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Practical Benefit of Language Podcasts

Over the last year I have spent quite a bit of time listening to language podcasts and reading about the early history of Indo-European languages. Has it done me any practical good?

Quite often I get the seditious thought that reading/listening/viewing media is a waste of time, and that thought was popping up again when I needed to improve passwords for my new computer.

When you set up passwords, they can be be long and impossible to remember when the computer itself generates them. That is fine when they are stored in a password manager.

But you still need to remember a couple passwords to gain access. You would think that all this amateur linguistics I've been playing with would actually help me choose and remember passwords better.

For instance, they want you to use both upper and lower case letters. You can't remember randomness, so something better is needed.

How about using upper case letters for the stressed sounds in words? Each person stresses words slightly differently, especially when pronouncing nicknames, terms of endearment, or slang. Many of the hackers probably speak English as a second language, so they couldn't guess your exact stress pattern if you speak English as your native tongue. I think I will be able to remember the pattern. [As an aside, I wonder how much of the frustration with phones and computers is not due to the incompetence of software engineers, but rather due to them not being native speakers of English.]

Another trick might be to spell words in your own personal version of "reformed English spelling." I'll bet many people have such a "skeem."

Anyway it was gratifying to think that all that damn reading might have had a little bit of a practical payoff!


XXXXX said…

Does reading about early Indo-European languages tell you anything about important cultural differences?
Since I am addicted to ancient history/philosophy, the language I have some familiarity with is Greek. The Greek of the time included many words whose meaning have not survived through time. IMHO modernity has lost out big time. If a word doesn't exist in any given language, the concept behind it is in the background and cannot be easily communicated. The internal experience of the concept is hazy and unclear. Translators speak of this all the time in prefaces. They struggle with finding English words which adequately stand in for the original language. Sometimes they refuse to give up the foreign word and leave it to the reader to try to stretch their mind to grasp its meaning.
I think both Greek and German are rich in such words.
English is a language of philosophical poverty.

George, sometimes I have wondered about only being able to read English, not so much because of its limitations in philosophy but for the historical biases that it sneaks in. But it is easy to believe there are philosophical biases, too.