I know three languages. Obviously, I've got English covered. For nine years I was a student of Spanish and studied abroad in Costs Rica. I've lost my Spanish language abilities over time because I don't read it or speak it very much any more besides counting to ten with the kids, watching some Dora the Explorer, and singing a Pitbull song. It's been years since I actively practiced but I can still speak it conversationally and can eavesdrop on conversations and understand every third or fourth words. It seems, with langauges, it's easier to read or understand than it is to speak. That's the case with my third language. In addition to my mastery of English and my conversational Spanish, I comprehend Andy as a Second Language. That's right ASL, the real language of love.
It's best way to learn a langauge through immersion and that's what I have done for the last thirteen years. It was hard at first and I was often confused and misinterpreting what I heard. This new language was, indeed, quite foreign to me. After lots of practice, and some painful experiences I've finally got it down. Some of you may have some conversational ASL if you've been exposed to it, while other readers may have no idea at all, as the langugage is rare and only spoken in a small hamlet upstate. Let me tell you a little bit about it in case you come to the hamlet upstate and have the opportunity to hear this unique language.
For starters, it sounds like English with a hint of Fargo. It is very important for you to hear it, so at a later date, I'll look into getting a contract with Rosetta Stone. For now, we'll start with reading comprehension. I'll give you a word or sentence and provide the translation.
ASL: I like watching Westren (pronounced West-ren) movies. Translation: I like watching Western movies.
ASL: Want to get a drink at the tavren (pronounced tav-ren)? Translation: Want to get a drink at the tavern?
ASL: I spent $10 on this 9/11 stapler. Translation: I spent $50 on this stapler plus $10 in shipping.
ASL: Where do you do want to go for dinner? Translation: I want to go to dinner at the BBQ restaurant, the same restaurant I always want to eat it.
ASL: What do you want for dinner? Translation: What are you making for dinner?
ASL: Have you given any thought to a babysitter for Friday night? Translation: Have you gotten a babysitter for Friday night?
ASL: I'll be home at 7 pm. Translation; I'll be leaving my office at 7pm, stopping for gas and the grocery store on the way home. While there, I'll get into a conversation with a townsperson about a heated local political issue. Then I'll drive by all of our apartment buildings and down Main Street, just to see who is out an about. I'll get a mile from home and remember I needed to go to the hardware store. I'll be home at 8:30.
ASL: I need five minutes; I just have to go to the bathroom. Translation: I have to go to the bathroom. Have a seat. This is going to take a while.
ASL: You forced me to marry you. Translation: I love you more than words can express.
ASL: Those kids arent't mine. I want a paternity test. Translation: We make beautiful children.
ASL: I fed the girls dinner. Translation: We went to Mickey D's.
ASL: I just found out I have a workshop to run tonight. Translation: Three months ago I booked this workshop but I just remembered yesterday and was afraid to tell you until this morning.
ASL: Just a second. Translation: Have a seat. This is going to take a while.
ASL: Let's play it by ear. Translation: I am afraid to commit to anything or plan in advance.
ASL: Kid, if you don't pick up your doll, I'm going to bury if in the yard. Translation: Please pick up your doll or I will put it in the toy chest for you.
ASL: For your birthday, I thought you would really like this basket of jam, crackers, BBQ sauce and a mug from the zoo. Translation: I got this basket of stuff for $100 at a charity silent auction.I felt compelled to bid on it.
Don't get discouraged. I know, right now you are thinking, how in the heck am I ever going to understand ASL? This is too hard! You are too old to learn another language. Maybe your kids can take it in pre-school since it's easier to learn when you are young. (Trust me, it's been hard for my kids, too.) Just remember, Rome wasn't built in a day and nobody learned a language over night. I welcome you to upstate. Make a vacation out of it! Stay a night or stay 10 nights! Sample the cuisine (McDonald's), tour the 9/11 collection. Get your hands dirty with a working vacation- mow our lawn, help Andy install the new windows he just bought, (This is for night owls only as he does most of his big projects around 10pm.)Watch a SyFy movie with him and answer the 367 questions he has even though you've never seen the movie either. You can do it! Immerse yourself and before you know it, you too will master ASL.