PARIS FRANKLIN; Culture Editor; franklpm@plu.edu

With registration for J-term and the Spring Semester happening this week, there is no better time to learn about why to take a language. Pacific Lutheran University has a language requirement for all students, so here are some options for what you can take in the upcoming terms.

PLU has a large Department of Languages and Literatures and, as a result, there are options in both living languages still spoken around the world and those that are now considered dead (the Classical languages).

Starting this J-term, students looking to study a new language will have the opportunity to take French 101 or 102, Spanish 102 or Norwegian 101.

In the Spring Term, the following languages courses are being offered: Chinese 102 and 201, French 100-400 level courses, Spanish 200-400 level courses, Norwegian 100-400 level courses, Greek 200-300 level courses and Latin 200-300 level courses.

In the Fall Term, the Classics department offers Intensive Greek and Intensive Latin. In addition to being a great skillset and resume-builder, Classical languages are the perfect option for those who want to get through a year of language in one semester.

Please note, however, that this option counts at 8 credit hours. On the bright side, it is an A/Pass/Fail course, so even if you can’t master a declension system that is no longer in use, your grade point average won’t suffer.

Some language loving Lutes shared their take on why learning languages is so important:

“Colleges offer languages not only so we can talk to people when we go on vacation, but also to use it in a business sense or something to do with our careers,” sophomore Take Azuma said. Azuma speaks two languages, but he believes that in today’s world that might not even be enough. He is currently enrolled in Mandarin courses here at Pacific Lutheran University, and his hope is to become tri-lingual.

“There are so many bilingual people now that it would be nice to be able to speak three languages to really stand out, or to know the culture behind a language,” Azuma, a native speaker of both English and Japanese, said.

“There is a difference between someone who speaks Japanese because they have taken five years of Japanese in school and someone who was raised in a Japanese household knowing about all of the subtle cultural arts and the etiquette. If you can go to an interview and…you also know about all of the subtle aspects of the culture and the traditions, then I think it is so much better than someone who can just speak and understand the language,” Azuma said.

For those of us who have not yet been able to perfect our second language and cultural skills, visiting a place where the language is spoken can be incredibly helpful.

“I think you would have to live in another country for a year minimum, if not two or three years, to really understand all of the subtleties,” Azuma said.

Azuma also notes that the longer a person lives in another country, the more likely it is that they will be invited to  important social events like weddings, birthday parties, funerals and events with coworkers.  Azuma said these events can highlight cultural customs and contexts.

“There’s a whole etiquette just for drinking with bosses in Japan… It’s crazy,” Azuma added.

As for the dead languages, there are many benefits for those interested in how language itself is formed.

“I’m obsessed with linguistics,” said junior Zanthia Dwight. “Really old languages make it easy to understand how we use language now because we can study how their language changed over time in literature.”

Dwight, a Classical Languages and Literatures major, began studying Classical languages in high school and hasn’t stopped since.

“I feel like in English we have very simplified words. Our concepts are not as philosophical and we’re not as specific,” Dwight said. “In Greek and Latin, they were very specific with their philosophical concepts in their word usage. It makes it really interesting to delve into why they put that meaning to that word and why they use specific words.”

Dwight has also enjoyed learning about how each group’s vocabulary developed over time.

“We lose words and we lose vocabulary and we gain different vocabulary as we progress as a culture and a community through our language,” Dwight said.

The Romans, for example, had a different vocabulary because they were much more agricultural than the Greeks who were known for their “war language.” She also feels that reading in Greek allows for a new philosophical perspective.

Another one of her favorite aspects of studying dead languages is finding out how words came to be in each language.

“The Greeks and the Romans took a lot of words from each other and they made up different words to compensate for their languages’ interacting,” said Dwight.

Dwight also feels that learning Latin and Ancient Greek have also allowed her to improve her skills in her first language.

Whether you are interested in traveling, boosting job and academic resumes or you would simply love to be able to read historical accounts in their original language, it is never too soon to begin studying a new language. PLU offers students many options, so take advantage of it in in upcoming registration.

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