About the Blog of Ariphron

Ariphron was the name of the brother of the Athenian statesman Pericles in the fifth century BCE. (Their grandfather was also named Ariphron, and there were several other ancient figures with the same name.) I chose the name because I wanted something that would have been recognizable as a standard name in that period, and I liked the idea that Ariphron had close contact with famous people on an equal basis, even if he himself was not so famous.

Modern technology has transformed the possibilities for language learning. Languages that used to be unavailable or prohibitively difficult to learn due to lack of teachers, travel opportunities, or instructional materials can now be learned online with remote tutors, digitized books, and freely available audio-video materials. It seems to me that the trend of moving language learning out of the classroom and into online spaces is all to the good. Classrooms never were a great place to learn languages, except for preschool classrooms where children of linguistic minorities can become competent in the majority language. A major focus of this blog is to explore the use of computers and the Internet for self-directed language learning.

According to the story of the Tower of Babel, there was a time when any human could interact meaningfully with any other, and we became strong enough to rival God. The mutual intelligibility of our speech was then taken away, because this was necessary in order to weaken us. Today we are again building great things, dangerous things beside which the Tower of Babel was nothing, and confusion won’t save us. It is time to create a diverse, multilingual society so that each one of us can pool together the wisdom of different times and places.