About

What’s a “language omnivore”? I just coined the term for that one person in every 5,000 (by my rough estimate) with a passion, verging on compulsion, for language learning. And not just one. Lots. My alternate blog title was “The Promiscuous Linguist”, which captured the idea even better, but was sure to cause problems on down the road. In my work, I meet many Language Omnivores, get to sample new books and products in a variety of languages, and talk to language teachers and students. This blog is a place to share news from that world.

My name’s JD Wilson, and I’m the Academic Sales Manager and all-around “language guy” at Tuttle Publishing. We’re a 65-year-old publishing company in Rutland, Vermont that specializes in books about Asia, especially, but by no means only, language books. To some extent, I’d like to shine a spotlight on less-commonly taught languages if only because Spanish and French are much taught and celebrated in the US. In addition to my Japanese/Journalism major, however, I minored in Spanish and French, and stories and strategies from a European-language perspective are 100% welcome here. Not being a trained linguist or language teacher, however, I invite experts to be generous with their comments.

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7 thoughts on “About

  1. For better or worse, I am also promiscuous about languages. But I am retired so I anticipate no problems or confusion because of teh adjective (although a little confusion might help my love life). I already have Tuttle’s Tagalog book and workbook sitting in my Amazon Shopping cart. I also have about 7 outstanding orders with Amazon.ca (as a Canadian, Amazon saves delays and possible extra expense with customs), from Dutch: a Biography.. to Ancient Egyptian Language: A Historical Study (I already own Allen’s Middle Egyptian). Thanks for the comment about the Sanskrit text: I already own the book and would love to get the key. Although retired, I still seem to lack the time to give my books more than a survey. But then, I enjoy doing that, I have no need to get an active knowledge (my French and German are solid, but for a range of others a simple reading knowledge suffices), and I haven’t found anything better to occupy myself than playing with languages (and mathematics: I majored in math and was employed as an actuary). I have an urge to suggest that universities offer a different kind of language course. It seems a waste of resources and dull for the professor to drill pronouns etc. So offer a course that does NOT promote active use, but a survey of language and culture that would leave students with a good background for later active acquisition because they would already know how the language works and what needs to be done to really learn the language (or, more generally, a related or any other language), and they would have cultural background to assist and entice. Students could then use books like Tuttle’s to work on their own since access to adequate courses for most languages are rare. Presently universities just seem to be abandoning their language departments. Just after retiring I enrolled in a Polish course (I already read Russian). But Polish was offered just that one year because of insufficient enrollment numbers. And half the class came from Polish backgrounds and already had some exposure. A survey course would have more intellectual content and be appropriate for a university and make good use of the professor (my Polish professor was a native speaker, but taught Russian (at least while there was still some demand for it, alas…).

    • Hey, Dwight! Dr. Deshpande’s book came in the mail on Tuesday, and I think it’s pretty great, although I’ve only worked through the intro and the first two chapters. Like many of the other reviewers on Amazon wrote, the preface cautions that the book is not for self-study, but the explanations are quite complete. Here’s a link to the answer key: http://www.visiblemantra.org/sanskrtasubodhini.html. He cautioned me that it’s by no means complete (and may not ever be), but it’s much better than nothing.

      Tuttle published Elementary Hindi two years ago, and getting comfortable with devanagari script before I dived into Sanskrit was a huge help.

      I totally see your point about a course that’s a cultural/linguistic survey rather than all how-to. As I look ahead to Sanskrit’s eight cases and three numbers (24 forms for each noun?!), I may feel the same way in a few months. Let’s touch base then. Thanks for commenting!

      JD

  2. I love the term “language omnivore”! I’d say that describes me well…
    I majored in Spanish (and Linguistics), but then got much more into Japanese. Now I’m teaching Japanese while also studying Korean and Arabic. (I’ve also dabbled in ASL, Japanese Sign Language, and some other Romance languages besides Spanish.)

      • I’m a teaching assistant for first-year Japanese college students. And after taking a year of Arabic (in the states) and some summer Korean classes in Seoul, I’ve just been studying Korean and Arabic on my own– mostly through conversation exchanges/private lessons with affordable tutors when I can find them… My Arabic tutor moved away recently, so that progress has slowed down, but I found a new Korean tutor recently, and we’re using a great textbook series– that I’ve been able to check out of the library– called “You Speak Korean.”

  3. JD, This is great. I plan to put it on our blogroll. But you do not have an email to contact and you do not have the link to win the Filipino books! How do I enter?

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