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The Killer of Languages
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I've taken Spanish a few times in my adult life, and I also lived with a native Spanish speaker for over twenty years.  You'd think that would leave a mark, but not so much.  In recent weeks, with my CD player on, I find myself in my car repeating phrases such as, "Yo tengo mucho frio."

It's humiliating.  I wind up the hills, saying "Que tiempo hace en abril?"

Then I answer myself:  "Llueve en abril."

Ridiculous.  I won't even be in Spain in Abril.  I need to know the weather in Septiembre and Octubre.  But no matter--I'm off to thinking about the months of the year and the calendario.

I speak English, and I speak and read French and Spanish un poco, un petite peu.  All my life, I've taken classes in these languages.  I've read literature in Spanish and French.  I still have a dreamlike memory of one novel I read in Spanish, a book our teacher ordered for it.  Later, I learned it was something like young adult fiction, but I see the plot as though through a haze.  There was a strange house, a weird man.  Who knows what was going on.

The last novel I read in French--well, it was so difficult, it took me 20 minutes a page.  There was a wood chopper neighbor, a cottage, a woman leaving her life.  There you have it.  My knowledge of their literature in the original language.

I don't know which language is which, though, when I get to France.  I answer in the wrong language, usually a combination of both.  In Spain, I'm sure I'm do a mash of Franish, trying to buy some chorizo.  I'll ask for the wrong thing at the wrong time.  I'll keep telling them that it's Abril.  I'll ask for the bathtub.  I wander the streets of Barcelona looking for my lost hat, my missing sock.  I'll be the scourge of the nation, a reckless user of language, a sad sack of words.

Watch out.  Here I come.