I wonder about those who learn a language for practical reasons rather than for itself. It is boring to know. The only thing of interest is learning.
…An exciting game, a coquettish hide-and-seek, a magnificent flirt with the spirit of humanity. Never do we read so fluently and with such keen eyes as in a hardly known, new language. We grow young by it, we become children, babbling babies and we seem to start a new life. This is the elixir of my life.
…Sometimes I think of it with a certain joy that I can even learn Chinese at my ancient age and that I can recall the bygone pleasure of childhood when I first uttered in the superstitious, old language “mother,” and I fall asleep with this word: “milk.”
—Dezső Kosztolányi from the story “I read in Portuguese” in Our Strong Fortress, Language, quoted in Kató Lomb, Polyglot: How I Learn Languages [Download PDF]