'Learning a new language is a lot like entering a new relationship.'

I’ve been learning Portuguese for the past 4 years and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. If it was a romantic relationship, it’d be my longest to date. Marianna Pogosyan used this love analogy in her piece for Aeon:

Learning a new language is a lot like entering a new relationship. Some will become fast friends. Others will hook their arms with calculus formulas and final-exam-worthy historical dates, and march right out of your memory on the last day of school. And then sometimes, whether by mere chance or as a consequence of a lifelong odyssey, some languages will lead you to the brink of love.

Those are the languages that will consume you – all of you – as you do everything to make them yours. You dissect syntax structures. You recite conjugations. You fill notebooks with rivers of new letters. You run your pen over their curves and cusps again and again, like you would trace your fingers over a lover’s face. The words bloom on paper. The phonemes interlace into melodies. The sentences taste fragrant, even as they tumble awkwardly from your mouth like bricks built of foreign symbols. You memorise prose and lyrics and newspaper headlines, just to have them at your lips after the sun dips and when it dawns again.

More on love and languages: Colin Jackson’s Welsh language journey, the Klingon language and its influence on modern culture, and love from a Black perspective.

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