Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Meatballs and Language Confusion

On our anniversary a few weeks ago, Nate took me out to a Spanish tapas restaurant in our neighborhood. The food was delicious, and it had a great atmosphere. We will definitely go back! The only drawback, however, was my language confusion...

You see, before I learned German, I learned Spanish. I got through Spanish 5 by the end of high school and was fairly proficient with the language when I graduated. Then it sat dormant in my brain for 10 years. Now fast forward... when I began learning German last year, my Spanish vocabulary kept popping back into my head, because the "foreign language" part of my brain was functioning again! It was a problem only at the beginning, and it didn't take long before German overtook Spanish in my brain. Sadly, now I am completely inept at Spanish. I tried to speak it with a friend a few months ago and none of the words came out - only German. I guess my brain only has enough space for one foreign language right now!

So, back to the restaurant. We're sitting there reading the menu, which is in Spanish and German, and my brain starts to get confused. My foreign languages collide! The two language are mixing in my mind while Nate and I are speaking English together, trying to decide what to order. And we literally had this conversation...

Bethany: (recognizing the German and Spanish word for a food item) Mmm, that looks good. We should order that.

Nate: What does?

Bethany: Umm... umm. I forget how to say it in English. (scratches head, thinks really hard). What do you call a ball made out of meat?

Nate: ....a meatball?

Bethany: Yes! Yes. Meatball. Wow.

There you have it folks. I forgot the word for meatball, yet I could describe it as "a ball made out of meat." This is what happens to your brain in language school when your foreign languages collide - your mother tongue goes downhill.

Photo credit: Alvimann from morguefile.com

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