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Up until this point in the Bible, the whole world had one language - one common speech for all people. The people of the earth became skilled in construction and decided to build a city with a tower that would reach to heaven. By building the tower they wanted to make a name for themselves and also prevent their city from being scattered.

God came to see their city and the tower they were building. He perceived their intentions, and in His infinite wisdom, He knew this “stairway to heaven” would only lead the people away from God. He noted the powerful force within their unity of purpose. As a result, God confused their language, causing them to speak different languages so they would not understand each other. By doing this, God thwarted their plans. He also scattered the people of the city all over the face of the earth.

The Tower of Babel - Story Summary

Tower of Babel

據聖經記載,人類曾經聯合起來 (那時的人類應該是地球上物種的弱勢或是少數,所以比較容易合作?), 興建一座可以與天神接觸,甚至與天神平起平坐的通天塔來。 這激怒了上帝, 塔被阻止了, 人類也因為不同語言的隔閡而無法溝通與合作, 最終人類往大陸四方散去,成了現在的模樣… – 巴別塔

前幾天收到一封信,介紹我去看個網頁:Ultimate Resource Guide for Learning a Second Language Online。 無意中從這網頁發現了幾件有趣的事。 在推薦去學的第二外言清單中有:

  • 漢語(官話)(北方話)
  • 日語
  • 韓語
  • 俄語
  • 阿拉伯語
  • 土耳其語
  • 波斯語
  • 西班牙語
  • 法語
  • 德語
  • 葡萄牙語
  • 意大利語
  • 印地語

這真的就有趣了。其中的漢語,日語,韓語以及阿拉伯語,建議需要學習的時間比其它來得長。 約莫是學習其它語言的兩倍到三倍的時間。這一方面可以說明,這個機構的組成與判斷出發點, 都是以歐美大陸的西方人為主。所以很自然地,他們學習類似語系的西班牙語或德語, 一定比讓人摸不著頭緒,一切都得重頭開始學的東方語言來得簡單多了。 另一方面,東方世界,似乎上得了臺面的就幾個大國,並不像歐洲這樣五花八門。 這是否說明了我們老祖宗的優秀? 一下子就幾乎統一了整個東方! 雖然隨時歷史發展,就如同羅貫中的三國演義裏頭寫的:「天下大勢,分久必合,合久必分」 整個東方大陸一樣是分分合合的,但最後只剩下幾個國家。 我們,似乎喜好統一更甚於保有各自的特色?!

網頁後頭放了幾個網站,有一些是不錯的網路免費外語學習網站與社群。 像是很棒的 BBC Languages 以及 Duolingo。 甚至 Meetup 也有進榜。 我沒記錯的話,在台灣,就有個透過 Meetup 的 Taiwan Travel & Language Exchange 社群。

Share this for you guys. My comments? I think learning a language is always one of the most interesting and surprising things to do. You can do it til you pass away, without any physical or psycological limits. You can’t run a racing car, like F1, while you are 60-year old man, but there is no this kind of issues in learning a language. One day, human beings might develop a break-through technique to conquer language barrier, another tower of babel, but before that, to learn a 2nd language is what you can seize and control :)

註:更多的 towers of babel

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