Frances Languages Podcast TTT Sarah Ahmadi Season 2 Tea Toast & Trivia

Season 2 Episode 33: The Trio on Learning a New Language

Welcome to Tea, Toast and Trivia!

Thank you for listening in!

I am joined by my mother, Frances, and my sister, Sarah, to discuss – should we learn another language? In 2019, UNESCO launched a special website dedicated to the International Year of Indigenous languages (IY2019)

The purpose of this website is to increase the awareness about the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote indigenous languages around the world. There are some 6.000-7.000 languages in the world today. About 97% of the world’s population speaks only 4 % of these languages, while only 3% of the world speak 96% of all remaining languages.  

IMPORTANT CORRECTION: In the podcast I stated that 7000 languages would be lost by the end of this century. I should have said:

“It is estimated that, if nothing is done, half of the over 6,000 plus languages spoken today will disappear by the end of this century. With the disappearance of unwritten and undocumented languages, humanity would lose not only an irreplaceable cultural heritage, but also valuable ancestral knowledge embedded, in particular, in indigenous languages.

UNESCO’s Endangered Languages Programme

So, put the kettle on and add to the conversation.  We would love to hear your thoughts on

I am your host Rebecca Budd and I’m looking forward to sharing this moment with you.

Frances & Sarah

By Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

29 replies on “Season 2 Episode 33: The Trio on Learning a New Language”

Thank you as always, ladies! What impresses most about this conversation is how language fosters connection between peoples. I’ve always been a language dabbler, interested but not enough discipline, urgency or passion to continue beyond a few words and phrases of several languages. The only exception was Hebrew which was challenging for several reasons. What you say, Rebecca, about how different languages show how people think differently is important. Benjamin Whorf promoted this idea, and just looking at how alphabets widely vary, direction of reading text, gender specific grammar, etc. all demonstrate this superficially. Learning stenography was my first experience in thinking with another “language,” and I notice that when people start thinking of words and phrases automatically in a new language, they’re really becoming immersed. So much fun!!

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Oh, Mary Jo, you always spark my mind to do some research. Stenography is such a great idea, this type of short hand had to have a foundation from somewhere. So you had me on a mini research project and of course, there is history of how to summarize in short hand. Here’s one that you will appreciate –
from Wikipedia “In Ancient Rome, Marcus Tullius Tiro (103–4 BCE), a slave and later a freedman of Cicero, developed the Tironian notes so that he could write down Cicero’s speeches. Plutarch (c. 46 – c. 120 CE) in his “Life of Cato the Younger” (95–46 BCE) records that Cicero, during a trial of some insurrectionists in the senate, employed several expert rapid writers, whom he had taught to make figures comprising numerous words in a few short strokes, to preserve Cato’s speech on this occasion. The Tironian notes consisted of Latin word stem abbreviations (notae) and of word ending abbreviations (titulae).” I continue to learn and learn and learn. And that is the very best of life. Thank you Mary Jo for being a superb catalyst for exploration. It is so much fun!

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It truly is great fun! Thank you for providing the history of shorthand. I still remember most of Gregg without having using it for several decades. Seems a more noble profession than I assumed 🙂 P.S. Please let Frances know that Lynn Austin’s new novel, If I Were You is just released!

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Sarah has downloaded Lynn Austin’s books via Audible for Frances because her eyesight is failing. The other day, we were looking through mom’s downloaded books Yikes! Even Sarah could hardly believe how many Lynn Austin books mom has read over the past few weeks. And you know how many books Sarah reads so that will give you an indication of how much mom loves to read Lynn Austin. Thank you so much for the introduction. It has been a great comfort during this time of solitude.

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Well Rebecca, what language have you all decided to learn, apart from the crow’s and the raven’s, as in birds… Of the most beautiful languages of this world, Italian is it for its musicality and simplicity. Save one should also learn the hand signs, a kind of language as, in gestures. They go hand in hand so to speak. It is said that if one should tie an Italian person’s hands they would no longer be able to speak…!

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L’italiano è la lingua dell’amore. Devo tornare ai miei studi. La cadenza e le dinamiche emotive arrivano attraverso le parole come la musica. I remember my dear Italian teacher, Dominico – he was such a kind and patient man. In one lesson, he tried to tell us a funny story in Italian. That was when I knew that words were complex and held more than on-the-surface meanings. They capture symbols, myths and humour. P.S. I’m also trying to learn French. So much to do in a day – always an adventure.

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Great, dear lady, and good luck with your French lessons. As well as, and maybe the return to Italian lessons…

Formidable, chers dame, et bon courage pour vos leçons de français. Ainsi que, et peut être le retour aux leçons italien…

Grande, cara signora, e buona fortuna con le tue lezioni di francese. Così come, e forse il ritorno alle lezioni di italiano …

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Nous voyageons de nombreuses vies, mon cher ami. La langue sont les liens qui donnent du souffle à notre voix.

Sono grato per la nostra amicizia in tutte le lingue

I do love our conversations!


I was particularly struck by the comments about how vulnerable we are when we don’t know the language of the people around us. I’ve always wished I knew a range of languages. Every time I read fiction or poetry in translation, I wonder what I’m missing by not reading it as it was written.

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I agree, and know where your coming from, as late in my youth I had a stepfather, a truly wonderful person who spoke eleven (11) languages.My ambition is to master Italian to the same level as my native two native languages, French and English…

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I just finished Eugene Onegin – the translation was brilliant, but I know that there are ideas and words in Russian that are difficult to bring out in English, especially poetry. So now, I’m taking on the monumental Faust by Goethe, which is going to take me a long, long, long time to digest. The introduction was all about the translation. I especially liked this thought. “Poetry is not simply a fashion of expression: it is the form of expression absolutely required by a certain class of ideas.”

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In addition to needing the denotation of the words, I want to know the cadence and sound of the words, the mouth-feel of them, which contribute to the overall meaning and effect of a work of literature. I agree that “Poetry is not simply a fashion of expression: it is the form of expression absolutely required by a certain class of ideas.” I would take that thought one step further and say that any idea or experience has an ideal form by which to express it. For example, if someone wants to write about a particular family relationship, it could take the form of a personal narrative, creative nonfiction, a short story, a novel, a memoir, flash fiction, or poetry. It can be a tricky choice to navigate at the outset because I think most writers have a go-to mode of expression that they feel most comfortable with.

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Thank you, Liz, for adding depth to my understanding of words, the nuance of sound and cadence, the use of symbols, the choice of form and the syntax of language. This is a huge conversation – looking forward to many many more discussion.

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I did not know about this effort, Rebecca. But I agree completely that it’s worthwhile and wonderful. Language and how it changes over time is a fascinating thing to me.
It might seem to have no relevance (but that’s how my mind works) but preserving these languages reminds me of “Fahrenheit 451,” and the people who memorized books. Hugs on the wing.

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I have been thinking a great deal about Fahrenheit 451 these past days and how grateful I am for writers and poets. They give breath to our voices. Isn’t it interesting how Ray Bradbury saw the future and need for people to read, to understand, to listen and seek understanding. “Nobody listens anymore. I can’t talk to the walls because they’re yelling at me, I can’t talk to my wife; she listens to the walls. I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough it’ll make sense. And I want you to teach me to understand what I read.” Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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Interesting! Love this you guys.
When I went into secondary education, my choices were: Cooking (becoming a chef) fashion Design and Technology (becoming Canada’s Dior) or Languages (becoming an international interpreter)

Cooking … no! I was afraid to cook meat.
Languages … my preferred choice, but I couldn’t afford $$$ 7 years of studies
I never became Canada’s Dior, but I am very happy.

As a Canadian, i think we should all strive to know both of our national languages. My French is very rusty. (shame)
At one time I was in S. America for over a year, and came to speak Spanish better than French. Although, French helped me learn Spanish faster.
Now… I wish I was more like our European friends, with not just a hunger to speak languages, but the ability to do so.
Again, another fab podcast!

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I agree wholeheartedly that we should embrace both of our national languages. Whenever we learn a language we discover new ways of thinking – it is an exploration into the unknown. And the best part is that there are treasures awaiting us along the journey. So glad you stopped by and listened in – your support and encouragement is stellar and so appreciated. Hug and more hugs!


Such and enjoyable conversation, Rebecca, Sarah and Frances. I did study French, German and Latin at Grammar school in England. I even had a German pen-friend named Wolfgang who lived in Berlin. I don’t know whether I might have got a few words wrong in my letters, but he suddenly got the idea that we should get married even though we’d never met. Anyway, my mom said I shouldn’t write to him anymore. 🙂 Unfortunately I only remember a smattering of the languages I learned. I sometimes wish I’d kept it up and become fluent. It would have been quite useful when travelling Europe. In South Africa, there are eleven official languages and although we lived there for over forty years, I only picked up a few phrases in Afrikaans and Zulu, I suppose because English was the main language, I was too lazy to pursue any of the others. I’m sure it’s never too late to learn a new language. Like you, Rebecca, I’ve always thought that Italian was the language of love, although I also find the French accent quite heart-stopping. Since moving to Florida, I’ve had to learn some American, which I find quite interesting and my friends here think I’m strange when i refer to the car boot, bonnet or bumper instead of trunk, hood and fender. One of the ladies at our club introduced me to her friends as being, tall, slim and blonde, but then added, “but she talks funny.” That caused quite a laugh. 😀

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Oh, Sylvia – you have the best stories. Don and I laughed and laughed and laughed. They say that laughter is the best medicine. And you are the best at filling the prescription. Your dear mother – she had the wisdom of Job! I love how you talk – looking forward to our next podcast. Will be on touch. How about the subject of “laughter”?

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