Trooper Travels

Why Can’t We Just Wake Up and Speak the Language of Our Choice?

November 20, 2019

I’m sure the god of the Old Testament had his reasons for collapsing the Tower of Babel. But I refuse to believe that part of those reasons is for people to be able to earn a living by offering bilingual dictionaries, translation apps, and language courses several millennia later.

A sign at a local bar in Yerevan — May 8, 2019

Learning a new language costs time, money, and a lot of patience. All of which I don’t have. But what if there’s another way?

Remember the fast learning technology in the Matrix? If not, allow the following conversation refresh your memory.

Neo: Can you fly that thing?
Trinity: Not yet. *Dials phone.
Tank: Operator.
Trinity: Tank, I need a pilot program for a B-212 helicopter. Hurry.
Tank: *Presses keys on the computer.
Trinity: Let’s go. *Proceeds to pilot the B-212 while Neo blasts off the agents.

Doesn’t ring a bell? Here’s a 38-second clip to help you with the visuals.

How to learn to fly a B-212 helicopter on a whim.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we can just plug ourselves into a database and be able to speak the language of our choice? Sure, it will come with set limitations but that’s normal.

Let’s say our brain’s capacity to learn a language or multiple languages at the same time depends on the complexity of the language in terms of its alphabet, the number of words, grammar, dialects, and other language-related details.

For example, you can learn Spanish and Italian at the same time but you will be required to delete all the other languages, excluding your language at birth, if you are to learn Chinese or Arabic.

(Pardon me in case I mis-calcalculated the complexity of those four languages. I do not speak any of them, so please put down your pitchforks.)

Perhaps I’ve been obsessing about languages so much (yet unable to learn more beyond my native Philippine language and English). How I wish someone had sent me to learn at least five languages as early as I was five. Learning a new language becomes more and more difficult as you get older.

My first take at learning a language was about a decade and a half ago. The company I was working at enrolled me and two other colleagues to a Japanese Language class. The weeb in me took the lessons seriously and was happy to be able to participate in the classroom conversations in Japanese.

A few months later, I found myself lost in a Tokyo suburb while strolling on a bike alone. I thought asking for directions was the perfect opportunity to put my Japanese lessons in actual practice but I was wrong.

The first Japanese person I came across spoke in non-stop native Japanese. I did not understand a word of what he was saying.

Five years later, I landed a job in Kunshan, China. It’s a city located about an hour by car from Shanghai. Mainland China is one of the countries known for having little to no English.

I taught myself basic Chinese sentences with the materials I gathered online. No one understood a thing from whatever Chinese I was saying.

Apparently, the Chinese language uses tones. Depending on how I pronounce it, the Chinese word “ma” can mean mother, horse, morphine, or a question marker.

I gave up Chinese after the first week of thought.

And then came the Russian language.

Armenia has its own distinct language. However, the Russian language is the foreign language that most of the Armenians use. Which makes it more practical to learn Russian instead of Armenian as one will also find it useful should one decides to visit Russia or any of the former Soviet countries in the future.

Alas! My tongue rolled back trying to say “thank you” in Russian so I completely abandoned the idea of learning it.

Elon Musk is currently developing a Matrix-like technology called Neuralink. The aim is to enable humans to upload and download information from a computer directly.

The idea is a bit farfetched but if done right and I could afford it, I’ll finally be able to wake up and speak the language of my choosing.

***

Welcome to Language 1.0

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.

We are now into our final descent into Yerevan.

The weather in Yerevan is clear, with a high of 12 degrees and a low of 3 degrees in Centigrade this evening.

In about 20 minutes of time, we are expected to start out final approach.

If you haven’t done so, this is your final chance to download your Armenian language packages, all complements of Chameleon Airlines.

Armenian 1.0, Basic and Conversational Armenian, requires 17,000 neurobytes of free space. If you will opt for Armenian 2.0, Advance Armenian, the language package requires 25,000 neurobytes of free space.

Passengers installed with at least Russian 1.0 have the option to not download any of the Armenian language packages as 80 percent of Armenians are recorded to have at least Russian 2.0 installed. You will not encounter any communication difficulties while traveling around Armenia.

Passengers who are expected to take an onwards connecting flight are requested to keep your Airline English 1.0 installed. Airline English 1.0 is a mandatory language when in every flight at any airline.

In case of a shortage in neuro space, you may upload other languages into your external neuro drives or personal braincloud.

Information sockets are located on your left armrests.

For other requests and inquiries, you may approach any of our flight attendants in the cabin.

Thank you for choosing Chameleon Airlines. This is flight K177 towards Yerevan.

Please enjoy the rest of the flight!

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