I love words. My favorite part about words has always been language- ever since I was younger I loved talking (only to those who knew me best), listening, and reading more than anything else. Many people who have known me for quite some time are not surprised that I became an English major. In fact, many say that I was born to become one! However, my love for words has not remained only in English. Much of my love for words finds itself in dusty Latin books or in the corners of the world I may only get to travel to in the books I read.
High school was the first time I had any formal foreign language education and it set the course for my love for it in college. I took three years of Latin and was a member of the Tennessee Junior Classical League (TJCL), a society of middle and high school Latin students who participated in a variety of state-wide competitions. Students can do anything from art pieces and skits, to sports and academic testing. My freshman year, my high school’s Latin club went to the TJCL competition in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and I took the Vocabulary Level I and Grammar Level I academic tests. To prepare for this, my Latin teacher gave me about twenty pages of Latin vocabulary to study about one month away from the competition. I carried that list around with me everywhere! With all the studying I did, I was able to place 4th in vocabulary and 22nd in grammar. With hundreds of students taking the test and me placing so high, I was overjoyed with my accomplishments!
A lot of people I talked to prior to the Gatlinburg competition wondered why I was so into looking at all of those sheets of vocabulary. All I could think to say was that I couldn’t get enough of it. The sense of accomplishment when I was able to figure out what a word in English meant by remembering its Latin cognate was incomparable. I was not only learning Latin, but I was also learning how my own native language developed. I began to realize that you can’t quite fully understand your own language and culture until you know where it comes from. The same love for language I had when I was younger has since followed me here to LMU and has greatly shaped who I am and who I hope to become.
When I registered for my first semester classes about a year ago, I was told that I would either need to take two years of either French or Spanish to complete the foreign language graduation requirements. I was okay with the idea of taking either of these languages, but taking a modern language was going to be a new concept that I had no experience with. I was worried that I would fall behind my classmates who had taken either of those languages in high school. I was also worried that I would hate the huge difference between a living language like French or Spanish and a “dead” language like Latin. Because Latin is no longer spoken, it is considered a dead language compared to languages that are spoken like French, German, Spanish, and so on. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to read, listen, and speak a language. Despite my worries, I went ahead and signed up for French. I spent much of the summer contemplating what lay ahead for me and hoping for the best.
Like I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the first day of French terrified me! I was not used to listening in a foreign language with little to know English being spoken. Now that I am on my way to completing a full two semesters of French, I am so glad that I made this decision! I am an English major and I will likely never change that, but there’s always been something about other languages that has fascinated me. I remember being in early middle school and reading through French, Italian, German, and any other language dictionary I could find. I listened to radio stations, videos, and even Disney songs in other languages whenever I could. I couldn’t get enough of it! I usually could only pick out a word or two in a whole conversation or song, but that only made me want to learn about each language more.
Even now I will practice my French by listening to Disney songs in European French. On YouTube there are tons of playlists of songs that have both the French lyrics and the corresponding English translation so I can easily learn new vocabulary. My current favorite is the French version of “Let it Go” from Frozen. Since listening to all
of these songs, I’ve found that while the translations will be incredibly different depending on the language, the same emotions and meanings can still be seen no matter what language it’s in. Both the English “Let it Go” and the French “Libérée, Délivrée” (translated as “Liberated, Delivered”) both talk about moving on with life and not letting anything bring you down. If any of you are interested, I’ve linked the YouTube video of the song down below. Fellow blogger Alex also talks about songs from Frozen and the impact that they have on her. You should go check her out!
Since beginning French at LMU, my goals for the future include becoming fluent in both French and possibly Spanish. While a career path is still a little uncertain, the idea of becoming a translator sounds really appealing to me! I still have a few years to decide, so I won’t worry too much about it right now. I will still let my love for language make its course. I will still listen to every French Disney song I can and maybe let a few other language’s songs slip in there. Doing so will not only help me find out who I want to be, but also how I fit in with the world around me.
As usual, if you have any questions or comments feel free to comment on my blog or email me!