Having been immersed in several very different religions has given me insights that are often hard to communicate to folks who have either never embraced a religion as an adult or who have only embraced one religion. I feel the insights of knowing more than one very different language are similar. Having learned a few foreign languages in depth, I have always felt they have affected me in deep ways which are almost impossible to communicate with monolinguists or even with people who may know more than one language but who have never learned a second language as an adult. I hope this doesn’t sound snobby, because I feel the same phenomena can happen in many fields.
Today I read a short, fun article in PsyBlog which lists 10 “superb psychological advantages of learning another language” and offers links to research backing each point. As my diagram below shows that I can only relate to four of these supposed benefits:
Here are my comments on the benefits I have definitely felt from learning a foreign tongue:
- 3, 4 and 10: Little difference is dialects of English or slight accents of foreign speakers stand out incredibly clear to me now. Choice of words and nuances are much more amplified now than when I was not fluent in other tongues. All this has improved my own language.
- 9: I remember this strongly when I reached a certain fluency in Urdu — in contrast to German (a cousin of English) where I felt no real shift in “ways of seeing”. But when I learned Japanese, the different views were dazzling. These differences in “ways of seeing” are very hard to successfully communicate to monolinguists.
Question to readers: How about you folks? Have you had similar experiences moving between religions or languages?