Saturday, May 14, 2011

Time: sip it slowly

I really wish Time was a cup of tea or hot chocolate: a beverage you need to sip slowly and carefully. Instead, Time is nothing like that: it's more like a glass of coke you drink without even realizing it when you are very thirsty and in need of a cold drink. Water is there, too, but we always go for the coke. When it's gone, regrets come: "I shouldn't have! I'm on a diet!". And if your conscience does not bring this thought, then your throat and nose will, when you feel that funny tickling. Maybe it's not a regret, but still something that has gone through all too quickly to be duly appreciated.

And that, my friend, is time. It flies like an arrow, they say, but sometimes I feel it flies more like a rocket. You blink, and months, perhaps even year, have already gone by and you ask yourself: HOW? Where did all the plans go? Don't you remember, when you were 16, and had all those fantasies about how life would be at 25? or at 30? Brilliant career? A stable relationship? Kids? Decent apartment? Independent? Everything seemed possible back then, didn't it?


Next thing you know, you're approaching your 30th birthday and none of your plans has actually turned into reality.

Is it time to regret?
Time for new plans?
Time to think?

Time to live. I think I like this option best. Because you know what? Time is not a hot beverage, but you can pretend it is: approach all the experiences carefully and fully. Keep them in your mouth for a bit: the taste of that kiss, the sweetness of that chocolate, the texture of those words; keep them on your ears for a bit: the sound of that music, the happiness in that gaggle, the sincerity in that complimet; keep them in your senses for a bit: the smell of those flowers, the scent of that hug, the strength of those arms; keep them in your mind for a bit: the smile of that girl, the sweetness of that gesture, the stars in that gaze. Just keep them with you, feel them fully, and take everything you can from them. That's what makes time meaningful and real.

A clichet? yeah, that is probably it. But what's wrong with it if it works?

Monday, March 07, 2011

An easy language

If I was given a penny for all the times I heard that "English is easy", I would probably be rich by now.

It seems a lot of people think that English is easy. But what is "easy"? Isn't it just a mere point-of-view? What is easy for me may not be as easy for someone else. And this alone is enough to tear down the assumption that English is easy. But I can go further, and I will.

On my side, I have nothing less than one of Bernard Shaw's masterpieces: The Pygmalion. That's what we can find in the preface to the book:

"The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it. They spell it so abominably that no man can teach himself what it sounds like. It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him. German and Spanish are accessible to foreigners: English is not accessible even to Englishmen."

Now, if English is difficult for the Englishmen, then how can it be easy for ESL learners?

Of course, at the basis of this "misconception" is the idea that English Grammar is not as complex as Italian or Spanish Grammar. It is important to point out that by "grammar", in this case, learners usually mean "morphology".

But isn't it just too superficial to judge the degree of difficulty of a language based only on its morphology? Then why is it that we take 10-15 years to learn English to an advanced level if it is so easy? Isn't the huge vocabulary hard to learn? And what about the collocations? And prepositions? Not to mention pronunciation and intonation...

I guess the difference is the mere objective: if you want to learn a basic English, then it's not that difficult. Probably, it wouldn't be so hard to learn basic Spanish, German, Italian or even Chinese, for that matter. Now, if you REALLY want to know the language, then you have to try VERY HARD because it's nothing less than a life-long endeavor.