Language Lens

A blog about life, discovery and culture through the lens of language and linguistics.

Archive for the category “Bilingualism”

A little bit about bilingualism

This article not only speaks of the benefits of being bilingual, but it describes some of the things that go on in the mind of a bilingual.

Educators once opposed raising bilingual children.  Experts now say it’s beneficial.

See Washington Post article here 

Among some of the benefits of learning another language that were mentioned include,

  • Better being able to put yourself in other peoples’ shoes, as bilinguals “can more easily block out what they already know and focus on the other viewpoint.”
  • Help in delaying symptoms, if not protect all together, from Alzheimer’s
  • More cognitive reserve
  • A more flexible and focused brain

The article also speaks about some of the tendencies of bilingual people.  As referenced in the article, there is strong evidence that bilingual people act differently, depending on which language they are speaking.  As a result, whenever they speak, write or listen, their brains are busy choosing the right word while blocking the same term from the other language.  This is because the bilingual brain has the two languages that are constantly competing to be used at the same time.

According to the article, this evidence about the impact of bilingualism is just the tip of the iceberg.  Enjoy the full article as I highly recommend it.

A Love Affair with Language

Love Affair with Language

We Waited 30 Minutes

was a cheerleader and am a cheerleader at heart. I mean, it’s in my DNA to encourage those around me, and especially to encourage them never to lose hope.  I can do this only because I lean on my own experience where hope was at times all I had.

The Bible states that hope is the anchor of our souls, but what does that mean when the anchor doesn’t seem to hold and our boat is being tossed by the wind and waves?  What does it mean when we wait without getting any service? (This will make more sense seeing the picture below.)  It’s hard to have hope sometimes, and that’s a fact; and sometimes, or most of the time, it’s easier to have hope for others than for ourselves—another fact.  But I believe hope is real, and I know that sometimes hoping is all we can do.

Call it a cliché and give up, but what could you be missing?

  • The best meal of your life?
  • Or maybe a free dessert?

In English, there is but only one word to represent this curious thing we call hope, but in Spanish the verb “esperar” means not only to hope, but also to wait for, and to expect.  All three of these actions are not only related, but they are encompassed in the same word!  That’s a discovery indeed and a little nugget that I will carry with me next time life demands that I wait longer than I want.

Tale of a Walking Contradiction

We are all living in contradiction, or was it that we are all contradictory?  This is the English translation of a Spanish phrase I heard this week (Todos vivimos en una contradicción o todos somos contradictorios.)  The words strangely intrigued me, and I was determined to find the English equivalent.  Was it any of the following by chance?

  • To be torn
  • The grass is always greener on the other side
  • To always want what you can’t have
  • To always be wanting more

It seems that this choice for words doesn’t mean any of them, but it’s related to all of them at the same time.  It has to do with our personal desires and how we learn what they are by perhaps living contradictory to ourselves at times in this journey we call life.  It’s about saying one thing and doing another, and it’s about the ironies of life, the ironies of who we are perhaps, like treasuring solitude and yet not wanting to be alone.  Turns out there is an English phrase similar: to be a “walking contradiction.”  Kris Kristofferson said it well:

  • He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction.  Takin’ ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home. 

And yet the words are still hard to grasp… turns out I’m not the only one who thinks so.  A Yahoo forum included text from a guy describing something his ex-girlfriend always said to him, that he was a walking contradiction.

  • The phrase seems simple enough, but when you’re looking at your life you can’t piece it together.  Did she mean that I mean one thing and say another, etc.?  

Being an environmentalist and yet wasting water; staying in a relationship with someone of qualities that you say you don’t like or want; being brave in your actions and yet not believing in yourself; or living a life different than the one you imagined and constantly thinking of the other.

These are all examples people gave me, and yet it’s still hard to grasp honestly as I’m caught up on the word contradiction.  Could this be an example of seeing the world a certain way, or not being able to, because of our interpretation of words?  I think it could be, but it’s also an example when another language speaks to us more than our own, or when it sparks something in our subconscious. For example, if contradiction is a way of saying that you are living the opposite of what you truly desire, then I don’t want to contradict myself…

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