Monthly Archives: July 2006

That time of year again

Yes… once again, it’s that time of year we all wait for… it’s Hibiscus time…

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Para Jóvenes

According to the most accurate recollections available, today marks about two and a half months I’ve ben off trying to learn Spanish. Looking at the big pile of vocabulary flashcards on the desk I’ve added about 1,000 new words and phrases to my Spanish comprehension vocabulary and looking at the bookshelf I’ve ploughed through four books ranging from insultingly simple to amusing only because it was a pain in the ass to understand in the first place.

Despite all this pointless studying there is at least one interesting non-Spanish observation to be made here. I’m amazed at how much lower my intellectual standards are when I’m working outside my native tongue. If I’d been reading ‘Noche Oscura en Lima’ in English I would have never finished. Despite its brevity, its attempt at a mystery story is just too transparent to be interesting. But when you add to a sophomoric story the fact that half the words are incomprehensible nonsense, each a tiny puzzle to be solved, you somehow get a much more satisfying whole.

The same phenomenon can be applied, amusingly, to pop music. If this were in English, I’d dismiss it as crap immediately. Here, go listen. So, in English, automatic crap. It’s a given. In Spanish, I felt compelled to buy the CD. This song runs through my head endlessly. It’s insanity. Heck, I can only really understand enough of what they’re saying to get the general idea but for some reason the tune and those few comprehensible words just stick. I mean honestly, it’s not that good. But for some reason… it is.

Funny thing is though, that I still feel insulted by what I’m reading somehow. This weekend I found a book in Spanish that actually seemed like something I might actually want to read in English. So I got it home, took a peek at the dust jacket:

Nacida en la Perú, Isabel Allende se crió en Chile. Sus libros, <> encabezan la lista de bestsellers en varios paises del mundo entero. El Reino del Dragón de Oro, la continuación de La Ciudad de las Bestias, es su segunda novela para Jóvenes.

First of all, this is apparently a sequel. Well that’s a crap an a half. No matter, I can deal with that. But para Jóvenes… so I’m reading a CHILD’S book. Well, more properly a teenager’s probably. Most really young children don’t ready 411 page books but still. Momentarily, I felt like an idiot. Then I quickly remembered that I don’t actually KNOW Spanish and felt a little better about it. In any case, it’s hard to know if the text is actually entertaining or if it just the fact that I have to stop and look up every 10th or 20th word.

So… if you’re reading these words months from now and wondering aloud to yourself in a very schizophrenic way, “Where the hell’s Rob?” then just be assured that I’m reading some Spanish novel and scouring the Argentinean pop charts looking for the next great Spanish language pop phenom.


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