On the Terror of Knowing Things

The greatest joy and terror in learning is that it is literally never-ending. Once you think you know something, there’s something else after that that you realize you don’t know and then you get to start over and repeat this cycle for all eternity.

I’ve begun to believe that learning a language is just like learning a person: an endless fountain of complexities that do not follow rules but simply have strong tendencies, ever evolving and growing and expanding.

And I have not one language I am supposed to be mastering, but three. Every time I crack upon a grammar to study, I fairly quickly become disgruntled and overawed by how much I am supposed to know and understand.

I understand why a lot of people give up on learning after college: it is utterly overwhelming sometimes. And things are often intentionally watered down to make them easier to learn, and once you’ve learned that, you get to set out on the onerous journey of learning how things actually are. Latin and Greek grammar textbooks are terrible in that regard.

Add on top of that the fact that I am also supposed to understand different genres and the linguistic tropes and vocabularies associated with each genre.

And all of this knowledge is within one hyper-specialized field that is only a tiny fraction of total knowledge of the world that exists.

I know nothing.

But at least I know that I know nothing.

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