Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Old dogs, new tricks

On Thursday we begin Spanish lessons. If the Carribean and Latin America are going to continue to be part of our lives from now on - and it seems they are - then it only seems polite to learn the language of your hosts when you're guests in their country.

I remember when cobbling together a few phrases for our trip to Cuba I came upon this gem in my Latin American Spanish Phrasebook: "It helps to know a little French".

"It most certainly does not!" I actually said aloud. As someone who reads and writes French and can stumble along in conversation, I find the differences between French and Spanish to be what frequently trips me up about the latter. I constantly find myself stumbling over "yo" - "you" is you, and "vous" is you, and "tu" is you, and shouldn't "yo" be you, too, and not me? "Me" is me, and "moi" is me. "Yo" can't be me. Doesn't make sense.

Fortunately a friend who is fluent in several languages turned me on to a website that has really helped with both my French and my Spanish. It's total one-stop-shopping for English/French/Spanish/Italian translation, and is particularly useful when I'm writing in French and trying to figure out how a particular phrase is translated.

Meanwhile, Husband (who is the instigator behind the Spanish class - I said, "You already speak three languages, whaddya tryin' to do? Become a cunning linguist?") has begun scouring the websites and newspaper ads looking for his next opportunity to steal away from the Canadian winter to his heart's second home, Cuba. I don't know about this Old Dog but I suppose he'll be chatting up the barmaids in passable Spanish by January. (There's even a Spanish book club in town run by the NB Latino Association - but reading whole books in Spanish and then discussing them is a pretty ambitious goal! I know a couple of people who don't speak Spanish well who essentially use the class as a conversation class, though.)

Old dogs. New tricks! We'll see :)



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