Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Day 331 of 365: On The Cusp

Imagine this scenario: you're in the car and you just changed the station on the radio. The song sounds completely unfamiliar -- in fact, it's noise at first -- and, just before you finally recognize the song and start detecting melody, you have a moment where you know you should know the song, but you can't stop hearing the song as if it's incoherent noise.

That's me and Spanish right now.

I talk a lot about learning Spanish. I've had a love of the language for quite some time (fun fact: once upon a time, when my husband and I first started dating, he started talking to his grandma on the phone in Spanish, and I immediately was like, "Well, how you doin'? Someone's stock just went up in my eyes.") and leaving the time-consuming and spirit-draining world of teaching gave me the time and energy to finally dive in and maybe -- just maybe -- get to the same level as my husband (who I guess was once fluent but, over time, the fluency has dwindled down to a fundamental understanding).

I'm obsessed with language to begin with. If I ever go back to school (for a non-career-related-field like physical therapy or kinesiology, but that's a talk for another time), I would love to dive deeper into the world of semantics and linguistics, because it is just that cool. I'm obsessed with Sapir-Whorf and I'm fascinated with the idea of how a different language -- how a different sentence structure -- affects thought. For example, the passive voice is a lot more common and acceptable in Spanish than it is in English; Spanish also uses a lot more reflexive verbs and pronouns. How would small changes in a language that -- for all intents and purposes -- has an identical grammatical structure to English affect all the little ways one thinks?

In a perfect world, I would master Spanish and go on to one of the big guns, like Mandarin (because part of me still lives in a Firefly world where everyone speaks a weird English-Mandarin hybrid), just to see how different things can be. Of course, in this perfect world, I'm running the Chicago Marathon this year and not nursing a strained tendon and locking right knee (that might put me out of the running for the Boston Half Marathon as well ... no pun intended), so take that as you will.

Getting back into Spanish lessons after a week off was tough. It doesn't matter that my husband and I attempted (key word: attempted) to talk to each other in Spanish during our roadtrip (although I can say, "Qué digas?" like a motherfucker), it felt like turning rusty gears just to get a simple lesson in (and don't even get me started on reading a CNN article in Spanish). But I genuinely want this language under my belt. Aside from the superfluous reasons (which also includes a "teach yoga abroad" program in many Spanish-speaking countries and territories), I would love for my hypothetical kids to experience Spanish outside of their grandmother (and hopefully great-grandparents) talking to them. Like any white suburban first worlder, I would love for my kids to grow up immersed in multi-lingualism.

So, the same way you have to keep listening to the song in order to recognize it, I have to keep plugging away. Because there is no SoundHound for learning Spanish.

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