“His mother, long dead, always told him: your father will outlive us all, but not before he makes us suffer as much as he wants to, and more..”
― Flavia Company, Father and Son
One of the things in my life that I am ashamed of is that my Spanish is so bad. After all, I lived a few of my formative years in Spanish speaking countries – you would think I would be fluent. There is no excuse for that, but there are a few explanations (people have difficulty understanding the difference between excuse and explanation – it is a critical distinction).
- When people realized I was North American, they didn’t want to speak Spanish with me – they wanted to practice their English. And if I just shut up – I could pass for a shy speechless native teenager.
- English is so important to me, I have trouble switching into other languages.
- Nicaraguan Spanish is significantly different (especially in slang) than the Mexican Spanish I hear every day in Texas
- Most important – I am lazy
Most people in my high school were completely fluent in both languages. It was fascinating to listen to them switch back and forth. When discussing something concrete – like giving directions or instructions – they would use English. However, if there were emotions involved, or relationships, or food – then Spanish was the language of choice. For example, there were a dozen different terms that translated as “girlfriend” in English (like the myriad Inuit words for snow) and I was always using the wrong one – to my constant embarrassment.
The difference between literature written in Spanish and English is fascinating. The most obvious one is the success of “magic realism” – which works in Spanish (and even in translation) but feels odd and disjointed in English.
Today’s story is a translation – both languages are at the link. It’s an interesting comparison.