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Tu Necca Necca

Monday, 11 January 2010

It really should have been a tip-off. Who has to take Spanish I two times?

In my defense, Spanish I was offered to eighth grade students who wished to get a head-start on the foreign language requirement. Repeating it in the ninth grade did not in any way delay my plan to take four years of Spanish. It was my lack of ability in Spanish that delayed my plan to take four years of Spanish.

I had a language requirement in college as well. I took Hebrew, but as a music major, Hebrew did not fulfill my language requirement. But I figured that it would be an effective and rewarding expenditure of six of my precious few elective credits. Ithaca College, at that time, offered first year Hebrew only. And it was taught not by a Hebrew professor but by the Jewish chaplain. Arrangements for further Hebraic study theoretically could be made at the school on the other hill, but such pursuits were logistically improbable. And, to be quite honest, Ithaca’s language classes met thrice-weekly. I did not think that I could handle the daily rigor expected at that other school. I earned high marks in both the first and the second term. Given my actual proficiency at the end of that year, the instructor should have been fired.

I fared no better in Italian. Earned high marks in Italian with little comprehension. Moments after submitting my Italian 102 exam, I had the misfortunate, and somewhat disconcerting, experience of running into mio professore in the student quad and found that I could muster no more than “Ciao, Professore!” The entire body of my Italian knowledge had been regurgitated onto a scantron in Muller Hall, never to return.

German? French? Not only did neither of these stick, between my many linguistic attempts, I now had several related Romance languages swirling about my head.

Hebrew and Aramaic were front and center during my HUC-JIR years. We had a Bible professor who tried to convince us that Ugaritic would be an easy elective, but strangely enough, not one of us believed that “easy” and “Ugaritic” ought to intersect in the same sentence.

American Sign Language proved to be the one exception. A six-week crash course left me eager to communicate with the members of my student pulpit at Temple Beth Solomon for the Deaf. They were very forgiving of my mistakes and I was fearless. Signing as much and as often as I could. Grateful that I was finally becoming comfortable in another language and realizing only later that ASL relies less upon the language center and more on the movement center.

But that has all changed, thanks to nine-and-a-half years of Ulpan Toddler. How else does one explain that when Peach said “doze cars are racin tu necca necca” that I instantaneously, and correctly, translated it as “those cars are racing neck-to-neck”?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuesday, 12 January 2010 8:44 pm

    ROTFL i was wondering where you were going with this!!!!! how funny you are 🙂

  2. Wednesday, 13 January 2010 9:15 am

    Ha ha. Wait. I took Spanish I twice.

  3. Dadgifaffe permalink
    Friday, 15 January 2010 12:18 am

    Peach obviously got his linguistic skills from his ggpa, who insists that the proper Italian word for refrigerator is…Isa Boxa!

  4. knittnkitten permalink
    Saturday, 16 January 2010 7:55 pm

    We have the same language skills I see, I had French German and Italian (my best because I was living there and using it) in school, but still am really only able to listen and understand (I’m brave enough to struggle with Italian a bit). I’ve studied Hebrew and Arabic on my own, and will occasionally dream in an odd combination of both. As for kid speak, as a teacher you get used to kids taking language and making it work for them, they will, with guidance, end up where they need to be with it.


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