Things get weird when living in two languages.
Last weekend, I picked up an antique book at the San Telmo fair and read the entire cover. "This looks interesting," I thought, "but I wonder which language it's in." It took me a good five seconds to recall that I'd just read the cover and that it was in Spanish.
The more I speak Spanish, the less I notice the actual language. As I process the meanings more quickly, the more similar the language becomes to English as I've learned it. My mind has begun to sort things in concepts, not just in words. I have trouble keeping track of what language I've had certain conversations.
A great example of the strangeness of combining languages happened last night. My family went to a show at Teatro Colón.
We were under the impression that it was a Mozart performance, but it turned out to be an orchestral arrangement to a dramatic reading of a Greek Legend. That was an interesting surprise, for sure. More so, though it was Greek and Roman mythology, it was spoken in French and translated on a screen into Spanish.
This performance was about an hour long and for the first ten minutes, I was pretty disappointed. I thought this was going to be a waste of time. As the legend picked up though, it was easy to get swept into the experience. The actress' reading was emotive; the music was tense at the right moments, and relaxed in the pensive moments.
After it all, I realized that I just heard a Greek Legend, read in French, and translated into Spanish. English was never a part of this process, and yet I walked away understanding the point of the work and having felt the emotions of the path of the plot. If I didn’t understand Spanish, all this would be lost on me.
It’s quite strange to live outside my native tongue. It doesn’t just change the way I think about language and thoughts. It has made me think about how massive the entire world really is:
Outside of everything everyone I’ve ever met has ever learned, lies more expressions of knowledge in hundreds of other languages. And yet, when it all boils down to the ideas, most address the same themes, concepts and emotions. I'm learning that the world is both massive and small, in a manner I can't properly explain in either language I know.