When learning a new language, like I’ve been trying to do with Spanish since retiring here to Boquerón, I’ve long advocated that one should talk to themselves in the new language. I know it might seem silly, especially in light of the fact that one will be making mistakes that cannot be quickly corrected, but I feel it’s good practice, never the less.
When listening to the radio, watching television, or simply listening to passing conversations of native speakers as you go through the day, it’s important to try and simply absorb what’s being said. Don’t try and translate what you hear into your native tongue. Try to just “understand” what you hear as naturally as you would hearing your own language.
There are certain things that just naturally trip off my tongue, now. Things like “gracias,” “buenos dias,” “¿como esta?” “bien, gracias, y usted?” and “igualmente” when someone tells me to, “passe un buen dia.” There’s no thought processes involved. No translating from one language to another. These things JUST ARE!
I believe I’ve written, before, that I sometimes dream in Spanish now. But as when I dream in French, which happens rarely but every once in a while, still, it’s alway appropriate. That is, I speak Spanish to the people in my dreams who simply wouldn’t understand me if I spoke to them in English.
There are certain words and expressions I use from time to time in both Spanish and French. Things like “Bueno” when I’ve accomplished something like hanging clothes on the line or finish washing a load of dirty dishes. I often use my favorite word in ANY language with an appropriately, “et voilá!” But today something happened that was completely out of the ordinary. One of those defining moments in a person’s life.
It’s HOT this time of year in Panama. It’s what they call “Summer.” The “Dry Season,” when there are no afternoon showers to moderate the sweltering temperatures. As I sat on the bus in the terminal in David (DahVEED) I fanned myself with a hand fan I carry in my back pack for moments like this. Then, when I got off the air conditioned bus and into the dry, 90+ degree day back in Boquerón, I set my two heavy bags of groceries on the bench of the caseta (bus stop) and something happened that shook me to my core. The voice inside my head said, “La brisa siente buena.” “The breeze feels nice.” I didn’t think “The breeze feels nice” in English and translate it into Spanish. My mind simply said, “La brisa siente buena.”
As the Borg are fond of saying, “You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”