Question of Languages Blog Post Cloud

Title of the post is complete bizarre(*). It consists of words out of 4 languages I have to deal with now.

Before I moved to Austria I mostly used Ukrainian. Of course, many meetings at work were in English and all mailing was held in English. Not to mention, there was some interaction with Russian, but not much. At least there were no real need to speak it. Now everything has shifted. I knew that I will have to deal with English everyday, I also knew that I will need some basic German. What I did not know is that there will be many guys from Ukraine and Russia at work and I will use Ukrainian and also Russian for small talks in kitchen or at lunch or for one-to-one discussions.

I continue to speak Ukrainian at home with my wife. We try to use English/German phrases. My wife is not good in English, instead her German is at intermediate level, so we try to exchange some knowledge in languages. But you know what? Unless someone or something kicks you in the ass, you won’t take learning of language seriously.

So, I paid 290 euro to have someone kicking me each day for 2 hours during whole month. Normally it is called language course. After one week I can introduce myself and provide brief information about myself, I can count and ask basic questions, I already know some colors, week days, months, restaurant words, etc.

It worth to mention, that you really need some pressure to start learning German in Austria, because all people around speak English very good and if you are lazy you can simply avoid conversations in German. Plus everything here could be done via internet or though automatic devices, so not much human interaction during the day.

I’m afraid for foreigners coming to Ukraine for EURO 2012. On average people don’t speak English in Ukraine. It is pity and shame for me.

Now back to German language courses. As I mentioned, I’m attending intensive evening courses for total beginners. I allocate myself 1 hour before class to do my home work. So in total it is 3 hours of German per day. My group is rather small – only 4 people, me and one girl from Ukraine, lady from Kazakhstan and another girl from Iran. If there are some explanations needed they are provided in German, if not understood in Russian or English (only girl from Iran doesn’t understand Russian). Another very interesting thing is that, as school is concentrated in Russian/German, teacher is not extremely good in English. Thus I often help to explain things to girl from Iran who is proficient in English. For me it is great – I hear explanations twice: in English and Russian.

To your surprise there are many words which sound similar to English and some are similar to Russian and Ukrainian words (or probably otherwise). Germany/Austria geographically are located between Great Britain and Russia/Ukraine so it could be understood without reading dozen wiki pages on language families, branches and their roots. Again, good for me.

Nevertheless, I have this question: “Is German important language anyway?” Accordingly to wiki there are about 100 millions German speakers in the world, so 12th place by number of speakers, but apparently it is number one in Europe where I live now. It is highly developed language, it is also language of technology (after English of course). All these sound great and everyone would answer that German is important language for Europe, especially if you already know English. So would I. In short term it makes sense to learn German. But in centuries world will dramatically shift to English, if not Chinese.

This all makes me think about importance of languages, their meaning for me and their value for world. Imagine there are no other languages, but just one, no matter which, how much would world be easier? The most importantly, how much further would we develop? Would we already start to colonize Mars? Or would it have opposite effect? Accordingly to Darwin there should be some deviation, otherwise no evolution could be progressing. All these are very philosophical questions and suitable for beer evening, or… for Friday snaps evening.

To conclude, I’m very proud to realize I will understand almost 1 billion people in the world after I learn German (precisely, 902 millions as per wiki).

I have some questions for you:

  • What languages do you know?
  • Do you learn any?
  • Do you think English is number one language and there is no sense to learn and develop other languages?
  • Would you learn German if you were me?
  • Do you think it is possible to be high in IT/Software industry for not native speakers of English?

Thank you!

P.S. Hope this was good reading. If not, please let me know. I’m willing to improve my blogging skills to write posts of higher quality. All for you.

(*) In English it would be “There is question of Language. Or not?”.

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