Global Education

South speaks: Spanish

By Amanda Sands
Published: October 2010

You’re in an obscure rural village in Uruguay. It’s cien degrees in the shade. You wish that tuvieras algo para comer y beber. No tienes ni efectivo ni una tarjeta de crédito, y necesitas agua y/o comida inmediatamente porque no te quieres morir.
This becomes problematic for two reasons. First: nobody in Obscureville, Uruguay speaks English. Second: you don’t speak Spanish.
Thankfully, I anticipated this very situation when I was eleven years old, when I decided which language I would study for the rest of my high school life.
Aside from being the second most-spoken language in the world (I concede that Mandarin will become the international auxiliary language soon enough), Spanish is quite useful to know given our geographical location.
As Norteamericanos, we have an obligation to become familiar with the common language of our neighbors to the south.
We expect others to learn English for us. And this is all good and dandy as long as we do our part to learn foreign languages as well.
Spanish in particular is also a very pretty language. With the rolling of the r’s, the habitually rapid yet unfailingly elegant speech, and words like ‘Ëœcivilación’ said with a ceceo (lisp), the Spanish language is inarguably quite an aesthetically pleasing language to hear.
Latin, while useful for the SATs and for decoding collegiate mottos, is sort of a clunky language. It doesn’t flow; the words aren’t very nice sounding. Take the word ‘Ëœpulchra’ for instance. Say it aloud. Ugly, right? It means ‘Ëœpretty’.
I decided against French because of its unnecessary letters. It seems like almost every word has random letters tacked on to the end that nobody pronounces.
In Spanish, every letter has a job. You pronounce words how they are spelled. I suspect this advantage makes Spanish somewhat easier to learn to read and write.
Furthermore, the Spanish language is a romance language and therefore inherently linked to other languages of the same origin.
Studying Spanish may help me down the line if I decide to learn another similar language’€Portuguese or Italian, for instance. People who speak Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese can more easily understand each other than Spanish and French-speaking people.
Perhaps the main reason I chose to learn Spanish is¦Mexican food. Everyone knows what a tortilla is, everyone knows what a burrito is.
But what if you’re in a restaurant with no translations on the menu? What if you’re wondering what ‘ËœLengua’ is?
It looks good, but you would never know. What if you see ‘ËœSopa’ on the menu, but from the looks of it you might just be ordering yourself a bar of soap?
From taking Spanish, I can warn you against choosing the lengua because it is beef tongue. I can also advise you to go ahead and order the sopa because it is soup and soup is delicious.

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