The Power of Specific Languages
Choosing to learn a new language is a huge decision. The acquirement of a new language gives you an ability that remains with you for the rest of your life. If you choose your language carefully, it can be an extremely valuable investment. Unless you have a specific motivation to learn a particular language e.g. a religious reason or moving country, it can be difficult to know which language to choose.
When it comes to picking a language to start learning, each individual language has its own merits. This may be the ease by which progress can be made or perhaps the value of a given language in trade and commerce. Quantifying a language’s ‘value’ is a difficult and complex task, and it is important to recognise that it naturally remains a largely debatable subject that can be approached from a number of perspectives. Today, we base our discussion on three primary sources, (1, 2, 3) looking at some of the most widely used languages across the world and their various merits in a largely international context.
We hope that this informal conversation might even encourage you to learn about a language that you hadn’t thought much about before. Even if you have no intention of learning the language itself, it can be very rewarding to learn more about a particular language: where it is spoken, what unites the various people who speak that language, and the journey over time that led to a given language coming to be. We are fortunate to live in a world where at least 6,000 languages are used every day, (4) with each existing language giving us a further insight into the story of our species and what makes us unique.
- Chan KL. Power language index. Which are the World’s Most Influential Languages.
2016 May 25.
- Tinsley T, Board K. Languages for the future: Which languages the UK needs most
and why. British Council; 2014.
- Cysouw M. Chapter Predicting language-learning difficulty. InApproaches to
measuring linguistic differences 2013. De Gruyter.
- Comrie B, editor. The world’s major languages. Routledge; 2009 Jan 13.
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What is Getting It?: In a Nutshell
A conversation where we explore topics both familiar and unfamiliar to us to find out what makes them interesting, so that we can expand our horizons and further our understanding of the world and people around us.
From science to lifestyle design, languages to religion, plus everything in between – anything can be interesting if exposed to you through the right lens. We hope to spark your curiosity through open-minded and thoughtful discussion, as well as a healthy dose of overthinking.
Subaan is a 4th year medical student, motion designer, and an avid rabbit hole explorer. He has keen interests in lifestyle design, technology, investing, and metabolic health. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.
Dan is a 5th year medical student, pianist, and random fact connoisseur. He spends most of his time learning about languages, playing sports, music, and geopolitics. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.
Note: This transcript was generated using Otter.ai. Therefore the transcript will not be 100% accurate in some parts.
Daniel Redfearn 00:00
Hello, and welcome to getting
Subaan Qasim 00:02
the conversation where we try to understand life just that little bit more.
Daniel Redfearn 00:06
My name is Dan,
Subaan Qasim 00:07
and my name is Subaan.
Daniel Redfearn 00:09
And we’re both medical students based in London.
Subaan Qasim 00:12
And in this episode, Dan talks about languages for 100 minutes straight, he breaks down some of the most widely spoken languages looking at their fundamental characteristics and the roles they play in the world today. We use this to also discuss factors that might make a particular language worth learning, including its difficulty to learn as an English speaker, geographical spread, and its importance in the context of modern international politics. Hopefully, this episode may even encourage you to explore a language you had not previously thought much about before.
Daniel Redfearn 00:44
Good afternoon. Subaan. How are you doing?
Subaan Qasim 00:46
I’m in right now. Good afternoon for a half midnight.
Daniel Redfearn 00:49
Oh, yeah, that’s a good point. Actually, to be honest, mostly. Okay. You know, I
Subaan Qasim 00:55
didn’t want to get a good morning. Okay.
Daniel Redfearn 00:58
You know what, you just you just did me? Okay, fine. Okay. Good morning. Subaan. Good morning, Dan. How you doing in this post Christmas period?
Subaan Qasim 01:09
Yeah, I’m not doing too bad. I mean, post Christmas period doesn’t really mean much to me. Since I don’t really celebrate Christmas. My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas at all. Really? But yeah,
Daniel Redfearn 01:20
yeah. So that was something I was going to quickly ask before we get into the the meat of the episode. So for you guys, obviously. Your your parents moved to the UK with about 20 years ago,
Subaan Qasim 01:32
more than 20 years ago? 2520s. Yeah, probably around 25, at least 25 years ago.
Daniel Redfearn 01:42
So at this point, obviously, every year when Christmas comes around, it’s the whole like, I don’t know, the whole atmosphere in the country changes. And being a part of that, I was wondering how you sort of get involved, you know, do you enjoy being part of the atmosphere and the changes in sort of the time where all the families get together? And it’s like the holiday season? Or does it just feel like a normal time of the year for you.
Subaan Qasim 02:07
So in terms of like, my family dynamic, and just just how I feel in general, it’s just like, normal time of the year for me, and for my family, I guess. But we do appreciate the kind of holiday season sentiment, everyone is just nicer and happier, generally, in this period of time, because I guess everyone’s a lot of people are having more days off. Everyone’s coming together, eating presents, food, everything, at least for most people’s, everyone’s probably just in a better mood. So I guess we are also the beneficiaries of a kind of sentiment. And then also, you know, my sister usually take some time off work my dad take some time off work, just because it’s easier to take time off his time. Yeah, and we just all spend time together.
Daniel Redfearn 02:56
So it brings me to ask you a quick question. The, what would you say is the closest equivalent to like a Christmas celebration in Islam? Or in the calendar? Would we eat the Eid after Ramadan? or?
Subaan Qasim 03:11
Yeah, so So there are two Eids, there’s one after Ramadan, and there’s one of the Hajj as well. So you can see them as like, celebrations. But in terms of the root of the celebration, and why they’re celebrated. They’re very different to what
Daniel Redfearn 03:32
Christmas is celebrated, but maybe the modern day sort of manifestations of the event, like, you know how people come together. And
Subaan Qasim 03:39
yeah, people come together and stuff. People are looking forward to it. People do make preparations. So yeah, it’s similar. In that sense, there is the exchange of gifts or money and stuff. So yeah, it’s similar, but different, I guess,
Daniel Redfearn 03:56
is is was pretty interesting to draw the parallels. And I also think sometimes, so you say it was me living in Pakistan? You know, around that time of year, I imagine how would I be approaching the holidays, the holiday season? So after Ramadan, when everyone’s celebrating, you know, how would I be getting involved? And it’s very interesting to think about something that I don’t give much thought, but I imagine it would be an interesting time of year. So either way, I’ve imagined it’s been quite nice, at least just at least we’ve had some time off of university,
Subaan Qasim 04:27
but yeah, to be around, that’s the main benefit.
Daniel Redfearn 04:30
So regardless of the actual event of Christmas, at least, we’ve had some time to relax. And yeah, so I guess that brings us on nicely to the the episode that we’ll be doing today. The fact that we’ve been off of medicine for a few days has given me a bit of time to explore one of my favorite things to do in the world, which is going Wikipedia and just the internet in general, massive rabbit holes. And for me, I often find that whatever I start looking at, I end up down the same rabbit hole. of languages, I can’t get enough of that. And so that’s why today, I’m really excited just to speak to you. I hope not too excessively, for the next hour, hour and a half maybe, and just outline some of the most spoken languages in the world, some thoughts around them, which ones are most spoken, which ones are useful to learn. And, of course, I’ll be doing that from the perspective of someone who speaks English as a native language. So we’ll be using three documents to as reference points. And as I said, we’ll go through the languages which are most spoken and most useful to know, according to those documents. And a lot of the information I’ll be sharing is based on my own opinions. So of course, there’ll be points which a lot of people might disagree with, or, you know, things I say, which I don’t know, just because it’s how I see it so far. And I’m sure in the future, you know, I’ll look back at this and think of things that I would change or my own ranking would be different. But yeah, as I said, I want to share a bit of my experience learning about these languages, and maybe, hopefully, share some new facts and some new information about them. And maybe, ideally, help give you a different perspective on some of the most spoken languages in the world. Because there’s nothing more interesting in the world than languages. That’s very unbiased. I’m very excited for this episode, I’ve got a few resources in front of me that I’ll be referring to. And I thought we could discuss which languages are worth learning. I know that sounds probably a bit silly, but choosing what language you want to learn, if you haven’t got a specific reason for learning a language is arguably the most important decision of all right? And once you’ve committed, is that a massive decision? So, you know, there’s a big difference between saying, Oh, I think it’d be really cool to speak French, and actually knowing why you’ve decided to do it. So we’ve talked about it in previous episodes, you know, like, having an intention behind every decision you make and being very careful. Because if you get it wrong, if you commit to something, and then you end up two months down the line, not enjoying it, you know, those two months could have been put to something more valuable. So, yeah. This episode, we’re going to just try and look at what languages should you learn, or what languages are worth learning more than others? Obviously, it’s a very subjective thing to try and talk about. So to the people who listen to this podcast, I’m sure that there’ll be many things that I say which you don’t personally completely agree with. And to be honest, I’ll probably listen back on this episode in a year’s time and think, oh, I don’t know. I don’t agree with that. But But yeah, that’s the beauty of it. I mean, it’s going to be very anecdotal, from my end, you know, saying what I found is quite useful. What I imagine would be a good one to start with, and then ones that you should only learn after you’ve spoken a different a certain language. And yet, you see what I mean, there?
Subaan Qasim 07:51
Yeah. And would you say you’re kind of targeting it more towards people who just kind of want to learn, you know, many languages and stuff rather than someone. Because if someone wants to learn a specific language for a specific reason, well, then that’s their reason for doing it, they don’t have to kind of look into see certain statistics and figure out what would be easiest, what would be most high yield in certain situations, if they just kind of want to learn another language for any kind of reason. So for me, I want to learn Arabic for a very specific reason related to Islam and the Quran and stuff like that. Whereas, it might not be the most kind of high Eun language, if you want to do want to utilize your language, say, for business or something?
Daniel Redfearn 08:29
Yes, absolutely. And then, of course, thinking about it from a perspective of only speaking English, because if you, for example, speak Arabic, then a new language you might want, you might have more reason to learn Farsi or or Pashtun compared to someone who speaks English, for example. So yeah, I guess like the, the axis of the world around you shifts based off of your mother tongue. So I’m only able to do this from an English speaking perspective, or a native English perspective, or we’re only going to be able to do this episode from that perspective, because English is our native language. So and we’re very lucky for that, by the way, of course, you know, so, so, so, so lucky to speak such an important language and habit to native fluency. I mean, you know, I doubt my native fluency sometimes when I’m trying to explain something, but you know, that we’re very lucky. So I’m going to just talk about the three resources now, that we’ll be referring to throughout the episode. So the first one we actually talked about at the end of part one of the series, and as the power language index is by chi l Chan, comma PhD is big, big flex bigger was the word
Daniel Redfearn 09:43
Yeah, exactly. So um, yeah, we’ve got big qualification there from Mr. Chi Chan. So he’s done a list looking at five different factors of the most useful or powerful languages to know. So really good, interesting paper. Of course, we’ll have it in the show notes as well. is a quite a long document to second one was a document made by the British Council about seven or eight years ago, I think it’s 2013. And it gives from a very British perspective 2013, the very British perspective of what languages are best to learn. So based on, for example, trade, the proficiency of people from different countries in English, and basically using our national interests to determine what languages are good to know. The third one is a really interesting paper, which we just sat down before and tried to go through a bit, as well as dude, Michael seeso, maybe see, so I’m not sure how to pronounce that. But it’s a 2013 paper, where he tries to basically come up with a way to list how easy each languages to learn, or try and quantify how easy each language is to learn as an English speaker. And his is quite detailed, I would say, and really interesting to look at. So that one’s called predicting language learning difficulty, 2013 paper by Michael Caesar. So what I want to do is start off with the chi Chan power index, the first one, go through the top 10 in reverse order, and just give some basic opinions on each one. You call that?
Subaan Qasim 11:25
Yeah. Do you want to just quickly summarize, like how we made this power index? And yes, so different factors involved in ranking these languages, I would love to do that.
Daniel Redfearn 11:36
So yeah, so that the five different factors that he uses in the methods, he says that he has geography 22.5% into the total score, economy 22.5% communication, the same 22.5. And also 22.5 is knowledge in media. And then diplomacy is the last 10%. So for example, in geography, he looks at the countries that speak the language, the total land area of those countries, and the number of tourists that enter those countries, economy, you can imagine it’s to do with the GDP, exports. And then you’ve got communication. So literally just the number of people who speak those languages. And also, people who speak those languages, living abroad, knowledge and media, you’re looking at the number of international level universities that they have number of academic journals that are in those languages, and films and just internet content and stuff. And then lastly, diplomacy, as you can imagine languages that are used in the in the UN World Bank. Yeah, basically, just very international languages, in that regard in diplomacy, which is really interesting, by the way, in my opinion, have you seen the official languages of the UN?
Subaan Qasim 12:44
I think you’ve mentioned this to me, or we’ve gone through this before. Those ones were really good basis. So
Daniel Redfearn 12:49
Subaan Qasim 15:37
Yeah, I mean, one pot one aspect is a lot of people would like to learn languages or you know, quickly learn a bit of a language before they go and travel or go on holiday to a particular country, they’re going to go to a country for a couple of weeks, it might be nice to learn some of the basic phrases and stuff and you know, interact with the culture and the people a bit more than you would then just speaking English. I went to Germany two years ago, I know, a year and a half, probably two years ago, I can’t remember two summers ago. And yeah, I didn’t need to any German to do anything. Everything was just an everyone could speak English, I went to a really kind of deserted not deserted, but just an ice cream shop that was really far off to get to was recommended by friends. So it was just really isolated, just in your kind of neighborhood area, not near any shops, or any kind of city ish area. And I just went in the other dude spoke perfect English, it was unbelievable. He like his German, you know, he barely had a German accent as well. And that was just a job just working in ice cream shop. And I was just, I was really confused. So yeah, there was just almost no necessity of it almost. So if that’s a particular reason, just going to or learning a language where you go to work for when you’re going to go to a country to speak that language. If that language already has a high proficiency level in English, it might be less useful. Or you might feel yourself you might feel yourself falling back on to just using English naturally. Yes, that’s a big thing. Everyone can just speak it
Daniel Redfearn 17:07
does a big thing as well. Yeah, I agree. Not being forced to need to use that language. I completely agree with you. And it’s a shame that that’s the case, you’d hope that it’s not the case, you know, you’d hope that it’s a shame that it works against them the fact that they work hard to learn other languages, and just means everyone else is like, oh, what’s the point? You already speak English, so I’m not going to bother. It’s a shame. But at the same time, I guess in the real life application of it, it kind of makes sense. So unfortunately, for example, I’m missing out on a sense, because I’m missing out then on a better understanding of German culture, which is a very beautiful and complex culture. So, you know, I’m the ultimate Miss person missing out here. But yeah, in the, as I said, that’s probably the main reason why I’m not as keen to start learning Hindi, as maybe to learn for example, Russian, because I feel like the proficiency of English is a lot better in the bigger cities in India. But as I said, might be completely wrong. Now. We’ll move on. Portuguese is next. I’m a little bit biasing as my mom’s Portuguese, but um, you know, I would have this Portuguese is first on the list, I guess has been carried a bit BB Brazil, it pains me to say that Brazil being very much an enigma of a country. Sorry,
Subaan Qasim 18:18
are there school breakdowns as to what it was kind of?
Daniel Redfearn 18:21
Subaan Qasim 18:22
it might be interesting to go through those quickly as well. For sure.
Daniel Redfearn 18:25
So you’ve got point 117 for Hindi. We won’t get into how the school is specifically calculated. We know the parameters already. But yeah, so point 117 for Hindi. And then Portuguese is point 119. So pretty similar. And then you’ve got your native speakers in Portuguese as well. You’ve got Brazil, which has just over 200 million people. They pretty much all speak Portuguese. Portugal, a nice little 10 million there. And then you’ve got still very big pockets of Mozambique and Angola that speak Portuguese that always
Subaan Qasim 18:57
gets me whenever whenever you tell me that
Daniel Redfearn 18:59
is really interesting Portuguese is is lusophone lusophone countries. That’s the name for Portuguese speaking countries. lusophone countries are quite spread across the world. Actually. You’ve got a number of lusophone countries in Africa still. You’ve also got Guinea Bissau, South Main presepe. You’ve got a couple of air in the UK just off the west coast to like very small island nations, a couple of those ones, sell to men and cover. And then you even go into East Asia, you’ve got Macau where no one actually speaks Portuguese anymore. But there’s a Portuguese heritage there. And also, for example, in India, like places like Goa Goa Yeah, where you have people with a lot of the time you have you have like on placement I’ve met a couple of doctors with Portuguese surnames. And yeah, they’re from India and they’re from Goa, but they just carry that legacy, I guess, of having Portuguese names. For example, this shows the Costa
Subaan Qasim 19:57
Yeah, there was a Hillingdon home. When I was on placement, the dude who kind of runs and kind of organizes the logistics for students on their placements there, on the emails, his name is Glenn Fernandez. So you know, the kind of person you kind of picturing, and then I go into his office, and then he’s just a small kind of, you know, very brown dude, just very, like thick accent thick, like Indian type accent and you’re all I was really conflicted, confused when he came up to me and said, Yeah, he’s Glen. Glen. Yeah. Yeah, just you wouldn’t imagine him to be a Glenn.
Daniel Redfearn 20:34
It’s pretty interesting. I always find that really interesting as well. Yeah. Especially Portuguese in particular, because I don’t associate Portugal with India necessarily. Yeah, certainly not as much as I do in English with English, for example. But yeah. And then even all the way down to the South East Asia, very, very southeast of Asia and Timor Leste, where is a very small country, It borders one Indonesia and one of the islands. I think the island is called Timo. Let me just check. Yeah, it’s the eastern half of the island of Timo. So it borders Indonesia is a very small country, let’s see is Yeah, just over a million people. But it’s cool that there is a Portuguese influence over there. You can see I’m a bit biased towards Portugal and my passion for it. But yeah, so I love the spread of Portuguese across the world. Obviously, politically, it’s not as important of a language, especially because none of the none of the countries speaking Portuguese, I guess, apart from Brazil, are super powerful. Brazil, again, I always felt like there’s an Asterix next to Brazil, very much in the same way as I put an Asterix next to India in the context of international politics in the sense that it’s a topic. I don’t want to put it across in the wrong way. But you know, the BRICS countries, the BRICS nations, Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, the countries which are sort of up and coming and I put an asterisk next to them, because they’re very powerful as they are now. But one day, if they sort of, if they keep growing, and keep sort of improving, they can become extremely powerful. I went to Brazil last year, and I was shocked by just how little we know about Brazil. In the UK, at least in what part of Brazil, I went to the very south the steak, steak or Hogan’s de su, is the southernmost state. It’s about the same in size, land size as the United Kingdom. It’s crazy. Just a one of the states. You know, how we know about all the states of America? Yeah, the USA, we don’t know anything about the 26 states of Brazil, really, some of those states are crazy big Amazon has the biggest state, just over one, one and a half million square kilometers in size. Just is just really struck me how little we know about how little we know about Brazil and the strength and the richness of the culture there. So yeah. Anyway, so Portuguese, I think still remains very much a language for the future as well, depending on Brazil’s growth is relying a bit on Brazil to be fair, again, no offense to Portugal, but yeah, the power dynamic in the language definitely shifted towards Brazil. Okay. Anyway, we go to eighth Japanese, very interesting language as well. The score, they’ve given it as point 133. The reason why Japanese is such an interesting language is because of the it’s like the opposite of Portuguese, kind of in its geographical spread, is isolated just to Japan. And it’s the hardest language to learn if you’re an English native, the number one hardest out of the big languages of the world to learn. It is so complex, in its written form, in a spoken form, in the grammar in every sense, every sense of the language is completely different. Very complex, very isolated, as well, obviously, in only Japan. I think there’s, I think Palau speak Japanese as well, technically was a tiny, tiny country. So yeah, with I think it’s just Japan and Polo. So the spread of the language is really quite small. And the complexity of the language being really difficult as well would mean that normally, you’d have no reason to learn it. But it’s Japan, right? It’s such a fascinating country. The culture is crazy different. And it’s a culture that sort of attracts a lot of people from the west as well. You know, like, you’ve got your anime culture and the film culture, the music in Japan, the Japanese cuisine, it attracts so many people from the west so weirdly. Even though it’s such a foreign culture, we still sort of experience parts of it in our society. In a way I don’t know if that kind of makes sense. But yeah, I
Subaan Qasim 24:48
think a friend of my brother is actually going to Japan now and he got really into Japan and softened soloing in started learning Japanese from enemies and stuff. So he actually started to learn Knowledge of Japanese from just enemies. And I was actually going to go to Japan and work do some kind of like some kind of project working the foot for something. I don’t know exactly. But yeah, that shows how you can just be watching enemies learn a bit the language, and I’ll just go and work there. I mean, the main thing I want to do in Japan is just take pictures of Mount Fuji, but
Daniel Redfearn 25:20
we’re gonna go Mount Fuji. Okay, that’s fair enough as well, there you go, more people are attracted to. But yeah, and in the context of the future, I think you have people learning Japanese more and more just for the culture more than for the business benefits. And then the sort of economic abuses and with trade and stuff because Japan is a slowing economy, versus obviously the really fast growing economies of like India, for example. So yeah, that’s just my opinion, obviously, Japan is still an extremely important country in terms of trade and commerce. And I can see why being able to speak would be super, super useful. But I’m just looking at decades ahead into the future, because language learning is an investment. It’s something that you carry for the rest of your life. So you might want to spend, you know, three or four years really trying to learn a language in your early 20s in your late teens. And those hours that you’ve put in early on in your life are going to stick with you forever. So I can’t stress enough how much I think it’s worth trying to learn a new language, not just for being able to communicate with people from that culture, but also the way it makes you think the way it makes you perceive the world around you. It even makes you use English in a completely different way. So it’s probably what to me is the best one of the best investments you could possibly make. So, yeah. starting early on, with Japanese, I’m just saying Yeah, decades and decades into the future. I don’t know how useful it will remain, especially compared to for example, Hindi. Okay, anyway. So the rankings on Japan? Yeah, they’ve put it forth for economy sic for knowledge and media, I guess a lot of the cultural stuff, the seventh for diplomacy, but then very low 22nd for communication, and 27th geography because it’s very isolated. Okay, we’ll move up to the German. So another, Okay, I’m gonna preface each one by very interesting language. German is another interesting language, because I think it’s a very high yield language in the sense. I still I have to, I want to get this right and how I describe it. But German is spoken in a very concentrated sense, right? It’s got the most I believe German is the most the language in the EU with the most native speakers. Yes, really? Yeah. With the most native speakers, right? Because you’ve got Germany, you’ve got massive proportions of Switzerland. 65 ish percent. Okay.
Subaan Qasim 27:49
I always forgets. Yeah, the mean, I was in Germany
Daniel Redfearn 27:51
has 80 million plus people. So about 83 million people, okay, giant country in the context of Europe. So, and that’s not even factoring in the fact that Germany basically, in some ways, runs the EU. You know, it’s the powerhouse of the EU. And, yeah, so that’s what I mean by high yield, like it’s a, it must be an extremely useful language to know. It’s just a proficiency thing that holds me back with it. I feel so bad in the sense because yeah. Without that, it would be it would be right at the top of my list, pretty much. But yeah, the other thing that slightly works against geography. German, in a sense, is the geography element, where, as I said, it’s concentrated into Europe, you don’t have the spread that you do with Portuguese, for example, where I love the fact that you can speak Portuguese and go to South America, you can go to Africa, you can go to Southeast Asia, and you can still see influences of your language there. There is a slight legacy of German across the world, for example, with Namibia, Cameroon, you’ve got some parts of Africa that have a German speaking legacy, but it’s not quite in the same way. And obviously, the only countries that officially speak German are Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein. So there you go, all in Europe, all in this and they will border each other. You know, it’s just this giant cluster of German. So yeah, that’s the bottom line with German. If we go through the different categories for it, you’ve got eight in geography, I guess, spread fairly well across Central Europe. Third, for economy that speaks for itself. Communication, seventh, knowledge and media fourth, and diplomacy. Eight. Wow, it’s a very solid one across the board. The only thing is, again, only 92 million native speakers. So in comparison with the 125 million of Japanese 215 million of Portuguese and 310 million plus with Hindi. Yeah. It’s a bit different. It’s a bit smaller. Okay. Next one would be Russian 150 million native speakers. Another interesting what are your impressions on Russian
Subaan Qasim 29:57
impressions and what sense?
Daniel Redfearn 29:59
So with the Russian language because it’s something that in the UK, I don’t think we really encounter much Russian. But I was wondering if you have an impression of a, how difficult Do you think the language is to learn? I asked you because the it uses a different alphabet. Yeah, I think it’s intimidating.
Subaan Qasim 30:16
Yeah, I mean, I could never see myself attempting to even try and learn Russian, I guess the main aspect isn’t so much the alphabet for me. But it would more be the fact that I don’t really see used anywhere. I’ve never been in a situation or try to access use some kind of information on the internet or anything where our man, Russian would be useful here. So I guess it probably has a important aspect in terms of politics, or diplomacy in that sense, because of its geography and the way it spans a huge portion of the world. And I guess it has a significant amount of speakers as well. But apart from that, I don’t really you know, I don’t really know much else about Russian.
Daniel Redfearn 31:05
So Russian is a really interesting one as well, because, okay, obviously, it’s part of the indo European language family. So it’s not, it’s not too far away. What is an East Slavic language is a part of the East Slavic family, which is a branch of the Slavic family. So it’s the largest, Slavic language. And I think a big intimidation factor for Russian is the fact that it uses the Cyrillic alphabet. I think a lot of people look at the Cyrillic alphabet, and they look at the sort of the letters that are completely foreign to the, to the Latin letters, and they’re put off of learning Russian. Overall, I know a few people who’ve been put off for that reason, but I have to say, learning how to read the Cyrillic alphabet is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Because I don’t really speak any Russian. But through reading that alphabet, I can look at a text in Russian, I can speak out loud, you know, I mean, oh, yeah, I’ve
Subaan Qasim 32:01
kind of noticed where you can kind of see what a Russian word is kinda,
Daniel Redfearn 32:05
you can say aloud. So for example, my watch, since since a relic, the name of it, but it’s, I can say is amphibia, which is amphibia. Yes, the same word as an English. But if you don’t know how to read the Cyrillic alphabet, you wouldn’t be able to know some of the letters for example, the F is very different. The sound is very different. It’s like a backwards are. And yeah, quite a few of the letters are completely different. But it will take three hours, four hours, maybe a whole afternoon, just sit down, learn all the letters of the Russian alphabet, and now you know, Russian. And now you can read Russian out loud. And there are a lot of cognates because as I said, it’s from the same overall language family. So yeah, things like doctored is the same doctor. But yeah, so I’m saying right now, big investment, learn the Cyrillic alphabet.
Subaan Qasim 32:50
So what about the same sentences, grammatical structure? Is that just similar to English?
Daniel Redfearn 32:56
I don’t want to say anything wrong here, because obviously, I don’t speak Russian. But from my experience, learning about the Russian language, the grammar seems to be a very difficult area of the language. I think the grammar in Russian is really hard. And that kind of intimidates me, I’m kind of put off a little bit languages that are hard to learn on in a grammatical context. Because I don’t know, grammar can be really tough sometimes. Although I’ve said in the last episode, that I don’t think learning the grammar is too important. So yeah, there’s a bit of a balancing act there. But the reasons why I’d want to learn Russian are mainly due to the richness of its classical culture.
Subaan Qasim 33:33
You know, you’ve got the with a classic Russian.
Daniel Redfearn 33:37
Yeah, yeah. Well, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, all of those Russian composers, I don’t know that that 19th century Russia thing I just find really cool. And I think even today, there’s something very unique about Russian culture. There’s something really attractive about it. You know, I don’t know, I don’t know exactly how to describe it. But I think it’s really cool. And, yeah, the step one, learning the Cyrillic alphabet, super worth it. And then obviously, also Russia, such a fascinating country in the context of global politics as well. Certainly, as I said, it’s one of the working languages of the UN. I mean, I told you before, it’s probably the language I would like to learn next, if I’m going to learn a language next. So there we go. takes a lot of boxes, fifth angiography talks and economy, Ted, then communications light, the knowledge of media fits in diplomacy. Okay, we’ll move on to the next one. Okay, fifth, the man you can take over here because we’re talking about Arabic.
Subaan Qasim 34:36
Disclaimer, I cannot speak Arabic, although I would like
Daniel Redfearn 34:38
to slight disclaimer.
Subaan Qasim 34:41
The thing is, I’m heavily biased towards Arabic, for no reason, for a reason, but I can’t speak it.
Daniel Redfearn 34:48
So I will try and give an overview of why learning Arabic might be good, but you definitely want to step in at points and go over it. So the first thing that I learned from you at was the different dialects of Arabic? And how, when you say you speak Arabic, you actually need to clarify a bit more, don’t you?
Subaan Qasim 35:09
Yeah, to a certain extent, because certain dialects across different countries, when you’re looking at the entire Arab world can be so different that it’d be hard for one person who is native in a certain dialect to understand that of another dialect. The specifics, I’m not entirely sure why the specific differences, certain dialects, it will be fairly similar. But yeah, there’s a significant difference between them. And depending on what you’re trying, the thing is, there is also a kind of standard called MSA with Modern Standard Arabic, I think, which is supposed to kind of be like the lingua franca of the Arab world, just kind of a formalized set system for Arabic. The but the thing is that no one really speaks that it’s, I think it’s based off Quranic Arabic. And it’s only really used in formal writing, like newspapers, or maybe if you’re writing a paper or the news and stuff, it’s only spoken there. Nowhere else. But I think sometimes it is used as kind of a bridging ground for different dialects where they’re struggling to understand that they can just kind of revert to kind of the MSA and kind of understand what they’re trying to get out there. Kind of like how probably a lot of Scandinavian countries use English as a kind of stepping ground are
Daniel Redfearn 36:30
the lingua franca. Yeah, that makes sense. And I’m curious to know, for example, if you speak the Moroccan dialect, do you know if people who speak the Egyptian dialect can understand each other? Do you think that they can? Or is it something that you might not know?
Subaan Qasim 36:43
No, I do. Because, yeah, I just know I do.
Daniel Redfearn 36:46
I’m going to google it very quickly. So it says that, generally speaking, there’s an understanding of what each other would be saying in terms of the media, watching programs and just communicating on the street. So yes, they will understand you, but not everyone wants to and you completely make sense. Anyway, if anyone who does be one of those dialects wants to get in touch and angrily disagree with me, then please let me know. And I’ll hold you to that that forum anyway. Okay. So obviously, so much as the Arab world uses the different dialects within the Arabic language. fascinating, fascinating language, completely different alphabet, obviously, completely different alphabet. I’ve always seen the three. This is just me, this is based off nothing here. I’ve always seen the three like, the two most intimidating foreign languages as being Mandarin Chinese, and Arabic, because of the writing systems whenever because when you look at Arabic or Mandarin, you ain’t got no clue what’s going on at all. Zero clue, right? Yeah. I mean, now I know the lF.
Subaan Qasim 37:55
Yeah, I think I’d find the thing is, obviously, I’m familiar with the Arabic alphabet, alphabet. And so from childhood, but I find with Chinese just symbols, there’s no system. Well, no, there is actually a system, I believe, but I feel it’s a lot more obscure compared to an alphabet, there is still an alphabet, which is a concept that we’re familiar with in terms of letters making words. But I find that with symbols and certain markings within symbols, denoting for different I’m not entirely sure it works. But yeah, I find, I feel like that would just be a lot harder coming from English.
Daniel Redfearn 38:30
So it’s definitely true. So with the characters, you Yeah, obviously, because he’s character denotes something completely different. And you can’t, you don’t know how that character is pronounced. Really, if you’ve never seen it before, I’ve learned over time that there are patterns. So because each character is made up of a number of radicals. So often, they’re made up of two or three little like mini characters within the character. And you know that if one of the radicals, if you recognize one of the radicals being used, you will roughly understand what the character is about, right? And often characters that look very similar are actually pronounced very similar as well. Very interesting. I didn’t know that until I sort of learned more and more characters, my vocabulary is getting better. And yeah, so now I’m lucky to be at a point where if I if I encounter a character I just haven’t seen yet, but I know a similar one. I can chance it and maybe get it quite similar. But um, yeah, I do agree that before I started learning Mandarin, I found it incredibly intimidating, like because it’s just like, What is going on? I don’t know anything. Whereas I can imagine with the Arabic alphabet, at least you can, like I said, with Cyrillic, you can at least pronounce the words and go oh, I recognize that pronunciation stuff. Yeah, with Chinese with Mandarin, or with all Chinese because they all use the character systems traditional and simplified. You don’t know what’s going on if you don’t know the characters, really. So. Yeah. Anyway, that’s a slight tangent. Although This whole episode is tangent. Yeah. So with Arabic, you’ve got 300 million native speakers roughly, although I’m sure that number is actually possibly a bit higher, to be honest, 300 million?
Subaan Qasim 40:12
I don’t know you’re, you’re, you’re better with populations and stuff. So
Daniel Redfearn 40:16
I don’t know, I feel, I think because there’s such a big spread of Arabic across North Africa and the Middle East, I just see it as
Subaan Qasim 40:23
surely it’s more than 300 million.
Daniel Redfearn 40:25
And maybe also because of the fact that you’ve got the Arabic alphabet being used variations of the Arabic alphabet used in Iran and Pakistan as well with Farsi and Urdu and other thing pastoral use as well.
Subaan Qasim 40:36
Yeah, but then those are Arabic. So the Arabic alphabet has been
Daniel Redfearn 40:39
lifted. That’s what I mean, I feel like because they use the alphabet, I’m putting them in the same world. So I’m thinking all Arabic, I follow. There are more people who speak Arabic, but they’re not actually speaking Arabic either.
Subaan Qasim 40:48
Yeah. So yeah, I guess they wouldn’t count. But yeah, they’re the digital native speakers. I guess if they start looking at secondary speakers, I think it’d be incredibly high. Just because there’s a strong incentive for, you know, most import people, Muslim people to learn Arabic, which is my main motivation for learning Arabic. So a lot of people, like a few friends that I know, can just speak Arabic. And they’ve learned, you know, over the past couple of years to speak Arabic and stuff, so that they can understand, you know, Islamic scriptures better and read them better and understand their proper meaning. So, yeah, considering that there’s what how many missions in the world a billion over a billion over a billion, so if even just you know, 10%? Yeah, can speak Arabic as a second language? That’s a huge amount.
Daniel Redfearn 41:38
So I’ve just looked it up. And so yeah, it says around 300 million native speakers. So those, those would be the countries in North Africa and the Middle East. But then, just as you said, you have a huge number of L two speakers. So you’ve got a huge number of people who speak as a second language, or, or third or fourth, you’ve got 270 million people roughly, who speak Arabic. Additionally, wow. On top of the 300 million, that’s huge, crazy. And then we’re talking about cultural richness. I mean, Islam, bro. Yeah, like, I mean, yeah, that’s one that the only reason why I don’t intend on learning Arabic anytime soon is because of the sheer difficulty of it, right? It’s a Semitic language. It’s not from the indo European language family, it’s from the afro Asiatic language family. So it’s completely different, whereas even Hindi is from the indo European language family. So again, it’s like with Mandarin, I had to start completely again, learning this in a tech language. When you learn a language from a completely different family, I only from the experience of Mandarin so far, you have to completely go in with a clean slate, and not have any biases towards your approach to learning, if that makes sense. That’s why I think I’ll go into it maybe a bit later on in the episode. But that’s why I think you should start learning a similar language to your own. It’s like easing yourself into if you want to learn multiple languages. But yeah, so learning, for example, Mandarin, you have to go in with a completely open mind. And every new rule, you can’t compare it with English, because they just they’ve approached language completely differently. The language is developed over 1000s of years, completely isolated from anything within the indo European family. So yeah, you need a new approach. And with Arabic, I just know that you know, as a Semitic language from the afro Asiatic family of languages, I’m going to have to do that all over again, completely different approach to a language, how you refer to people, how you refer to objects tensors have to start again. So that would be a huge process. And I think the next language to learn would be it’d be more useful learning one a bit closer to home, maybe, who knows. But yeah, for you, I guess you’ve got those reasons as well, with your relationship with Islam, it would be really valuable for you to be able to, I can imagine how nice it must be to be able to, if you’re able to read the Quran in in the Arabic and just read it.
Subaan Qasim 44:01
Yeah, as in, I can read it, but I don’t know what I’m saying a lot of the time, there are certain phrases and stuff that I can recognize, and I might get a gist of what’s going on. But otherwise, I don’t actually understand. And just reading the translation a lot, a lot is always lost in translation, especially when it comes to this kind of stuff where there’s a lot more deeper kind of thinking to be done about certain passages, because it’s quite poetic too, isn’t it? And a lot of ways, yeah, the Quran is interesting. It’s kind of like prose. Poetry at the same time. It’s, it’s beautiful, basically, is it’s hard to describe. And the thing is, I still probably can’t even appreciate it fully because I mean, I know I can’t because I don’t understand the the language of Arabic so
Daniel Redfearn 44:46
But yeah, I can I can see why. It must be so rewarding to teach yourself Arabic and then be able to read the Quran as a Muslim and be able to appreciate all the nuances of the language as well. Yep, so massive reason to learn it. There. And hopefully one day, you know, I can have a rough understanding of the language. But for now, I just think that’s not on the horizon yet. Obviously, I’ll be trying to speak broken Russian before that. But yeah, so just touching on those scores, again, the parameters you’ve got forth for geography huge spread across the world, night for our economy, but I think that very much as growing your six the communications 18th and origin media? I yeah, I guess that’s because they’re, they’re referring to like universities and stuff from a very Western perspective as well. So like contributions to science, scientific literature, and things like that.
Subaan Qasim 45:38
If you’re talking about like, very old contributions to science, and it’s all based off, you know, Islamic philosophers, Islamic scientists and stuff. I mean, it’s very cheeky. We’re using the Arabic numbers here. Yeah, exactly. Writing for knowledge and media, all of like algebra and everything, you know, algebra. So, yeah, that comes from Arabic, a lot of it, especially with a lot with us astronomy, and basically a lot of the scientific process and what what we do in terms of, or what we know, and how we develop science, maths, and everything comes from, you know, classical Islamic scholars and scientists, which might not be accounted for in this. And,
Daniel Redfearn 46:22
yeah, it I see, I see what you mean, I don’t think they’re accounting for that. And there’s, I think they’re looking at it very much in the context of the world right now. And literature, currently, but I mean, even then, I can imagine that, you know, for example, Egypt has a very had the education in Cairo, for example, I remember just reading, education in Cairo is really good. And I can imagine across the Arab world is such a vast language that you know, that their knowledge and media must be quite rich in his own right, but maybe it’s just the applications to European and American sort of ideals and things is just a bit different. So they don’t appreciate it in the same way. That’s what I can imagine. Also, that fun fact about algebra. Do you mind telling me how it should be pronounced then because that’s an Arabic word, right? algebra.
Subaan Qasim 47:06
Well, that’s, you know, how words kind of change over time and it gets like, you know, latinised and stuff, that’s the latinization of the word eligible. Okay. So that’s where algebra is, basically stem from
Daniel Redfearn 47:18
algebra, algebra. Cool. And then for diplomacy, fourth, I’m not surprised it’s that high. Okay, I’m working down or up to Spanish now. So Oh, I didn’t I didn’t the I gave the all the scores that I, well, I’ll just go over German, Russian Arabic for now. So German was point 191, then Russian was a big jump again, up 2.244. And then Arabic up to 2.273, big jumps. And then now we’re moving up to Spanish point three to nine. Again, a big jumps. According to these metrics, Spanish is a lot more useful than the ones before. Again, so a lot a large part of that is due to the native speakers of Spanish, crazy amount of native speakers. I believe you’ve got more native speakers in Spanish than you do in English, actually. Mainly because of Latin America, we have to be careful not to say South America. You know, I think a lot of people think that South America starts at the US Mexico border, but it doesn’t, Mexico is very much North America. At least to me anyway. So I prefer to call it Latin America. And then you’ve got the distinction between Latin America and South America. So of course, you know, the very populated countries of Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela. They’re all speaking Spanish. So you’ve obviously got Spain as well. It makes it an incredibly useful language to know, especially obviously, if you want to go to South America, because if you’re speaking Spanish and Portuguese, you’ve completed Latin America basically. Although obviously, different versions of Spanish, easier and harder to understand. So for example, Chilean Spanish is very difficult, in my opinion to understand. But you know, is there Spanish? So yeah, speaking Spanish is, you’re still going to find that incredibly useful. You’re going to survive. So yeah, with geography gets a score of third. Not surprised. Economy fifth, again, obviously, you’ve got the growing influence of Spanish in the USA as well. So we can’t overlook that every year. There are more and more speakers of Spanish in America. I think it’s around 40 million now. 14 million people, almost as many people as in Spain. Speak Spanish in America. Yeah. So it’s 41 million. I just looked it up. So it’s 41 million people in America, a native Spanish speakers. native Spanish speakers in the USA is 41 million people. That’s crazy. That’s crazy, man. That’s crazy. What’s the population has been? It’s around 45 million, I think. Yes, it’s 46 point. 47 million people. She’s basically got a very similar number of people in Spain in the USA who speak native Spanish. So yeah, that number is only growing. And so yeah, speaking Spanish incredibly useful to your face and economy. Third, and communications, obviously very rich culture with the Spanish language, knowledge and media seventh and diplomacy. Third, I think it speaks for itself, not much more than needs to be said about Spanish. Also, a talking point on it is that I think the best language to learn, if you want to start learning a foreign language as an English speaker, in my opinion, is Spanish. Because one, you’re learning a super, super useful language as we’ve just highlighted why. And then also because it teaches you is, in a way, it’s quite a simple language to learn, in that it sticks to the rules quite well, it’s quite easy to pronounce the words that the pronunciation rules are quite simple. And I think it’s quite rewarding because there’s a lot of cultural overlap between English speaking countries and Spanish speaking countries, you know, so a lot of the reasons why British people like going abroad are offered by Spanish speaking countries. Okay, anyway, then you’ve got French, very similar overall score to Spanish is point 337. This one’s interesting, because it’s a language, I have to be careful here. But it’s a language in a decline, in a sense, because friends used to be the language of the nobles, right? Even the British Royals and stuff would speak French. And it used to be the lingua franca of the world. It used to be the language, you know how we use English today as the language of communication between the different people from around the world that used to be French. So the role of French has kind of changed over time. And nowadays, it’s sort of seen as a bit of a fancy language to note, you know, someone speaks French, they’re a bit you know, they have their cultural, you know, so yeah, but at the same time, the importance of French is growing. In particular, because of the influence of French in northwest Africa. There’s a big effort going on in northwest Africa to increase the number of people who can speak French and the Francophone countries in northwest Africa. Yeah, the number of French speakers is increasing massively. And France is still a country that’s massively involved in global affairs, and the culture of French, the French language and the culture of France overall, I think that speaks for itself. So yeah, it gets a position of second place in geography out of all the languages in the world. Second place. Also because French is distributed across the world to you’ve got French spoken, you know, France, this part of France is in South America, right? The longest international border for France is with Brazil. Genuinely, more than with Germany, Spain of Belgium, the longest French borders with Brazil. Wow. Yeah. Because the French Guiana, so that’s still that’s technically a part of the EU, they use the Euro there. That’s France is not some like stuff. So odd. It’s fascinating. It’s fascinating. Oh, nouvelle Caledonian in the Pacific, New Caledonia and the Pacific. That’s a part of France. That’s not some like. I don’t know, it’s not it’s not its own country, sovereign country that uses French. It is France is a part of France. Obviously, that’s a talk. That’s a debate these days, you know. And over time, you might expect to see more and more of these countries becoming independent. There’s a big independence movement in New Caledonia, for example. But yeah, I’ll start rambling about it. France, so French, come six for economy, fifth, for communications for knowledge and media. And then first, for diplomacy. That’s how important it still is for the man well, join first matousek. But first, fascinating. So learning French, there will always be a niche for wanting to learn French, I still think you’d be better off learning Spanish first, because I think having done both to a fair degree, Spanish is easiest to learn for an English speaking French, in my opinion, and also as easy to pronounce is less intimidating, I think is more welcoming, in a way. Because obviously, there’s the famous sort of joke about the French people being a bit sort of,
Subaan Qasim 54:17
like, I’ve just controversial joke in common.
Daniel Redfearn 54:20
I don’t mean in a controversial way, but it’s just that I’m digging a hole here, but I think people who speak French, often you’ll hear people saying they go to Paris and people expect them to speak very good French, you know, people don’t like in France, a lot of people don’t like speaking English or speaking a different language. they’d prefer to speak French. And I’ve had people say that it’s quite intimidating, trying to speak French in France, unless you’re obviously in in the right in the center of Paris and you know, that they expect experience a lot of tourists. But again, that’s only from anecdotal experiences. And yeah, again, that might be another reason to get some angry emails. Okay, so it’s future down here and We finished recording the episode, I just have a couple more things I want to say about the French language because I really want to do it justice in the context of its importance in the history in modern history. Okay, so there are two parts of the world where I kind of want to focus a bit more. Firstly, in Canada, so I completely glossed over the fact that there are about about 7 million people, seven and a half million people in Canada who speak French. Obviously, there’s Quebec giant, a giant province in Canada, one of the most important, I don’t want to say the most important because you know, that that would be up for debate. But it’s huge. It’s got about 8 million people. And the vast majority of people, things about 95% of people in Quebec, speak French as either a native or a second language. And then you also have French as a second language spoken across the rest of Canada, I think, New Brunswick as well. Also speak French as a code official language. But again, might have some angry French people messaging me about that. So yeah, we can’t under play the importance of the French language in Canada. And the fact that there’s a large Francophone portion of North America, I think sort of gets glossed over sometimes. The fact they speak as a first language as well, you know, I don’t know, maybe it’s because we’re English. And you know, in England, we see Canada is just an English speaking country. Yeah. You know, like, roughly a quarter of the country speak French, not just as a second language, but as a native like, yeah, you know, that that can’t be that. That deserves a bit of recognition. I thought. So. I don’t know if there’s anything you wanted to add there. Any thoughts if that surprises you or anything there?
Subaan Qasim 56:43
No, no. Okay.
Daniel Redfearn 56:46
The other thing is, yeah, Quebec, in fact, they’ve got so much national, sort of, they’ve got so much of an identity that they had an independence referendum in 1995. And I thought the result of that vote is fascinating. We talked about Brexit as being a very contentious decision. Well listen to the results of this. So it was the independence referendum in 1995, for Quebec, and there was a massive voter turnout was about 94% voter turnout. So the result, you’ve got 2.3 million people in Quebec, who voted for independence, and 2.3 6 million people who voted for it to be a to remain a part of Canada. That’s so close browser’s 49.4% versus 50.6%. For the Quebec independence, so what blows my mind about that is, that was one vote before we were born that we don’t really know about? But if that, you know, just a few 1000 votes, literally just a flip of a coin almost. And you would have a whole new country in North America. Wow, it would have been USA, Canada and Quebec. So we can’t that’s why I really want to give that some recognition. You know, the people in Quebec, they know that’s a Francophone? I can’t say country because of that result, but it’s a Francophone part of the world, which deserves recognition. And the other one is French speaking Africa, because that is huge as well. Especially. Okay, a couple of cool facts. I think, number one, you know, do you know what the largest French speaking city in the world is?
Subaan Qasim 58:23
Daniel Redfearn 58:24
it’s not Paris. Yeah. I thought it was Paris. I used to think it was Paris. But in fact, it’s Kinshasa. Kinshasa is the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is the largest country in the world and population that is a Francophone country. Pretty interesting. Wow.
Subaan Qasim 58:43
Daniel Redfearn 58:46
I don’t know. So I’m not I’m not like, I’m just speaking at you, basically. I’m just glad that it’s always here to listen to me. But yeah. And in in the Democratic Republic of Congo, you’ve got about half of the population who speak French as well. So you’ve got I think it’s called lingala. That’s the that’s the the main language in the Congo. And I think this is the case across a lot of African countries today, where there’s a European because of the colonial history, and essentially all countries of Africa, you have. And also, it’s that deserves an episode in itself, the languages of Africa, because it’s so complicated, because you’ve got national borders, which encompasses two or three different ethnic groups, essentially, all under under one country now, one sovereign nation, where there are two or three different languages that are spoken. And then you’ve got the European language, which kind of unites them in a way as well, but it’s different in every single country. It’s so so so interesting. So the Dr. Congo is just an example here, where French is used lingala is also used, and from my understanding, French is usually the language of businesses like schools, newspapers, and stuff. And then gala is used to communicate in the street person to person. So yeah, really, really interesting about half of Dr. Congo speak French. And then you’ve got I think, let me just double check. You’ve got a total of 100 and around 140 million people in Africa today who speak French across the whole continent. Fascinating. So yeah, obviously, knowing French these days, even though it’s only spoken in as a native language, not not in as many places as it used to be. Knowing it today is still incredibly useful, and it will get you very far. across a lot of Africa to Yeah. Going up to second, so you’re nearly through this ordeal Savannah upsetting me. Normally, if we weren’t recording and forecasted by now, I think you’d have been we stopped.
Subaan Qasim 1:00:52
I think we’ve already had a discussion on this before out of the room. We had like a six hour FaceTime call just
Daniel Redfearn 1:00:57
yeah. Oh, yeah. We did. Remember that? No, yeah. One of our long FaceTime discussions. So second place, Mandarin. They’ve put an Asterix next to it. Because obviously with Mandarin, kind of with the different dialects, you have to be careful in how you classify it. So for example, they’ve they’ve said Mandarin here and they’ve not said Chinese, although it says if all Chinese dialects. So including Cantonese, for example. hockin, Shanghainese, if you include all of them, if they’re considered as one, it was still not changed the rank ordering. But yeah, so Mandarin, most native speakers in the world, it’s pushing a billion native speakers, insane, obviously, nearly all of them, nearly all of them living in China, although there’s obviously a huge foreign born, foreign Chinese born population spread all around the world. But in terms of countries which officially speak Mandarin Chinese, I believe it’s just China, Taiwan and Singapore, Singapore, in an official sense. So yeah, you’ve got obviously you’ve got large speak Chinese speaking populations elsewhere. But yeah, in terms of official trial, official Mandarin, it’s just there, China, Taiwan and Singapore. Singapore is a very bilingual country. So a lot of people in Singapore speak Mandarin and English, pretty useful pair To be fair, I
Subaan Qasim 1:02:26
find really useful pair, talk to you languages, according to the parent,
Daniel Redfearn 1:02:30
that is powerful. Yeah. So that’s the deal with Mandarin. Obviously, everyone knows it’s a language for the future. There is a bit of an intimidation factor, but I can say is not as scary as it seems, especially once you start getting into it, the grammar is not hard. The, the tones are something you have to get used to, I think that can be really hard to be fair. But a lot of it just starts making sense over time. Like it’s possible, you know, with Arabic, even now I see it as something I could never do. But I think if I just start doing it, and I start doing it everyday, things just start making sense. And it’s very much the same with Mandarin Chinese. So you just have to do it every day and stick at it. And you’ll start improving. And it’s obviously very rewarding. Mandarin has a score of point 411. So again, it’s a big jump up from French, you’ve got your billion native speakers roughly, they come sixth and geography just because a lot of the speakers are in China, and Taiwan, of course, second for economy, second, for communications, third of knowledge and media, and sec for diplomacy. I think all of those numbers speak for themselves. big factor to mention as well as with Taiwan. A couple of people who I know who are who are Taiwanese born and raised so my friend Jerry, for example, he’s been on this episode before, on this podcast before he he described Taiwan as a sort of a mix in a way between the cultures of China and Japan. Which is a pretty cool combination. In my opinion. Obviously, the history of Taiwan is incredibly interesting. I can’t say I know too much about it. But from what I’ve read, it’s a very unique, like, for example, you know, there are Aborigines in Taiwan, Native Hawaiian, and the Polynesian ancestry can be drawn all back to Taiwan. So basically, it’s just because of the controversies around Taiwan, unfortunately, being embroiled in disputes over its identity and, and status as a country, I think often gets overlooked, but I’m really lucky to have gotten to know Jerry, for example, and be able to learn more about Taiwan because it really is a fascinating country. And you’ve got, you know, roughly 25 million people there who are almost all speaking Mandarin Chinese as well. So if you’re learning Mandarin, you’re not just learning is that’s not just going to come and use come in handy in mainland China. You also be able to use it in Taiwan. They have the different slightly different writing system and that they also use, obviously, the Chinese characters, but it’s traditional characters. So often you’ll have loads of strokes in the same character. So it’s a bit more intimidating, it’s harder to learn. I started off learning to simplify characters, but now I’m starting to learn each characters, the traditional characters as well, just the ones that come up a lot, you just see them time and time again. Anyway. That’s Mandarin. And then so that’s got a score of point 4411. Then you move up to first place, what do you think first places? English has to be we’re not joking. is Mary of New Zealand? Yes. That is English. So yeah, that the score for English is point eight, nine. Bearing in mind the other ones before, you know 273329337 for one, and eight, nine, crazy how important English still is as a language around the world. So it’s not just in the native speakers, but obviously, it’s also the influence of the English language, I don’t even think I need to explain it very much. Essentially, it comes first place in geography. First place in economy. First place in communications, first place, the knowledge of media. And first place in diplomacy. Bottom line is we’re super lucky to speak English as a native language, we can go you know, to so many parts of the world, and be able to use that use the English language. And also, I think it’s important at this point to recognize why English is spoken around the world and realize that it’s not, you know, it’s not necessarily for good reasons, you know, the English is spoken around the world. And so we have to realize that just because we can go to a lot of places and see English being spoken is not necessarily a sign that, you know, the English language is, in some ways, it’s more a mark of the past, you know, and history and what happens when you have a country that that sets out and tries to colonize so many different parts of the world and leave a legacy there. And also, I think it’s a responsibility of English language learners to realize the destruction that that’s caused, and a lot of ways in different parts of the world as well. So yeah, I think it’s worth noting that as well, you know, we can pat the English language on the back, but we also have to recognize that the reason the reasons why it’s so widely spoken, and, and yeah, but but at the same time, we have massive privilege for us to speak English. Okay. That’s the small introduction done. Alright. So we’ve just finished the overview of the top 10 languages on the power language index ranking. But obviously, there are a lot more languages in the world than just the top 10. And actually, there are some languages outside the top 10, which I can I think, even worth considering learning as well. So looking at other languages, which just don’t quite make it, like, for example, Polish, the second most spoken Slavic language. were obviously Yeah, big part of Europe as well be part of the European Union, nearly 50 million native speakers of polish. So yeah, definitely a language worth learning. Dutch, Italian, so many people learn Italian, the factors in the fact that, you know, is only really spoken in Italy. There are few small parts of the world where there are Italian populations who carry some elements of the Italian language, though, interestingly, for example, in Ethiopia. But yeah, like, or in parts of the USA and parts of Brazil, in the south of Brazil, where there are a lot of Italian descendants. But yeah, overall, you basically just got Italian spoken in Italy. But the richness and depth of Italian culture alone carries it in a lot of ways. And so many people want to learn Italian still, you know? So? Yeah, it’s one that’s definitely worth learning to also because of its similarities to Spanish and other Latin languages as well. Something which I think is really interesting is the similarities between the different Latin languages. You can look at the different lexical similarities. So there’s something published, it’s called the lexical similarity coefficients where there’s a score calculated, you can basically find a table of online where they’ve tried to standardize, they’ve tried to create a measure of the degree to which the word sets of two different languages are similar. So I’m getting this off of a website, which we can put in the show notes. But um, yeah, it gives a score between one and 100. So 100% would mean total overlap between the vocabularies. And zero would mean there’s just no similarity at all, you know, there are no common words whatsoever. And some of the combinations are really interesting, I think. So if you don’t mind, I might test you. Don’t worry about getting them wrong. Sorry to put you on the spot. But it’s super, super interesting. I’m going to give you a few languages within the indo European family. All right, and just see if you can roughly guess how much lexical similarity there is how much overlap between the vocabularies there are okay?
Subaan Qasim 1:10:04
If there’s just vocab or grammar and structure, and scripts.
Daniel Redfearn 1:10:08
So this is the vocabulary is literally the common words. So obviously, this is only one indication of the similarities intelligibility between two different languages. And obviously, you’ve got things like, pronunciation elements of the grammar and so much other stuff involved. But this is just purely looking at the vocabulary. I think it’s super interesting to look at how related different languages are. So let’s say I’ll give you one or two as examples to start you off. So the lexical similarity between for example, Italian and French is 89%.
Subaan Qasim 1:10:44
Italian and French 89%. Okay,
Daniel Redfearn 1:10:48
yeah. Massive overlap. The lexical similarity between Italian and Spanish, is 82%. I’ll give you a few more. Okay. See what you think. Because it’s very interesting looking at how the vocabularies overlap. Alright, Spanish and Portuguese. I
Subaan Qasim 1:11:07
said, like 45%, or big man. This is either a really good big man or about big brand
Daniel Redfearn 1:11:15
new. Spanish and Portuguese are actually very similar.
Subaan Qasim 1:11:20
Really, I feel, I don’t know, whenever I listened to them, they just sound completely different.
Daniel Redfearn 1:11:25
That’s a very fair point. That’s a fascinating thing about the Portuguese language. And I can completely understand how, if you don’t know enough about the two languages, you can, you could definitely miss it in that the Portuguese language pronunciation A lot of people say is very similar to Slavic language. Yes,
Subaan Qasim 1:11:39
exactly. So that’s why I’m just like, oh, surely they don’t. And that really,
Daniel Redfearn 1:11:43
I see what you mean. And as the pronunciation of words, essentially, that gives that impression. But in terms of the actual vocabulary, Portuguese, Portuguese and Spanish are very similar. And, in fact, Portuguese is even closer to Galician, but it’s not listed on this index. gliddon in Portuguese come from the same original language. So Gayego Galician, a lot of people argue is actually just a dialect of Portuguese. But, you know, I don’t offend people in Galicia. And I’m not trying to say that because they come from the same language. So you could argue Portuguese is a dialect of dilithium. But yeah, essentially, what I love about the Latin languages is the amount of similarity between them. I’ll give you a couple more. I’ll try and catch you out again. Okay. Okay, done. Thank you,
Subaan Qasim 1:12:30
for making me look stupid.
Daniel Redfearn 1:12:32
You can get me back when it comes to all the computer science. And I know you will, okay, Romanian and Spanish.
Subaan Qasim 1:12:42
I know nothing about Romanian 70 ish percent.
Daniel Redfearn 1:12:49
Okay, obviously a big man again. But, but this time for very different reasons. There’s a very, very, very good estimate. Romania and Spanish have actually like, according to the 71%, lexical, similar. And again, a lot of people maybe wouldn’t put the put the those two together, but Romanian is part of the romance languages. So the major Romance languages are Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, and Romanian. Then you’ve got different variations of the languages in different, smaller dialects. So for example, you’ve got Catalan, I think, is very well known sort of like a, sort of in between French and Spanish. You have you’ve got Sardinian. For example, you’ve got Galician as well speaking about. And you’ve got lots of smaller ones as well as, for example, in Portugal, you’ve got meat and there’s, you’ve got in in Spain, you’ve got in France, you’ve got Corsican. So yeah, it’s an Italy a bunch of different dialects. In fact, Italian was only standardized as the language of Italy quite late on I think, was around 200 years ago. So in fact, the language that came to be thought of as Italian only developed in the 14th century. So yeah, but that came on quite late as well. So yeah, there’s that will be my final spiel about the Latin languages. The reason why I’ve kind of made us talk about it for the last 10 minutes or so is because there’s a lot of similarity between these different languages and learning one gives you a good platform to learn another one, learn two or three even. So if you are really keen to learn different languages, I said earlier, in part two of this series, that learning Spanish for example, is a very good point of reference point to start out. From there, you can go and learn Portuguese, very similar language, very rewarding, very useful. Italian is very similar and a lot of ways and then obviously French too. So yeah, if you if you’re keen on starting to learn different languages, I really recommend going down the route of Latin languages. Okay, anyway, so We’ll leave that there. And we’ll leave the extra languages to learn that are outside of the top 10 of that, that index as well. The languages I wanted to point out there were Italian, Dutch, Polish, Korean, Turkish, I would say Swedish and maybe Cantonese as the ones that stand out as particularly worth learning, even outside of the top 10 Oh, and Persian as well. And although and Hebrew, if you’re Okay, anyway, so, I mean, golly, anyways, next one, we’ll be looking at the, the document I spoke about earlier, from the British Council. He always looks at things purely from an English perspective. So I promised not to take anywhere near as long as I did with the last top 10. But I think it’s just interesting to look at how the British Council see the importance of different languages around the world. So I’ll just round off that top 10 quite quickly now. This document was made seven years ago, but I think it’s still pretty applicable today. so intense for English speakers, most useful language they’ve got as Japanese join eighth, they’ve got Russian and Turkish 7/7. Live, Italian, sixth, Portuguese, interestingly, fifth, German, fourth, Mandarin, Chinese, third, French, second Arabic, big ups, you buoy, and then Spanish in first place. I think it’s super interesting. They use 10 different indicators on this one, the indicators are current UK export trade, the language needs of UK business. So this is a very commercial way of looking at it. This is literally yanked language for use usefulness in your work in the workplace. The third point is the UK Government trade priorities. Then emerging high growth markets, diplomatic and security priorities. The public’s language interests, make sense, outward visitor destinations UK government’s International Education Strategy priorities. Again, that’s a bit rambley. But it kind of makes sense. super interesting one levels of English proficiency in other countries. So yeah, we were talking about that earlier. In fact, we’ll speak in a bit more detail. Because huge decision you have to make we talked about earlier with German, for example, and why we wouldn’t want to maybe be we wouldn’t be not as drawn to German as we could be, unfortunately, due to the fact that you know, German people are so proficient in English.
Subaan Qasim 1:17:29
Yeah, similar to the Scandinavian countries as well.
Daniel Redfearn 1:17:32
So you’ve got a very high level of English language skills. And so there’s this ranking of that I found of, it’s called the EF English proficiency index. So essentially, the English proficiency index just ranks the proficiency of English being spoken in the following countries. It looked at 100 lang 100 countries in total, I believe. Whether English is not a native language, and you’ve got Germany in 10th place, you’ve got Luxembourg, you’ve got Austria, Finland, South Africa, fifth place, Singapore, as was was speaking about earlier, huge amount of English speakers in Singapore. For Denmark, you talk about the Scandinavian countries, Norway, third, Sweden second. And then the most proficient English speakers from a non English speaking country are the Dutch in the Netherlands. So again, big reason, sadly, not to learn that just the fact that so many people in the Netherlands speak English. Anyway. So yeah, you’ve got Germany in 10th. place there. Unfortunately, other reason, the other reason I’m this British Council top 10 most useful languages to know is the prevalence of different languages on the internet. And yeah, so bearing all of those in mind, you’ve got Spanish that comes out on top place, is there anything in particular on that document you’d want to cover?
Subaan Qasim 1:18:52
I mean, nothing specifically, I mean, I can’t see the document, but it gives them all a score.
Daniel Redfearn 1:18:57
And it’s a really interesting document. So we’ll put it in the show notes as well, the appendix towards the end, sort of gives all the numbers and you can see that looking at all the weightings in the score, Spanish comes out with a score of 76 in and that’s pretty lit. You got Arabic with 54 beneath it, and then yeah, from from that on? It goes down. So yeah, well, we’ll attach this document into the show notes. And it’s really worth in particular, checking out the appendix of this one. And as we were saying, it gives it from a very British perspective. So if that’s what you’re looking for, as an English person, or as a British person or a British native English speaker, what language will be most useful to know? Very good point of reference. Okay. Now we’ll look at the third document, the predicting language learning difficulty by Michael c. So, so what this did, the most interesting things that I take from this are the two tables on page four. And it looks at the they come up with a classification for language learning difficulty. And they split it into seven different categories they initially use. Or he initially uses the American foreign services Institute of the US Department of State, their rating of language learning difficulty and complexity. And then he sort of adds to it based off the fact that, you know, splitting it into three is probably not enough, right? Yeah. So, yeah, he splits into three, one, and then one star, two star three, three star, he also puts German in between one and one star. He’s just not quite happy with that to make his own little group for German. So what we can do in a minute is go through those seven different levels. And then table two is also really cool. There’s some statistical analysis going on here. And he basically comes up with the average ability scores for various languages, after 24 weeks of foreign language training, the lower the score represents less progress in that language indicating obviously that is a harder language to learn. What I could probably do is just list the different levels, if you’re called that, and then you can point out anything you think’s interesting.
Subaan Qasim 1:21:19
Yeah. And I guess just as a kind of disclaimer, I mean, I haven’t read this paper. But I guess, various things that would come into potential confounding, but things could affect these kind of results. And measurements would be different types of I’m assuming they probably used the same teaching or learning method for each language to kind of control that. But I guess using different methods say the most effective method for a particular language could potentially change these around. So these are just a generally nice guideline, I guess, for a particular method of learning. That’s been standardized across all of the all of the languages, I’m assuming. But yeah, don’t take it as Oh, man, this language is is just going to be really hard to learn maybe the method they used, made it just less efficient to learn that language in Was it 24 weeks? Or do it? Yeah. So yeah, maybe if you use a different method for a particular language, the score would be different.
Daniel Redfearn 1:22:23
Another interesting thing about this document is that he looks at the geography and genealogy of language, and seeing how countries that are farther apart, or languages that are spoken further apart, often are harder to learn from each other, as opposed to two languages, which is similar in in location, I guess, it’s quite self explanatory in a lot of ways. But he goes into it. And you know, that’s, it’s interesting to explore. Okay, anyway, I can’t the big list now. I’m gonna start with my, my second favorite out of the two, and then we’ll leave, we’ll go on to my favorite one. All right, my second favorite was actually the 24, weaker Bertie thing, just because of what we were talking about in terms of the standardization of it. And I think it’s, it must be very hard to calculate, in a way.
Subaan Qasim 1:23:09
Yeah, it depends on what parameters they’re looking at to define proficiency. Because if they’re looking at a very, oh, how perfect are the sentence structures thus? Yeah, whereas we don’t, we personally don’t really value that word is, you know, center structure grammar, you don’t really value that too much. When you’re learning a language, especially, you know, within your first 24 weeks, that’s not really something you should be concentrating on. But then if they mark or like give those scores in terms of proficiency by saying, oh, how perfect are your sentence structures, your grammar and everything? Well, then, yeah, there is some room for interpretation and how to kind of take these results and apply them to yourself.
Daniel Redfearn 1:23:49
So yeah, otherwise, so we’ll look at the, the, the scores in increasing difficulty. So the easiest languages to learn according to this metric afrikan spoken as Africa very similar to Dutch, Norwegian, Romanian and Swedish. Very interesting. Then, just one tier above that, you’ve got Dutch Malayan Swahili. I think Swahili in particular is really surprising, especially because there are a lot of influences from Arabic and Swahili, but apparently, the structure of the language is a lot is very easy to follow for an English speaker. Quite interesting. And then Dutch, yeah. self explanatory. French, Italian, Portuguese all on the same plane. Then just above that. You’ve got Danish, German, Spanish and Russian. I don’t know, man. I don’t I don’t. I don’t know. I can’t. Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t personally agree with that. Just looking at this table. But obviously, I haven’t done months of research or this is this is mathematical, isn’t it? So
Subaan Qasim 1:24:57
what do you agree about? This is the proficiency All right. So after 24 weeks a while, why don’t you think in those languages you can be like those would be the language you’d be most proficient in using a particular learning method over after 24 weeks?
Daniel Redfearn 1:25:14
I guess it’s the idea of saying, oh, he’s as proficient in Russian as she is in Spanish. So how thing to measure, right?
Subaan Qasim 1:25:28
Yeah, I’m not entirely convinced by this statistic. It’s just one is very hard to measure. And it depends on how you define proficiency after 24 weeks. And yeah, I don’t know, I’m not entirely convinced by this 24 weeks is very hard. I mean, I haven’t read the paper as well. So I’d have to kind of really think about it. And I guess there’s just so much room for kind of interpreting how to kind of how to interpret those results, how to measure it in the first place. teaching methods. So yeah, let’s let’s just move on to the the 70s thing.
Daniel Redfearn 1:26:05
Okay, so looking at the seven tiers using that FSA level, different levels of difficulty. So what those seven we’ll start with the easiest test, the tier one easiest languages for an English speaker supposedly, are African from South Africa, very close to Dutch, Danish, Dutch, French, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish. So we can see from that, that, basically, it’s the Scandinavian languages. It’s the Germanic languages, a lot of Germanic languages, especially the North Germanic languages, up in Scandinavia, and then you’ve got the latter languages, too. So those all are very similar in in Instructure, to English, then you’ve got the middle tier between one and one star, which is tier two, German, just because of the grammatical complexity of German I would say. But yeah, obviously, German and English have a lot of intrinsic similarities. The next tier up tier three Indonesian things called Bahasa Malay, Swahili, those are very interesting, because I don’t think we associate any of those three with any similarities with English, but I think it’s because the structure of those languages is quite easy to follow. And what I’ve heard is they’re easy to learn and make progress in as an English speaker. Again, because of the structure of I’ve heard that it’s not, it’s not too complex, none of them. Anyway, then moving on to tier four. There’s a giant number of them here. And to me, this is where they get really difficult. So you’ve got a big, big list to be honest. You’ve got Albanian, Amharic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, which once was a dead language, by the way, and then got revived.
Subaan Qasim 1:27:57
Daniel Redfearn 1:27:59
Icelandic, which I’ve heard is basically like, it’s like the old version of Norwegian and Danish. That’s what I’ve heard from people who are from Scandinavia, like um, and then you’ve got Khmer from Cambodia. Laos, had Mirage that right, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Nepali, Pashto, Persian, Polish, Russian serbo, Croatian Sinhalese slope from Sri Lanka, Slovak, Slovenian, Swahili Tagalog, from Philippines, Turkish Ukrainian ooredoo from from
Subaan Qasim 1:28:42
Pakistan, you buoy Pakistan zindabad and then
Daniel Redfearn 1:28:46
it was back hausa and Zulu. Okay, so that’s tearful, massive range of languages there. We won’t say much more about that. Then you’ve got Okay, Estonian, Finnish, Georgian, Hungarian, Mongolian, Thai and Vietnamese and tier five Vietnamese surprises me that is not higher. But obviously I don’t speak any Vietnamese, but I think I’m intimidated by the the tones in Vietnamese. They’re so different from English.
Subaan Qasim 1:29:10
I mean, I know nothing about the language. So
Daniel Redfearn 1:29:13
so even the fact that they’ve got six distinctive tones alone that that intimidates me about the enemies. And then something interesting about Hungarian and Finnish is you know, that they’re in the same language family, both being from the uralic languages. So, Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, yeah, they’re all uralic. Just that’s pretty interesting, especially because obviously Hungary is quite far away from Finland and Estonia. But yeah, just from the remnants of geography, and history. They speak languages from the same original family. And also really interesting is Basque is also a uralic language. Well, okay, I’ve just checked in I have to be careful in saying that because it is a language isolate and there Even theories that Basque, which is a language from northern Spain, and that’s officially classified as a language isolate. So a language with no other living languages from the same family. There are a lot of theories that, yeah, Basque is also part of the uralic languages. So just oh, that’s quite an interesting detail. It’s cool, though, you know, a whole part of Spain where they, the the whole cultural identity is based around a language which has nothing to do with modern Spanish. So yeah. Okay, we’ll move on to tier six with just for now. Arabic, Cantonese, Korean and Mandarin. Yeah, we’ve spoken about Arabic in quite some depth and ran Mandarin, too. We haven’t spoken too much about Korean. Obviously, it’s spoken in North Korea and South Korea. I don’t think I’ll be going to North Korea anytime soon. Personally, yeah, no, but I think Yeah, I think so. And more likely I’ll be going to South Korea. But again, very rich and deep culture. Even in the West, it’s quite popular. Especially. I know, South Koreans will probably be rolling their eyes. But yeah, especially with Kpop. But even um, have you seen parasite?
Subaan Qasim 1:31:08
No, I haven’t. No, bro. Really is actually really good.
Daniel Redfearn 1:31:12
I’m not I don’t watch too many films. But I have to admit it’s an amazing film. Yeah. Yeah. I
Subaan Qasim 1:31:16
mean, everyone who’s been through who’s mentioned it has said it’s been it’s an amazing film. So
Daniel Redfearn 1:31:22
yeah, I believe it’s the first Asian movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture or the first non English language movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Subaan Qasim 1:31:34
I don’t think I’ve watched him non English movie or apart from like, bollywood movies and stuff. But the thing is, I still understand the language so I never watched the I’ve never watched a movie that I don’t understand.
Daniel Redfearn 1:31:48
Even even I don’t watch too many movies in general but watching parasite with the subtitles incredible, incredible movie. Yeah. I don’t know maybe film fanatics will be cringing thinking I’m so basic for saying but I thought it was really good anyway. And then tier seven. Can you guess what the last one is only one language and is
Subaan Qasim 1:32:09
Daniel Redfearn 1:32:10
as a very good guesser. The last major one that we haven’t spoken about in this list yet? Yeah. Japanese super, super, super hard. I initially tried to learn Japanese, like two years ago. Yeah, I
Subaan Qasim 1:32:23
Daniel Redfearn 1:32:25
I was really into Japan, I thought was a really interesting country. I love learning about the geography of Japan. Super, super interesting. The history of Japan is just super, super interesting as well. And I started learning the kanji, which is a part of the writing system. So there are Yeah, I think I’ve talked to you about it before. Yeah, the writing system is quite complex. And there are three different writing forms. You’ve got the kanji, which is the like the taken from the traditional Chinese characters, which is still used in Taiwan and some parts of China, especially in like Hong Kong, and Guangzhou, I believe, but yeah, anyway, so even to Guang Joshi like them are ends. And then, yeah, they’ve got katakana and hiragana. And those are alphabets. But again, they the composition of a sentence involves using all three a lot of the time, depending on whether the word is derived from like an English word, or. Yeah, super, super mad supersuit I’m sure once you like, most like languages, once you get started, I’m sure it starts to make sense. But I just switched over to Mandarin. And I was lucky that there was the overlap with the traditional characters sort of helping me out to get started. And yeah, super interesting. But yeah, so Japanese is officially, according to this list, the hardest language to learn as an English speaker native. So if you want to do big, big flex on everyone, then just learn Japanese, you can flex it. For me personally, I don’t think I’ll be learning it ever. Sadly. We’ve covered it in the last episode. The the benefits and drawbacks of learning Japanese, but yeah, I think, for me from this point to goal is Yeah, get better at Mandarin, maybe start learning Russian, German, possibly. And then if I want one final big challenge, then it would probably be Arabic one day, but that’s what I think in that respect. But yeah, this document is really interesting, too. It’s a bit more complicated. I can’t say I’ve read the whole thing. But yeah, just a flick through especially to look at the tables. Pretty interesting. Even for someone who’s not a massive fan. Maybe you will be like us they’re not fully understand or agree with the 24 week rule. proficiency measure. But yeah, anyway, those three documents really interesting. A lot of content to discuss there. Yeah, this was a very, I think I’ve spoken for about 99% of the episode.
Subaan Qasim 1:34:54
Yes, something along those lines has probably been the highest ratio of down to savant.
Daniel Redfearn 1:35:00
Yeah, that I don’t think you’ll be able to get a topic where you’d have the ratio even stronger. You know, this is pretty much as strong as it gets. I have you ever mind me ranting at you for the last hour and a half?
Subaan Qasim 1:35:12
Daniel Redfearn 1:35:15
And to the audience, too, I hope you have in mind, or I guess if you’re this far, and then you haven’t minded it too much.
Subaan Qasim 1:35:19
Yeah. Yeah, I just forgot it was playing.
Daniel Redfearn 1:35:23
Yeah. Was this I fell asleep? Doesn’t bother me? No, no, I hope there’s been at least a few things from it that have been interesting or something to learn from. And I hope in the future, I can learn more about this stuff, you know, we’re doing medicine, but I hope we still have the time to explore these interests. And I mean, language learning is such a valuable skill, I think it’s such a good thing to get involved in. Yeah,
Subaan Qasim 1:35:54
every single aspect of our life, and every single thing that we do requires some form of communication. And obviously, communication requires a language of some sort. Even if it’s a body language is still a language. In a sense, everyone just is just kind of knows what body language is and how it kind of works. But or at least we can kind of analyze it subconsciously. But when it comes to these more cerebral type of languages, it requires some effort to kind of taken into account and learn and apply. But again, it’s important because if you’re just talking to one language, you’re only stuck to like a specific part of the world, a specific set of people that you can communicate with, even within the field of medicine, especially in a place like London, you’re going to be involved with patients that might not even be able to speak any English. And then there’s going to be massive disconnect if you need to get a translator or someone, or the patient wouldn’t be as connected to you as a physician being able to actually take into account their certain concerns or their small things, or they’re just not as comfortable telling you what’s really wrong, or what’s on their mind, just because they’re just uncomfortable, because they just don’t know what’s really going on, or what you’re thinking about. So learning another language, even just help someone in the field of medicine is like, a massive thing. And if that’s your only motivation, that’s still a very strong motivation, and something you should definitely go towards. But I guess what, I guess Dan has mostly summarized in this, in the past hour and a half or so, is that there are different reasons to be studying a language, it can just be a personal thing to say you’re connected to a particular culture, maybe you are your heritage from a particular country, and you want to connect back with it, and learn that language. So you can maybe you know, communicate better with your grandparents or somebody or your family who is still there or something, that’s a very good reason, and you’ll get a lot of reward out of doing it. Maybe you want to, you know, go into a certain business venture in a particular country, say China or something learning, Mandarin would obviously be a big help, in that sense, and could help you succeed in that endeavor. Or say, for me, learning it for a spiritual reason for Islam. So, me learning Arabic is or, you know, hopefully I’ll start fairly soon in terms of learning Arabic, that’s my main motivation. And that isn’t really determined by anything else, like the sort of the diplomacy or economic power of Arabic, I don’t really care about that. And that’s all right, in that sense, but so if you are just kind of stuck in terms of, hey, I want to learn a language. I know there’s utility in terms of like learning a language, not just in being able to communicate in that language, but just in terms of stretching your mind and understanding how the world works and how people communicate. What language should you learn in that case, if there isn’t one that you’re specifically driven towards? Well, this is a kind of overview in terms of the different aspects, strengths and weaknesses of learning particular languages, because if you’re going to learn a language, you might as well what learn and you don’t have any particular preferences, you might as well learn some one that has other side utility, as well say one like Spanish, but now you can explore the world, like all over the world in different areas, or something that has other utility and say, business or politics or something if you are interested in those areas. So yeah,
Daniel Redfearn 1:39:20
I think I think that’s really nicely put. So it’s something that, you know, every person in the world should consider doing, investing time into a different language. And something else, which I’d say is really worth doing too, is just go on Google Maps, and just just look around the world. Look at a certain look at a continent and you’ve never really paid much attention to go to South America, zoom in on a country and think, what do I actually know about this country? A country with often hundreds of years of history, sometimes 1000s of years of human history in that country? What’s happened over time to that country? What are the good moments, the bad moments? The biggest achievement? How is the geography influence that country? Is it by the sea is a mountainous country is a big? Is it small? Are there nice grasslands there? What animals live there? How has it influenced that culture over time? Then look at the language they speak. Look at. Look at the distribution of people throughout the country. Where are the populations concentrated? What does it say about the power of the country today? how wealthy is the country? There’s, there’s so much we can learn about roughly 200 nations around the world, or official countries? And yeah, I don’t know, like I’m attached a massive part attached to it in a massive way is the language element. So if you can take the time to learn the language from a different country, a culture that you don’t know much about? I don’t know you’re giving it a chance. And you will learn a lot from doing that. So yeah, I don’t know, like Google Maps, the fact is free, you can just zoom into a big city that you’ve never thought about before. I think that’s just incredible. And yeah, I don’t think there’s anything else that I’ll add for this specific episode. But who knows, maybe in the future, we’ll have some more language talks or language lectures. Thank you again, though, for letting me speak at you like this.
Subaan Qasim 1:41:15
If you’ve listened all the way.
Daniel Redfearn 1:41:16
Yes, yeah. I, I do apologize that it’s probably a bit of an information overload. But I as you can probably tell, I’m really super passionate about this. And I’m not an expert. You know, I don’t have any qualifications in it. But it’s a big passion. I think that comes for a lot. We’ll leave it there.
Subaan Qasim 1:41:32
Thanks for listening.
Daniel Redfearn 1:41:33
Thank you for listening.
Subaan Qasim 1:41:33
Daniel Redfearn 1:41:34
Subaan Qasim 1:41:35
Thank you for listening to this episode of Getting It.
Daniel Redfearn 1:41:38
If you enjoyed this episode, or didn’t, then feel free to leave us a rating and review on the apple podcast app, or on the apple podcast website.
Subaan Qasim 1:41:46
We’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas or questions about anything we discussed. So feel free to email us at thoughts at Getting it.co.uk
Daniel Redfearn 1:41:53
You can also reach us on Twitter or Instagram at Getting It
Subaan Qasim 1:41:56
underscore pod. You can find all the links in the show notes.