Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Swimming in Language Soup

The first year of my PhD program is over! It's been a really difficult year, one of the worst in my life, but also one of the best in some ways. I've learned more than I thought possible in an academic year, both about linguistics and language acquisition and about myself. I've found fortitude I didn't know I had. It's been an incredibly busy year and I am looking forward to having some time to relax this summer.

But before I forget them, I wanted to share two little incidents that happened this year.

The first one happened while I was scrolling though my newsfeed on Facebook. I usually have FB set in a language other than English, and I have liked various organizations that post in different languages, and I have friends from many places that post in other languages as well. So this day I was just reading item by item, and I read a couple of lines from a meme that one of my friends had shared. At about the third line, I thought, "I'm not getting any meaning from this - what's going on?"

I looked back at the beginning and realized that what I was reading had been posted from my trilingual friend who lives in Turkey, and that it was in Turkish. Since I don't speak Turkish, I wasn't understanding it.  But what is so cool about this is that I didn't even notice it was another language!! I'm so used to having things posted in other languages, and whether it's French or Italian or Portuguese, even though I don't know them, I can figure out the meanings pretty well. A friend suggested that this meant I had reached another level in my languages - I don't know if that's what it signifies, but this language geek thought it was ├╝bercool!

The second thing was again really just a moment. I was reading about an avalanche and I remembered that my daughter and I had gone to see a Swedish movie called Force Majeure, which is primarily about an avalanche and the aftermath of it for a particular family. So they had used the word for avalanche in Swedish a lot, and I realized that I couldn't remember it, so I went to Google Translate and looked it up. It's "lavin."

The word lavin reminded me of another word lapin, which I knew meant rabbit, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out in what language! I looked up Swedish and German and maybe one other (it obviously wasn't Spanish). Unlike how I usually act, I just gave up instead of pursuing it to the bitter end (I must have been exhausted or something). But the next day on FB there was a meme shared by Fran├žais interactif (which I discovered through my Spanish methods of teaching course!) and it had a lapin. So, yes, I knew the word lapin, I knew it meant rabbit, but I didn't know what language! Kinda cool!

If it sounds like I am immersed in language soup all the time, well, I am, and I'm just trying to keep swimming!