From the New York Times: As a former Texas governor, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, is said to have declared when she opposed the teaching of foreign languages: “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for us.”
“English grammar is so complex and confusing for the one very simple reason that its rules and terminology are based on Latin, a language with which it has precious little in common.” Bill Bryson
Sweetly sings the donkey at break of day or the literal translation…well sings the donkey, for tomorrow. Bien can also mean “good”. Confusing, and thus it begins:
There are those who believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain. I personally believe it’s a strange world of language in which skating on thin ice can get you in hot water.
Let’s take freedom of speech, for instance, it is no time more precious than when a man has hit his thumb with a hammer. And who is it that said if you can speak three languages you’re trilingual. If you can speak two languages you are bilingual. If you can speak one language you are American?
Tennyson was heard to say: “Words like nature, half reveal and half conceal the soul within”.
And then of course, having interned in a hospital, the many interesting “chartings” one reads such as: “The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me in 1993.” Or, “The patient presents with no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was hot in bed last night”. Or one very observant doctor was heard to say “The patient has two teenage children but no other abnormalities”. And, as I’m sure you realize, I could go on and on.
I’m still learning the language of Mexico. It is coming to me a bit more quickly now and I actually find myself, even when talking to David, using common Mexican phrases. “Si” doesn’t come as often as David would like but “gracias” is a given and automatic as is “thank you” in the states. It is also followed by “de nada” as opposed to no problem.
The morning is a special time for me, as I’ve mentioned, it usually finds me in front of our casa, broom in hand sweeping away the night time leavings and having the wonderful opportunity to share “buenos dias” with the many people who pass by….children on their way to school, mom’s and dad’s walking with their children, people hurrying off to work, vendors selling “café y todo terreno” – whole and ground coffee – or “frutas y verduras”- fruits and vegetables. And everywhere you hear “como esta usted” – how are you – quickly followed by “bien, bien gracias, y usted” – good, good thank you, and you”.
I have attached a “Possibilities” ad, of sorts, to this blog. Many people we meet share thoughts, ideas and “possibilities” with us that I would like to share with our readers currently living in our village of Ajijic. As you will read, one of our friends made the comment her housekeeper understands sign language. That is so true and, I would imagine, the same the world over….if all else fails and you are unable to get your point across using the language of the area…wave your arms, gesture wildly (I think Italians have a great handle on the whole gesture thing) and you can surely come to some understanding…you would hope.
For instance, it took me a while to learn to say “la cuenta por favor” – the bill please – when visiting a restaurant. That is when I began using the left hand palm flat and the right hand pointer finger writing on the hand gesture…which not only was understood by the wait person but, politely, didn’t interrupt any conversation. As Mae West said: “I speak two languages, body and English”. So true.
However, in the end the universal language of a smile, it would seem, is the most important. No matter what may be happening, where one may be going (and for me, dear reader I rarely end up where I’m going anyway), where one would like to be, when you attach a smile everything falls together.
With my usual ineptitude and while my mind was wandering somewhere other than on the cobblestones I was sweeping, my feet took on a life of their own and I ended up ass over tea kettle, spread eagle on the road one morning. It happened because I was trying to sweep, think and talk at the same time. That is never a good idea for me as it takes full concentration just to locate my shadow. BTW, do you know where I can get a new shadow? I have to get rid of the old one as it simply is refusing to do what I do…go figure. Any who, I digress as usual, there I am laying on the cobblestones. Once my eyes began to focus I looked up and found myself surrounded by friends I saw ever morning. The group began to separate and our neighbor’s little girl (who looks amazingly like Dora the Explorer) walked up to me, took my hand and said “M&Ms”. At the age of six she is just learning English and we all know about my fractured Spanish, yet we have been able to communicate via my ever-resent M&M’s which I give to little ninos who visit our yard. Knowing the M&Ms made her happy she thought, rather quickly, they would help me as well. Talk about a universal language!
Photographs of the People of Ajijic and Jocotepec… David Perry Lawrence
Teenagers and Cell Phones are Everywhere
Francisco and His New Truck
Casa Corazon - For More Information on this Worthwhile Charity - Please Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Another Day Ends on Ajijic's Beautiful Malecon