The key to deciphering this famous stone was that its text was the same passage written out three times in different languages. And once you know how to read the classical Greek and the Demotic Egyptian bits, understanding the once-indecipherable hieroglphics come easy. If, you know, you're a scholar of ancient languages and you are good at sticking with this sort of thing.
Me, I've spent the past weekend trying to decipher my own kind of Rosetta Stone. The computer software version of Italian Levels I and II.
I'd heard it was a very good program to learn languages because it follows a sort of immersion process, the same way a child would learn a language. It doesn't translate the vocabulary for you, it doesn't provide a list of grammar rules to follow, it just assumes you are reasonably attentive and can figure out what's going on in the little pictures.
It's FANTASTIC! It's addictive in that 'I'm-playing -a-video-game-and-must reach-the-next-level' sort of way. I wish, I wish, I wish I'd had this before travelling to Italy.
So, anyway, a few of my friends and I were recently talking about goal-setting, and what really happens if you are serious about doing something. But what goal to set? That is the question. Because these things take time and energy.
But here's a worthwhile goal: learn a second language. Maybe Italian because it's a beautiful language. Maybe French, because after all I'm supposed to know it already....I'm tired of being one of those Canadians who took French in school but is too embarrassed to speak the few phrases she knows when faced with an actual French-speaking person. (My poor French friend Edith did her best but I distinctly remember freezing up when introduced to her mom who only spoke French.
Yes, I can forsee acquiring the French version of the Rosetta Stone sometime soon....
And best of all, I recently read an article that has really encouraged me to try harder: it explained that it's a myth that adults are not able to learn a second language as well a child can. It's a rather discouraging belief for grown-ups who feel like trying after all.
Children do pick up new words and language quickly of course, but adults have the advantages of learning context and grasping grammar faster. The barrier to adults learning languages is mainly the embarrassment of making mistakes, not an innate inability past a certain age.
It's a relief, right? As long as I don't mind talking funny, I can do this thing. In theory.