Here I am again–only a few days until I go abroad and having nightmares about it. Why do I do this to myself? Because I know I'll have a great time when I get there, and I'll find so much inspiration. On top of experiencing new places and cultures, I'm hoping that I'll gain more than new material.
I always try to learn at least a few words of the host country's language. I'm not sure how much use my few sentences of Castilian Spanish will be as I'm going to Bilbao (I'll at least learn 'yes', 'no', 'please', thank you', 'hello' and good-bye' in Basque, it's only polite), but not trying the language seems to me like going abroad and only eating fish and chips. I'd miss so much of what the country has to offer.
More than this, learning how another language works makes me think about how English is constructed. When I try to speak another language, I have to strip sentences down to their simplest form. It makes me realise how much understanding relies on context, body language and intonation.
It also feeds into problems the Iyessi exiles would experience on their travels, such as impenetrable accents, even when the language is the same. Sayings and idioms often don't make sense when translated, and gestures and tones can mean the opposite. Added to this, if Lalli can't hear the words and Ro can't feel the underlying emotions, how much of a disadvantage would it be, or would the different language be a leveller, reducing everyone to pointing and gestures?
Maybe I'll have some answers to these questions when I get back, as well as a suntan. At the very least, the trip should help me avoid the usual withdrawal symptoms after Wimbledon ends. I'll let you know when I get back. Meanwhile, don't forget you still have time to treat yourself to some FREE books at