My Relationship with Spanish

I wish I were more fluent in Spanish. Not only am I in love with the language, but it would make translation so much easier. Yet can you ever be fluent in a language other than your native tongue?

For example: the word ‘dichoso’ I found defined as ‘happy’ and ‘dammed’ I was confused, but assumed it was an auto-antonym. I thought this for months, until I finally got around to talking to a native speaker, and within a minute of explaining my perceived definition it was explained that the word meant ‘fortunate’ and the definition meaning damned was actually not in there as the speaker being subject to some sort of curse, but in the sense of ‘that damned book!’ Unfortunately I did not know this and have undoubtedly made a fool of myself in front of anyone who reads those older translations. Not my best move.

It’s not that I’m terrible at Spanish, but I can sense the gaps in vocabulary like a child can sense they’re being left out while adults spell out words. I have never liked that feeling, hence why I learned how to spell P I Z Z A early on in my youth. (Incidentally, that word is spelled the same in both English and Spanish. The more you know).

I started learning Spanish when I was only 5. My elementary school used to have weekly Spanish classes for every grade, and while that was nice while it lasted, it stopped after my year in kindergarten. I had the option to be put in the two-way program, but I was passed up because I had ‘no aptitude for the language’. In reality, I had no aptitude for that teacher. I thought she was annoying, so I failed on purpose. What can I say? 5-year-old me was petty and had no concept of consequences.

It wasn’t until the 6th grade that I started another Spanish class, and at that point I had forgotten almost everything except how to make a trill. We don’t have them in English, but trills are awesome. One of my favorite party tricks is to trill while humming ‘Hedwig’s Theme.’ That and chest isolations while dancing are my best selling points while trying to convince people of my awesomeness.

After 6th grade and memorizing Ciega, Sordomuda I went to the Middlebury Monterey Language Academy (now called Middlebury Interactive Languages) and did 4 weeks of language immersion. My Spanish skills went up, and up again when I returned to Middlebury after 7th grade. In high school I skipped a year in Spanish and my junior year I was slated to take the AP course for Spanish, only to switch to a school that had no Spanish classes. In college I started at a fairly low level because I had the hubris to take the exam at 2am. In any case, my Spanish skills have taken a while to catch up because I was starting at such a low level again. I’ve finally worked my way back to the top, but vocabulary gets me every time.

This summer I am going to the Middlebury Language Schools, so I will hopefully learn more there. That said, it will be 7 weeks of no English, so I will most likely be creating posts in advance, or just writing them in Spanish and translating them back to English once the 7 weeks are up.

In the meantime, classes are done at Brandeis, so finals are about to hit me hard. I’ll make a new post as soon as I finish and/or when I get stressed out from working on things and want to use this blog as a pre-draft of my reflection papers.



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