Not Good With Languages

It was touch and go whether I’d post anything today. I’ve spent most of the day in meetings or driving across the country and am now at a hotel, dog tired.

I also have a new thing to try to cram into my schedule and that’s some coding for a side project, the first time I’ll be cutting code for a few years.

I had planned to do an hour hacking before hitting the sack and for a spit second I thought to myself “It’s OK, coding is like writing, right?”.

One of the internal narratives I’ve forced myself to change over the last couple of years is “I can’t write”. Whilst I still struggle with it I have improved by my own standards since putting the practice in.

Thinking about coding reminded me of another long-standing internal narrative which is “I’m no good with languages”. I did French & German at secondary school but dropped them the second I could. I flirted with French again in my 20s but gave up, because it felt too hard and my heart wasn’t in it.

I’m not sure why but I only just figured out that for someone who has coded for 20+ years it’s crazy talk to say I “can’t do” languages. I’m fluent in vocabulary and syntax for a couple and am conversational in many more. I can visually parse the characters in my editor and write those characters into a file that can be parsed by others and convey meaning.

It’s just that these languages were designed to be computer readable, not human. I don’t know what that says about me and I’m not sure if in reality having a bit of ‘foreign’ computer language knowledge in my head means there is less space for human ones. Surely not, lots of programmers can speak multiple human languages too.

Regardless, it made me feel a little but better about my inability to speak multiple human foreign languages.

I’m glad I published something that can parsed by humans tonight. The best thing about this recent writing exercise has been the commitment to publishing bit and even if coding does count as writing, I won’t be publishing any of this code in the next few weeks.

Words: 374

Time: 30 minutes, maximum. Bit of a random space filler tonight, but as I stated in post 1/30 I’ve suspended my ‘each post must have lots of value in it’ rule, so have allowed my thoughts to meander a bit more, evidently in this case! 

This post is one of 30 I wrote daily during April 2016 as part of the 30 Day Writing Challenge.


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