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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Time for some new business

The last few years I’ve been fascinated by languages, and I’m eager to learn as many different ones as I can… for no particular reason other than the fun of it. Besides, the more languages you can speak, the more places in the world you’re able to go where you can understand the local people.

I started Klingon, then American Sign Language, then Spanish, then Japanese… but the problem with learning a language on your own is not having anyone to converse with.

In each of those languages I learned the basic grammar, phonetics and a few words and phrases that I use often, but soon after that I hit a wall… I always battle to memorize the vocabulary.

I’ve considered having lessons, but it’s very expensive, and I’m not sure I want to give up yet another night of my week for my cultural pursuits, especially since I’ll only be able to do one language at a time.

I’ve also looked at those CD packages that allow you to teach yourself a language. Again, they’re quite expensive (considering I’ve been learning for free on the Internet thus far) and it’s difficult to find all the languages you want in the local book shops. I wouldn’t want to fork over R1000 or something every couple of months when I want to start a new language.

I had hoped that the local Mensa chapters would have a Languages SIG (Special Interest Group… Mensa has many of these, they’re like clubs within a club), but they don’t.

I’m in a situation where I was back in December 1998 when I couldn’t find a local Star Trek fan club to join… I started one.

So I was thinking… maybe I should start some sort of language club. Your price of entry is one of those CD language courses in a language that isn’t already in the club library… we could meet regularly to exchange course materials and practice speaking the languages. And of course drink wine or something. Sort of like those women’s “book clubs” that are so popular nowadays, but this would actually be focused around the activity, and not so much around the wine.

It would still be giving up a night a week, or two weeks or whatever, but it would be a far more social event than a class, and I wouldn’t be limited to a single language at a time. It also would work out far cheaper in the long run, since each member would only have to buy one set of CDs in order to have access to the communal library instead of each member collecting their own.

The question is how many people would really want to join such a club? It would need at least five or six members in order for the concept to work.