Transparent Language Blog

Nothing in Moderation Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in Archived Posts

Itchy Feet: Sweet Tooth

You’ve got to hand it to the Moroccans – or Algerians, or Tunisians, or pretty much anyone from any of the other Maghrebi (Northwest African) countries – they know a good thing when they see it, and they decide to have as much of it as humanly possible. In this case, we’re talking about sugar. Yes, their teeth may fall out, and yes, the rate of type 2 diabetes may have seen a dramatic increase in the Middle East over the past few decades, but dammit, they’re going to enjoy their tea. I’ve known Moroccan mint tea to be so sweet that I can actually feel my teeth squeaking afterwards.

This may tell you that this is a society woefully unprepared for the long-term effects of sugary diets, but Americans and Germans consume far more sugar (by a factor of nearly ten times) and we still haven’t learned our lesson, so why should the Maghrebi? What this tells me is that these folks don’t worry about moderation, because who knows what tomorrow will bring?

And this is what sugar intake has to do with learning new languages: moderation is for suckers. Do you have an addiction to the sugary-sweet taste of new vocabulary? Do you pine after the saccharine sensation of communicating with others for the first time? Do you see every chart of proper preposition use and list of verb ending exceptions throbbing with the puckering, addictive tang of aspartame?

Good! Keep at it, because moderation is for suckers.

Like an addiction to broccoli or piling as much Vitamin C into your water glass as possible, there’s nothing wrong with binging on learning new languages. You can only increase your mental capacity and usefulness to society. There are no ill-effects, either, not even the anti-social tendencies that plague other obsessives of academic pursuits – language learning is by definition social!

So tear open that book of grammar drills like a packet of ultra-sweet sugar substitute, pour it into your brain and swirl it around with the spoon of learning! The more the better! If your teeth are clattering, your mouth is dry and your nerves are ready to leap out of your skin, you’re doing it right! The Maghrebi don’t moderate their sugar intake, so why should you moderate your language learning?!

…I think I just miss Moroccan mint tea.

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About the Author: Malachi Rempen

Malachi Rempen is an American filmmaker, author, photographer, and cartoonist. Born in Switzerland, raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he fled Los Angeles after film school and expatted it in France, Morocco, Italy, and now Berlin, Germany, where he lives with his Italian wife and German cat. "Itchy Feet" is his weekly cartoon chronicle of travel, language learning, and life as an expat.

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