Linguistics Schmistics / Lauren Noble

She grew up absorbing the language, becoming more and more curious about the meaning of each word. As she continued to grow, her brain began retaining definitions and slowing began picking up on sentence structure and proper conjugations.

She played games and sang songs in Spanish; conversations between family members were in Spanish; she was immersed into a completely different culture. All of these things helped better her understanding of the culture and especially the language.

As she grew old enough to have full conversations in Spanish, she grew an uncomfortable feeling when the words would roll off of her tongue. Almost in fear of not being good enough at speaking the language, but really she was great. So much so that other Mexican-American students at school were astounded at the “Spanish lingo” that blonde girl knew.

When they would make snarky comments in Spanish about a “gringa” being in such a high level Spanish class, I would turn around and respond with something like “No soy gringa, soy hispana”. Meaning, “I am not a white girl, I am hispanic”, which would quickly change the mood of the conversation. Only, pictures were my strongest weapons. “No, you’re not”, they would reply. Instead of arguing, I would simply show a photo of my family that would eventually prove them wrong.

In Spanish classes, she was always a hard working student who was truly passionate about the language; yet to this day, she refuses to utilize her abilities in the language and allows the uncomfortable feeling of speaking Spanish take over her.

In Europe, it is very common for people to speak multiple languages. Hungarians are even more likely to know multiple due to their isolated and land-locked living situation. Because Hungarian is only spoken in Hungary and few other places that were once apart of Hungary, Hungarians tend to feel “alone” as guest lecturer Mária Sántha said.

It is almost as if they are forced to learn another language in order to communicate. As Americans, we live such pampered lives and just assume that everywhere we go there will be people who speak English, and while that has proven to be the case in my traveling experiences, we as Americans should take some initiative too.

Americans are driven by the wrong things and that initiative looks a little different: they are selfish, careless, and social climbers. From what I have observed thus far in Hungary, the people in Budapest are just trying to get by – they live day to day. They aren’t big socializers either; for the most part, everyone stays to themselves.

When it comes to language, Americans have those very same tendencies. We don’t care to learn or stretch our minds but instead we would rather stretch our social networks and the ladders we climb to reach our end goals. We are born with this mindset where I believe in Hungary, they are born to live normal, everyday lives.

From the very beginning in America, we grow up learning, or as some people feel, have the Spanish language crammed into our minds. Why Spanish? Spanish is the second most-spoken language in America because of people who migrate from Mexico, Cuba, or other Latin American countries.

Our history shows the relations we have had with Mexico and the Mexican people who deep down want to be American citizens but aren’t allowed the opportunity. To most Americans though, they do not care because they feel as if none of that affects them. Some Americans have probably never had to socialize with a Spanish speaking person.

In Hungary, their incentives to learn multiple languages is similar but their desire is different. They do not enjoy the feeling of loneliness or being left out from other countries. They are almost expected to learn other languages in order to communicate better but to them it is not seen as punishment but as an opportunity.

Because Hungarian is only spoken in Hungary and few other places that were once apart of Hungary, Hungarians tend to feel “alone” as guest lecturer Mária Sántha said.

I was and still am the girl who had the privilege of learning another language and took that opportunity for granted. Seeing how it has helped thus far in my life, I can only imagine how much more of an advantage I would have if I were to speak it frequently around family and friends. Knowing that I have the ability to communicate gives me a kind of peace that I won’t be completely out of every loop – especially not Spanish speaking ones.


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