Sunday, January 15, 2006

Yo Hablo Español

I've been trying to finish up this biography of Alexander Hamilton. I've really been enjoying it, although it has been a really dense, slow read. There are an incredible amount of revolutionary-era historical facts, so many that I have had to stop and think about them each in turn, marveling at how much was missing from high school history.

Now that I've actually finished it (ok, honestly I have about ten pages to go) I can work on one of my original intellectual goals for this month: refresh my Spanish language skills.

They are downright dismal.

I remember bits and pieces. Fragments of the language float around in my memory: simple sentences about how little I understand Spanish, mostly bob to the surface. This is not surprising as I learned all of this when I was in high-school (and quit before I was a senior). That's a little over ten years ago, for those of you who have no idea how old I am.

Really, the way I see it, I just need to refresh my memory on how to conjugate verbs and a few phrases in order to get a hotel room or a meal. Anything else, I think I can get out of my phrase book. On top of that, I just need a bit of courage to say things, well anything, really, to people. The toughest thing is getting over that fear of saying something stupid in a foreign language.

Of course, given that my Spanish is dismal, I'm sure to say something really stupid. When I was in China, I was unable to pronounce anything, which really had me not trying to say anything after a while. The key was that I tried. Same deal with French, although my pronunciation was a little better (so I never really gave up with that one). With Spanish, I may have more of a barrier to speak in that I think I should know more. A few days there, and I'll probably be OK.

Now preventing myself from saying something stupid, that's another story altogether. I have enough trouble with that in English...

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