The Top 22 Ways You Know You’re a Language Nerd…
1. When you’re looking for a book on Amazon about a language that you’re currently interested in and you check out the ”Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section and realize that you own almost every single book in those 10-15 pages :/
2. When people ask you what language you want to learn you get that starry look in your eyes, sigh, and say “all of them…”
3. You listen to music in the language you’re learning that you would otherwise hate and never listen to. Japanese teeny-bopper pop music? Yes, please!
A quick side note: if you’re learning Spanish or thinking about doing so, you need to know about this…
I’ve got an entire book about how to put together your own personal, custom Spanish-learning system that’s based on using online resources (mostly free) and Spanish-language popular media such as TV shows, movies, books, etc. It’s designed especially for beginners and intermediate learners, it shows you how to get started right by learning modern, normal, everyday spoken Spanish (what native speakers actually use to talk to each other in most common situations) so that you’re learning the most useful type of Spanish and not something outdated or overly formal like what you might find in a textbook. The biggest emphasis, however, is having fun because if you don’t do that then odds are extremely good you will fail because the most common reason people fail to learn a language is that they get bored and frustrated and then they quit! If you get to choose whatever TV show, movie, or book in Spanish that seems like it would be interesting and/or entertaining to you, and then use it to teach yourself Spanish, how could that not be fun?! In this guide I even include 4 lists, each in its own appendix at the rear, of all the free online resources you will ever need as well as a review of many of them and information on how to use them. If this sounds like something that might interest you, please check out my book here on Amazon.
Ok, pardon my sales pitch (doing that sort of thing is how I’m able to provide you with this kind of free content and not run any sort of ads on this site, by the way), on with the rest of the article!
4. While taking notes or writing something you switch in and out of different languages.
5. You decide not to hang out with your friends so you can be there when the mailman delivers that “teach yourself Hungarian” book you ordered a week ago.
6. You stalk native speakers having conversations through the store that you’re in.
7. You teach your dogs commands in different languages–saying “Sit!” in either English, Spanish, German, or Korean will all result in the same thing
8. You enjoy finding people in public with tattoos in fake Asian characters that are essentially meaningless…and then pointing this out to them. Or, even better, the tattoo says something silly that the person wearing it almost certainly didn’t intend, like “I like cheeseburgers”, or “White people poop a lot”
9. You get irritated when an English-language Hollywood movie has a character speaking in a foreign language you know and the subtitles are either totally inaccurate or a gross simplification of what they actually said. You will then alert everyone in the near vicinity of this travesty. This scene below from Snatch is one that always gets me, the translation of the Russian they’re speaking is totally inaccurate–just from the semester of Russian I had in college I know, for example, that when Boris is speaking with his brother on the phone and allegedly says “It’s OK. I know a couple of guys.”, that’s not what he actually said, what he actually said was “Yes. I understand.” Anyone who knows more Russian than me is welcome to continue tearing it apart in the comments:
10. When the only reason you are learning a language is because you like it’s grammatical structure.
11. You watch a movie with subtitles in a language you don’t know, and never remember the plot because you weren’t paying attention to that, but you have, however, managed to deduce how the imperative tense functions in that language.
12. You know you’re a language nerd when your first thought after waking up in the morning is the realization that there is a common Greek root in the words “kleptomaniac” and “clepsydra”.
13. When you spend hours on Wikipedia trying to find the next language that you will learn based on number of speakers, difficulties in grammar, and the coolness of sounds from videos you find on YouTube. I absolutely do this, by the way, just the other night I spent easily an hour reading the wikipedia articles on Thai and Tagalog and then listening to some basic “how to speak thai/tagalog” videos on YouTube… If you, too, would like to waste the next two hours of your life in such a pursuit, I highly recommend you start here: List of languages by number of native speakers
14. When you read the warranty paper for the electronic device you just bought in all 7 languages that it’s printed in.
15. You use foreign grammar in your native language…and then make a “WTF did I just say?!” face 2 seconds later while everyone looks at you like you’re an alien.
16. When the first thing you think of when hearing “Panini” is Sanskrit, not sandwich.
17. When your parents get you language materials for your birthday for a new language and you have to tell them that you most unfortunately already speak that language.
18. When one of the first things that you do with a new computer is add all the keyboard layouts you’ll need…and some of those keyboards that you “need” are actually for languages you don’t even speak, but really you never know when the urge to learn it will hit you, so you’d like to be prepared.
19. When you discover, much to your delight, that your new dietary supplements are labeled not only in English but also in German and Spanish, at which point you eagerly begin to increase your vocabulary by learning new words through comparison of the texts.
20. When you answer calls from telemarketers using a language that you’re reasonably certain they won’t understand–so far this trick has always thrown them for a loop to the point where they hang up on me within 10 seconds
21. When you just can’t understand how people make it to adulthood without knowing that they speak Portuguese in Brazil, not Spanish.
And finally, one that I have personally done:
22. Going to use or pick up an object around the house you try to think of the word for it in a language you’re learning. It’s on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t think of it for some reason. You should know this, you’ve learned it before.You will stand there, staring at the thing in question (refrigerator, car keys, milk, chair, whatever), refusing to allow yourself to pick it up or do whatever it is you were going to do with it until you can think of the correct word for it in the language that you’re trying to think in. You will stand there for however long this takes, perhaps finally giving in and going to look it up in the dictionary before coming back and proceeding as you were until it happens again :DI have stood in the shower staring at the soap, refusing to pick it up, getting angry at myself, while trying to think of the word for “soap” in Spanish for about 5 minutes before I finally gave up (I looked it up immediately after getting out of the shower, still wet, dripping water all over my bedroom floor as I went to fetch my Spanish dictionary).
Papers rustling, flipping of pages…
“Jabón!!! I knew it! Damnit, why couldn’t I remember that?!”
Splish-splash, splish-splash back to the bathroom…
I hope you enjoyed all of those, to give credit where it’s due some of them came from or were inspired by a similar thread over at HTLAL where, if you really want to, you can read through (currently–it gets bigger every day) 136 pages of this stuff: You know you’re a language nerd when…
Edit: One more!
I just read Jennie’s post about how she has actually started to forget how to pronounce words in her own language, and thought “Damn, you know if that isn’t a sign that you are a serious, hard-core language nerd I don’t know what is!” Ha ha!
A Quick but Essential Note Before We End…
I’ve got two posts that I’ve put up that I’m recommending everyone interested in learning Spanish go read if they haven’t already (if you have, ignore this, sorry): How to avoid wasting months learning Spanish the wrong way (basically this is my “how to get started right in learning Spanish” post for complete beginners) and The Telenovela Method where I cover how to use popular media like movies, music, and books to learn Spanish. Additionally you can check out the front page for a more complete list of my best and most popular posts.
Get my list of the internet's top 33 FREE Spanish-learning resources here!I put together a list of the internet’s Top 33 Free Spanish-learning resources, my favorite language exchanges and Spanish chat rooms, and more. I’ve spent a great deal of time putting together a 3-part series of articles for you on the internet’s best free resources for the Spanish-learner that you’ll get when you sign up for my newsletter–in addition to all of what you get below, I’ll be sure to send you any updates about cool new sites, resources, and learning tips and techniques that I come up with (I’m currently putting together a whole series that will teach you in great detail precisely how I go about learning a new language):
Part 1: A very long list of my favorite Top 33 free online Spanish-learning resources (tools, references, sites with free lessons, articles, blogs, forums, etc.) that’s far too long to include here, especially with all the other stuff I’ve got here that’s available just on this site alone, and I’d like to offer it to you (completely free, you don’t have to do anything other than sign up) right now.
Part 2: I explain what language exchanges are (essentially they allow you free access to an unlimited number of native speakers to practice your Spanish with), why they’re absolutely essential if you’re teaching yourself (I’m serious when I say this: it’s impossible to get fluent without them if you’re learning a foreign language on your own), how to use them, and which ones are the best.
Part 3: I cover chat rooms which are specifically devoted to connecting you with native Spanish speakers who want to learn English so you can chat with them in Spanish (and they’ll help and correct you) and then you do the same for them with their English (these are completely free to use, but rather hard to find, but I’ll tell you where the best ones are!). Sign up below!