Translation Guy Blog
This is resolution season. And for some reason or another, learning another language seems to be high on the self-improvement list. Myself, I’m looking for some new resolutions, since the one to lose a few pounds is getting pretty old. Learning another language? Not me. I’ve had enough of all these dang languages, but I think it’s perfect for you, dear reader.
But in just one week? Optimistic? No, realistic. Because mostly the only kinds of resolutions that get accomplished in the real world are the quick and easy ones, like “I’ve resolved to have a second jelly donut this morning since it’s snowing outside….” See, easy.
Now you can buy a copy of that Rosetta language learning software and achieve the same kind of resolutory effect. By purchasing the software, you can enjoy the same endorphin rush of accomplishment before you even learn the language. Scientists have proven that it’s a good way to relieve the pressure of ambition, which means you’ll have perfect piece of mind when you lay to rest your Rosetta Stone for all eternity in your basement crypt, where it will rise in accordance with the prophecies or at the next garage sale.
What kind of language coach would I be if I let you do that? That’s why we’ve only got a week, so you don’t lose interest. (No offense, but let’s face it, I can’t even count on you to finish reading this sentence, let alone commit to years of language study.) And yes, it can be done.
Author Daniel Paul Tammet learned Icelandic in a week. Just seven days after accepting the challenge of documentary filmmakers, Tammet gave a live interview in Icelandic on TV Iceland. “Impossible for a human to do this in a week,” predicted his teacher. Here’s the segment from “The Boy With the Incredible Brain” showing the week he spent learning the language.
Tammet sees the textures and colors of words in his mind. “My own synesthesia is similar to that of the writer Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita…. Nabokov said that letters of the alphabet had different colors…. In my case, letters and words have their own colors and textures and like Nabokov I make use of these in my own writing…. The ability also helps me to learn foreign languages, by visualising the connections between words.
See, it can be done. And you can do it too! If you are an autistic savant. “The line between profound talent and profound disability is a surprisingly thin one,” says Daniel.
“Tammet is a ‘savant’, an individual with an astonishing, extraordinary mental ability. An estimated 10% of the autistic population―and an estimated 1% of the non-autistic population―have savant abilities, but no one knows exactly why. A number of scientists now hope that Tammet might help us to understand better.”
“There are many theories about savants. [Brain scientist Alan Snyder] believes that we all possess the savant’s extraordinary abilities―it is just a question of us learning how to access them. ‘Savants have usually had some kind of brain damage. Whether it’s an onset of dementia later in life, a blow to the head or, in the case of Daniel, an epileptic fit. And it’s that brain damage which creates the savant. I think that it’s possible for a perfectly normal person to have access to these abilities, so working with Daniel could be very instructive.'”
So perhaps a blow to the head is the key to language study success? I guess that means there’s hope for those of us who find language study frustrating. I just may end up beating my head against a brick wall. Here’s Daniel’s blog.