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ruthless compassion
11 January 2010 @ 03:37 pm
One of the things that fascinates me about my experience of nonnative language is how literal my understanding of things people say in Spanish is. It doesn't make me pause to hear someone in conversation in English say, "Oh, I was so angry I could have killed him!" I understand that to be figurative at a very unconscious level. But when someone says the same thing in Spanish, my gut reaction is utter shock at the violence of it. I presume that if I spent more time deeply immersed in a Spanish speaking culture with lots of this kind of colloquialism, I would develop more of an instinctive understanding of what those things mean.

This makes it hard to read some kinds of stories in Spanish, even though I'd like to.

Today, I ran into a slightly parallel problem, which is that I'm most accustomed to hearing the word for "heart" in poetic and romantic contexts: popular music, movies, etc. But I'm translating a piece for work in which "heart" refers to the organ. In Spanish, as in English, the word is the same, but it just feels wrong!