How the study of languages influences one’s appreciation of international competition

One of the consequences of studying another language for me is that I develop some sort of mental connection with the people who speak that language, despite having no innate cultural basis for it. When I studied German, I found myself cheering for the German athletes in the Olympic Games. And in the men's 4x10,000 cross-country relay yesterday, I was cheering for the German team, the Swedish team, and the Norwegian team (especially the Norwegians), but it was all for naught as the Italians proved too much for all of them.

(Yes, I haven't started studying Norwegian yet, but, as my Swedish readers already know, it was the Lillehammer Olympics that reinforced my interest in the Scandinavian languages, and with it, my affinity for the Norwegian cross-country team.)

Comments (9)
  1. Nish says:


    I don’t know if you’ve heard of the state Kerala (it’s in India). The people of Kerala (where I come from) speak a language called Malayalam. It’s the only language as far as I know, that has a palindrome for its spelling in English :-)

  2. 8 says:

    The language seems to use it’s own set of fonts as well:

    ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ dpkg –get-selections|grep malaya

    ttf-malayalam-fonts                             install

  3. Matt says:

    This is slightly off-topic, but what is your (Raymond’s/anyone’s) preferred method of studying a new language? My wife and I are considering learning Italian somewhat casually without a large monetary investment and I’m not sure about what might be the best route.

  4. michaele says:

    See – now I have started learning Italian, so cheering for the winners just felt natural to me.  Maybe you’ll just have to stop learning loser languages!!

  5. Esperanto guy says:

    I like Esperanto. Well, you can’t cheer for the Esperanto team, since it is meant to be an international language, but it’s OK. :-)

    It’s an interesting language because you can focus on the structure, expressiveness, word composition, etc. and you don’t need to worry about irregularities.

    I think everyone who likes languages should give it a try. Either for the langugage or for the ideal.

  6. Raymond II says:

    Norway can afford to lose some medals, seeing as they’ve won the most medals in total during the olympics.

    Norwegians have to learn two written languages..

  7. Øyvind says:

    Not only do we have to learn two languages, The national tv-channel has to have a percentage of its programmes written in the second language, and thousands of schoolchildren get their grades messed up because they just dont see why they should learn two different, but similiar languages.

    By the way, we all learn english the first 7 years of school, German or French the next 3 after that, and then maybe Spanish or more german if we go to college.

    And although we won the most medals in the Olympics, we are not really happy, since they are mostly silver and bronze :D

  8. Anders says:

    Kan bara hålla med om att det var en mycket spännande stafett.

    Idag slog Frankrike oss med en tåspets. :-)

    Tack för en bra och intressant blog

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