So today, as I was taking the bus back home, I inadvertently overheard the couple sitting behind me having a very interesting conversation.
The girl (her native language was probably Spanish, by her accent) was talking about the challenges of taking Japanese and Chinese courses at the same time. She clearly had an interest in both languages but was having a hard time dedicating enough time to Chinese and her grades reflected that. To that, her companion said sympathetically, “You just can’t fake a language. You either know it or you don’t.”
I feel like this has occurred to me at some point or another, but for some reason, it struck me as especially profound today. Maybe it’s because of where I am and what I’m doing and how I currently feel about what I’m doing…. Science, in my opinion, is very easy to bullshit. With enough arrogance, people can seem like they know more than they do and mean more than they say. Some even consider it a merit if you’re good at faking your way though it.
Learning a foreign language, on the other hand, is different. Even if you know the “rules,” you can’t “fake” your proficiency. Without persistent study, your abilities will deteriorate. At the beginner level, at least, it seems that language learning has an inherent unfakeability about it. You’re not going to fool anyone (especially a native speaker) into thinking you’re better than you really are.
In a way, it’s refreshing to know that one’s level in a certain language is at least a direct, if not proportional, outcome of the amount of work one puts into it.
Just realized this is kind of a meaningless post but something I’ve been thinking about a lot regarding my own career choice. Cheers, everyone!