Learning Spanish

This is the best idea I have seen in a while. The website Duolingo.com offers free online Spanish lessons in exchange for translating websites from English to Spanish and back again. It is fascinating. A hugely ambitious project, to increase the dialogue between cultures and remove barriers to understanding. There are also French (in beta) and German options. I am really pleased with the interface and the lesson quality. More than that, I appreciate the wish to understand another, to communicate, to share. These things can be difficult enough just using one language, but there is an element of goodwill, of forgiveness when communicating between languages.

Love of languages

My four year old is reading (so proud!), well learning to read anyway. As part of that process, he demands, “Read this!” and jabs his little finger at whatever words are in front of him. It is more than fun, teaching this voracious reader new words. These days I am patiently reading everything from the author notes in the back of his favorite books to the warning label on his car seat (ok, maybe not so patiently on the last one).

I am enjoying this time, while I am a tiny bit smarter than him (a different story next year). Though he is now demanding that I read the French and Spanish translations of the signs and labels we encounter in our day. I am finding I am getting quickly out of my depth and cringing at my pronunciation. He loves hearing these new sounds and seems to be seeking out all the words I haven’t been reading to him.

It challenges my brain, thinking in other languages. It makes me want to learn, re-learn, how to make all the sounds not native to my English tongue. And maybe, stay one tiny step ahead of my greatest teacher.

Lost language – Groovy

Whatever happened to the term “groovy”? Of course it still exists, but where did it go in popular culture? Relegated to Austin Power films and sixties stereotypes it is a word that is drifting out of existence. To use it now… well it would seem contrived.

It is a word specific to a culture and a time that briefly popped in and out of existence. It is a defining word. You say “groovy” and I think “tie-dye, pot, and bell bottoms”. Maybe groovy fell out of favor from over use. Someone’s mom must have started saying it. Or misuse, from “the man” trying to groovify very ungroovy events.

Still, I like “groovy”. It quivers with idealism, and hope. Yes, hope, fun, celebration, it is all those ideas. Concepts that I hope we have not hardened ourselves to completely. I hope that our world has left the window open for groovy to populate our dreams.

The world could use a little groovy right now.


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