In the time I had at home between Clark and Costa Rica, my mom and I had a heated discussion (though she may call it something different) about rhetoric. One morning, I made some offhand comment to my parents about how I thought someone was “lazy”. This upset her. While I was just trying to explain someone’s indolence, my mom’s argument was that my word selection was insinuating something about the persons character. That “lazy” was a charged word—a “name-calling” word, an aggressive word. We pulled out the dictionary, the thesaurus, and even “Non-violent Communication” to make a case for our points—it was a good discussion (and mom, though I didn’t let up that day for the sake of argument, in retrospect—you’re right). Since I’ve been in Costa Rica, I’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation. Here, I’m grasping at straws to communicate in Spanish and I’m sure sounding like a complete complete complete idiot. As I scrape together any combination of poorly pronounced and seriously fragmented words to hazily get my point across, I can’t help but think of the hundreds of nuances I am missing. That morning, my mom and I quarreled for at least a half an hour about the minutia of one word. How people can know another language so well to be both eloquent and thoughtful in their word choice is incredible. I’m just in awe of all you bilinguals.
Some young love birds I walked behind in the market