Why do we polarize?

I just watched a video by this guy who seems to specialize on criticizing everyone else on YouTube who is into learning languages. He seems to be hung up on academic credentials and has a very pretentious attitude. I’ve yet to see a video of him trying to do anything with languages.

While watching his video, I was reminded of a similar situation that exists withing the world of my beloved hobby, metal detecting.

In metal detecting there are people who primarily search for personal relics and thus they claim that their motives for doing metal detecting are higher and more noble because they are ‘searching for history’ as opposed to those knuckle-dragging cave men who search for coins in the park. I’ve complained enough about them so I won’t do it for long here. The funny thing is that the arch-enemies of metal detecting, the professional Archaeologists  think ALL metal detecting fans are destructive cave men!

So in the polyglot world, there are people like this guy who have a HUGE issue with polyglots who haven’t lived in a foreign country, who don’t have academic credentials, and who dare, GASP! to attempt to learn a foreign language from books and videos and who have the nerve, DOUBLE GASP!, to talk to other people using the foreign language regardless of their mastery level.

I have been in the U.S. long enough to have met many, many newcomers who HAVE TO speak English regardless of how well they speak it in order to function in our society. I applaud them and I encourage them even if they NEVER acquire a good American accent so long as they achieve some degree of fluency and can get their point across and COMMUNICATE! So, I may never learn Proto-Arabic and be able to tell you the roots of any Arabic word. But I’ll consider myself satisfied when I can hold a conversation with a native Arabic-speaking person and can read an Arabic language newspaper or book. Linguistics be damned!

Now, I am not saying that those people who master a language to a high degree should be damned. No, no. All I am saying is that there is a place for those of us who learn the 3000 or so words needed to communicate in any given language and maybe learn enough syntax not to sound like Tarzan (As Benny the Irish Polyglot puts it) without necessarily achieving high Prosody or any such thing. Yes, Moses (laoshu) may not speak the 50 or so languages he practices like a native but man!, he sure is having fun and making tons of friends.

So, please, stop the hating! Can’t we all just get along?

Thank you for stopping by!


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