This month we celebrate the Spanish language and I have been asked to write about why I love Spanish. This task gave me pause because I really hadn’t given it much thought before. It’s a little bit like asking me why I like pizza-I just do, it’s good. But then when I really thought about, I realized that I love the sound of Spanish and the emotion it can evoke.
Spanish just sounds cool! It’s musical, but not excessively so. I love the fact that so many sounds are formed at the front of the mouth. It sounds assertive. Those gorgeous rolls of the r-frustrating as they may be for the Spanish learner-are that extra musical flourish.
English is a magnificent language. Its vast vocabulary can help us to communicate with precision. Romantic or passionate are not words that come to mind when we have to describe English. Spanish is a beautiful language for romance. It is an intimate language. You don’t have to be a poet to sound poetic. Mi vida, mi alma, mi cielo, mi corazón are lovely things to say to those dear to you. Translated to English, these terms of endearment sound, well, frankly, a little stalker-ish-at least a bit over-the-top and corny. If you really think about it, these expressions show a real commitment to the emotion, even if it may be fleeting. Funnily enough, Spanish was the language my husband and I used to talk about our feelings. Not just the romantic ones. English was the language we used for more mundane topics: the grocery list, the bills, what happened at work. The decision to code switch was not a conscious one; it happened naturally. And let’s face it, Spanish piropos, no matter how cheesy, just sound better than some of the memorable lines I’ve heard in English.
So to me, a native-speaker of English and a lover of the English language, Spanish has the music, the emotion, the intimacy, that English doesn’t seem to have. Nevertheless, I feel fortunate to have both the language of Dickens, Shakespeare, Auden, and Eliot AND the language of Cervantes, Lorca, García Márquez, and Neruda in my verbal arsenal. And by the way, my favorite word in Spanish is libélula. That’s music to my ears!