Reading in Tongues


Right now I’m reading a truly astonishing novel that will be reviewed here in the near future. As far as I know, it’s only available in Spanish and French. No English translation. Not even in the offing. Which raises the perennial question of the ability to read  in foreign languages –  a daunting task, as most of the visitors of this blog are likely to confirm. We’re not talking about being able to understand a Wikipedia page or a letter from a foreign business partner, but the cherished ability to read and, what is crucial, to enjoy quality literature written in a foreign language. The most tantalising for us, of course, remains a literary piece not translated into any of the languages we can read, but, which, as we have heard from a reliable source, like this one, is fascinating, so we know that we’re missing out. Those who have an intermediate reading level of a language and wish to push through to the stage at which they could tackle the classics, might find Alexander Arguelles’ lecture on the subject useful. He shares different methods field-tested by himself while learning and trying to maintain dozens of languages. If you have read Michael Erard’s relatively recent study of polyglots Babel No More, you will recognize him as one of the main characters in it.

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