Only a matter of time before I started quoting James Joyce. From Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:
The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine. How different are the words home, Christ, ale, master, on his lips and on mine! I cannot speak or write these words without unrest of spirit. His language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired speech. I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at bay. My soul frets in the shadow of his language.
What’s up, sulkster? But he’s got a point about the way the Irish say English words. That list of words, Home Christ Ale Master, has stuck in my head ever since I went to Dublin and an Irish guy named Terry Dolan said the words for me, for the group, and then had an English guy say them to show the difference.
It’s true, Joyce chose four words which really pronounce the Irish inflection. They feature vowel and consonant sounds of the Irish alphabet as it was before the Irish spoke English, sounds which the Irish accent has maintained. The four words he chose are also vital, what I think of as mother words, really fundamental. Even “master” could be fundamental, for people truely in a position of subservience. Massa.
Anyway, it’s got me thinking, what are the words in Spanish which I will never pronounce like I’m supposed to? Assuming I actually get good at Spanish, I mean.
I have a feeling my Home Christ Ale Master will contain many Rs. Also my LLs are whack, in a way that I’m already determining is enjoyable.
“¿Qué dijiste, MC?”
“Ya fuí a la taquilla.”
“Fuí a la taquilla. Ya compré los boletos.”
“¿Fuiste a la qué?”
“A la taquiya”
“Ah, a la taquiyYya”
“Sí, taquilla– ¡Es lo qué dijé!”
I guess what I enjoy is that my “yuh” versus their “eyyuh” is so noticeable to them, and so unnoticeable to me. I find it funny.
I realize this attitude dooms me to Gringo Accent Forever, or in Stephen Daedelus terms, never owning the language. In a way, though, I kind of love the idea of making it my own instead.
This is all part of an idea I’d like to roll with, that Spanglish es la onda del futuro. Speaking in cognates, cool adaptations, or words that cross the border in interesting ways like “yo.” Kinda quiero pushalo.
So maybe that’s less James Joyce and more Anthony Burgess anyway.