Montreal and my language timeline
Blog post by Mark A. Cadiz @markacadiz
During my three year stint in Europe I always found the Dutch, the Germans and the Scandinavians to be well versed in languages. Their natural ability to hold conversations in two languages, and often three, was always intriguing.
I wondered, why were they better at it than the French, the Spaniards or the Italians?
I myself never had the natural feel for languages, but my early exposure to several different tongues possibly made a difference in my ability to pick up the basics of a language.
My brief history with languages goes little something like this…
By the time I was five years old I was exposed to two different Filipino dialects, Spanish and my native tongue of English. Basic French came around Grade 4 and pretty much stayed the same up to Grade 9 until I happily dropped it and took on the former colonizer’s tongue. I squeezed in a couple semesters, which by the end, superiorly surpassed the amount of elementary French I learnt in five years, figure-toi.
Around 18 I decided there was no reason to continue with languages, because English was of course, the only language I needed. My younger self couldn’t see beyond the reach of my arm, but then, Montreal happened giving me the good slap I needed.
The bilingualism was, and still is, magnetic. The only Canadian city to officially come close to mastering our official languages (70 per cent are bilingual in English and French) and not just through political will, but as a direct result of our history.
The back and forth banter and freedom to drop English and or French in one conversation is classic Montreal, no other city can compare. I honestly don’t see why Montreal isn’t the capital of the country. Note—hard line Quebecers in my dreams I know!
But that was a long time ago. Now my tongue brandishes a cultural melange of average French, broken Spanish, Canadian accented Filipino and loads of Parisien zingers. And just when I figured my brain couldn’t take on any more obscure sounds, another tempts my curiosity. I tread carefully knowing my urge to discover would be an addiction already once proven too hard to resist.
Here we go again.