I’ve only just begun editing a biography for the small Los Angeles-based publisher Bilingual Educational Services, so I won’t share any details of the project other than the fact that it is a biography and, as you might surmise from the name and location of the publisher, it includes some text in Spanish.
Other than a brief Spanish-language proofreading job I did 13 years ago while working at a standardized testing company, this is the first time I’m officially putting my bachelor’s in Spanish language and literature to work since I quit teaching. So I’m pleased. I’m thrilled, actually.
And while words and speech patterns I haven’t thought about for a long time come flooding back, something else occurs to me, too. Spanish is the only language other than my native English that I’ve learned to speak with any facility, so it’s the first station my brain stops at whenever I want to switch tracks to “other language.” If I ever learn a third language, I hope I can teach my brain to shortcut straight to that one rather than triangulating it through Spanish.
I’ll watch the PBS Kids show Ni Hao Kai Lan with my son and try to repeat a Chinese phrase that one of the cartoon characters says. When I’m right there listening to the TV I can replicate it pretty well. But try to say it later and I might remember the words but the accent comes out Spanish.
In the car the other day I was trying to teach my daughter Pig Latin. She was struggling through a phrase, halting at each -ay syllable. Which sound goes with -ay at the end of the word? In the case of a consonant blend, does the whole sound go with -ay or only the first letter? “This is hard!” she blurted. Sí, para mi también, went my brain, stopping at Spanish station, before I could say out loud, Es-yay, ard-hay or-fay e-may oo-tay.