Cartas de América #3: my favorite language is the one I forgot

I may not have retained Quechua from my professor, but I learned how much I had to learn from him. That’s why I look back on that class with such gratitude. It fundamentally changed my attitude toward language learning, which I used to consider mainly in terms of grammar manipulation and vocabulary translation. There’s only one thing any of us uses language for, though: communication, exchange, encounter. My students often complain that we have cultural readings to go with each chapter of their Spanish textbook, which can seem kind of irrelevant when you’re only tested on grammar. When they ask why we bother, I try my best to get this across: you may not remember any of the language, but I hope you’ll get from Spanish what I got from Quechua. The experience of trying to think from another people’s point of view, the realization of how much you don’t know.

issue #3 of my LatAm newsletter

Cartas de América #3: my favorite language is the one I forgot

Published by Catherine Addington

I am a translator from Spanish to English and a writer on saints, myths, and icons in both religious and secular contexts.

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