Learning a new language in your 30’s is kind of like walking through a minefield. You tip-toe your way around new words and try to navigate them into full sentences. Then you finally get up the nerve to speak them aloud in public, only to retreat back to the security of your own native language as soon as your fledgling skills are critiqued. I had one experience in Oslo where I shamefully mixed up the Norwegian words “titte” (to look around) and “tisse” (to pee) in a clothing store when asked by the assistant if she could help me with anything.

It’s a minefield, folks, I’m telling ‘ya….

And now I’m trying to mix Spanish into my English-Russian-Norwegian head of languages.

I have an email subscription to an online “Word-of-the-Day” service. It’s pretty self-explanatory – every day I get one new word in my Inbox with an example of it used in a sentence. I started this service a while ago to keep my head in the Russian language game. And when I found out we were moving to Gran Canaria, I signed up for another daily email with Spanish words.

It sounds simple enough, but sometimes I wonder who’s sitting behind the green curtain and churning out these emails for the language service. Some of the words and phrases I receive are so arbitrary, I think they must be written just to see if anyone’s actually paying attention. It’s almost like the writers are sitting on the sidelines, just waiting to roll on the floor with laughter when one of us gullible schmucks actually uses some of the words they send out.

A few Spanish examples:

  1. ir a tascas : to go bar-hopping, as in “Come bar-hopping with me tonight.
  2. emborracharse : to get drunk, as in “I got drunk last night after bar-hopping.
  3. azuzar los perros (a alguien) : to set the dogs (on someone), as in “Stay out of my orchard or I’ll set the dogs on you!

And I’m not even kidding – this is what appeared from my Spanish word-of-the-day service on consecutive days last week. So, I’m assuming that in Spain it’s best to stay out of people’s orchards after getting drunk while bar-hopping.

Good to know, thanks.

Compare that to what I’ve received on the Russian side (apologies to the non-Cyrillic readers out there):

  1. боль : pain, as in “No pain, no gain.
  2. хрустящий : crispy, as in “I like pickles when they are crispy.
  3. печень : liver, as in “Vodka can be harmful to the liver.”

Hmmmm….Now, anyone who’s been to Russia for any length of time knows that vodka goes quite naturally with crispy pickles, all of which can create pain and be harmful to your liver. So, I’m assuming the writers want me to understand that in Russia, consuming alcohol and pickles and letting your liver rot is all worth it in the end because, duh – no pain, no gain.

Also good to know. Thanks again.

The moral of this story is that language learning is a minefield folks, and that apparently I’m in need of a new word-of-the-day email service.

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