Tonight, we watched Apollo 13 in Spanish and I was struck by two things. First, a good movie is a good movie is a good movie. Sure, the tone and inflection of Tom Hanks voice adds more power to the performance, but even in Spanish, Ron Howard’s masterpiece comes through. I love space movies, and Apollo 13 is an amazingly well crafted film.
Second, Spanish is much simpler than English. I have always considered this a very positive thing. English breaks all its own rules, Spanish (and the other Romance languages) have clearly defined rules that are rarely broken. It is much easier to learn Spanish, it makes more sense in a uniform, structured grammar, and it is much more formulaic (hence, easier to understand and leaves less room for ambiguity). On the other side, though, the beauty of English is in its depth. We have no uniform grammar because we have taken words and grammar from languages all around the globe. English is based on a Germanic/French/Latin/Greek foundation that has been supplemented by languages in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Arab world. (I was going to say Middle East but I had the alliteration going ;-) ) English has a huge vocabulary that is rich with depth. It allows an easier use of wordplay like alliteration and other figures of speech. English words, because they are so many of them, all have slightly different connotations – a variety of which you don’t quite get in Spanish.
Spanish is a marvelous language, and I am glad I have the opportunity to learn it. But in studying Spanish, I appreciate the advantages of English a lot more. I am so grateful that I was raised an English speaker because it would have been a pain to learn otherwise, and I can’t imagine my life without the rich texture of the English language.
Okay, enough ranting about the language. Let me talk a moment about my classmates.
I am in a class of cuatro students: Benjamin, Adonis, Atsu, y yo. Benjamin, Noah, and I all came down together from PHC. Benjamin is the adventurous one of our group. He wants to hike big cities, climb tall mountains, and I am sure he would jump over building for the fun of it if he could. After classes he spends a lot of time on the internet chatting with friends and family. In the morning, he gets up early to go to school and get on the internet to chat with friends and family. I have no further comment on Benjamin at this time. (Benjamin and Noah are pretty awesome and deserve their own post ;-) I just am to lazy to write that post right now so you get the abbreviated version.)
Adonis is from Tennessee, but he is living in Costa Rica and plans to live here permanently because his wife’s family is here. Adonis works designing webpage templates, and was one of the first to get into the business. (The neat thing about new technology is that it is possible to be one of the founders of a whole new type of business.) Adonis is learning Spanish because his wife (who is Costa Rican) speaks it and since he will be living here, it is probably a good idea to know the language. Another random thing about Adonis, is that he is (at least in part) Filipino. How coincidental is that? :-)
Atsu is our resident spy from Japan (at least, that is what we jokingly call him). He works for the Japanese foreign ministry and is studying at Yale for two years. He already speaks Japanese and English fluently (he grew up in the US and in Japan) and now is adding Spanish to his repertoire. After he goes back home to Tokyo, he will be working with the Japanese diplomatic corp.
Adonis and Atsu are both great guys. Both really want to learn Spanish and work hard. Adonis actually can already understand Spanish extremely well, he is here simply to learn to speak it. Because of this, he is often able to help translate for us what the professor is saying when the professor is uncertain of the English translation. The rest of us work pretty well together in helping each other remember vocabulary words. Chances are, at least one of us recognizes the word or remembers how to communicate the idea. The class is very interactive and conversational. We do some worksheets but a lot of it is talking back and forth and using the grammar and vocabulary just learned. Class is a lot of fun and extremely productive. Spanish is hard, and I am lucky to be able to study it in such ideal circumstances.
Well, that is all for today. Hasta mañana!