Friday, July 28, 2017

я хочет картошке пожалуиста

Drifting off to sleep last night, my head was swimming with foreign words and sounds that I'm only just beginning to recognize.  Please, thank you, man, woman, dog, cat, onion, potato, да, нет.  I can recognize more words in text than in hearing them, but I can recognize both much more easily than I can reproduce them.  I can speak like a very young child on a few issues, like dogs eating apples, and I can barely spell anything at all.

I've been watching my two cousins raising their brand new little people, so maybe that's why that's been on my mind.  Anja points and calls out the only words she knows.  Aliza understands everything people say to her and even some sign language, but she isn't ready to bumble through trying to vocalize any of it herself, just yet.  I've been feeling like I can relate.  Well, more to where they were a few months ago.  Catching a familiar word here or there, but for the most part, just hearing a jumble of incomprehensible sounds.

I've been wanting to learn other languages all my life.  I've attempted to learn French, Spanish, and Hebrew, yже.  My efforts have always fizzled.  It wasn't until I was in New Jersey that my attempt at Spanish felt like it was going pretty well.  I'd only stopped when I moved to Vermont.  There isn't a lot of Spanish spoken around here.  I also ran out of Omnitrope for a while.  I'm not really sure why I stopped.  I'd be all but fluent by now, if I'd kept at it until starting Russian.

Maybe I was afraid that if I filled my head with too much Spanish, I'd have no room for a third language.  Maybe a little bit, but I know that's absurd.  We can tell ourselves all sorts of stories, but some of us need more sophisticated stories than others.  Another one is that I'd just gotten my first smartphone, started using a language teaching app that held my hand the entire way.  It provides the guidance of a teacher, without needing to deal with an actual person.  Sure, it's not a great teacher, but it's a nice little intuitive interface, and honestly, I've had actual teachers who were worse.

All sorts of things I've attempted to learn in my life, I've tried to do on my own.  For various reasons, I've never had much guidance.  I know that not everyone needs a whole lot.  My sister seems to have needed much less, winging whatever she had to, when everyone around her was being less than helpful.  I know there are people that teach themselves foreign languages with nothing but a translation dictionary.  It's a spectrum, but I seem to be at the other end of it, and I wonder why that is.

Sometimes I wonder about the difference between childhood and being an adult.  By all sorts of metrics, you end up drawing an arbitrary line under which some adults won't qualify, and some children will.  There seems to be an element of confidence to it.  At some point, a human being says ok, I get how it's done, let me do it myself.  Growing increasingly fervent about it, as they make their way from the terrible twos, through adolescence.  When I was two, I went around pointing at things, and asking if they were fragile.

I come from a patriarchal line who seem oddly terrified of doing things wrong.  Each making the successive generation even worse.  I've never even arrived at feeling as though I get it.  That I'm ready to handle life on my own.  Not for lack of trying, it's a feeling that sabotages every effort, at every step of the way.  It's a feeling of needing to be shown how anything is done.  This has been extremely problematic, given that I'm not exactly a people person.

There are probably all sorts of things I'd be enthusiastic about learning how to do, if only there were someone an app to walk me through it.

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