Linus Torvalds and multilingualism

I don’t think you are scary at all - as long as nobody accosts your chickens…

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Speaks Klingon and English?


For some reason I never got into Star Trek, so no Klingon. But I am interested. My ex loved Tolkien’s Hobbit world with all its constructed languages. I think Tolkien might have gone a bit crazy putting so much work into his languages. I hear at least one Elf language is based on Finnish.

There is also e.g. Lojban which might actually be useful for machine-human communication.

So little time. So much to know. :slight_smile:


Exactly - which is why I have been putting so much effort into my Radical Life Extension non-profit orgs for more than 20 years and why The World’s Last Mass Extinction (for humans) is so depressing . .

Of course, humans won’t exist forever, but I’m not sure it’s all that depressing. What kind of mass extinction are you expecting?

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I’ve also read that Finland has the highest per-capita concentration of fluent speakers of both Latin and Klingon. My theory is that being whipped by birch leaves in a sauna motivates one to have a rich internal life… I do love Finns and Finland, the nature of the country and people speaks to me.


Concerning Latin: there is (at least a couple of years ago) a discussion here to stop with the Latin education (is an option when you’re 12). But the ones who have had Latin did say it is useful, because the way it forces you to think (or something like that). Of course not because ‘dead language’ Latin itself is useful.
In my opinion: replace it with Python or something like that.


Latin was useful to me precisely because it’s a “dead” language. You can’t really talk to anybody, so you have to approach it in a theoretical manner and learn what grammar is as a kid. Some think grammar is what your evil school teacher wants you to learn. That’s orthography, and it can be very useful. But grammar is something else.

I don’t really know any coding languages at all. I’m just not a developer. But I don’t believe learning a formal language can replace learning a natural one. Why not both?

I’m absolutely positive you have a point there. :slight_smile:


First define what is the most useful to learn. And if a non existing language helps, ok. But don’t tell me you can’t construct a non existing language even more leaning to these definitions then existing ‘dead language’ Latin.

I absolutely hated latin that I was forced to learn for the first two years of secondary school. A great teacher but I hated the subject.
It was only later that I appreciated the vocabulary I learned and how that gave me valuable clues when facing unfamiliar words later in various languages.


Considering the massive amount of computer innovations coming from the US, and the relatively low amount of bilingual speakers in the country (as mentioned before), I would say there are likely a lot of very talented monolingual developers.

Also, lol @ saying the US is not a populous country. It is the third most populous country in the world with about 5% of the world’s population.

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I’m not doubting that it has some practical application. But what you can learn is limited and I’m not convinced by the arguments given that Latin is useful enough to be part of the limited education subject matter. Not that it is that important.
@wydileie I’m speaking from a Belgian (edit: Flemish part of the country) background. We have already French and English education (also often some German). In the USA the other (then English) language education is less I imagine. Although, I guess a lot of Spanish education maybe. And I’m also not convinced there is a very strong correlation between being a good programmer and being multilangual, certainly if not very young. My memory of school was that there were a lot of people good at math, physics, programming, … and not so good at languages or the other way around.

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You are quite correct. I dont know if much Latin is taught at all in public education in Scotland now, but if it was, I’d be for replacing it with Python or computer programming in general.

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The US norm is 3-4 years of a foreign language that is taken in what the US calls “high school” (the final four years of required schooling prior to entering university). In some areas of the country, like Southern California, Southwestern US and Southern Florida, there is a little more emphasis on learning Spanish, specifically, and sometimes even some introductions in the earlier years of classroom education. However, very few native English speakers are truly fluent in another language, beyond stumbling through some tourist phrases like reciting your name and asking where the bathroom is.


This obviously depends on what you want to do in your life. If you want to survive some great big disaster, learning to make fire is certanly more useful than Latin.

If I absolutely had to choose between Latin and Python today, and couldn’t have both, I think I’d choose Python.

To me it’s not so much about the vocabulary. I started learning Latin when I was 12, and it was my first look into pure grammar.

Thanks. I didn’t think much before I wrote that.

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Here’s another that makes me feel the same:

If I had a few hundred hours spare, I think it’d be a sneaky one to get an interesting look into the grammar of loads of the romance languages. Some of the benefits of learning Latin with perhaps less of the complextiy. Looks lovely.