Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spanish, Modified

Given the content of that last post and my mood today, I think I should probably clarify the limits of my language. Today, I'm tired of Spanish, I'm tired of the animation, I'm tired of... you get it, I'm sure.

Living between two languages is exhausting. Literally exhausting. Last night I listened to a whole bunch of presentations by ex-Fulbrighters from Spain, who had studied in the United States. The presentations were long and in (unreasonably) rapid Spanish. Fascinating as it was, at a certain point, the will to live becomes... optional... not to mention the will to pay attention and make sense of the torrent of verbal whatever-you-call-it raining down on you.

If only it had been a conversation instead! You see, in most conversations, it is possible to interact effectively by relying on inferences. The animation I mentioned above? It's a blessed thing. I can usually guess what my compadre is talking about and how s/he feels about it, or what a word means, and respond accordingly. And when that fails, context! (Dear Students, if you happen to be reading this, may I recommend polishing these two techniques for life? They will take you far... especially on, say, EOI TESTS.... relevance and real-world application, right here).

But then there are days like today. (Again, if you're one of my students, ignore the fact that that sentence began with 'but.' You are NOT allowed to do that until you have a high school diploma!) Days like today render my best efforts nearly futile. I rarely shake my head and declare, "No entiendo," because I can usually ask about a word instead and figure the rest out, but that was a lost cause today. But, bless those Spaniards, they started all over again for me and explained the basic ideas again, and we were off and rolling... mostly. But mostly it was just sloughing through and wondering vaguely which idiot Babylonian decided it was a good idea to build a skyscraper, and then realizing I had lost the conversation again. Alas, the best of intentions... foiled.

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