Someone told me they thought I took French in high school/college the other day, and I laughed. Not because I have strong, opposed feelings toward the French or their language. I laughed not only because I took another language (that I won’t reveal because then you’ll quiz me, and I’ll fail horribly), but because I can barely speak this one. I will be talking at work, and I’ll fall over my words like a drunk crashing down the stairs. Then I do this awesome rewind noise and start the sentence over.
I have a couple of friends who often update their social media in other languages that they are fluent in. Some of them have a black belt, some…other color belts which denote HOW fluent they are. Guys, we should TOTALLY make them belts! How cool would that be? Like you’d say, “Oh, you speak Spanish? How fluent are you?” And they’d say, “I’m a black belt in Spanish.” Or rather they’d say the equivalent of that in the language. You would applaud. It’d be a lot easier than this “barely,” “some,” “fluent” scale we have. Which is akin to bowling where people downplay how good they are. It would be far more accurate. Like Allie Brosh’s pain scale, which I find EXTREMELY helpful and awesome instead of this 1-10 crap.
Anyway, so my friends update in this other language, and it never fails to remind me of how I want to speak more eloquently and be understood/understand Spanish/French/Czech, what have you, but I don’t want to actually go through the process of learning it. By the time I learn it, I won’t be able to find the status in question anymore as it will be buried under a pile of internet.
I don’t want to use an online translator, because then the words will get out of order. It also doesn’t seem to comprehend slang, which could be a problem in the Web Age. Like “manzanas” in Spanish can mean apples, but in Spain, it’s slang for blocks. People use it when they’re giving directions. Babelfish may not know that. Or maybe it does, but it won’t tell me. For the sake of every teacher who want their students to actually LEARN instead of cheat. If I translated that sentence for directions, it would make no sense. Instead, it would sound like I do when I fall down the stairs in English (in case you wondered, this IS my first language, so you’d think I’d know it by now). It probably has to do with a math problem of how coffee makes me talk faster than my brain actually works.
Additionally, I want to avoid this moment where I say, “Heyyyy, you made a sentence in another language. That’s a cool inside joke. I want to know also! What did you say?” Because I find those people annoying, and I’d hate myself if I said that (I have said it, and it wasn’t fun).
What ends up happening is me restraining myself the way they restrain Hannibal Lector from being ridiculously obnoxious. To clarify, they don’t restrain him from being obnoxious, they restrain him for other reasons, but I restrain myself to a severe degree from being obnoxious. More specifically, I don’t want to come across like an imbecile who views those who post in other languages as pretentious and well-educated. I respect and am in awe of those who know and have taken the time to comprehend and practice this art. The last thing I want to do is say, “YES! EXACTLY!” Yet, I totally want to do that.
Another thing that happens, is when social media thinks I need to know more than I care to know. I’ll look at the social feed, and it will say “So and So has become friends with What’s His Face.” I always want to type “FINALLY!” or “I knew it. I knew you guys would become friends. Now it’s official. I can relax.” What I see it as, is me making fun of a program assuming I care about this, but I know that sarcasm is not well translated online. Instead of coming across as funny, I fear people will think that I’m making fun of them personally instead of railing against a system which sees online stalking as acceptable to a staggering degree.
I guess it’s time to learn about 10 languages so I can offend people accidentally.