One's destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things. -Henry Miller

Posts tagged “Language

The Most Beautiful English Word?

So, I’m sort of in love with Spanish. And languages in general…how language reveals things about a culture…what there are words for, and what there aren’t words for, and how many words there are for the same thing. This year has been the equivilent of about 5 years of Spanish class (or more) for me. I knew close to nothing upon arrival, and after flipping out about how inept I was, I started to calm down and to listen to what people were saying. And then, all of the sudden, I was understanding. It’s brilliant how immersion can do that to a person.

I’ve started to thirst for more. I was at a trivia night the other day, and met some people from Italy and France. I can’t speak Italian, or French, so all three of us were communicating in our second language, Spanish.  One of them asked me, in the most matter-of-fact way, “Don’t you want to learn a third language?” As if being “bilingual” (I put this in quotes because I still wouldn’t consider myself fluent) was some sub-par thing.  I didn’t know how to answer. Why DON’T I want to learn a third language? Italian could be nice. And it’s quite similar to Spanish. Perhaps I’ll work on that next. However, Europeans really do have an unfair advantage. They are surrounded by a plethora of native speakers of several different languages.  In Spain alone, there are four different languages. Castellano (“Spanish”); Catalan, which is a combination of French and Spanish; Gallego, which is a combination of Portuguese and Spanish, and Euskera, which is totally unique and difficult to learn.

There are some Spanish words that I find really fun to say, and have therefore, declared them my favorites:

1. Frugoneta- Meaning van. Yes, like the mode of transport. It just sounds really pretty, though.

2. Chiquitina- Meaning little. It rolls of your tongue, I promise you.

3. This isn’t a favorite but…the verb for “to give birth” is “dar a luz” which literally translated, means “to give to the light.” I think it’s quite similar in Italian as well. How gorgeous is that?

In addition to learning about Spanish, I have had a chance to learn about my own native language, by teaching it. I have never thought of many English words as pretty. But the other day, in a conversation hour with one of my private tutoring clients, I said a word, and my student exclaimed, “How beautiful!”  Want to know what the word was?

Understandable.

I guess it’s beautiful? Is English beautiful? Do you have a favorite English word?

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