Started my Spanish class last Tuesday. As soon as I sat down, I realized that I had brought neither pen, pencil nor paper, which is not an indication that I am a digital native so much as a marker of how long it’s been since I’ve been in a classroom.
While calling roll my new professor suggested Spanish names for us based on our actual names. I was delighted when he chose Rosa for me – it has the same old lady ring as Ruth but with a Hispanic flourish that brings to mind a cute little abuela. My eighth grade French name was Sabine, and I’ve taken to imagining her as Rosa’s sex kitten granddaughter with a heart of gold. Who knew language classes could breed multiple personality disorder.
We didn’t learn much on Tuesday beyond phonetics and the three regular verb forms, but I’m already overwhelmed by the effort of translating everything from English to French to Spanish. Really hoping I can cut out the middleman at some point soon, but for now it’s like I have a little troll living under the language bridge demanding a ransom every time I want to cross to the other side.
Here is one interesting and encouraging thing I learned on Tuesday:
Spanish is a phonetic language, which means there are hard and fast rules for pronouncing vowels and diphthongs (two vowels strung together). English is not, because there is no one way to pronounce its various vowel sounds. For example, some people pronounce aunt like ant and some like ahnt. And ough sounds different in though and cough. In Spanish each vowel or diphthong sounds the same no matter how a word is constructed. As my teacher said, Spanish is a new system for us, but at least it’s a uniform one.
Now all I have to do is learn how to make the various sounds and then memorize them. Hahahahha, it’s going to be a humbling few months.