“The Hardship's Overblown” [Reflection on Book The Loom of Language by Frederick Bodmer and Lancelot Hogben (ed), 1944 (ppix-16)]

“The obstacles are overblown”,
The author says, “for it is known”
(Long since, he wrote in forty-four)
“It’s easier than that, what’s more –

“Some tips from experts in the field,
Can make a learning-project yield
Rich fruit in time you pour into
Each language-learning task you do.

“Drop snobbery, and perfect pitch
(Equivalent in linguist’s niche);
Have modest goals; determined brow;
And you will triumph – I’ll allow –

“That it’s still work – but focus it;
And seek to make some fun of it;
Four skills align rank order of;
Make learning-task a work of love.

“Expressing? Fifteen hundred words
(Well-chosen, if my meaning’s heard);
Essential grammar – statements clear,
And you will do quite fine, no fear.

“To read its fifteen-K at least,
But not as thorough – ‘nodding’ feast;
Acquaintance with most grammar forms,
To know at once to heed or scorn.

“All reading gives you context clear,
And idioms galore appear;
You visualize each word; you meet
Much grammar – that’s where relics sleep.

“Street language has less context though –
We dodge the words we yet don’t know;
Sound values, stresses, syllables,
All blend and blur – quite malleable.”

He said, “Don’t fret the listening part
If no one speaks, but don’t lose heart,
For it is last to comprehend,
For oral speech makes sub-parts blend.

“For sixty thousand years we spoke;
It’s five or so since first we wrote;
That’s when we noticed “Grammar rules”;
Keep that perspective – don’t be fools.

“We’re fifty-three percent romance;
Teutonic thirty-one; by chance
It’s ten percent of Greek today –
In English we now read and say.

“So learn by families”, he says;
“With English base, then happy days!
You’ve keys to ten that feed into
Your language – far less work to do”.

I love expressions he pulls out –
“Communicate” – what you’re about;
But do it “inoffensively”
Oh wow! Now that’s a word for me!

“Big language-groups don’t need the rest”
(An attitude with which we’re ‘blessed’);
“Small countries speak the others’ ways
To get along in life – it pays”.

But Canada is both, I see –
Bad attitude, but small, so needs
Another language to make out
In global village ’round about.

Nice book – so much to think about –
A challenge, tool, an ease of doubt;
Seven hundred pages – base indeed
To future work – I language need.

Thanks Lord for this.