Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why I'm learning Chinese

I know 3 languages fluently (French, English, Spanish), and am acquainted with another 2 (Italian and Dutch). You'd think I've had enough. But I really don't. I'm taking on Chinese and even though it's hard, I'm loving it.
Here's why I'm taking Chinese:

  • I'm not getting younger. Neither is my brain.
    I believe in challenging yourself. And I couldn't just sit there and let my brain slowly degrade. Since I was a linguistics major, I decided: how about a new language? I'd always learned languages I was vaguely familiar with, and most have Latin roots (and I studied Latin for 7 years. Don't get hyped though: I couldn't say a word even if my life depended on it). I thought it was time to reshape my brain and fire neurons I didn't know were there.

  • My social life should be better for it
    All my friends are from China or Taiwan. And I want to know what they say about me behind-my-back-in-front-of-me. Plus, they gave me my Chinese name, Ou Mulan (European name). Here's my policy: if you have a name, you must be able to introduce yourself. Well that, and argue about that point at volleyball (those arguments go on for 10mn sometimes, and I'm really curious what's preventing a "Oh, never mind, let's just play" from keeping them from arguing so long - I guess we'll find out once I can say it correctly!)

  • My professional life depends on it.
    There's 10 of us in the US Office. There's 60 of them in the Taiwan office. Who should speak what language, huh? I want us to collaborate more, and I know from being a translator that intent doesn't get sent with the standard translation. So here I go: I'm trying, guys!

  • I'm hoping I'll be more creative
    Did you know? taking on a new task also helps you be creative because it creates new "pathways" in your brain. Since this is totally foreign to me, I hope it'll help me imagine new things. New angles for products, new approaches, new names. Creativity.

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