I am a bit of a language addict. I usually try to hide it, and when I do take language classes I try to give good sound, logical reasons for why I’m there, but often my real reasons don’t seem very sober or reasonable. I’ve recently decided to just embrace this little nerdy fixation of mine. Sometimes a language just strikes me as particularly beautiful, or is connected to something I love or am interested in studying more, and I think that’s reason enough.
My current language fixation is Portugese. I’m a full-time grad student in linguistics, which ironically means I don’t have time to learn languages at the moment, but if I did, Portugese would be first on my list. It’s a lovely lilting spoken language as well as the original of writings that mean a lot to me. It’s the language of Jose Saramago and Paulo Freire. It’s the language of ancient Lisbon coffeehouses and Mediterranean fisherman. In its Brazilian incarnation, it’s the language simultaneously of some of the most atrocious and the most enlightened policies concerning the treatment of indigenous peoples. It’s the language of a handful of African countries as well, each with their own cultural influence on the Portugese that arrived on their shores. And it’s the language of musical genres found nowhere else in the world, from fado to morna to samba. Cape Verdean Portugese is the language of the incredible Cesaria Evora.
If anyone is trying to think of a nice present to get me, may I suggest some Portugese textbooks and about 10 extra hours every day?