What language to learn?
Thinking about trying to learn a new language.
Here's the shortlist, with reasons.
German I learnt a lot in primary school and early high school, and while I'm nowhere near conversant, there's a lot of stored knowledge in my head. Plus, you meet German speakers everywhere. Downside is that they all have excellent English. I don't know any German literature that appeals to me, but I'd love to grok Wagner as its sung. I have a German name & heritage, so there's an extra connection there, but it's honestly not a strongly felt one.
French I really like French food and 19th C French novels. It's Britain's But not the UK's closest neighbour, and as best as I can judge there's some cultural cachet in being basically conversant. Knowing French is a real advantage in navigating France & Belgium. It's also the second-most spoken language in my borough, but that mostly that's by rich bankers who wouldn't want to speak to me anyway.
Latin Because I want to cast spells. Also because I think it's cool, and I read somewhere that learning a highly inflected language is good for English speakers. Downside is no one speaks it, and it's fundamentally useless.
Irish I'm Irish! I'd like to know how to pronounce Irish words. Limited utility, and not much in Irish that I particularly want to read.
Russian Also highly inflected, but spoken by actual people today. Reading Dostoyevksy in the original would be very cool. And it seems that there are many Russian people in London. Has the possibility of opening up a very foreign culture to me. I don't have much desire to travel in Russia.
Italian It's the European country Jolie likes visiting the most, and also her favourite European cuisine, so there'd be plenty of opportunity to practice. Also a great language for listening to the opera, and for singing a couple of bass baritone arias I'd like to tackle some day. It seems fairly easy for English speakers too.
Mandarin Chinese Because it's so different and because I'm interested in the history of (pardon the problematic short-hand) civilisations and China is one of the greatest. And Chinese characters look cool. Unfortunately, it's really hard to learn. I also don't really know how much is spoken in London compared to Cantonese.
Polish Lots of people in London speak Polish, and lots of those don't speak great English. Apparently it's even harder for native English speakers than Russian.
Honourable mentions for Brazilian Portuguese (I love the sound of it) and Arabic (super widely spoken within London, very hard to learn).
Reading through this, I guess I'd like to learn a language that will
- help me speak to more people in London
- be useful in future travels
- open up new cultures and new ways of looking at the world
Happy to take input from others.