Thursday, December 01, 2005


Piano or languages?

Would you rather be the 10th best piano player in the world or speak 10 languages of your choice, fluently? Why?

Considering music is a language, I would select nine additional languages to make an even 10 and call it a day. With these abilities, I would delight in subconscious, varied respective ethnic dialogue driven by a scorching soundtrack. A symphony of sorts within resulting in a pleasant smirk of satisfaction.
I'd choose to be the tenth-best pianist.
I took one semester of piano in college and even though I could only learn the music slowly and play one or two tunes from memory, it satisfied my soul.
I'd love to be able to play some of the beautiful intricate pieces I hear instead of just "The First Noel" and "Norwegian Wood."
I'd rather speak 10 languages. Music, while a language, speak more on a visceral and emotional level and precludes high level communication. That said, I'd like to choose mathematics as one of my "languages" as mathematics allows for near universal transmission of high level concepts and ideas.
The languages. Then I could travel and experience things freshly. Playing a piano does nothing much for me.
Speak 10 languages of my choice.
I hardly can find a piano in 80% of world territory but languages will allow me to be understood almost everywhere.
I have zero muscial talent and I love to travel. Therefore, it just makes sense for me to choose the 10 languages.
I would love to know 10 different languages so I could communicate with that many more people.
I'd rather be the pianist than a linguist. I really am a hermit of sorts and don't care to communicate with that many people; but to play music with that ability would be heaven.
I'd choose the languages. Math and music would be amongst them though. :) I've started wondering how my mind thinks and would it think differently if I were to think up my own language? Knowing so many languages would be an awesome experiement coming from the base state I am presently.
piano player. I live in Grand Rapids, and everybody speaks English anyway, and I only talk to a few of them.

It's not that I don't care about the rest of the world, but I don't travel much.

But to play the piano beautifully, not only would it be beautiful, but I might parlay that into some extra cash.
I love pianos, and I love languages. Creating music is something I already do, though, so having the ability to speak 10 languages instantly...would save me a lot of time.
Having both played instruments and learned a second language (each with some modicum of proficiency), I'd have to go with the languages. It opens your consciousness in ways impossible to anticipate.
What does being a good piano player buy you, particularly being the 10th best? Frustration? Jealousy? Fluency in ten languages buys you an order of magnitude increase in your potential to understand other people and cultures and thereby understand your own.
10 languages because you'd learn a lot and could travel and meet new people, it'd also help with jobs and such.
I'd rather speak the 10 languages. As an African American, I am descended from a group of people who had their languages stolen from them. I would love to learn the languages I would have learned if my ancestors had not been kidnapped from their home and forced to go to an unfamiliar land.
Hmm, that is a tough one. Being a great musician like that would bring you a sense of satisfaction in knowing that you are able to bring so much joy and inspiration to countless other's lives. But what constitues a language? Music can be used to communicate, and math seems to be a universal language. Language also helps to understand culture better. So I think I would have to go with the 10 languages. But what languages, and why? I think this is what and why I would choose them:
1. Music- the affore mentioned knowledge of bringing joy and inspiration to others, as well as the usefulness in communication.
2. Mathematics- the affore mentioned idea of math being a universal language.
3. Scottish Gaelic- a beautiful language that was spoken by my ancestors, and one I have always wanted to learn.
4. Latin- the basis of most modern European languages, and useful in science.
5. French- the most romantic language.
6. Ancient Egyptian- I have been fascinated by the Ancient Egyptian culture for years.
7. Ancient Summerian/Babylonian- the first written language, as well the origin of almost all Western language alphabets.
8. Telepathy- It would be fun to communicate via your minds, and hopefully somehow all in the same language.
9. Body language- Everyone uses it, it is different in every culture, and very useful in understanding people and conveying messages.
10. English- my native language, and widely useful around the world.
Interesting question. I could take either, and never regret my choice. Here's why...

In high school I studied 4 foreign languages. I wasn't the best in the class, but I wasn't the worst. I could have continued learning and eventually become fluent in any of them. I didn't. In fact, I forgot almost all of what I learned. It was interesting, and I'm glad I took those classes, but obviously it wasn't of any great importance to me. I could have learned 10 languages fluently by now, but I didn't.

Same deal with piano...I bought one, I learned a little, I gave it up.

If either of those was important to me, I would have made an effort to learn. If I were magically granted the ability to do one or the other, I'd say there's a good chance I'd forget it all, anyway.
I'd choose being the 10th best piano player. It is a language in it's own, mathmatical and it's universal. Being the 10th best would allow the opportunity to meet the other 9 eventually, plus the chance to learn many other languages by traveling worldwide. Facing it this way, who'd turn away the 10th best piano player from visiting their town or country and hearing a concert, even if it's just in a pub. A pat on the back, another ale and learn more of another language, plus pick up another tune from the locals. I equate this with a Tim Roth movie called "The Legend of 1900". Where Roth's character was talking or picking up on what this foreigner was requesting in a certain type of music...he was picking up on their language and also the music. So, I see being the 10th best piano player as an ultimate opportunity to learn as mush as possible about all languages and the related people.
If I could start my life over I would choose the languages without a second thought.
As it is now I would not even be able to use but perhaps two of the languages usefully.
We have a piano which I can't play. I'd pick the piano & teach my wife to become the eleventh best piano player in the world.
Although music is a language, as a couple of the comments say, it seems to me almost everything is a language. All of the arts & math are perfect examples. But there is a vast difference in the direction of your life by the choice made.

I asked my daughter this question & in about one-tenth of a micro second she screamed "THE LANGUAGES". She is in love with language.

I love music, but I love reading more. Imagine being able to read great literature in the original language. I once read that Joyce learned Norwegian to be able to read Ibsen.

With the ten languages I could have taken my life in a very different direction, one I believe I would have been more satisfied with.

One never knows.
Calling music (or math) a language is an expansive definition of the word "language", at best. At worst, it's just a silly statement. I'd rather have great innate musical talent than the ability to speak any number of languages.

A) Languages can be learned.
B) Ideas can be translated into the language I speak.
C) The non-English speaking world needs to learn English, not vice-versa.
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