My husband is Polish. Like so many non-native Americans, he speaks not only his native tongue fluently but also has pretty darn good English language skills as well and – as if that weren’t enough – he is modestly conversant in German. Maybe a little rusty in the German department, but he could manage… Me?
I speak American English and – if pressed – could dust off that 3.5 years of Latin I took in high school and translate some church ceilings for you, if you wanted.
I know, right? Pretty mad language skills here…
The reason I am thinking about all this today is that my Sweetie’s younger sister is taking English lessons, and we help her with lessons from time to time. Thing is, the English they are teaching – weird tenses and structures and composition rules – are NOTHING that I ever remember taking, or even know how to help her with. English is complex. English is complicated. English has rules and exceptions to those rules. English is hard.
I don’t even remember “learning” English, although there must have been lessons and lessons and lessons all through school. It is hard for me to help my Beloved or his sister when, I guess, I would never speak the way the lessons are teaching. I mean, I guess I wouldn’t. Maybe I do and just don’t realize it?
I am reminded of the brilliant essay by David Sedaris, “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” It’s like my yet-to-be-started-in-earnest journey to learn Polish. I hope you will take a few minutes and read it – it conveys my exact reservations about learning Polish. No one wants to
look sound silly. But unless we try, we cannot learn, correct?
So my Angel and I did all we could to help his sister convert spoken English into reported English, whatever the Hell that even means… I think we three ultimately wound up with a passing quiz score; I hope so. It would be pretty embarrassing for me if I helped her fail an English test, right?
I want to visit Poland with my husband in 2015. I keep putting off my lessons but know I must begin soon. Much like David Sedaris, my hope is that me talk
pretty Polish one day. Życzcie mi szczęścia!