Tuesday, June 21, 2011

i conjugate, you conjugate, we conjugate.

i'm going to college to become a teacher.

this is very natural to me. my mother is a teacher. so is my father. so are my aunt, uncle, grandma, other aunt, and about... fifteen of my grandmother's eight million cousins. and a few of my great aunts. i have a lot of those running around ohio.

my number one goal is to be an english teacher. that's high school english, not seventh grade english where all you do is write out spelling words and do grammar worksheets. i want to be that awesome teacher who makes hamlet fun and can actually manage to get you to read charles dickens without committing suicide. i believe we call this class literature, not english. that is my ultimate goal.

my second goal (penultimate, perhaps?) is to teach spanish. by the time i graduate, i hope to be fluent (and hopefully have studied abroad in argentina) and be that nice spanish teacher who lets you pick a spanish name and brings chips and salsa to class every friday. i will help you say "me llamo bob, como estas?" i want to do that. i really do.

while i was sitting in my first college spanish class the other day, i realized that there's a distinct possibility that i will teach english.

in spanish.

i thought about this long and hard instead of writing down all the conjugations for irregular spanish verbs in the preterite. (i am seriously regretting this, my final is tomorrow.) the kids i would be teaching would be fluent in spanish and i would be teaching them how to say, "hello, my name is bob, how are you?" instead of "me llama bob, como estas?" i'd have to think in spanish. speak in spanish. and try to teach my native language. and when i speak in english, i'd get all those looks that we give my current spanish teacher when she rambles in spanish. those looks of, "what the hell, slow down, the only word i got out of that was 'libro'. which i forgot under my bed."

for about a day, i thought that this would be absolutely terrific.

then i realized that english is the hardest language to learn, besides russian and arabic. i don't think english has a single regular verb. and remember that blog where i wrote about the word terrific? yeah, we have probably five times as many verbs as every other language.

in spanish, we conjugate all the time. yo hablo, tu hablas, el/ella/usted habla, nosotros hablamos, ellos/ellas/ustedes hablan.

i talk, you talk, he/she talks, we talk, they talk.

english conjugates in the weirdest ways.

we don't have set endings like spanish does. sure, we add an s in the third person singular for the present, and in the past we drop the e and add ed. remember that craziness from third grade and you kept asking, why do we drop the e when we just add it again with the d? i sure remember asking that. and then there's the whole mess of not having an e at the end, then it's just add ed, right? sure, until you get to stupid verbs like can. and will. but that gets into future tense. we won't go there.

in english, just about every single one of our verbs is irregular. can you imagine trying to memorize that? and CONTRACTIONS. oh lord, contractions. i spent an entire day trying to speak without using a single contraction, and it was ridiculously hard. i also felt terrifically snobby.

english is hard. and stupid.

we don't think about it, but we conjugate all the time. all those irregular verbs, we conjugate them all the time without evening thinking about it.

i conjugate. you conjugate. he conjugates. she conjugates. we conjugate. they conjugate. the WORLD conjugates.

so much conjugation, so little time.

there's also the problem of infinitives (los infinitivos!). in spanish, they're all one word and super nice. conjugate it, and you've got a verb in whatever tense you conjugated it in! yippee! we can make verbs!

in english, we can turn anything, including nouns, into infinitives.

all ya gotta do is stuck 'to' in front of it and BAM, infinitive time.

to swim. to run. to blog. to grammar. to college.

in college (at least at mine), if you don't know your greek letters for your frats and sororities, you are told this: "learn to college." and if you suck at grammar, well, you better "learn to grammar." i'm okay with the greek stuff. i can sing you the greek alphabet. and i actually know the difference between your and you're, unlike all of my facebook friends.

look at us cool college kids, inventing infinitives and not knowing how to use contractions and possessives.

english is verbose and strange enough that we can invent just about whatever we want. like that time back in 1888 where we suddenly decided to make terrific mean fantabulous and not frightening.

i'm waiting for the day when i get to say, "caída de la e y añadir ed" to my new students who want to learn english.

drop the e and add ed.

(forgive my lack of spanish accents, i'm terrible with alt keys. another personality flaw.)

No comments:

Post a Comment