A couple of days back our friend Jennifer here has put a link to the youtube to her review of the Russian the movie “Ivan Vasilyevitch”. It was rather smooth and fluent, but with a taste of foreign mind. I liked it, but the topic might be put in a much broader range, I think, than a sheer sharing the impressions of a non-native speaker.
While having breakfast this morning I’ve watched a TV-show. It was about how had been taken another cult movie of the same kind – “The Gentlemen of Fortune”. Why do I call it the “cult”? Just because it had been taken about four decades back, but still is loved by most of the people, and it is full of phrases, which Jennifer calls “quotations” in her review, but which really became firm colocations of the language.
People have picked up and use them, the phrases, in almost all situations of life, even not thinking about the origin. Of course, they are the sort of a “shibboleth”. All spies and planted residents could be easily counted out and banged in if they failed the examination on this subject. But getting back to a serious tune, I would say, that all my practice of languages show, that we speak using already formed language models, or blocks of words, or whatever you may call them. The mastery of a language is indicated by the quantity and quality of such models. And mind, you are picking them during all your life. The searching minds even go – they do not only pick but start making new combinations of picked models, develop punks, new expressions, new collocations, write books, poems, movie scripts, etc. The most prominent ones are climbing upper and closer to the top of such word game and make a mark of genius or of a half-genius, become masters of, the pillars of literature.
How all that concern the process of learning a language, you may ask? Actually, I am getting a bit sad about it. In our mother tongues we pick up all that stuff, I mean collocated words and blocks, during all our lives. The mean age of people here may be roughly estimated as 30-35. So, we may say, that we here have been picking our mother tongues for about 3-4 decades, someone less, someone more, to use it freely and with ease and pleasure.
My question here is, can we ever bring the mastery of our second language to the same level? Can we ever start it use the same way nonchalantly and joyfully like our first language? The answer, if only there had not been the eternity ahead, is obvious.
What do you think?