Tim Tams and wholemeal bread: more Spanish words that expand my faith

I’ve been reading the Psalms in Spanish. Scripture is my main connection to this language these days and I absolutely love how I can glean new insights from a text I’ve read countless times. A few years back, I wrote about the six Spanish words that changed my faith. Recently, I found two more to add to this set. Both are words I discovered on … Continue reading Tim Tams and wholemeal bread: more Spanish words that expand my faith

The real reason I speak Spanish: how trifles can transform your life

People are often surprised and curious that I am fluent in Spanish. It is a random language for an Australian – let alone an Asian Australian – to dedicate themselves to. We’re a multicultural but otherwise monolingual kinda nation and learning Spanish presents you with just the one job prospect: teaching Spanish. I enjoy surprising and impressing people with this. I enjoy that it’s a … Continue reading The real reason I speak Spanish: how trifles can transform your life

Is political correctness impoverishing or enriching our language?

“That’s so gay” Back in my school days, everything was gay. Science class was gay, bumbags were gay, a chip packet missing a Tazo was gay. Of course, no one says that anymore. In this day and age, it’s frowned upon to use gay in a derogatory way. Or really to mean anything other than homosexual, even if the original meaning of the word was … Continue reading Is political correctness impoverishing or enriching our language?

The problem with American

Last week, on my flight from New York back to Sydney, I binge watched Season 1 of The Newsroom. It’s a series created by Aaron Sorkin, the guy behind The West Wing, with Jeff Daniels playing Will McAvoy, an anchorman on cable news.

In the opening scene of the series pilot, Will is on a panel with a Democrat and a Republican at a university, when a student asks the panel: “What makes America the greatest country in the world?”

The question triggers an epic and rousing outburst from Will, who dresses down both major political parties and rails about why America is no longer the greatest country on earth.

“But it could be”, he then says in softer tones.

That first season of The Newsroom aired in 2012, before Donald Trump ever campaigned for president, promising to “make America great again”.

Coincidence? I doubt it. Continue reading The problem with American

Sorry, what do you mean?

I’ve been considering whether National Sorry Day would be more or less controversial if we spoke Spanish. There are a couple of ways to say “sorry” in Spanish: Disculpa/Perdóname Literally “Excuse (me)” and “Pardon/Forgive me”. This form conveys an element of fault on the part of the speaker. A sincere apology and plea for forgiveness would use these verb forms. At the same time, perdón and disculpa are sometimes also … Continue reading Sorry, what do you mean?

How South America messed me up good

People always ask me about my time in South America. Some are genuinely interested, while for others it’s the polite and logical thing to ask. In either case, the truth is that these conversations have started to get a bit repetitive and I’m often left wishing I could say more than: that Latinos are warmer; that Andean dishes contain too many carbs; that working with survivors of child sexual abuse was hard as you’d imagine but so rewarding; that I’m not sure how to answer your question about how good my Spanish is.

The worst thing is that I can’t seem to do Bolivia and Ecuador justice – not in a brief conversation that could turn to a different topic at any given moment.

So below are a few noteworthy things I don’t generally get to share about the impact that my time in South America has had on me as a person and who I am now. Continue reading How South America messed me up good

Is that MY voice?

So there is this hilarious line from The Emperor’s New Groove we always quote. The villainous Yzma turns into a cat and suddenly her voice goes into chipmunk mode. “Is THAT my voice?” she exclaims, confused. “Is that MY voice?” I am increasingly feeling like this little feline. What’s with that accent? Sometimes I hear myself and am surprised by my own speech. Now this is normal when, for example, … Continue reading Is that MY voice?