Thursday, November 7, 2013

Google As A Second Language

I am sitting beside my new friend, Fernando from Uruguay, at the hostel I’m currently working for in Tel Aviv. He barely speaks English, and I barely speak Spanish, and yet we are talking our ears off, having some of the most enlightening conversations each of us have ever had.

It completely blows my mind how technology and the Internet have revolutionized our means of communication. 15 years ago, the language barrier would have made it almost impossible for us to have a decent conversation. Sure, there would have been a dictionary available… but flipping through the pages would have been painful, and the momentum of the exchange would have been lost.

Now, there are tons of Apps on our mobile phones to aid us in this dilemma. For instance, Fernando and I started off using I-translate to talk. Eventually, we moved on to having our laptops open and typed away using Google Translate. It was completely bizarre because we were chatting online, but we were right next to each other.

The words were typed, but the interaction was live. No need for “LOL’s” because when we laughed, we really did!

It’s amazing what the world has come to, isn’t it? A lot of people I know resist change, especially the ones of technological nature… But I have learned to embrace these changes and I enjoy going with the flow of it.

A New Goal

Those of you who have been following my posts will effectively deduce that I am in love with Italy. And this is mostly because of the people I’ve met there. Being there, surrounded by the passionate Italians inspired me to learn the language. Now, having met so many people from Spain and South America, I am inspired to learn Spanish. My first language love also happens to be French (and I have a tattoo on my wrist to prove it), so I am in a predicament. I don’t know which language I should learn first! 

One thing is for sure though… Because of the experience with Fernando, and all the other travelers from Italy and South America I have connected with, I am motivated to take up and master these languages to break the barriers of communication. 

Did you guys ever see the movie, Spanglish? One scene in particular stands out to me... It was when Adam Sandler's character was confronted by Paz Vega's character about her child being sent to a private school. They had a really inspiring and poignant conversation... and even if she's been working for him for a few months, this was the first time that they really talked because she had just learned how to speak in English. Before Paz left, Adam says to her - "You... speaking English... It's nice to meet you."
I thought that was a great moment, because it just shows you how crucial language is in human relationships.

If the goal a few years ago was to travel the world, the new goal is to be multi-lingual... to be able to connect with more people on a deeper level as I travel the world. :)


It has become even more evident to me now why I have been given the gift of a musical ear.  Apart from being able to pick up musical cues and melodies really easily, I have a good ear for accents as well. Now, having spent time in other countries speaking different languages, I have discovered that learning foreign languages comes pretty naturally to me too. My only regret is that I didn’t start earlier… But that’s neither here nor there. The point is – this is what I want to do now, and I’m going to work at it for as long as it takes. 

This strong desire to be multi-lingual came as a surprise to me... only because I didn't realize I was capable of feeling excitement and motivation for something new again so soon. It feels great having a new aspiration though. To be able to take off and travel the world - and survive it - has taken up most of the past two years... And now that I'm doing it... that I'm 7 months in and still going strong, it's such a great realization that we, as humans, never stop evolving.  That there's always something new that you can do or learn or experience. I should be exhausted, really, but I'm glad that I have an insatiable appetite for learning, and for life in general. 

At the moment, I would have to settle for the basic capabilities of Google Translate (and my impeccable enunciation) to carry on with my new friendship with Fernando.  It can get frustrating sometimes, with Google losing out on the context... but I'll take it any day if it means being able to connect with a kindred spirit on a deeper level than basic words, hand gestures, and smiles.

Hablo con tigo la semana que viene!
Je te parle la semaine prochaine!
Ti parlo la setimana prossima!