Academia: The Language Dilemma

Posted 30 March, 2011 by Lianne in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments




So this dilemma sort of popped up in my life a few days ago and it’s had me mulling. As I started to work on my thesis argument outline on Monday (again), I was struck with an idea for a PhD dissertation and started writing down my thoughts about it (which is crazy because a) I’m not thinking of applying for a few years and b) I need to finish my MA thesis before I could consider a PhD). As amazing, exciting and possibly massive this project could be, there’s a bit of an obstacle that I need to overcome: the language component. At the PhD level, you need two working languages to conduct your research. God willing I pass my Russian translation exam next month, I’ll have one more-or-less. Okay, fine, but here’s the thing: the dissertation topic I started brainstorming the other day will need Spanish as the other language.

That’s right, Spanish. Which is like, diametrically opposed to Russian, since Russian is a Slavic language and Spanish is a Romance language *facepalmdesk* So if I decide undertake this project (which may or may not be plausible because I think departments like dissertations to focus on a very small and particular topic as opposed to a broader theme, especially in history; I must investigate this further), it would be wise to apply to the PhD program with some Spanish under my belt. So I could start this summer, why not.

Here’s where the dilemma comes in: I was planning on taking Italian this summer. I already have a certificate from my time at the University of Trento indicating that I completed the first beginner level of the language so I figured it would be great to continue, have some further knowledge of the language. Some of my Italian is still floating around in my head and there are times when I’m so close to blurting out in Italian so it should be no problem going back into that mode.

But it would be a disaster if I decide to pick up both languages at the same time. It would be more practical for me to pick up Spanish if the chances of me using it in academia is greater, not to mention it’s more widely spoke than Italian. On the other hand, I already started Italian and it would be a shame to not put that into good use.

I don’t know, what do you think? Which language would you pick up?

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