On a recent Facebook Page post I asked the travel question: Would you rather...be fluent in every language OR master all the instruments in the world? It sparked off a series of interesting replies from both sides of the coin, and even one that was like a whole other coin in itself. Here are some of the replies and reasons given.
In Favor of: Mastering Every Instrument in the World
There were a few good points brought out in favor of masterfully playing every musical instrument.
Here are just a couple of my favorite comments:
I would prefer to know every musical instrument in the world because music brings everyone together.
I think my gut says : musical instrument mastery, cause music transcends all languages and cultures and is universal...
There was even someone who's into eating instruments:
Definitely - musical instrument! (Oooh sounds delicious!)
Ummm...to each his own I guess.
Some of the points they shared helped me realize the importance of music as a means of communication.
For example: A crowd of people who speak many different languages can sit together and simultaneously feel unity in one experience through music.
It would be impossible to do that with equal effect through languages, even if you could speak all of their individual languages fluently.
NO! I'd Rather: Speak Every Language on Earth
But the traveling linguists had their own valid viewpoints as well. Always one to try and see both sides of the coin, I was interested in reading their comments.
Here is one that stood out to me:
Languages, nuff said...can have them explain to me how their instrument works. Plus I'm more of a music listener as opposed to a producer.
I couldn't agree more here, as a self proclaimed 'music appreciator', I'm in the same boat. I am a Hawaii born islander who can't even play the simple ukulele! Shame job if I ever heard of one.
In the meantime, one pro-language learning commenter took us on a trip with her down memory lane:
The fondness in childhood memories of hearing & seeing my humble Dad (originally from Cebu, Philippines) grace & skillfully play 7 various musical instruments with others for gatherings imprinted great respect for music in my heart. But, for a musician to travel, globally, I would really expect one to have learned how to communicate in foreign lands or countries for traveling mobility globally. Language it is. I prefer, communication.
Ahh, the nostalgic beauty of travel questions...
Despite the valid arguments brought out by musical instrument aficianados, I was beginning to see that the ability to communicate on a deeper level through language was even more important to me personally.
And the results are...
So what was the overall reaction? Well it's hard to narrow it down to one definite winner, but if you look at the numbers, there was one choice with a slight edge.
FINAL SCORE (as of today:) 9-7 with "being able to speak every language fluently" as the winner! Do you agree?
But WAIT! There is an Alternative Viewpoint:
As one commenter put it, there are more than just two ways of seeing the matter:
Sounds both a little boring! I kinda of like being amazed by a language I can't speak or music on an instrument I can't play.
Now that puts a unique spin on how to view things! It's true, there is a definite element of intrigue and fascination with things not fully understood. I appreciate the thought.
My personal choice:
If I had to choose one over the other, hands down it would be speaking every language fluently.
As I read through the replies and thought about the question, I began to see music as something that can be very moving and emotional, yet at the same time it was distant and impersonal. It's true that music can speak to listeners of different languages simultaneously, and it can get across the feelings and emotions of the artists, but there is only one person transmitting thoughts, the artist. The rest are all just listeners.
For myself, communication is more than just one person expressing their viewpoint. It's a sharing of thoughts, feelings and emotions with all parties involved.
I know that you can get by in travels without knowing the local language, but how much cooler would it be if you could not only get your point across clearly, but also take in and understand the other person's viewpoint on things as well! Language, to me, gives us the ability to share and receive both ways.
I guess I connect more with individuals on a one-on-one personal level.
I realize that, for myself, deep and meaningful travel with the locals calls for communication. In order to clearly communicate, I need to be able to deliver my message using specifics. Language, I feel, is specific.
I choose language.
What do you think? Do you agree? [Link to original discussion on Facebook.]
I'm JR. I come from a long line of adventurers, some were nomadic explorers of the sea and others wandering cultivators of the earth. Ultimately, this legacy of drifters has deeply affected my view of travel. Read more...