For some reason, I've been itching to learn a new language lately.
Over the last year, I've been gradually getting my Latin back in use, by trying to use as much liturgical Latin as possible. (Reading the text of the mass in Latin while hearing it in English, reading the Office in Latin, using a devotional of Latin prayers by Thomas Aquinas, etc. My Latin is still a bit rusty, but it's gradually coming back. I'm pretty decent at remembering grammar, it's always vocabulary that's been why weak point. So regular use within the limited vocabulary of liturgical Latin is gradually building a (small) vocabulary back up for me.
My Greek, I fear, is still mostly rusting. Occasionally I pull out an old Greek text, or look up a passage in the New Testament, but the fact is that it's rusting. I have sitting patiently in my Amazon wish list a pair of introductory Homer books, which given that I never got the chance to do Homer in college, and I've got so rusty in the meantime, is probably what I need. (Pharr's Homeric Greek: A Book for Beginners and Reading Course in Homeric Greek: Book One)
So the logical thing would be to make a push on Greek, and I intend to that eventually, but for some reason I feel the urge to try something new. Specifically, a language which is not fully a dead language, and which has a different alphabet. Plus, if I'm going to learn a living language, it seems interesting to learn one that has some geo-political relevance, just in case marketing analysts go out of fashion in favor of intelligence analysts and soldiers. (Never hurts to be prepared...)
So three obvious languages occur to me: Arabic, Persian and Russian
There's kind of a romantic appeal to Arabic or Persian. The alphabets are more different. Persian would be an interesting variant on the Indo-European language family, and Arabic presents a chance to learn a Semitic language. And I've had a particular interest in the Middle East for quite some time. (I looked into majoring in Islamic Studies, but couldn't find a decent department at a college I had any interest in going to.)
On the other hand, there's more language I'd be interested to read in Russian: Chekov, Dostoyevsky, Gogol, and Pushkin. And from a business point of view, there's probably much more utility in knowing Russian: Everyone seems to think that Brazil, China and Russia are the business frontiers, but no one really wants to go where Arabic and Persian are spoken. And, of course, there's various Orthodox stuff in Russian.
So, anyone out there with experience with any of these three (or a dark horse recommendation) who has an interesting and weighing in? And does anyone have textbook recommendations? (Being a classics type, I think I'm looking for a Wheelock style text which starts out with tables of declensions and conjugations, rather than having you learn to say "Where is the bathroom" and "I am looking for a good hotel" phonetically.)
So far the possibilities I've identified are: