2 min read
I am revisiting my Spanish course on Duolingo.
I love the multilingual voice in my head that sees an object and knows two words for it – it makes everyday life a bit of a game. The table – La Mesa… ding ding 10 points for you!
In a recent set of lessons, I had to translate ‘quiero’ and ‘necesito’. Funnily, I knew the actual meaning of these words – ‘I want’ and ‘I need’ but when translating sentences my brain regularly substituted ‘I would like’. So I translated ‘Yo quiero una falda verde’ as ‘I would like a green skirt’ but the actual meaning of this sentence is ‘I want a green skirt’.
I was using a passive voice by default. It made me stop and think about why I do this. Is it because of my personality, my culture or my gender? It is probably a little all of them – a bias towards being sweet, considerate and kind – being a good girl. Damnit, how is this ingrained so deeply?
My partner, who lived in Spain for a year, confirmed that the Spanish tend to be more direct in their conversation generally. How refreshing, despite being someone who trades in passivity, I always prefer direct responses. I frequently feel frustrated that I did not say what I wanted. Granted, a big issue for me is that my brain tends to be so busy evaluating every possible outcome that it is not always 100% sure of what it wants. Maybe I need to be happy with 80% or above :-D.
I want to be more assertive in my communication style. I do not want to capitulate, hedging in an attempt to keep all options open and/or smooth the road. The first step is to stop using ‘would’ or ‘should’. I am inviting the voice in my head to reverse translate for me – only using ‘want’ or ‘need’ in future. Let’s see how this works out…
Hopefully, there is no need for all my grammatical squirming.