Sunday, February 3, 2013

That Amazing Brain

This morning while dressing Raphaela, I made an astounding observation regarding her speech patterns:   I,  born and raised into adulthood in the United States, consider English my mother tongue, Spanish my first "foreign" language, and Hebrew my second foreign language.  My Spanish has fallen to the wayside because of disuse, and now I flow freely between Hebrew and English, living in Jerusalem, Israel and treating mostly Hebrew-speaking clients. 

I still prefer to read my English newspapers, and rarely read a Hebrew novel. Recently I bought the diaries of the Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon and his son (RIP) the fighter pilot Assaf Ramon; the book was published in memory of the tenth anniversary of Ilan Ramon's death, along with the rest of the crew of the space shuttle Columbia.  I have started it and continue to happily slog through the Hebrew, a point of frustration for me, as in English I speed read and can finish an entire novel in an hour.

When I make errors in Hebrew, it is most often because my head has translated a phrase incorrectly from my native and more comfortable English.

When Raphaela speaks full sentences in English, she's good.  Her Hebrew is already better and in some ways more sophisticated than mine, thanks to her Gan experience. When she speaks mish-mash sentences, it becomes an encryption challenge that demands a solution (think "The Da Vinci Code" in toddler speak), and my brain has become quite adept at the skill.  When she makes mistakes in English, it is because she is fact translating a phrase in her head...from her native and more comfortable Hebrew.

"Mah Rabu Maasecha!" [Hebrew for "How great are your deeds and creations, Oh Lord!"]

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