I’d like to share with you one of my biggest insights. It has to do with how language is deeply related to thinking.
English is not my first language (I was born in Brazil and here we speak Portuguese), so I don’t know English as I know Portuguese. When I was in San Francisco, I’ve created a challenge for myself: I wouldn’t think in Portuguese. I had to think everything in English. This was a great experience: I noticed that I just couldn’t think well!
Once I didn’t have the right words to represent my thoughts, the thoughts couldn’t come. Right now, even writing, I’m trying to say something to you, but I just can’t do it properly! So I decided to train my abilities, not just in speaking or writing English, but in THINKING. That’s why I decided to write my blog in English. I’m sure that exercising this continually I’ll improve the quality of my thoughts.
Every time you learn another language, it is not just a new way of speaking, reading or writing, but a new way of thinking. I think that is one of the main reasons hackers and programmers are intelligent people comparing to the average population: they where obligated to learn another language, a programming language in that case.
I think that everybody should learn at least 10 languages at fluent level. And when I say “language”, maybe I mean not just those everybody thinks of, like English, Chinese, Spanish, but languages as the vehicle to express thoughts and feelings. Examples of these languages:
- Musical language (reading and writing song sheets)
- Theater language (tragedy, comedy, etc)
- Programming languages paradigms (Functional, Object Orientated)
Then you should organize the languages you know as I did for my known languages in the following table. Here, the levels go from 0 (knows nothing) to 5 (very fluent):
* Assume that programming languages you read and write but don’t speak (I know there are some guys who like to speak in Java, but let’s ignore this fact)
** Song sheets you read and write, for speaking I consider singing or playing an instrument and listening the capacity of recognizing rhythm, melodic patterns, etc.
I know there are a lot of theories which relates thoughts and languages. I don’t know any of them at all. What I’m describing here is just something that happened to me when I tried a self-experience. I just know that the more languages you learn, more easy it is to learn a new one and your ability to communicate and think becomes better and better.
Searching YouTube, I found a very long video of a talk about how these things I said happen in the computer world.
There are some non-resolved topics for me. We really don’t know much about our mind. Maybe some people survive and live well with these doubts, but for me, searching for these answers is the reason of life. That’s why I try so many things all the time. I’ve tried acting in theater, playing and singing music, the Vipassana Meditation. All these different stuff took me to somewhere and I feel I have a better understanding of the world because of them.
I invite you now to learn another language: start with music, or with meditation, or dancing, or with Japanese ideograms. Go there and learn! Then learn more two different languages. Make your language table a 10 rows table and fill it with 5’s. After this, come back here and comment what happened.