Reducing someone to the number of languages he or she speaks trivializes the immense power that language imparts. After all, language is the living testament to a culture’s history and world view, not a shiny trophy to be dusted off for someone’s self-aggrandizement.Excerpt from http://ideas.ted.com/why-i-learned-20-languages-and-what-i-learned-about-myself-in-the-process/.
I discovered this link on my facebook feed today, it was shared by the good souls running the TEDxGateway page - https://www.facebook.com/TEDxGateway
Being a language aficionado myself, I eagerly clicked through to know what this article had to share, and landed on something that I myself have come to realise over the years. The following paragraphs quoted from the link above, particularly, resonate with me -
“Reducing someone to the number of languages he or she speaks trivializes the immense power that language imparts. After all, language is the living testament to a culture’s history and world view, not a shiny trophy to be dusted off for someone’s self-aggrandizement.
Language is a complex tapestry of trade, conquest and culture to which we each add our own unique piece — whether that be a Shakespearean sonnet or “Lol bae g2g ttyl.” As my time in the media spotlight made me realize, saying you “speak” a language can mean a lot of different things: it can mean memorizing verb charts, knowing the slang, even passing for a native. But while I’ve come to realize I’ll never be fluent in 20 languages, I’ve also understood that language is about being able to converse with people, to see beyond cultural boundaries and find a shared humanity. And that’s a lesson well worth learning.”
And I completely agree with the above points. Reducing someone to the number of languages that person speaks is sheer injustice to the power of expression that each of those languages bring along with them. And trust me, it takes a lifetime along with a lot of persistence, to learn any language. And even then, we need to etch in our minds that it will still be only a tool to communicate, and that the actual communication is a skill that resides in our brain, that needs constant nurturing. When these two come together, is when the magic happens. And the language that you spend the time most on, will become your language of fluency. And it is ok to not be fluent in 'N' languages, your ability to communicate matters more.
And this is why, perhaps, one of the slokas in my sanskrit lessons from my 10th standard lesson says that to be able to speak sentences that are non-provocative, yet true, yet are kind on the ears and beneficial to the person hearing it, yet reflecting what is put to practice from one's self studies, is akin to penance, a penance of speech, a penance of the spoken word. The original text -
अनुद्वेगकरं वाक्यं सत्यं प्रियहितं च यत् |
स्वाध्यायाभ्यसनं चैव वाङ्ग्मयम् तप उच्यते ||
And I am sure, my english teacher who blogs at https://forstudentswithlove.wordpress.com/ will agree with this.