A new language is worth way more than just new words

UNSUNG BENEFITS

A new language is worth way more than just new words

Learning a new language doesn't necessarily give you wisdom, but it does expose you to different cultures and even a different way of thinking, says ZIRK VAN DEN BERG.

ONE of the unsung benefits of growing up in South Africa is that you get to know more than one language. I only realised this when I landed in New Zealand and encountered people who only spoke English, only listened to English music and only watched English movies. Then you realise how an extra language broadens your horizons.

Not to mention that my generation of Afrikaners grew up with a lot of exposure to European languages ​​and music, and on top of that, an affinity with the music of Africa. We cry when Jacques Brel or Serge Gainsbourg or Ayub Ogada pass away.

A different language exposes you to a different culture and even to a different way of thinking. When I was at Ikeys, a fellow Zimbabwean student asked me one day in amazement if I knew about that little thing that hangs in the back of your throat. In Afrikaans we have the colloquial word kleintongetjie, and I wonder how much the lack of an everyday English equivalent contributed to my friend's ignorance...

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