Posts Tagged bilingual

My Sad Failure with Language

I’m SO envious of people who speak more than one language…and no, Pig Latin does not count.

Acquiring a second language has been a goal of mine for a long time but I’ve made abysmal progress. This is primarily because, well…I’m lazy.

Don’t you even tell me to learn Spanish ’cause “it’s so easy”. That’s just nonsense. I’ve been down THAT road.

Visit the link to hear spoken Tlingit.

Outside of the naughty words, nothing much has stuck.

I had limited success with Latin (mostly forgotten other than obscure phrases which pop into my mind at inappropriate moments).

I enjoyed slighter better achievement levels with Russian (don’t ask me now, other than odd words like biblioteca and spasiba…nada left to curl off the tongue).

There’ve been others – too numerous and awful to list.

Navajo and Tlingit friends still try to get me to pronounce words just so they can laugh at my expense. That happens with ANY tonal language, thank you very much. I’m from Missouri, dipthongs are our specialty.

It’s not surprising that I did well in American Sign Language…because, well duh, it’s not verbal. I got pretty good at finger spelling, as long as you weren’t in a hurry, but don’t ask me to read sign because I never did that practice-in-a-mirror thing.

I actually had a deaf guy ask me once if I was stupid or just slow. It took me forever to figure out each letter he signed and he laughed his ass off the entire time.

Yeah, we’re still friends.

Which brings me to my dilemma: exactly how much vocabulary makes you functional in another language?

Is it the number of words or is it the ability to make your meaning understood?

I’m going with making myself understood because then I can include kinesics and motions and foot stamping and all that other good stuff that helps me to communicate with others when we don’t share the same words.

My DA (that’s Diabolical Aunt for those of you who’ve been inattentive) got ALL the language genes on this side of the family. She can spout fluently in multiple tongues – probably at the same time.

I flounder alone in my single poorly articulated murmurings of watered-down American English.

I am not bitter.

Am not.

Tags: language, linguistics, American Sign Language, ASL, signing

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