Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You Ask, I Answer, Take 18

Today's You Ask, I Answer question comes from Johanna, who asked:

What languages do you speak, besides English?  What languages do you want to speak/learn, if you had the time/energy?

A very good question.

The answer to the first part is this:  I don't speak any languages other than English fluently.

As a product of the Canadian educational system, I have a very minimal command of French.  And by minimal, I mean that I can count to 49, say hello and goodbye, please and thank you, and recognize a few other words commonly found on signs or product labels (it's the law here- all product labels, and all signs in nationally governed areas such as national parks, are in both official languages.)

As a product of parents who spent time in South America, and two years of high school instruction, I also have a minimal command of Spanish.  In Spanish, I can basically say enough to communicate that I can't properly communicate.  I can understand a bit more than I can speak.  My Spanish is a bit better than my French, and while I wish I'd taken more in high school, I don't regret the decision to drop the language, given that the particular teacher was a fan of teaching via embarrassing her students, and after having been at her mercy in one year, (I had a wonderful teacher my first year), I was unwilling to allow that to continue!  Interestingly, a close friend of mine speaks Spanish as her first language and other friends speak quite fluently as their second language, so if I can just increase my vocabulary a bit, I'll have numerous people to practice with!

The answer to the second part of the question is a bit more complex!  I love language, and would love to devote some time to learning more.  I would most definitely begin with Spanish, since it's a language that I absolutely love, and that is spoken in many of the parts of the world that I'd love to travel to.  I would probably avoid any tonal languages (so most Asian languages are probably out) since I'm rather tone deaf and know I would struggle with them.  I'm fascinated by Hebrew, by Arabic, and others.  Italian, being closely related to Spanish, is also an enticing option.  I have friends who speak German, and I think that might be fun to learn someday.  I'm sort of of the opinion that any language you can add to your repertoire very much broadens your horizons and perspectives, and creates space within you for new things, so I definitely think that language is a worthy thing to tackle, and most definitely plan to turn my attention to Spanish in the near future!