A few weeks ago, my partner and I decided to watch the oscar-nominated film Nightcrawler. You may be aware that things get a bit scary in the film, so I allowed myself a distraction from watching it. I was watching the film in English with Spanish subtitles.
And I realised two things:
- Spanish doesn't swear sexually but religiously (¡diablos!)
- I prefer Spanish to French, even though I've been learning French for 20 years and only studied Spanish from 2001 to 2003
Soon I found myself wondering if this is normal. Does every language learner have a favourite among their languages?
What is it that makes us fall in love with one language more than any of the others?
In today's blog post, I enlisted a little help from members of the Fluent community. First of all I want to thank every reader of my newsletter who responded to my call with their own story. It's made this article something I've never had before: A crowdsourced piece of writing. Enjoy!
For some, it's Love at First Word
In the following stories, you'll hear from language learners who were just blown away by their favourite language right from day 1.
Aidan O'Rourke loves German more and more
"My favourite language is German, I much prefer it to French. I love German. I’ve loved it since I started learning it aged 15, I got an A in O and A level and went on to study it at Trinity College Dublin (with French).
German is the most amazing language, I feel it is part of me but sadly I am not a native speaker, though I aspire to that level. I love hearing German, especially on MDR radio and the Tagesschau.
I think I am more enthusiastic about German than at any time in the past! The longer I use it, the more I love it. I've learned a huge amount of German through teaching it as a private tutor over the past few years. There are many things I regret in live but one thing I don’t regret is learning German! Everybody should learn it!"
Aidan is the author of Stargirl of the Edge, a new anglo-chinese novel. You can watch him discuss language learning with me in this video.
Chimene Elessa learnt that other People don't know what she will really love most
"In my school (at age 13), we had the choice between Spanish and German as a third language -- after French (my native language) and English (my second language). When I asked what my third language should be, people advised me not to take German because it was "difficult". So I took Spanish just because people around me were learning that language.
Many years later, I subscribed to cable TV where there was one German channel. I started to watch programmes in that language and I liked it. So I decided to learn German so much so that I now tend to neglect my Spanish because I'd rather study and practice German.
Today my level in German is more advanced than my level in Spanish (which I have been studying for a longer period of time).
My explanation is that I was more motivated when I decided to learn German. Furthermore, I want to add it to the languages I use for my work as a translator.
I still like Spanish. If I take into account years of practice, it is my third language, but in fact it is the fourth if we talk about preferences."
For some, the first love stays true
For many of us, the first foreign language remains special all throughout our lives.
Chiara Grandola will always love British English best
"I am Italian and I studied three languages thus far. English, French and Spanish. French is a romantic and beautiful language. I'm drawn to the melody of la langue francaise. It has such a melodic tone that even an insult can sound romantic. Well, kind of…
Spanish is extremely sensual and it can express tremendous passion. Its pronunciation is pretty straightforward and maybe that’s why I feel much more comfortable in speaking Spanish than French.
However, my not-so-secret favourite language is English. British English, to be precise. I find some words and expressions extremely elegant and peculiar, like Quintessential or Blimey! As a long-time learner, I am often amazed by the richness of English vocabulary. The British accent gets me all the time. It's music to my ears and I could listen to natives for hours. I discovered the world of foreign languages by studying English when I was a little girl, so I’ll always be eternally grateful to this amazing language."
You can read more from Chiara on her blog, Runaway Daydreamer.
Ellen Keyne Seebacher got started with her Mother's Books
"I've studied at least eight languages systematically (German, Spanish, Swedish, American Sign Language, Japanese, Latin, French, and Brazilian Portuguese) and another dozen or more casually. My best language is German, but I feel most comfortable with Spanish. I suspect it's because it was the first I was seriously exposed to; as a kid I used to tag along to my mother's Spanish classes (at the time she worked in a hospital in southern Arizona) and sit quietly in the back, then flip through her textbook when she wasn't using it!"
And sometimes it's just right
Does there have to be a reason why you love a language? Or sometimes...is it just what it is?
Israel Lai feels the Music with German
"As a Hongkonger I'm fluent in Cantonese, English and Mandarin, and have additionally studied French for quite a lot of years - technically 12 years from the moment I was first exposed to it. I find it a beautiful language, especially when I picked it up again 2 years ago, but just can't get it 'into' me for some reason. 2 years ago was when I discovered my passion for languages, and since then
I took German in university and touched upon various ones like Japanese, Dutch and Russian. Surprisingly, although I find written German ugly (no offence), I feel most 'at home' with this foreign language. It could be me being a musician, or it could be my one month in Vienna, perhaps even a particular way my tongue is built in, but while all other languages have one feature that appeal to my rational mind, German is the one foreign language that I feel like speaking the most, the one to which I feel a sense of belonging. That's why I'm so looking forward to becoming fluent!"
What's your language love story?
As I put this article together, I felt a wonderful sense of the love and motivation all these Fluent readers feel for their languages. No matter if it's German or Spanish, the language you love is always special to you. Creating this collection of real stories was extremely enjoyable and I would love it if you commented with your own story of true language love.