the day. I found myself reliving the dream throughout the morning- relishing in the adulation, the respect and admiration- over and over again until suddenly I had the desire to do something about it.
I decided that I wanted to learn another language. Sure, I know a bit of Spanish, but the years of crappy education and listless enthusiasm for the study has left me mired with disaffection. But what language? There are two languages that immediately stand out due to my cultural and academic interests. These two are French and German. The most prolific and influential thinkers and philosophers of the past several hundred years have originated in these two nations. I would love nothing more than to explore the roots of their worldview by learning their language. In the end I decided to teach myself French because of my previous background in Latin languages, and because French just sounds so damn sexy.
And I decided to learn a language for myself. Not because of anyone else. I’ve learned that the best teacher is often yourself, and anytime I’ve wanted to learn something badly enough I didn’t wait around for a teacher or risk my education with their crappy instruction. I just teach myself.
So I jumped on google and did research for the best books on learning French grammar, vocab, and conversation. I also found some excellent books written in French. I jumped on Amazon and began filling my basket when, to my displeasure, I realized I had thirty some books already in my basket that were waiting to be purchased.
My problem is I love books. More specifically, I love learning and knowledge and tend to think that books are the second best way to learn, second only to direct experience. So I have the habit of saving relevant, important, and recommended books until I’ve read my current stack or I have the extra income to spend fifty to several hundred dollars on buying more. The issue arises when the list of books I want to read exceeds my ability to reasonably read and pay for them. The result from this issue is that I have over seven hundred books marked “saved for later” in my Amazon account basket. Anyway.
Seeing as how I was finished with my current reading, and seeing as how I had a little extra cushion in my bank account, I decided to blow a hundo to buy a dime stack’s worth of books. The result was several books on French, Whitehead and Russell’s Principia Mathematica, a book on Godel’s incompleteness theorem, books on the philosophy of science, works by both Paul Feyerabend and Imre Lakatos, including lectures and correspondence between the two, books on linguistics, language and culture by Noam Chomsky, and book titled the Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style.
That being said, I want to learn to speak conversational French within a year. Over the past several years I have had the pleasure of witnessing several of my close friends make the decision to learn a language- Japanese, Spanish, Chinese- and succeed. I watch them pick away at it little by little until, over the course of a year or two, they possess an entirely new language. I want that. At least thirty minutes a day, every day? So doable.
My strategy is to learn sentences first. I figured the best way to learn a language is to just learn how to say exactly what you want to say. This way I learn usage of both proper grammar and vocabulary, as well as conjugations. When I learn enough sentences that allow me to communicate what I want to say, I feel like I’ll be able to intuitively mold and shape the component parts comprising these functional sentences to construct new sentences. I get the impression that this is how children learn language anyway. They don’t learn grammar. They don’t learn vocab. They just know that they have a desire to communicate something and then find the appropriate ‘noise-language’ to say it. Soon they learn to identify which word and part of speech functions to do what, and slowly, after a period of trial and error and self correcting, they become proficient in the language.
I know this is a simplistic rendition of how the learning process will actually end up looking, but its how I imagine it most effectively working. Anyway.