This week, focus on being hyper aware and observant when you are out in public: start scanning anything and everything [written] for your target language. I see Spanish everywhere I go. Stuck in traffic one day, I noticed that someone had spelled with their finger on the back [dusty] window of a truck, “Lávame” [‘LAH-bah-may’]. If you don’t speak Spanish, you might not have noticed; but I laughed because it means, “Wash me!”
My t-shirts say, “Hecho en…” (“A-choh-en”/Made in…). The label on a bottle of wine at the supermarket said, “Cielo rojo“, or red sky. The lunch buffet at my grocery store offered, “Ropa Vieja“, which literally means, “old clothes”, but refers to one of Cuba’s national dishes, recipe HERE. The Jeep brand, “Leer” (“lay-air”) means, “to read” in Spanish. When you see a Chevy “Nova”, read it as two words–no va–which means, “doesn’t go” in Spanish (NOTE: that the car sold poorly in Latin America is a legend, but it is still a nice mental check to practice your target language on the go!).
If you are studying another language, you can still keep your eyes peeled. So many signs are translated these days (more on this HERE), and words will jump out at you when you really start looking. This morning, I stopped to ask two people what language they were speaking. (Albanian!) I see Braille everywhere, when I look for it. Fun fact: Did you know that they intentionally made euros different sizes [of bills], so that the blind and visually impaired could tell the difference in value?
If you stay in more than go out, scan your kitchen. Look at the tiny print on products, warranties and instruction manuals, stickers on electronics, phones, directions, etc. I love trying to guess which language(s) I see in translations and hear out in public. If you want an “extra credit” ear exercise for this week, check out this game HERE. You can choose “audio” to guess the language by listening, or “alphabet” to guess what language is written.
Look for the language, and it will find you! As Rumi writes [literal translation], “Anything in search of instant, instant“; or, more poetically, “What you seek is also seeking you“.
Originally, in Persian (aka Farsi): هر چیزی که در جستن آنی، آنی