Learning a new language is something so many of us endeavor to do. Some of us succeed and some of us fail, for most of us do not know the secret to learning a new language; any language in the world. This polyglot, Hungarian CEO called Balázs Csigi very dexterously, learnt 7 languages after he discovered the secret that led him to undo the knots of different languages.
Even as some of us struggle with books that promise to teach new languages in “80 days”, one may find it pretty tangent to relate them to the practical learning of a language. Csigi says that, being a native Hungarian speaker, he struggled with English the same way. One has to agree with him when he says that it doesn’t matter if you have a considerably vast vocabulary of an acquired language or are even good at grammar, things certainly go haywire when it comes to speaking fluently, leave alone conversing like a native.
1. Csigi’s Moment of Eureka
As soon as he was introduced to the concept and findings of Linguistics and cultural semantics, Csigi witnessed that moment of Eureka. It led to a remarkable change in the way he learned English and in the way he perceived any other language. And not to forget, it led him to be a speaker of 7 languages.
On one side were the numerous books that had added to his knowledge of English vocabulary and grammar, and on the other, was this magnificent discipline called Cultural Semantics. It opened up the secret to him that the key to any language is its culture. In order to master any language you had to understand its culture or rather get immersed in it.
Coming from learning English by memorizing words, expressions and usage, Csigi attained almost naïve perfection in English because of this secret.
2. What Kind of a Rocket Science is Cultural Semantics?
The secret to learning a new language is no rocket science. Really! Cultural Semantics simply explain the meaning of words and phrases in connection to the culture of their origin.
The point is that, a word that has a meaning in English or French may not have an equivalent in Hungarian or German. To learn to use those words, one must peep into the culture or England or France and may be a bit of history too.
Balázs Csigi, very lucidly explains it with the help of the phrase – make a difference. While the English and the American use it heartily, most other languages in the world do not have an equivalent expression. Likewise, all languages have expressions and idioms that are unique and unexplainable in other languages.
3. The Nuances of Language
Every language is marked by its nuances, English more so. The addition of soft phrases like a little bit, quite, rather, etc., and the apparently indirect phrases like not too bad, can often leave a non-native puzzled and lost for words. But the English wish to be decent and courteous at all time, even if seething with anger.
The kind of language that a nation speaks largely depends on the mindset they have. For the English are positive thinkers, the language will reflect the same. The French love for food and the Italian love for frolic will always come about in their expression.
4. The Ultimate Secret to Mastering a Language
The ultimate secret is language hacking, as Csigi puts it.
The key to learning a new language is not to read or speak it till you memorize it. It is to feel how its original speakers feel; to hack into the culture of the people whose language you are willing to learn. Once you catch hold of the pulse of the culture, language is what will come to you itself.
They say, “To know them, is to be one of them”, and by doing just that,is how you dare become a polyglot.