Procrastinating (but not in Spanish)
I was reading Henrick Oprea’s latest post about language and thought and he posed some interesting questions about how much of our thinking is related to the language we can use. I’ve been living in Spain for six years now and I’m nowhere near fluent, but I rarely find that I can’t express myself as I use the language I know to get my point across.
However, there are some things which simply don’t translate well into Spanish and a word which has cropped up with my students recently is “procrastination”. I’ve checked a variety of sources (well, two – Google Translate and my partner’s Spanish-English dictionary) and the word has different translations, none of which convey what the word actually means: indecisión (indecision), dilación (delay) and morosidad (slowness in paying).
Whilst I find it frustrating when students ask me to translate Spanish phrases which lose their meaning when put into English, I also quite like the fact that some things are more easily conveyed in different languages. I think it adds to our cultural identity that there are some things which are Spanish, like Fería, which is nothing like a town fair in the UK; or British, like gravy!
I find it so interesting how you can decipher so much about a country and a culture through the language it uses. I always remember my fifth grade teacher telling us about the native Alaskans who have more than 35 words for snow while we have just a handful. The words we use reveal what is important to us.