Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Quote and Comment

Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, dramatist, novelist, and philosopher (1749-1832)

I discovered recently during a trip to France that my interest in language has its roots in my high school French classes. Although I have maintained my ability to read French to some degree, by studying the French versions of appliance directions and clothing labels, I had not spent much time analyzing or even remembering much about the experience of learning French in the first place.

When I left for France on a trip sponsored by the Portland Audubon Society, I started a journal of my impressions for the purposes of writing an article for ETC, a journal of general semantics . That prompted me to summon the roots of my love for the French language, which lead to realize that I learned much more than French in those classes.

My teacher had grown up in Paris and spoke French as a native. When I realized that she "saw" the gender in objects, I began to sense that language can influence how you conceive and think about the world.

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