Apr 14, 2009, 1:49 PM
Post #7 of 10
I could not help myself from replying to this thread. Not about the bells, but about the languages.
However, on the topic of the bells, I have not heard bell one anywhere in Mexico, ever, whereas in Europe, everywhere I have lived, Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy...I often felt like the Hunchback of Notre Dame: "The Bells, The Bells, The Bells!"
I learned German and Italian almost simultaneously around age 19-20 living in Germany, German-speaking Switzerland, and Italy, and had studied German and French for five years in high school. I went on to study German at the post graduate level, and have been back to live in Italy for extended periods of time (1-2 years), so that my spoken Italian seemed better to me than my spoken German, at least more colloquial and sounded less "learned."
I have also studied Latin.
Spanish has been a booger for me and Italian has been more of an impediment than a help. And German of no use at all. What I remember of French helped more than Italian, except with vocabulary, where many words in Italian and Spanish are the same.
At first I said, screw it, I am just going to speak Italian and let them figure it out. But my Mexican partner nixed that idea in a big hurry. I did try it a few times, dilberately and sometimes just in desperation because the Spanish was not coming to me. About all I ever got was a blank stare. Might as well have been speaking Swahili. Mexicans, especially not-so-well-educated Mexicans, cannot make the jump from Italian to Spanish, or viceversa. I have also learned that if my Spanish is not spot-on they are not going to get it either. At first I thought they were giving me the French treatment, that if I could not speak Spanish better than THAT, they were not going to lower themselves to respond. I mean how hard is it to get from: "tortillas di farina, per favore" to "tortillas de harina, por favor."? I think they ought to get it, but they don't.
Next I found that people in Sonora are very hard to understand. My two doctors and my dentist, all educated and from the south, I understand as if they were speaking English or Italian. But nothing is helping me get used to the way ordinary people talk here.
I think knowing any other foreign language gives a person a leg up learning the next one, be it Spanish or whatever. I probably want/need to qualify that statement by saying, as long as they are all Indo-European languages. Asian languages are not much help.
Goethe, the German Shakespeare, and so much more, once said:
"Wer fremde Sprache nicht kennt, weiss nichts von seiner eigenen."
Which means: He who knows no foreign language, knows nothing of his own. I hate to haggle with Goethe (which is not the opposite of googling with Hegel) but I am not sure anymore if I agree with him.
At any rate, I agree with Johanson, that as guests in this country (Mexico) we need to try to speak and understand Spanish.