Monday, January 31, 2011

Bilingual a Plus

Within the hollowed depths of my job search, I have come across many postings whom list bilingualness as an incentive to hire. Living in southern California, it's a safe assumption that the tongue besides my native one is that of the sultry rolling r's, part one of the Romance: Spanish.

I've always sort of poked fun at the fact that I cannot speak a word of Spanish. My German born father and I once went to a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place, and both of us played charades attempting to spell out of orders much to the amusement of the lady behind the counter.

Being born to Peter Lucyga, with half my people living beautifully in Northern Germany, learning das language was always a part of my life. When we were children, my father bought this interactive language learning program. We sang songs, attempted grammar, and learned the words for things like strawberry or sandwich.

I still remember one of the songs.

Guten Morgen! Guten Morgen! Euch Kinder hier in Haus. Euch Madchen und Jungen euch grossen und kleinen, kommt alle zusammen, Wir fangen jetz an...

Good Morning! Good Morning! All the children are present in the home. All girls and boys, big and small, Come together, and we will now begin...

My sister and I were glad to learn the song, because it was oddly satisfying to sing in German even if you had no idea what you were singing about. But as I grew older, the disadvantages of living in California and not knowing Spanish began to make themselves visible.

For instance, getting a text message from a boy, saying "Calmate chica." Confused for a moment, then restfully assured calmate means some form of beautiful. Them ruminating on how much you are smitten with the charming, Spanish-learned rascal.

Then showing your sister the text message, expecting a similar conclusion. There is a quick debate on the actual meaning of calmate. It is remembered that caliente means hot, not calmate. Then rapidly pulling up and realizing that "Calmate, chica" does not mean "Girl, you are so fine." Rather, it roughly translates to "Bitch calm down."

I know that I should be more disappointed that my lack of Spanish speaking knowledge has held me back from applying for some really fabulous jobs, but it is my "Bitch calm down" scenario that truly grinds my gears. If I am to be honest, freeing myself of the chill girl representation I've built in this blog (haha), I curse the day I learned my first "Ich habe Hunger" specifically because for a good half an hour I was lulled into a brief euphoria of dreaminess and good feelings when I was really being chastised.

Spanish is a sexy to hear, especially that elusive Listhp that reverberates off the lips of my friends who have returned from studying abroad in Madrid. But when I think of Spanish, I don't think of sexy things, like, er, parted lips or...naked people. I think of things I could not understand. I think of someone trying to tell me something, and the message simply refusing to enter into my consciousness. Or better yet, my consciousness dressing up the sage advice in a way cuter costume. You know how the squeamish say a squirrel is just a rat in a cuter costume? Well, for me, in that silly instance, Spanish is all the words I don't want to hear in English. In a sexier, listhp-ier costume.

When I look back at my lack of bilinguality, I have to smile. I smile because the whole affair transcends job frustration or that push and pull of initial dating when things are "complicated." I like the allure of not understanding the words that people are saying. Because for once, I can just let the syllables and meaning wash over me without the strain of interpretation or analysis. I can just listen to the organic foundation of human communication and actually appreciate for a minute, the miracle of language.

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