Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Unanticipated Side Effect

Despite the woman at the Mexican Immigration office telling me that I could write on my application that I speak Spanish fluently, I'm not quite there. I understand a lot more than I speak, which means I can follow a conversation, I just can't always add my twenty cents. (If you know me, you know I don't stop at two cents.) I did pretty well during our week in DF and once they all figured out that I could answer them, I was one of the gang.

Then I came home and tried to write in English. Yeah, no.

I sometimes tease myself that I'm going dyslexic because my fingers get going too fast for their own good and the words come out a jumble, and that's without a Spanish mish-mash going on in my head. The day we got home it was as if I'd forgotten how to type. Even now I'm catching myself making mistakes that I know are a result of dual languages.

This was especially alarming since my main goal after our trip was the final pass-through of my wip. Woops. Don't get me wrong, I'm not making excuses -- I just never expected this side effect. I have noticed occasional slips in word order when I'm talking, but the writing thing is new for me.

Have you ever noticed something that effects the mechanics of how you write or type? Aside from a heavy night of drinking?

18 comments:

Benjamin Solah said...

For me, switching typing devices usually screws things up, whether it's going from one keyboard to the other, or to my new BlackBerry, it might take a while for me to adjust to what I'm writing with.

Melanie's Mom said...

I found that when I started studying Russian in college, I mixed up the two alphabets. There are a number of letters in the cyrillic alphabet that look like our letters but aren't. For example, a script "g" is a "d", an "m" is a "t", an "h" is an "n", a "p" is an "r", a "c" is an "s", a 'b" is a "v". When I would take notes in other classes, I would mix up the letters and if someone tried to borrow my notes, they couldn't make any sense of them. I never had trouble with word order or sentence structure, but spelling also became a problem, although more so with French since the words were similar.

Melanie Avila said...

Oh yeah. Back when I had a cell phone and would text a lot my typing would get a little screwy.

Melanie Avila said...

Mom, that reminds me -- Ibis has started studying French so he might need your help. :)

I think learning a language with a completely different alphabet would be so confusing. I've always marveled at my friend who've learned Chinese, and Russian seems just as difficult.

Janna Qualman said...

Funneh! But kinda neat, too, to have that problem.

Only physically. Last week I spent a lot of time using a pressure washer on dozens of wood planks. I didn't realize how knotted up my trigger and holding hands had gotten, until I came in for a break and tried to type. My hands were a little numb and didn't want to cooperate!

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, I've had that happen since I started going to the gym again. My body isn't accustomed to using weights and my hands have cramped up a couple times. Makes it hard to type!

Natasha Fondren said...

I had a little bit of that after I was in Germany. I could understand it fluently, even understand Dutch, LOL, but my speaking was way behind. Still, I continued to read German fluently in college, minored in German lit., and was exposed to it a ton in music. (I also was fond of art song, which is mostly in German.)

But when I came back, oh gosh, I would answer people in German. I'd have to stop and think. And still, to this day, there are certain phrases that are "stuck" in German. I never speak it or hear it, but when I'm hurrying someone, it's still "Los," when I'm waking someone up, it's still "Wach auf!"

Oh! Do you have this? My brain does NOT translate. I can think in one language or another, but I can't connect them. I have to "slip into" the other language. I can't even translate music to words. I can NEVER remember the titles of my pieces, even though I've looked at the title for EIGHT MONTHS straight, four or five hours a day. I'm either thinking in music, or words. English, or German.

JLC said...

A college Spanish teacher told me once, 'You know you are fluent in Spanish, when you dream in Spanish.' I remember dreaming in Spanish, but I still had the vocab of a 2 year old.

Even today, I will automatically use Spanish words to say certain phrases. The words just topple from my lips and it would seem weird to say that phrase in English.

I think this is an awesome opportunity for you. Being fluent in Spanish will open so many doors for you, WHEN you are back in the US. ;)

Melanie Avila said...

Natasha, I just realized you aren't Spy anymore!

I do translate, but not always. It depends on what I'm trying to say. Quite often I'll plan ahead if I'm going to the doctor or something so I can prepare what I want to say, and look up a word if I need to. But I don't translate on the fly.

Melanie Avila said...

JLC, I used to dream in Spanish in high school. I try to think in it now, but really, I just don't practice enough.

Very true about phrases. I learned a new one last week -- no manches -- which means 'don't tell me/give me that'. I'm waiting for the right opportunity to bust it out on Ibis.

Penguin said...

Maybe it was your subconscious telling you that you need more Spanish words in your WIP........

As for mixing words from other languages, nope, I have a hard enough time getting the right words, English, Spanish, Latin, it doesn't matter what language I am using, I have a hard time getting the right word out.

Melanie Avila said...

Penguin, there are Spanish words in it, but I hadn't looked at it that way. ;)

Pink Ink said...

I switch modes with my parents. I usually talk to them in Tag-lish which is a blend of English and (Philippine language) Tagalog.

I've always written more fluently in English, though, and Tagalog never seems to intrude.

Nadine said...

If I have a glass of wine and then try to type, my fingers do mess up.

But as for other languages, I've never had much luck. I took Latin in jr. high, and Spanish in highschool and college, but remember very little.

Hawaiian words have now entered my vocabulary which is a fun change, but so far, none have found their way into my WIP.

Melanie Avila said...

Pink, is English your first or second language? For some reason I can't recall if you've mentioned that before.

Melanie Avila said...

Nadine, yes, alcohol has a funny way of changing what we think we're saying, lol.

I love that Hawaii has it's own language, even though it's part of the US.

Pink Ink said...

English is my first language. My parents spoke to me in English at home, then they practiced tough love and sent me out in the world to learn our native language through my classmates.

Melanie Avila said...

Yikes! That's scary. :)