Monday, December 30, 2013

Reading in three languages

That sounds like horrid bragging, and I suppose at some level I am excited about this, but here's the real back story.

For a few years now I've been able to read in Catalan, now I can with considerable fluidity.  There are some words I don't get, but on the whole I don't have any real problem.  If I sit and analyze the sentences I am occasionally depressed by my spoken and written Catalan, I cannot express myself the way Catalans do.  Something I should actually study. Wonder if Conrad did that.  Study the way people wrote, and tried to imitate their styles to gain greater ability to write in English.  He was at least tri-lingual and probably quadri-lingual (Polish, Russian, French and English) and though reportedly spoke with a heavy accent, wrote some of the best English literature that we have.  *sigh*

In October or so, I started Spanish lessons, and low and behold, despite my general ineptitude at learning languages (never got a mark higher than a 5 in French thoughout high school and had to drop it in the final year as I was failing dismally) I can do this!  It helps we've been here more than 7 years, and I do hear it sometimes, and my students relate it to words in English occasionally,

Still, I've read two novels (short ones) in Spanish!  Like Water for Chocolate, which I really enjoyed (again) and El Príncepe de la Nieble which was fine...and I am delighted!  I don't understand as much in Spanish as in Catalan, in Catalan I expect to understand everything but the occasional word, in Spanish I expect to understand everything but the occasional sentence.  That's how it seems to work, you understand at a generally paragraph level, then sentence level, then word level.

Since my chief reasons for learning Spanish is so that I can read some of the amazing writers that are working in the language, that is a bonus!

Today, though, we went to an exhibit at the CCCB - which is an amazing place - always love what they do and the curators are geniuses.  It was about a Catalan writer, Salvador Espriu, who was educated before the civil war, endured the war itself and lived under Franco, through the transition and died in 1985.  An amazing time to be alive, not fun, but amazing.  Eldest got one of his books of prose for Christmas.

The man could write, he is famous for his poetry, and plays more so than for his prose, and the exhibit was, as always, very well done.

It was, however, humbling.  What a vocabulary the man had.  There were quotes from his writing on the walls of the exhibit and such a lot of words I didn't know.


Back to the drawing board, and I think I may have to read some more of his work.


elpadawan said...

Wow, congrats! I'm very very very far than being able to read anything other than a menu (and not a complicated one) in Czech. So I'm still stuck at two languages (not counting German which I almost completely forgot already...)

oreneta said...

I'm pretty delighted too! I've been here longer than you have there, and Catalan and Spanish are, I suspect, a good deal easier to learn than Czech...also you're English is AMAZING.