August 04

Why is does the table have a gender?!

One thing that I see and hear over and over again is the question why when it comes to studying a language.  Why does the table have a gender? Why is there such a thing as declensions? Why do I need this personal pronoun here? Why are there two verbs to say the same thing? Why is the word order different? Etc.

The answer is: It doesn’t matter.

It’s fine to have an interest and be curious of course, but unless you really care about the history of the language and how it evolved, it really doesn’t matter. The fact of the matter is that each language has characteristics that are unique and that would not translate to your native tongue, but it really doesn’t matter. You may think that personal pronoun is completely redundant, but you will still have to study it and you will have to use it in that ‘wrong’ way regardless, so the ‘why’ is not important.

I do think it’s very important to take a language at what it is and roll with the differences. Don’t compare it to your own language or any others that you have learned, it’ll only slow you down. This is why it’s so important to try and think in the new language and not translating word for word. This is easier said than done of course, but we need to try to see a new language as a separate entity of our own.

I also think that is why people who have studied a foreign language before, can pick up a new one much faster than someone who has never learned one. They don’t generally think ‘how come’ and ‘but I wouldn’t say it like that’, and, frankly, that is just a waste of time. The question should be ‘how’. Now that I know the table happens to be female for grammatical purposes how do I apply this to speaking the language. How will it change the sentence?