Acquiring a new language

…guess what, I’m studying German.

I went for my first lesson last Tuesday, and I’m having my second lesson this evening. The very first thing we learnt was how to say our names, as well as where we come from, and where we live. i.e. Who, What, Where. That was what we covered during our first lesson. There was no mention of time at all. We haven’t learnt the word for “When”? No reading of clocks, no sign of calendars.

I’m reminded of how it was when I first learnt Swedish ten years ago. In acquiring a new language, you are asked to establish the Self first. By stating one’s name, current location and place of origin so as to situate the figure in space. I can’t help but feel that the exclusion of time is significant… this essentially means that learning a new language allows me to experience myself as immortal. What is touching is that we have also learnt how to ask each other “Wie geht’s” i.e. How are you? This is because we want to locate other figures in the same space so as not to feel all alone in our newfound immortality… we also haven’t learnt the German word for “Why”. I suspect that this omission is strategic… clearly no teacher wants to be bombarded with whys from the get go…

Talking about language and time, suddenly I am compelled to quote from the newspapers about the physics prize for black holes… “När fysikprofessorn Ulf Danielsson ska förklara årets Nobelpris inför hela världens ögon i Kungliga Vetenskapsakademiens sal, plockar han fram ett svart frigolitklot ur en låda.– Det händer något mycket märkligt när man kommer innanför kanten på ett svart hål, säger han och för pekfingret mot det svarta klotet.– Här utanför är riktningen mot det svarta hålet en riktning i rummet. Men inne i klotet blir riktningen i stället tiden.Han petar in fingertoppen i ett litet hål i klotet.– Det innebär att om jag sticker in fingret, så hamnar toppen av mitt finger i min framtid och kan aldrig komma tillbaka. Dessutom är det så att på grund av gravitationen kommer fingret att slitas sönder, så att fingertoppen förs mot mitten av hålet. Och där tar tiden slut, där bryter fysikens lagar samman.”

(click here to return to the logbook’s main page)