Monday, January 17, 2011

As They Say

A strange thing happened this evening.

It had been a somewhat tedious day, and I was curled up on the couch, entirely absorbed in a novel, Little Bee, which I picked up on a whim at Washington Dulles. (It's quite good, by the way - haven't finished but I'm pretty sure I'd recommend it.) As an English major, I overdosed on reading, and it has only recently returned to be the escape I used to know. So there I sat, oblivious to the world around me.

Suddenly, a shriek from Encarna (mother) broke into my reverie, and startled, I paused to listen in. Apparently, the Italian prime minister got busted for some philandering. I shook my head, vowed to figure out a formula for predicting such outbursts (for example, volume = drama + age x number of bystanders), and went back to my book.

And then it hit me. I had just crossed seamlessly from English to Spanish and back again without even noticing the difference. Somewhere along the way, I had departed from my customary three-step translation tango (cumbersome and inefficient at best), and was now co-existing in a strange world somewhere in between my sweet, beloved English and my new, amorous Spanish (which, if you care to know, I equate with a big bad biker man). Husband and lover, perhaps?

It is a strange place to be, that is certain, and it is treacherous to be sure, for I'm finding that words dessert me at random -- in both languages. As in bad football, lots of fumbles. The analogies are endless... and patience is limited. Besides, it isn't that impressive, just strange. Most of my students at home cross these lines hundreds of times a day. But it's a new one for me and presents a question with no answer as of yet: what in the world do you do with so many words (temperamental words, at that!)? That is my question.

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