Monday, November 28, 2022

Travel question for 2023: Can I learn the language?

As the end of the year approaches, and we think of Things We’ll Do (or not) in the new year. Travel is often on the list. That place we always wanted to see or want to revisit. Soon we remember that a new destination may mean new words to learn: How will we say Please, Thank You, I’m Lost? 
When selecting that next destination, you may want to consider the degree of difficulty you, if you are a native English speaker, may discover with trying to learn that new language.
In a 2019 AFAR magazine article writer Meredith Heil interviewed linguist Hannah McElgunn. She pointed out that languages that are related may be easier to group. How they are they related? Two ways: “One is through genealogical relation, when two languages descend from a common language historically. Another is through contact, or vocabulary borrowing.” Is the language similar to yours?

 Another major point to consider is how does the language sound? “It will be much harder to speak and understand a language with sounds that aren’t used in English because the distinctions between words won’t sound pronounced to learners McElgunn says. Lithuanian, for example, has a 32-letter alphabet and 52 different phonemes (distinguishing sounds)—many of which lie outside of English’s 26-letter span.” 

Check out all the ways that the language at your destination will be similar or different to your own. Take on the challenge of learning to say Please, Thank you, I’m Lost wherever travel takes you.

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