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You’d Be Speaking German Right Now If…

This entry is part 1 of 17 in the series The Art of War of Learning
  1. Baal, give me strength. German is a beautiful language. What is so wrong with German that the thought that we’d be speaking it (if the wrong public school thug had been Prime Minister of Britain) is a threat? Fundamentally, English is German. Oh no, a different European dialect, hide yo’ wife, hide yo’ kids, kill me now!
    • It’s such an empty threat, it’s like when parents “punish” an introvert by sending him to his room where he has a computer and Internet access not speaking from experience or anything.
  2. Conquering imperial powers have forbidden the acquisition of their language and culture as often as they’ve forced it. Back in the first millennium CE, Arab elites didn’t want foreigners to convert to Islam because that would dilute both their exclusivity and their tax base 1. Similarly, the Dutch made it illegal to teach Dutch in Indonesia.
  3. If you want to hunt lions successfully, you’re going to need to become a lion expert. All else being equal, you’ll do a lot better against an opponent that you understand fully than one of whom you know little or (worse) nothing 2. And you’ll understand a people a whole lot better if you can speak their language than if you can’t. American elites did not understand the Vietnamese, who they were, or what they truly wanted — and paid dearly for that ignorance in blood, gold and goodwill; Vietnam’s popular leaders were proud, hardy nationalists first and last — Communists by convenience, not conviction. So, the more you hate a group of people, the more time you should spend learning their language and culture.
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  1. “Many non-Arabs converted to Islam. The Umayyads actively discouraged conversion in order to continue the collection of the jizya, or the tax on non-Muslims.” [History of Islam – Wikipedia]
  2. “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.” [Ender’s Game Quotes by Orson Scott Card]

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