Bilinguals are Badass

“Wait, Quim”, I grasped my friend’s arm as the waitress approached, “I want to order for myself. I think I can do it.”

His kind face broke into a wide smile I had realized was reserved almost exclusively for his amigos americanos. The corners of his pursed lips crept up in a vaguely paternal way. With his smile, he shook his head at me gently. From any other person, this look could be considered patronizing. From Quim, however, it was just another expression of his love.

“Yes honey, you can order,” he laughed.

“Para yo…” I hesitated, “un te verde? Y un…pues…..ummm…” I frantically turned again to Quim. As if reading my mind, he turned to the waitress with Catalonian charm and finished my order. After he finished, he turned back to me and continued on with the conversation we were having in English, as his mastery of multiple languages was nothing.

I was dumbstruck. I still am. I’ve been taking spanish for 7 years and I am just able to carry on a simplistic conversation with a very patient person. Yet here was someone of my same age who had not only mastered another language, but two others.

Yes, I am aware that there are polyglots all over the world who can speak innumerable languages with ease. Yes, I am aware that a large portion of the world knows at least a little English. But until this moment, I had never really wondered at the marvel of it. Humans, these complex little creatures have evolved a series of noised we can make to communicate thoughts, ideas, and knowledge. Different types of people have different noises and some people- some beautiful, intelligent people, have pushed themselves out of what is easy or comfortable to be able to speak with those who are not like them.

I realize I may be romanticizing language past the point of tolerance for many people, but I’m still beginning to comprehend its beauty. And polyglots have known it all along.

Until next time,

Meghan

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