The world appears to be ending. Humankind killed themselves off centuries ago during fights over oil, money and world power. The animal kingdom vowed that this kind of turmoil would never happen again, but we see ourselves headed down the same path as the humans. We penguins never understood the fights that humans got themselves into. We were able to see the underlying problem that led to the end. Communication.
Communication problems were not just a result of the various languages. After all, Google released its 100% accurate audio translator in 2148. The problem was the communication boundaries created by cultural differences. Humans had no need to learn languages other than their native language, so they stopped. This is when the real conflict started. The animal kingdom knows now how important language learning is to our survival. It is the best way to understand your neighbor and to earn his or her respect. It opens your mind to what matters in this world and what does not.
Unfortunately though, we are not nearly as good at language learning as humans were. Speaking Lion is nearly impossible for penguins and not even our top linguists have been able to understand the most basic phrases in Turtle. Luckily, our top penguin scientists were able to construct a rocket ship to take us to Mars, where aliens have been known to be living in peace for many years. We knew that if they were living in harmony, they must have found the secret to language learning.
Three of our brightest made the long trip to Mars and met with the aliens. As expected, they had found the key to quicker language learning; smarter language learning. Of course, they all spoke penguin fluently. They invited us to their weekly language meeting to explain to us how we could learn smarter just like them.
My first question to the Martians was, “cheeeep breep brip cheeep?” which translates to, “How did you learn Penguin if no penguins live here?”
The alien agreed, “The best way to learn a language is by immersion, but there are many other ways to learn fluently without it.”
I was relieved to hear this because I really wanted to learn Lion but WAS NOT going to go immerse myself in a lion’s den for a year. He proceeded to explain, “When immersion is not a possibility, you need to take advantage of science.”
He proceeded to tell me all of the things that humans did wrong during their last days of learning language. Humans were obsessed with basic vocabulary apps. Even when they passed the beginner phases of language learning they continued to study like a beginner, with flash cards and easy sound clips. I was a bit embarrassed because I had been studying Lion that way for 3 years and was definitely still a beginner.
The alien proceeded, “After you pass the beginner phase it is important to learn through using the language. We have no penguins here, yet I was able to learn penguin easily because of our text analytics program.”
I was intrigued. “How is this possible? I still don’t understand.”
“I used a language app just like everyone else in the beginning. However, we aliens only use vocabulary apps for about six earth months and then we start to use the language in writing and speech and analyze it with our computer code. I write Penguin and the code tells me how my writing compares to the writing of a native Penguin, like you.” The alien then proceeded to hand me the ancient scrolls with instructions on how to replicate this program.
We returned to Earth, ready to implement what we had learned. Our scientists began work to construct a system with the code and, through using the program, I was able to speak and write Lion fluently in just another 6 months! Our work was not over. We may have saved the animal kingdom, but we wanted to save humans as well.
We built a time machine and went back to the year 2018 to start implementing our programs for you all on Finite Languages. It may take some time to develop all of the code for you since your computing systems are terribly slow, but in time, we will share the secrets with you as well and save humankind together.