Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

The only way to learn to speak a language is to speak it. Wait, what?

Cause otherwise it'd be too easy ;)

Every teacher I’ve had says to “think in Spanish” and “the problem is that you’re translating”.   And they’re right - but to do that, you have to already know the language 🤦‍♀️.    I’m going to dissect this sentence to show why it’s SO important to learn to think in the new language and also why people who aren’t at that level yet have to work so hard for simple sentences.   And heaven help anybody trying to learn a dead language 😂 Imagine reading trying to understand ‘butt dial’ or ‘booty call’ without a fluent speaker to help.  Esp if you knew the meaning of one but not the other.

The rest of this post is just for the language geeks.  Everybody else should stop reading now.

While not crazy now, it's an example of why you have to
think differently (and sometimes slowly!) in a new language

This one was a prime example.   It’s very simple vocabulary and verb tenses.  I know all the pieces (the words and structures) but my brain doesn’t yet compile them naturally in this order.  For a brand new learner, word for word in English this would be something like (depending which translate software): 

Ya = already 

Se = hisself/herself/itself/oneself

Secó = dried 

Mi = my

Terreno = land

A = to

Pesar = to weigh 

De = of / to  

Tanta = so much 

Lluvia = rain.

Which gives: already oneself dried my land to to weigh to so much rain.

WTF?!?!   Okay well to have any sense at all, realize that there are many instances where phrases are important rather than words.  So in Spanish “a pesar de” = despite.  And fortunately for me, I learned that particular one from the beginning so I don’t see those as three individual words anymore - just a long one w some gaps ;). 

So now we have: already oneself dried my land despite so much rain.

Which is almost there except that in a strict subject-verb-object language like English, it is somewhat confusing still.  So, what happened?  Well the first is Spanish is insanely repetitive.  So often you find the same thing twice in a sentence, esp when reflexive or indirect object.  What this means is that the answer to he/she/it etc is usually nearby - in this case the oneself is “my land”.  Which means we chose wrong and it should be “itself”.  

Giving: already (my land) itself dried (my land - duplication of itself not the object) despite so much rain.

Second hint is the “not my fault ‘se’” lol best phrase every from one of my teachers.  Which we use roughly as an equivalent to passive writing “it just happened”.  “It broke” - se rompió.  Not “I broke it” - lo rompí.  But also to mean “people in general”   

So if it just happened then we know that nothing was intentionally being done TO somebody/thing so that provides the last clue and leaves:  already my land dried despite so much rain. 

The placement of already is somewhat flexible in both languages; Spanish it’s usually at the front.  English often with the verb “already dried” or at the end of the sentence.  But understandable concept either way.  

Unlike, for instance, moving a word like "only" in English 😂   Consider how the meaning shifts depending where you insert the word "only" in this sentence: "She told me that she loved him". ;).  I love the English language for all the reasons I would hate it with a passion if it weren't my first language ;)


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