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I listen to Spanish audiobooks in my car day to day. It gives me some kind of peace and the stories I listen to obviously fulfill me. I am a Spanish Australian. The blood running through my veins is Spanish to the last drop but I was born, grew up  (with frequent visits back to Spain) and was educated in Australia. I have always associated family, home and safety with the Spanish language that my parents have always spoken to me in. Although I speak English significantly better (because of the Australian education) I prefer listening to Spanish of which I understand fluently.

I am biased no doubt because of my heritage and my parents have always been proud Spaniards but I do feel like Spanish is a more passionate and raw language to listen to. When I listen to the story in Spanish it seems to intensify the descriptions for me simply because of the language. Whether or not it really makes an impact for others doesn’t really matter because I am not trying to prove anything. Instead I am simply trying to share a thought I had.

I was listening to Dime quién soy by Julia Navarro (which I am enjoying at the moment) when I heard a phrase; Amelia rompió a llorar. This simply means in English – Amelia broke into tears. Being an avid reader often I read over repeated descriptions paying little attention to it. But when I listen to it in Spanish I don’t skim over these words but instead the imagery comes to life, like I was hearing it for the first time. Within the context of the scene my mind instantly provided me with  this beautiful Spanish youth literally shattering, fracturing, breaking into tears. Her fragile body transforming into millions of tear droplets exploding from the impact of the news received. If it wasn’t because it was in Spanish my mind would have pushed it aside with a shrug and continued on with the story.

I think that is the beauty of knowing another language of which I hope to add a third, Dutch. You interpret passages differently, a whole new world of languge opens up and you notice patterns amongst words. Latin roots and such. I find it absolutely fascinating (and probably slightly geeky) that the exact same phrase can have a different feel in a different language and how there are words that cannot be translated from certain languages. The Greek language has something like 5 words for the English word love. I know Spanish has two, querer (friends/family) and amar (romantic). I am dazzled thinking that the Greek language has so many and I wonder ‘wow how?’ and then I know people think ‘wow two words for love’ when I mention Spanish. The knowledge of multiple languages is amazing and it’s a skill that will always be highly revered.

I remember a classmate in Year 8 speaking about learning Japanese and how she loved gaining a second language. She described it as fields of light. One language is one shade. The more languages you obtain the further depths of colour and light you will be able to experience. It is something difficult to describe but at that moment I absolutely understood what she meant. If only I knew more. If only I could fill my mind with more language colours, rich tones and eternal shades.

Ermisenda Alvarez

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