Monday, July 18, 2011

10 Unexpected Uses for a Second Language

1.  Secretive discussions between my wife and me without letting others know what we're talking about.  This is more useful than you could imagine, especially when gossiping about people that are right next to us.  This is less important in NE Philly, where EVERYONE speaks Russian.  Unfortunately, my wife forgot French, but thankfully, we speak English, which is a minority language.

2.  Chastising my child in public while not wanting other people to know what I'm chastising him about.  I'm not entirely sure how this is advantageous, but I imagine it will be eventually.

3.  Improved handwriting skills.  When I was learning Russian, my wife would stand over me and make me repeat writing the same letters over and over again and slap my hands with a ruler every time I made a mistake.  I now write in Russian better than I do in English (thanks, computers for hampering my handwriting skills).  Also, my fingers ache when it's cold out.

4.  Better interjections.  Russian beats the pants off of english in terms of short, interjection phrases.  I think my all time favorite interjections are things like "Nu" and "Vso", which mean "well" and "that's it" respectively.  They sound so much more badass than anything we have in English.  English, however, has other, cool phrases that have no equivalents in Russian, so I haven't abandoned my native tongue completely.

5.  Inter-language puns.  I love puns and word play, and it's even better when you sort of stumble upon something that's funny just through constant blabbering.  Especially when it's inadvertently brilliant, then you get to take all the credit and be like, "oh yeah - I totally meant exactly what I said".

6.  Awesomeness.  You get that really cool feeling when you non-chalontly tell people, "what up - I speak more languages than you, mofo".  Unless you're talking to a European, because, well, they speak craploads of languages.  Although Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian essentially count as one language.  Same goes for Russian and Ukrainian.

7.  There is SOME value in reading books in their original language.  For example, I read Les Miserables in French, and am working up the guts to attempt a Russian language book.  Les Mis turned out to be infinitely more powerful in the native language.  And I just read Kolobok in Russian.  Totally changed my life.

8.  When you're talking to someone who speaks that foreign language, and you no longer want to talk to them, there's no better conversation ender than, "I'm sorry, I don't understand what you're saying".  Polite AND effective.

9.  It's sexy.  I know I've read about three hundred articles that say that bilingual people are super sexy, but I can't find them right now.  But definitely google it, because it's true.  If you go up to someone and say a bunch of crap in another language (even if it's something like, "there is a lot of poop in my underwear"), they'll swoon with ecstasy and immediately ask you on a date.  Even if you're already married to them.  Believe me, my wife does it to me all the time.

10.  Reading foreign news.  Because American News agencies care WAY too much about Marc Anthony and that other person.  And Kate Middleton.


  1. #9 yes. I'm tri-lingual so does that make me triply sexy? I also know a smattering of a 4th language.

    No wonder it's getting hot in here.

  2. I took French in high school, but after years of disuse, I've gotten all but a few random words.

  3. So many sexy people in the house.

    These days I even dream in English but if I get mad with my son I always shout at him in my mother tongue. Then I wonder why he never chooses one of my childhood books to read before bedtime. Learn from my mistakes friend...

  4. I don't know... I reading Mark Twain to my son right now, and I think it was easier to read it in Russian as a child. He is having hard time with some of the vocabulary (and I did not at his age). Kolobok is da bomb! I am glad it changed your life ;)

    Oh, it is also good if you don't teach your kid "ustal", "tihii chas" and "ovoschi" (tired, nap and vegies). This way you can talk to your spouse about kids in front of them as well.

  5. I agree - Les Mis in French is much more powerful. I was fluent in French. Until I took German. Then I blocked the French so I wouldn't confuse the word genders. Now I know enough of each to potentially accidentally start a fight because I'm not using the right phrases...

  6. I didn't know you know Russian! That is seriously awesome, and now you have been exposed to the wonder that is Kolobok. Has your wife taught you the hilarious "kolobok poveselsa?" (little round ball of dough man hung himself)

  7. Now I want to learn a second language.

  8. I love this list! Except that my husband and I speak different languages - our common is English. But I do get to do these when I'm with my mom. It's just awesome. I even get to tell her how to discipline my kids while she's with them without letting the kids know what I'm saying so it seems like it's all grandma's idea! I love it!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.