Through a fortunate accident, a love of language was rekindled last year. In the search for one last humanities course to make a complement, I stumbled across Spanish 101. My experience with High School Spanish was a positive one; after four years, I was comprehending with ease. Now, a chance to refresh and further my studies had presented itself, and I ran through the open door with alacrity. A chance to experience a new culture, a new way of life...
A new set of words.
Words. They are what set us apart from all the other life-forms on the planet. They tear down, they build up. They can destroy a marriage, they can make peace between tribes. Everything began with a word, and all will find its terminus in a spoken breath.
On a recent trip to France, I had the good fortune to make a friend in the Cathedral town I was visiting. Oddly enough, he was cleaning the cathedral. We made fast friends, even though the words passing our lips were just vague husks of communication. Too wide a gap existed between us for any meaningful verbal exchanges, so we did the best pantomime we could, until our meanings struck home. Which happened one out of every five attempts to speak. This encounter gave me pause. Here is man, with the same general appearance: a bipedal creature with bilateral symmetry. Each human looks equivalent to all the others, with differences no greater than one's relative position to the equator. And yet, the lack of understanding of a common language will separate us instantaneously.
With this experience a burning impetus, I endeavor, with the last two months of Summer, to learn as much as I can about two languages:
French: To expose myself to basic French, I am using a Living Language course by Random House. This is a set of CD's with a textbook included. The grammar is very similar between Spanish and French; the grave gulf between the two is pronunciation. With the aid of the CD's, I hope to beat my mouth muscles into submission until the pleasant sounds of the French tongue come through with greater clarity.
So come along for the ride. I anticipate a post every other day, and I will be posting my general thoughts and natural blogs as well. Soak them up, offer criticism, mold me into a blogger which can express your thoughts as well as my own.
And, happy learning!