Wednesday, October 9, 2013

21 Days: Day 7-Rediscovering Language

I love languages. When I was little, I always wanted to be one of those people who could speak multiple languages, but my time in French class seemed wasted, so I assumed they just weren't my thing.

Fast forward about two decades, and I found out I do have an aptitude for language...that is when I have lots of exposure. I can't just sit down with a vocab list and absorb (horrid memory). I have to interact. Making that effort to interact has put me in some strange, and educational situations. It takes people a few seconds of hearing me speak Spanish to realize I'm not native (about until I start tripping over conjugations)...what that means, is that I can just walk up to a Spanish speaker (who also speaks English) here in Florida, and instantly become a part of a different circle in their lives...usually until they realize I'm American. That's the funny thing about language...sharing a language implies a certain level of understanding and intimacy, and in Spanish, in a country where it is common, but still the language of the minority, I'm frequently rejected as an outsider. It's not like Chinese or Japanese, where I'm a novelty regardless of location and a few well pronounced words almost always earns instant fascination and camaraderie.

BJJ though, has created relationships where speaking Spanish is just the next natural step in genuine friendship...something beyond me forcing myself into a culture that's not my own. There is trust, so my efforts to communicate come from a desire to understand.

And then there's Portuguese. After the scars and lessons of completely failing at Japanese (joseigo...really?), I limited my studies to only the three most commonly spoken in the world and I was satisfied. But then came omoplatas and all things boa and I heard the mystery again. A strange one this time though, because, thanks to Portuguese sharing a linguistic parent with Spanish, spoken, I understand very little, though I read my instructor's FB messages to close friends and family with relative ease. Training BJJ has made me consider breaking my language vows...I mean...who knows what awesome tips I could be missing out on. 

4 comments: said...

I really like your blog series. I might steal the idea. It's interesting to me! And - ooh I have enough time if I start today!!

Megan said...

21 days for all!!

Jon said...

I found my way here by way of Julia. This is such a great concept. I'm going to completely steal it and start my own "21 Days" when I return from vacation, with all due credit given of course.

Megan said...

Hi Jon!

It's a great concept that I've used for other things...I've been inconsistent here though:(