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Who Can Tell You What

The only people who have the right to even think of beginning to attempt to tell you that you can’t do it, are people who’ve done it themselves. Not people who’ve “tried” it. People who’ve done it.

“But they ‘tried’ it”, you say. “They have ‘experience'”, you say. Yeah, they have experience being a whiny little puddle of joy. That’s why they’re sitting around waiting to tell any idiot unfortunate enough to be in earshot that it can’t be done. It may well be that it can’t be done…by them…but you’re not one of them.

Only people who’ve done it have the authority to speak. Everyone else can just smile, STFU and watch you do your thing. And if you fall, they can smile, STFU and clap politely while you get up and keep going.

If Micheal Jordan tells you you suck…take notes. Then go practice some more.
If Joe Blow tells you you suck…walk away, mutter an expletive under your breath or maybe schedule some time later to hurl silent abuses at him in your journal. Then go practice some more.

There is nothing in this world so complicated that it requires you to take the advice of incompetent, impolite and unhelpful people. Start listening to more reliable folk. Listen to the Stuart Jay Rajs 1 and Stephen Krashens and Steve Kaufmans and Moses “LaoShu” McCormicks and John Fotheringhams and Randys and Irishmen and Unclepolyglots and really anyone who’s actually done it. If these experts tell you there’s a problem, take notes. Otherwise…just keep on moving.

It’s a language, folks, not powered flight. Not that big a deal. Humans can go into space, eat 50 hot dogs in one sitting, and climb mountains while blind and/or crippled. You don’t think we can imitate a few sounds and copy out some symbols? Come now…


  1. How does one even go about pluralizing this?

  5 comments for “Who Can Tell You What

  1. RoryT
    December 31, 2010 at 05:38

    To tie another one of your posts to strength training, this reminds me of a little internet community centered around gym-owner/author Mark Rippetoe. The guy wrote a book called Starting Strength that has in-depth descriptions of proper form for a few basic exercises, and outlines a beginner strength training program.

    The program starts out pretty easy, but a couple of months in and it gets pretty tough. This causes people to give up, log on to his forums and complain that the program doesn’t work. It’s a fascinating phenomenon. These people can’t stick with something, so instead they make an effort to make sure that other people avoid an incredibly effective method. I should add that the problems these people have are overwhelmingly self-created. Lack of proper food intake, lack of rest, skipping workouts, etc.

    It’s actually very interesting, AJATT can be tied to strength training in many ways. I had been thinking about your frequency concept and its relation to Pavel’s “greasing the groove” for a while before that guest post popped up.

  2. December 31, 2010 at 15:24

    The fitness analogy is spot on. Learning a language is just like getting fit, and arguably, just as valuable in one’s life.

  3. Chiro-kun
    December 31, 2010 at 15:43

    Irishmen links to yearlyglot 😛

  4. Eskay
    January 1, 2011 at 19:30

    Thank you man, I need this so badly now. Morons telling me what to do and what I can’t do seem to be cropping up everywhere… Happy New Year.

  5. Bryan
    January 3, 2011 at 16:09

    The Muslim pilgrimage “Haj” or “Hajj” is usually (and in dictionaries) pluralized as “Hajes” or “Hajjes.” I’d suspect the same for Raj.

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