My father listens to Spanish-speaking radio in the car.
He doesn’t speak Spanish.
He’s been doing this for quite a while now, listening to things he doesn’t understand. Beginning with his oldest daughter’s early-childhood enjoyment of The Osmonds to his own current addiction to talk radio, he cocks his head and listens, his lips sometimes moving almost imperceptibly.
This may seem confusing, but in my opinion, it is our ability to listen without comprehending that keeps every day fresh.
Ah! A new heavily percussion-ed advertisement for a car costing more than I make in a year! Oooh! An explanation of my property taxes!
My own understanding of Spanish is as thorough as my father’s and comes from Speedy Gonzalez cartoons (Andale! Andale! Arriba! Arriba!) and the telephone (para Espanol, marco dos).
And, of course, having worked in a kitchen, I now know the word for "fork". (That's tenedor, for those of you keeping score at home.)
Thus concludes the extent of my Spanish. This does not, however, mean I won’t listen when it’s spoken.
I’ve been giving it some thought, this fascination with music and languages; and having done so, I can safely conclude that we can blame the accordion.
As my father before me, I have the dubious distinction of having played, in my formative years, in bands with accordions. You can imagine, I’m sure, how popular this has made me. In need of an emergency polka? Look no further. Hoping to fit in a quick foxtrot before lunch? I’m your gal. Got a hankerin’ for a “rock” medley consisting of “Johnny B Good”, “Maybellene”, “Kaw-Liga” and ending with a ripping version of “Woodchopper’s Ball”?
I can set you up.
It’s not enough, though, is it? Eastern European hoppin’ is just a gateway music. I don’t understand a word of Polish, and unless you need a fork in a hurry whilst also needing to “press 2”, by gum, I don’t understand Spanish either, mis amigos.
But that won’t stop me.