Jim Jardine's Linguistic History Chart

I used to have ratings on this chart, but as language study and retention is truly a use-it-or-lose-it business, my self-rating was essentially meaningless and always out of date.  The years given are only a rough indicator of when I first started taking some active steps to learn something about the language.

I have also made an Excel chart that shows First Exposure, Classroom Study, Field Use, Travel Use, etc., but while this is interesting for my personal history it is not too useful for the general public.  To see a write-up on my random walk thru the world of foreign languages, see this page

Disclaimer:  I am a life-long language student.  I do not claim to be a professional interpreter, translator nor instructor.  I only hope that this page may encourage someone to think, "Say, yeah, it would be nice to add one to my list."

Language 1st Studied


English (native)

family, friends and grammar school teachers

Spanish 1948 found a book at home
French 1948 Mom's high school French book
German 1959 Instructor in Argentina
Italian 1959 Self starter
Latin 1959

Background for Romance languages

Russian 1960 Challenge to learn Cyrillic alphabet, read science articles
Portuguese 1961 Local radio broadcasts available in California
Dutch 1962 Yet another Teutonic cousin
Japanese 1966 A quantum leap expansion concept
Cantonese 1966 Expand the oriental languages
Danish 1968 Close to German and English, so why not?
Korean 1967 Just one more from the Far East
Greek 1973 I couldn't be a linguist without it
Swedish 1974 Working on filling the Germanic ranks
Mandarin 1978 Nixon went to the PRC in ' 72 and things were opening up
Farsi 1983 Working with an Iranian based group
Norwegian 1985 Working with a group of Norwegians
Finnish 1992 A cruise on the Baltic Sea
Czech 1995 A train trip thru Central Europe
Hungarian 1996    ditto
Polish 1996    ditto
Vietnamese 1996 Cruise to South-East Asia
Tagalog 1996    ditto
Arabic 1997 Trip to Middle East
Romanian 2005 Black Sea Cruise + adding another Romance language
Croatian 2005 Black Sea Cruise
Bulgarian 2006    ditto
Turkish 2006    ditto
Catalan 2007 Canary Island cruise + adding another Romance language
Papiamento 2008 Trip to Aruba
Afrikaans 2009 Trip to South Africa


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Last updated July, 2011. Comments or questions?