October 8, 2009 | Arabic
My Multilingual Neighbors
A walk through my building's lobby gives me multiple foreign-language opportunities.
Today Brandt got a huge splinter in his foot—the biggest I’ve ever seen. After dramatic surgery in the bathroom, I went to the drugstore and got bandages, because we were out.
On the way out of the building, I briefly spoke Spanish to an older, natty-looking neighbor of mine, and then German to another older, natty-looking neighbor who is always very friendly to me. (There are hundreds of units in our building, so I don’t know everyone by name, though I know the majority by sight.)
On the way back into the building from the drugstore, I spoke Spanish to some workers from our building. These were all brief, inconsequential exchanges, but I got such a kick out of them, and out of switching back and forth between languages. I think I will soon be able to have a lot more of this type of conversation. I hope so anyway.
Russian and Arabic really do seem to have a number of similarities, especially when compared to Western languages I have studied.
For example, they both have one-word equivalents for what are more complicated constructions in English (if these are faulty transliterations, the fault is mine):
- lazim in Arabic = nuzhena in Russian = “it is necessary” in English
- momken in Arabic = mozhena in Russian = “it is possible” in English