Monday, May 2, 2022

America; Let's Wake up Bilingual


I Want the World to Wake Up Bilingual...or at Least North America

Imagine…if we could understand each other twice as well, if we were always able to see double; both sides to every event, if we could hear and see and speak to each other on more than one level. What if we all dreamed in two languages?

I know you have thought about it; “I wish I spoke French: I would be able to tell the Über driver I need to stop off for a photo op in front of the Palace before we head to the airport. I could order wine like a local, and find the best place for cheese near my Air Bnb in Toulouse.” What other connections could I be making on my next trip?

“I bet the Greek grandmother next door would have insights on gardening to share; have you seen those roses?! And she looks like fun too; I see her laughing uproariously with her son every evening around the table out back. Too bad we can’t communicate.” People flit in and out of our lives every day who speak to us in broken, proficient or even excellent English, but hide profound depths of wealth and fascinating stories in their own tongue. 

As an interpreter, I know from experience how nice it is to exchange greetings in Spanish with my colleagues from Mexico or Peru, but also how I long to read Rumi in Farsi, or not to miss out on the chatter of my Polish colleagues…in Polish.

Language is most fundamentally human. Communication can pass through a gesture, a glance, a word, or all three, but these are person to person moments rich with meaning and intention and human interaction. Language allows us to ask, to answer, to appreciate and to grow. Staring and mumbling into a screen doesn’t quite make the grade, does it? Yes, subtitles are excellent, and language apps bring us one step closer, but speaking to a friend, a child, a lover makes it real. 

And, yes, people of Quebec, I know you are the exception to my dream AND the example we might heed!

Bonne journée, très cher lecteur/lectrice. Have a marvelous day, dearest reader.

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