LANGUAGES – good for your brain

This has been known for centuries, “languages expand your brain”. [Or, as we say: “expand one’s horizon”.] New studies (University York at Toronto, Canada) have shown and proven that those who are at least bilingual in old age will show their first symptoms of Alzheimer and Dementia (if at all ) later than those with one single language (like English). [autres études l’Université d’Edinbourg et équipe indienne.] ]

There is also a correlation between widely traveling and thereby being exposed to other cultures and languages, and a healthier brain capacity. Besides the scientific implications of knowledge of several languages, not just one or two, there is also a practical side of this. When traveling, one who can communicate with the locals in another country often finds better deals and pays less. And finds new friends.

My own experiences: I traveled widely, several times to North Africa, Tunisia and Morocco. Besides Arabic, the primary language for visitors is French. Because tourists are highly appreciated income sources for the locals, taxi drivers will often drive you around to markets and stores belonging to one of their relatives. However, if you intended to go elsewhere, you never get there. Communicating in French helps tremendously, to somehow get (“out of there”). Mostly I used the public bus system, being the only European on this bus. Again, language knowledge helped ! When I spent one month in Marrakesh, Morocco, I met up with an Australian lady who always wanted me to tag along, to talk the Arab taxi drivers out of giving us the roundabout through the Souks.

Or, on another trip to several Caribbean islands, one was Saint-Martin, Sint Maarten [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Martin_(island) ]. Interesting, one of the few islands shared by two nations – The Netherlands and France. Since I speak also Dutch (and French), no problem. In fact I saved some money. Needed to take a taxi with a nice lady taxi driver, from Philipsburg NL to Saint-Martin, paying much less (then still French francs; today €), when I told her that I don’t have much money on me. While back at Saint-Martin, the American tourists complained about having to spend US$20 for a small taxi trip.

I made many friends in many countries, simply because of my language knowledge. Once, spending three months at the Côte dAzur , Mediterrean, in Cannes, France. First day on a walk met some Russians, who also spoke German (my mother tongue), and amazingly lived in the same city I was born in Germany. World is small indeed !

I do miss traveling a lot, since outbreak of that pandemic. Since 2018 the last time I made a one month trip to Mexico.