Saturday, March 13, 2004

como una mariposa... 

...flitter...flutter...lots of randomness ensuing...

What happened in Spain is terrifying...I hate to say "9/11", but it did bring me back through the stages
::Oh My G-d, that can't have really happened
::It can't be as bad as they think
::It is as bad, it's worse, it's horrible
::Who would do such a thing?/ Is everybody I know okay?

We have family living in a suburb of Madrid, and although it was unlikely that my sister in law would choose to take her two kids into the city at the height of rush hour, I was still relieved to get her e-mail letting everybody know they were okay and not to worry.
Not to worry!?!-- They're moving to Bahrain in two months, I guess we'll save our worry for then.

Bah, bah, bah, bahbahbahrain,
you got me rockin' and a rollin',
rockin' and a reelin' Bahbahrain!

We were really looking forward to visiting them in Spain, I'm not sure we can muster the same enthusiasm for Bahrain, even for to see this cheeky little monkey:

My sister in law's husband has been in Russia for a week a month for a while, and they were going to move there but the company decided to send them to Bahrain instead, which as Jessica (my SIL) said, "better repression than lawlessness."
Which is right enough, especially considering that in Bahrain at least they'll be living on a company compund, so she won't even have to observe local dress code unless she leaves the compound. It'll be like a little expat country of it's own, like military bases all over the world are little mini-USAs.
If you don't leave the base, you could be anywhere, or anywhere with quonset huts, anyway.

Coincidentally, I've been visiting "old folk's homes"/"geriatric facilities" lately for a volunteer project (the PET program) for the Helen Woodward Animal Center (an incredible Center, just huge and full of worthy causes, click on my link to Animeals if you want to learn more) and one woman at one of the homes only speaks Russian.
Pardon my enthusiasm, but:
I love languages!

I know you probably can't tell with my messy syntax-awkward/incorrect grammar-generally blah writing, but I love learning about modes of communication.
If I could live a million lifetimes and didn't have to worry about eating, I would live in every country and learn every language. I have a language acquisition wish-list a mile-long.
Spanish, French, Japanese, Arabic, German, American Sign Language, Cantonese, Mandarin, Swahili, Zulu, Afrikaans, Esperanto, Portuguese, Italian, Tzotsil Maya, Tzeltal Maya, and USA Republican English, a language so potent that apparently you can call someone (or rather a whole lot of someones who believe in a different prophet than you do) an "evil-doer" and label them as part of an "axis of evil" and thus be justified in blowing billions of dollars to bomb the shit out of their civilians. I think it's some sort of hypnotist language, but I'm not sure how it works.

[Anybody out there an X-Files fan? Remember "The Pusher?" The guy who could make you do things just by repeating your name and telling you what you saw/what to do?]

Anyway, I'd like to be able to at least say to this woman, "Hello." "How are you?" "My name is Wendy." "Would you like to pet the bunny?" [you perverts out there, it's a real bunny I'm talkin' about!] "Thank you." "Goodbye."

So I checked some Russian language all-audio tapes out of the library and it's been slow going. But it was all worth-while when I got to how you say "how" in Russian:
Cock. Cock. Cock. Cock!
The tape had me repeat it many times, despite the fact it was the simplest word we'd learned so far. I couldn't stop giggling.

I've also been listening to Japanese CDs, and it is amazing the difference in mouth shapes one makes. According to the CD, the FFF/phhh sound in Japanese is much softer, where English speakers make the sound by blowing air through the mouth with the upper teeth touching the lower lip, according to the CDs, never the twain shall meet. I guess it's more of a back of the mouth sound, involving the lip and blowing out of air, but...well, I'm still working on it.

But my first linguistic love is Spanish. I am still a long way from fluent, but I know enough to make a total ass of myself (just like in English) and I'm really excited that the San Diego Latino Film Festival started on Thursday and goes until the 21st.

I went Friday, and saw a comedy entitled "Uno de Dos" which they translated as "One or the Other." One of the biggest barriers to being fluent is "the idiomatic expression." Think about all the things we say in English that don't make real literal sense, or the conversational things we say which aren't grammatically correct but are just the way we say things.

It was an enjoyable movie, about a pair of twin sisters who have always been together, always rejoiced in being the same but still yearn to have something of their own. Cue "handsome" naïve rancher, mix in the sisterly instinct of sharing, et voila! aquí se tiene una comedia...

I found myself torn between listening and reading though, since it had subtitles. On the one hand, I wanted to test myself, on the other hand I wanted to follow any nuances, in both hands, I wanted to see these expressions and somewhat interesting constructions in action--and TRY to remember them for later use!

In another language the way of thinking about language is different even from one's own and sometimes the most mundane expressions cannot be expressed as one would expect in the literal way (perhaps because they are used every day, it is just one of those things absorbed by the culture). And because what we view as an everyday way of expressing something is ("duh" way of saying something coming up) a foreign way in another language.

I love how some things are so much shorter in Spanish: por ejemplo, cuñado/cuñada, suegra, madrasta...
(for example, brother in law/sister in law, mother in law, stepmother...don't they sound prettier and a little less antagonitic in Spanish? [koo-nyah-doh/koo-nyah-dah, sway-grah, mah-drah-stah, ephasis on penultimate syllables] Although you can certainly spin it with snottiness, si quieres.
On the other hand, some things are much longer, the only example I can think of right now being the lack of possessive apostrophes (the bane of English grammar hounds anyway in their perpetual misuse/confusion with contractions etc.) so whenever something is someone's, it "of" them: "Maria's cow" becomes "the cow of Maria." Which is an option in English, but many choose to go the slightly shorter way, so often that to say it the other way sounds antiquated and stilted. Or like you are a non-native speaker. ;)

Reason #132 why I am looking forward to next month's trip to Oaxaca:

Mmmmm...Monte Alban mescal con gusano, (mescal with worm) do it like a tequila shot and let that pinetarrish aftertaste warm your insides right up!

I actually had somewhat knitting related content to relate tonight, but I think I've gone on long enough. I'll "save" it for later.

I think I am becoming a bit like Stephen King (that is, in dire need of an iron-fisted editor)...but I'll bet I'm not the most boring blog out there, not yet, and maybe not even by a longshot. I wonder if we should start a "Most Stultifyingly Dull Blog Award."

Adieu! adieu! to you! and you! and you-oooo! (remember the Von Trapp family?)


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