New languages are being 'invented' to improve brain fitness
Language is the basic mode of communication, and the ability to learn more languages is often linked to greater brain fitness and better analytical abilities. But did you know that languages are now being 'invented' or 'engineered' to improve brain fitness? These languages have no native speakers, can't be used to get around or hold conversations? Yet, we found that invented languages like Klingon were the most popular at Adelaide Languages Festival.
It was fitting that the Adelaide language festival started off with a mass lesson in Kaurna .. the language of the first peoples of the Adelaide region.
Around 500 people joined a day that was all about linguistic learning.
Australia's only professor of endangered languages, Ghil'ad Zuckermann, says if learning a language could be compared to training an animal, it would be a German Shepherd.
"It's very hard, if you know anything about training dogs, it's not easy. It's highly intelligent, it's playful but it requires a lot of attention, it requires you passion. The moment you train the German Shepherd, its' actually very wonderful."
He says there are seven characteristics involved with learning a new tongue.
They include musicality, excellent memory, high emotional intelligence and motivation.
Another, is to have no shame.
"If you have a lot of shame, if you feel you do not want to lose face, then it's harder to learn a language because you might be afraid of making a mistake."
Mr Zuckermann created the language festival, held at Adelaide University where he teaches, for fun and inspiration.
Participants could choose to take 25 minute courses in 30 different languages, including French, Arabic and Dinka, Hebrew, Persian and Latin.
Or, for the more adventurous...there was a new language called Klingon, from the TV show 'Star Trek'.
Teacher Stuart Blair says there are real-world benefits to learning a fictional -- or engineered language, as linguists call them.
"It doesn't matter what language you learn, they're all going to give you that enhanced analytical ability - create that, eh, increase that skill level. So, learning a language is great brain nutrition, especially in your older years."
For most participants, the 'brain nutrition' went down a treat.