While reading foreign words the concept of association of words with a time and place in my life became more evident. I cannot say that I connected with the author as he narrates the pain of loosing his father and how that experience served both as a catalyst as well as a filter for his perception of his experiences as the story moved along. The connection I felt in the story was in his association of words to time and places in his life. He mentions how the same word in a different language, in his case French and Greek would mean the same thing but to him the meaning would be different because he experienced the words at different points in his life. I could relate to this in my own experiences; when I came to this country I was fluent in Spanish. While the grammar is different in English, they do have some commonality in words. As I began to learn English I would easily see the similarity in some of the words such as doctor, invisible, local, municipal, social. But it was in the words that were not common were the connection to different points in my life became important. The word to love in Spanish is “Amar” I can associate this word to my early childhood and to my mother, the person I would use the word the most. It was both very natural and very caring for me to say the word. Now when I learned the word in English it really held no special meaning at first since I would barely use it and if I was to use it in a meaningful way it would be in Spanish. It was in my early teens were the English version of the word began to have importance. To love became an expression of my private preferences, the word became a tool that would help my teenage rebellion. With it I could define my self and define what others meant to me. What I loved became a private affair, to love a person became a burning desire. I did not really know love in itself was, but I wish to understand it and have more than anything else. Even now as an adult the word invokes different emotions and different points in my life.
Posted in Alexakis's FOREIGN WORDS and my memoir paper.
– March 14, 2013