I have spent the better part of my life trying to find the right words: the right words for school papers, and tests, and excuses; the right words to express attraction, to break up, to try again; the right words for characters, and stories, and plot. My words have been my refuge, my armor, and my livelihood.
I decided recently that I wanted to learn Gàidhlig. (Fair warning, if you read Outlander, you will find yourself wanting to do such things. It has also made me dig out my old herbals, develop a fast and furious love of whisky, and it had reminded me how very, very much I adore a man in a kilt.)
For once, though, words fail me. (Or perhaps I fail them.) I have to stop and think more about what I want to say. (Which, knowing me, is a very prudent thing, indeed.) I struggle to convey my meaning and to find just the right word to express the feeling I hold in my heart.
As a very verbal person, it is humbling to try to shape the words…the sounds…the meaning.
Every time a thought strikes me, my hand reaches for the English/Gàidhlig dictionary so that I can try to reframe the thought. I have words and pronunciations written on post-it notes, tucked in my coat pocket, scribbled on the back of envelopes. But despite the struggle, I adore it. The sound of the words, the cadence, the intonation.
My children have already picked up a few phrases. This could be due to the fact that I once told them that some words were simply more satisfying to say in other languages…particularly insults and curses.
My eldest child is taking French in school. (And she is trying to self-teach Japanese, bless her heart. She adores manga.) My middle child is taking Spanish, but is only really fluent in the American “pre-teen” dialect. My youngest speaks “Boy” which, close as I can tell, consists of a bunch of grunts, snorts, and the occasional term of endearment (but only if his friends aren’t around).
I suppose this makes us polyglots.
Perhaps my mostly-forgotten-French and only-slightly-better-Spanish no longer “count,” but certainly any language I try to learn after the age of 40, based only on a love of the language, should count for something.
Chan eil aon chànan gu leòr.