On not knowing another language.

I speak Spanish- sort of.

I know Italian- but not enough.

I can order food, curse, and count to 8, among other things, in German- but nothing more.

I can curse and order food and introduce myself and count to three in French- but that’s it.

I can say basic greetings, count to five, and ask for things in Turkish- again, the end.

Languages are some sort of aphrodisiac for me. The idea of syntax, grammar, and rules combined to create different sounds that have so much meaning? Glorious! The problem is that I’m a dabbler. I rarely commit to a language, and that’s because I always hit the wall.

The language wall.

I have been studying Italian and Spanish since freshman year of high school, but never totally immersed myself in the process. I even lived in an Italian speaking region of Switzerland for two years, but only learned enough to get around, not really striking up conversations with locals or taking the chance for a home stay with a famiglia. Lately, however, realizing that I love Germany, everything German, and that I find northern Europe a place I want to live permanently later, I desperately have gone through feverish states where I attempt to teach myself Deutsche. I’ve only become more frustrated.

Growing up in America with parents who only speak English is awesome. I have a large vocabulary and I love my native tongue. However, it is binding. English is becoming a global language, but it’s still a silencing sort of thing to only know ONE tongue, ja?

I guess the only point of this post is to express my yearning for a place where I can totally become a part of a culture enough that I absorb and utilize the language. I’m looking at graduate schools in Germany, and it would be so gut if I could somehow manage to stay there and learn German fluently.

Being fluent in another language is a really, really good thing. People who are bilingual (or trilingual, etc.) have better cognitive functions, they have more doors open for them, and they are in general just far cooler than us single-language knowing plebians. As a global citizen, I almost feel guilty for not committing and learning another language fluently. When I travel, I get the sense that if I just really really worked, I could learn (insert language of the places I’ve visited here: Polish, Turkish, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Switzer-deutsch, Sicilian).

I almost feel as though in order to be a true global citizen that understanding another language is essential. To truly know how to express your feelings in more than one language? That’s beauty. Plain and simple, pure, unfiltered beauty. (Not to mention damn useful!) For all you bilingual, trilingual, and other polyglots out there, I salute you! I someday hope to join your amazing ranks!

Ciao/Hasta luego/Tschüß/Au revoir/Widerluege!

 

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Mystery Vintage Postcards (can anybody decipher?)

Lugano has a tiny shop where vecchie cartoline are sold (antique post cards). For about 1 CHF (Swiss franc), I bought about 25 of them when I first moved. I sent them off to various friends and families, but kept a few with beautiful images and lovely script- before fountain pens became a thing of the past!

These postcards are from 1938 and…I don’t know when, perhaps a decade or two before? If anybody can speak pre-WWII German or Swiss-German, and you want to spend some quality time deciphering these, well- go ahead! Let me know if you do!

Tschüß!