Thursday, November 17, 2016

Así es la vida, This is life. Learning to speak Spanish

Now that the calendar is winding down to take me back to Spain in March...not for a short visit, but to live there for three months, my Spanish language skills are paramount to my success in the country of my ancestor's birth.  I've tried to learn Spanish over the years, but always quit because it was just too darned hard to master.  This reminds me when I was a consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics in the early 1980s and we were taught the importance of cold calling prospective clients.  I hated cold calling and told my MK leader that I tried, but just couldn't do it.  She scoffed at me and others who tried to wheedle out of it by saying, "You don't try to call.  You either pick up that telephone or you don't."  Ah, therein lies the issue... Now, here I go again.  But this time, I am serious as a heart attack and this time, I will persevere.

Learning another language is difficult, no doubts about that.  And if I was younger I would surely master it quicker?  Understand the infinitives, preterite and imperfect endings more clearly?  Know when and where to put the little words like "lo" and "que" and "se" when necessary?  If I was younger, I would know when to use SER and ESTAR and automatically translate from English into the Spanish without a doubt as to which TO BE word to use when?  No.  I am not young anymore and I just ran out of excuses.  Lucky for me, I have a very patient tutor and a classroom group who is also willing to learn without any more excuses.  But...I must learn how to communicate in Spanish beyond first-grade level, using only the present tense!  I must!

The Girl Immigrant book, the immigration story of my grandmother (abuelita) in 1911 has now been translated, cleaned up, edited and will soon be published in Spanish.  The Italian version is available, titled La Ragazza Immigrata...and the Spanish version will be called Historia de la niña emigrante. During this translation process, I learned that the titles to Spanish books are only capitalized on the first word.  And that The Girl Immigrant translated into Spanish does not mean the same as the English version, so with suggestions from my translator and her editor, it will be changed and hopefully, better understood.

As I progress slowly, in baby steps learning my ancestral language, I was happy to realize I was able to read that Spanish translation in bits and pieces.  No longer just trying, but doing...and the action makes my heart accept the truth this time:  I will learn this language even though I am nearing seventy years old.  It is never too late to learn, learn, learn.  Así es la vida.  This is life.