About the power of language

About the power of language

A couple of days ago we found a note in our mailbox here in Spain. We didn’t understand what it said in spanish and didn’t bother to translate it. Probably not the smartest move because I just found out what it meant: apparently the municipality turned off our electricity. Luckily this morning I just brewed some tea and my laptop has some power hours left.

I really love language and the fact that it enables us to communicate with each other. Using language is such a powerful way to connect and unite us as human beings. To express how we feel and to be able to inspire and help each other. I’m also incredibly impressed by what some people can do with language such as creating books and texts that are beautiful works of art. As you can read in my previous blog post About moving, books and letting go I have my own special relationship going on with books. A book with beautiful language can inspire me tremendously; my life truly wouldn’t be the same without books in it!

It bothers me a bit that I now live in a country where I don’t know the language yet. I am daily reminded of it in one way or another. For example in the supermarket, try finding the right spices. And what about the offers they have on display: 3 for 2, is that with or without a customer loyalty card? Of course nowadays the solution is Google Translate so I use it frequently. The app amazes me. Did you know that you can hover over a text with the camera on your phone and it will automatically translate it for you? Not flawless of course, not yet, but often good enough to get the gist of the text. In case you are now thinking it (Lennart certainly is): yes, I know. It would have been a good idea to hover my phone over the note in my mailbox…

It’s not only reading spanish that proves challenging, it’s also listening and speaking. As many other languages, spoken spanish does not sound the same at all as spanish in written form. And the people here speak so fast, it’s unbelievable! I remember when I started to speak swedish (which is not my native language). I tried to copy the melody of the language because to me it sounds like swedish people are singing instead of talking, right? Of course in the beginning I got it wrong all the time, sounding like a weird version of the Muppets swedish chef. But this was the only way for me to learn and become fluent; to dare to open my mouth, make mistakes and be persistent. 

If we decide to stay in Spain for longer than half a year I will stop hiding behind smart apps, sign up for a course and find myself lots of spanish people to practise on. The other day I heard of someone who moved to another country and started to regularly order a taxi. This person aimlessly drove around for hours just for the opportunity to talk to the taxi driver and practise the language. How smart!

I feel it’s important to adapt to the language of the country that I choose to live in. Not only because of courtesy but also because it’s such a powerful way to connect with other people. But for now instead of seriously learning spanish I choose to focus on other things in life such as slowing down for real and seeing what wants to grow out of that space inside me. Which is why Google just will have to be my friend a little while longer.

Hasta luego!

Photo: Jon Tyson – unsplash.com

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