Journal: News & Comment

Friday, January 03, 2003
# 8:40:00 PM:

Past the fork

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As we age, all the great things we could have been drop off, one by one, and now I know my latest loss. While reading The Nautical Chart by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, I realized that I would love to translate books. The novel is translated from Spanish (La carta esférica), and I found myself imagining ways to improve the translated version.

But I'm 33 now—too old to learn another language well enough to be a good translator. In high school, my French was passable, yet never good enough to translate in either direction with English, and it has deteriorated horribly from disuse. Finnish was my first tongue when I was a toddler, but I've forgotten it all (though I can still pronounce it excellently, without a clue of what I'm saying). My Oma taught me some German, but it never stuck. I took Latin, but never spoke it, for obvious reasons.

While my mildly multilingual past certainly helps my appreciation and understanding of English, some things are only for kids. Learning languages seamlessly, as a true native speaker, is one. On the other hand, I think I'm a better dad than my young self expected I would be.


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