Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why Not To Study Spanish

From the now defunct Kessler List (Jun. 18, 2010) on linguistics and philology:

Why Not To Study Spanish
By James Kessler
1. Very little of value has been written in Spanish. On the typical occidental Great Books reading list, only one piece of literature, Don Quixote, makes the cut. Minor languages, like Icelandic or Gaelic, have produced more enduring works of literature.
2. American students who have studied Spanish (as a foreign language) on average score around 100 points lower on the verbal portion of the SAT than do students who have studied other languages. For instance, in 2009, students who previously studied Latin scored on average 676 on the verbal portion of the SAT; students of French, 631; students of German, 630; students of Hebrew, 619; and students of Spanish, 557. The average 2009 SAT verbal score of students who previously studied Spanish was over 100 points lower than the average score of students who previously studied Latin. (See chart below.)
3. Very few peer-reviewed journals (e.g. in mathematics, physics, the sciences, classical philology, etc.) are written in Spanish. More journals are in French and German than in Spanish.
4. Unless one wants to pursue a career in landscaping or move to Mexico, there is very little practical advantage to learning Spanish and multiple intellectual advantages to studying other languages. Most Spanish speakers around the world are uneducated (e.g. the Amerindian / Mestizo populations of the New World), reinforcing Spanish's lowbrow aura. Most (Amerindian/Mestizo-dominated) Spanish-speaking countries have low average IQs (e.g. Equador, 80; Guatemala, 79; Mexico, 87; Puerto Rico, 84); whereas French and German-speaking countries have high average IQs (e.g. Austria, 102; Belgium, 100; France, 98; Germany, 102, and Switzerland, 101). To study a language in part is to study and mimic the people who speak it. The question then is whether one wants to emulate a low-IQ people or a high-IQ people. By Studying Spanish, one will imitate those of lower IQs.
5. Having been influenced by Arabic in Spain and Amerindian languages in the New World, Spanish in many respects is the least European of (IE) European languages. Today only a small minority of Spanish speakers are European or of the European Diaspora. Most Spanish speakers today are Amerindian, Mestizo or Mulatto -- not that this is a problem but if one wants to learn a language fully representative of traditional Western folkways then Spanish is not the best choice.
6. Historically, English has been most influenced by German, Latin and French. In terms of refining one's understanding of English etymology and grammar, it is more beneficial for native English speakers to study German, Latin and French. The foundation of a traditional upper-class education for native English speakers has always consisted of German, Latin and French.
7. Just because many Spanish speakers are present in the U.S., it is unnecessary for most Americans to learn to learn Spanish. History is replete with examples of the ruling class refusing to learn the language of foreign migrant workers and instead learning a more refined language (e.g. the Greeks, Ptolemies, Romans, Habsburgs, etc.).
8. Too many Americans already study Spanish. People need to diversify and study other languages.
9. Spanish is not an inflected language. To facilitate a deeper understanding of grammar, students are better served by studying an inflected language like German or Latin.
Caveat: Of course, if one is of an Amerindian, Mestizo or Spanish background, then there would be ancestral reasons for learning Spanish. (Likewise, people of Irish ancestry should be compelled to learn Gaelic; people of Russian ancestry, Russian; etc.) For all other people, there are few legitimate reasons for studying Spanish. See above. Ancestral considerations outweigh all others.

[N.B. Hyperlinks are mine, not Kessler's.]

Further Reading:

Gregory Cochran: "Zones of Thought"

Thomas Carter: "What Race Are Hispanics?"

Jason Collins:  "Immigration Externalities"

Faces of the World's Races

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