Tag: Arabic

Keep Talking

For a culture steeped in Catholic fatalism — and with a history that includes everything from racial discrimination to economic injustice to death squads — Hispanics sure are an optimistic bunch. I’ve written before about this weird tendency to be positive in the face of disaster. But now I have scientific proof for it.

A recent study says that people who speak Spanish tend to express themselves in a more positive way than speakers of other languages do. The researchers found that “the selection of positive words was greatest among Spanish-speakers” and that those words tend to be “learned more easily, used more frequently and are considered more meaningful.” In addition, overall communication among Spanish-speakers tended to be more positive, and the emotional content of the Spanish language was the highest among the languages studied.

talking

Basically, a conversation in Spanish is more optimistic and heartfelt than it would be in English, even if the content is exactly the same. And you don’t even want to know how much more upbeat Spanish is in comparison to German or Arabic (the alpha and omega of harsh languages).

But it’s not all good news for Hispanics. And here I am part of the problem. I’ve been honest about my struggles with Spanish, and I consider myself passable at the language, at best.

Well, another study has shown that, sure enough, each successive generation of Latinos is less proficient in Spanish. While 92% of the second generation (children of immigrants, like me) speak English very well, only 82% are even conversational in Spanish. By the third generation, nearly 100% of Latinos speak English very well, but only 17% speak Spanish fluently.

So all that optimism will fade away if we don’t teach kids Spanish. Now that’s a pessimistic thought.

 


Think Different

According to many sources, Dr. Carlos do Amaral Freire can speak more languages — 115 — than anyone alive. But before you feel too intimidated, keep in mind that the professor is fluent in a mere 30 or so.

One has to wonder how balancing all those verb tenses and irregular conjugations has affected his mind (although as we know, people who speak multiple languages have more agile brains). In fact, there is some evidence that the languages we speak influence the very way we think.

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 


It's Much Prettier in Spanish

As we enter our third month here at the Hispanic Fanatic, it’s clear that we need to get one thing out of the way:

No, I will not teach you how to curse in Spanish.

As we all know, the first thing anyone ever asks to learn in a foreign language is how to insult a total stranger’s parentage in as disgusting a manner as possible. Blasphemy is also hugely popular.

Why is this? Are we looking for some common bond across culture, and the need to offend is prevalent around the world? Or is this just human nature to gravitate toward the basest level of communication? Or is it just more fun to shout, “hijo de puta!” than it is to murmur “como se llama”?

In any case, Spanish is not any more vulgar than English, and the context of the insults are pretty much the same.

If you really want to let someone have it, you have to go with Arabic. Most languages stop at “Fuck you” or perhaps “Fuck your mother.” But an Arab friend once taught me an insult that basically translated to “May you be anally raped by a thousand lunatics and your severed corpse flung into the gutter to be devoured by a hundred rabid hyenas.” Sadly, I have since forgotten how to pronounce this extremely handy phrase. However, with sentiments like that floating around the Middle East, I have a better understanding of why they are so damn tense there.

But again, what taboo are we seeking to transcend when we learn how to say “shit” in a foreign language? Why is it the first thing we ask, instead of “Where’s a restaurant?” or “Can you break a twenty?” or something we might actually use?

Of course, even bringing up this subject is bound to offend some people. To those individuals, I can only offer my earnest apologies and humble expressions of remorse.

And let me just add, in the true spirit of sincerity, that you should go chinga tu madre.


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