Latin offers no hiding place, no refuge for the woolly. China’s economy continues to grow at a pace that will make it bigger than America’s within two decades at most. The foundational works of our shared culture. Long live literature! It probably served me right. The learner needs to know at least 3,000-4,000 characters to make sense of written Chinese, and thousands more to have a real feel for it. Instead, they write their language the same way we do—with a computer. Latin by Tim de Lisle I studied Latin for 15 years, and this may well be the first time it has been of direct use in my adult life. Fluency may long elude you, but there will always be a fascination in picking your way through Arabic’s intricacies. And certainly middle-ages/ecclesiastical Latin. A recent survey reported in the People’s Daily found 84% of respondents agreeing that skill in Chinese is declining. Hindi does not even unite India. Yet this state of affairs is by no means uncommon in China. But really, "Western literature" is still too vague. It can enhance your enjoyment of art, history, literature and food, while giving you an important tool in business and a useful one in diplomacy. Many investors in China have made fatally stupid decisions about companies they could not understand. One with close relatives, so you have a head start with your third language. And learning another tongue helps the student grasp another way of thinking. Nevertheless, German still has a rich history of scientific and academic literature, so it’s a great language to learn if those subjects are among your interests. But the struggle is a worthy one, and the rewards start with your ego. If such gripes are common to most languages, there is something more to it in Chinese. The rest of us are looking for a decent return on our investment. Now if you really want to learn an Eastern language, learn Persian. Only English and Chinese are more widely used on the internet than Spanish. But “standard Chinese” (putonghua, aka “Mandarin”), or something close to it, is understood almost everywhere, as it is taught in schools. Which period(s) do you want? Already China’s spectacular 30-year boom has transformed our lives. Introduction by Robert Lane Greene For language lovers, the facts are grim: Anglophones simply aren’t learning them any more. I think you already have the five. (Or if the user types in wo shi zhongguo ren, “I am Chinese”, the software detects the meaning and picks the right characters.) So, direct use: virtually nil. Learning German grammar can be difficult and a good textbook can help you with the fundamentals. But ten years on, “English only” campaigns appeal more successfully to American patriotism than campaigns that try to promote language-learning, as if the most successful language in history were threatened. Hardly any of them are places where French is everyone’s native language. The 10 Best Language Learning Books to Take on Your Linguistic Journey “How to Learn a Foreign Language” by Paul Pimsleur Ph.D. Let’s start off with the granddaddy of foreign language learning—Dr. SAT Prep Black Book, 2nd Edition With less and less need to recall the characters cold, the Chinese are forgetting them. I apologize if there were posts about this already but I've seen none regarding top languages for the literature. Any visit there is greatly enhanced by some grasp of the language. They range from the intellectual to the economical to the practical. Instead, they include countries with Francophone minorities (Switzerland, Belgium); those where French is official and widespread among elites (much of western Africa); those where it is not official but still spoken by nearly all educated people (Morocco, Lebanon); and those where French ties remain despite the fading of the language (Vietnam, Cambodia). Soon enough, someone will helpfully inform you that Latin is a dead language. Here is something that might come as a shock: Shakespeare is not the most influential writer in the English language. So it's an ambitious goal. It is fascinating, and learnable—though Moser’s online essay, “Why Chinese is so damn hard,” might discourage the faint of heart and the short of time. Which 5 would you recommend? If your interest is the Middle East or Islam, by all means learn Arabic. French books, incidentally, topped the PEN list, with an average of just 8.7 books published in America each year. There are many such songs in Catullus, whose elegant poetry I had spent a whole term plodding through. There really is only one rational choice: Brazilian Portuguese. With a hybrid poetic language creating the perfect spindle to weave their magic, from the modernists to the Angry Young Men, The Culture Trip London takes a look at some of the greats from over the last 100 years; writers whose output has assured them an everlasting place among the greatest of all time. The French especially have some beautiful literary idioms, especially in their 19th century classics. One factor behind the 9/11 attacks was the fact that the CIA lacked the Arabic-speakers who might have translated available intelligence. China is the most populous nation on earth. French ranks only 16th on the list of languages ranked by native speakers. The price for the rigour is the mortis. Paul Pimsleur—creator of the renowned audio-based language system that has helped millions of language learners. After English, it is the most used international language. Throughout the canon of greats, British writers loom heavily around the top echelons. Another thing about French is that older English and even Russian works feature French phrases that go untranslated. The burghers of Brussels were trying to build a superstate out of abstract nouns. So although there are other great languages out there, don’t forget an easy, common one, with far fewer words to learn than English, that is almost certainly taught in your town. Impossible to ignore. It is a little harder to bullshit when you’ve learnt Latin (though quite possible to bluster, as Boris Johnson proves). With the right references to study, you can learn proper German grammar and increase your fluency in the language. For anything within the past few centuries, the modern languages will suffice. China’s economy is going to be the biggest in the world – the only question is when. Only about 10m Brazilians have reasonable English, and far more Anglophones speak French or Spanish than Portuguese, of any flavour. It can sometimes differ noticeably from the various spoken lects, but difference between literary and non-literary forms is greater in some languages than in others. Advocates of this model believe that the value of literature lies in its unique distillation of culture. I would say that English has the best overall literature in terms of languages, because it includes all the literature from Great Britain, Ireland, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Caribbean countries such as Jamaica, African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, and other places I. While you do have many options available, these are among the best German grammar books you can find today. All of the foreign tongues listed here are vital. The name has traditionally been applied to those imaginative works of poetry and prose distinguished by the intentions of their authors and the perceived aesthetic excellence of their execution. A literary history spanning thousands of years, this language has the most beautiful poetry. And for this reason he is not going to be amongst the five names you are about to read. Though the notion that speakers of different languages think differently has been vastly exaggerated and misunderstood, there is a great deal to be learned from discovering what the different cultures call this, that or das oder. The first years of Arabic are frustrating, like doing a jigsaw of a cloudy night sky. Which period(s) do you want? In business, if the team on the other side of the table knows your language but you don’t know theirs, they almost certainly know more about you and your company than you do about them and theirs—a bad position to negotiate from. If ever there was a time to play the Latin card, this was it, so I described Sting’s wedding song as “Catullan”. The practical reasons are just as compelling. ¡Cómo no!, as they say in Hispanidad. 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