Air travel and television and the internet and other technological advances have made many more opportunites to communicate with people who do not live in your own area, thus exposing one another to different cultures and languages.
Now let’s talk about me and why I am multilingual and multicultural and, consequently, very cool.
One of my grandmothers could only speak Swedish until she started school because her parents were immigrants and she was the oldest of six children. She learned English because she had to do so, living in Nebraska, U.S.A. So I took Swedish as my foreign language in college in order to please Gramma. Unfortunately, there is not much call for me to speak Swedish in Colorado, nor am I fluent, but, it might make me a little cooler. For where I live, Spanish would have been a better choice.
My father learned French when he was a young man serving in WWII because he was in France and Belgium from D-Day until the end of the war. So I took French in junior high in order to please Dad. Unfortunately, one half hour of class time twice a week in 7th and 8th grade did not make me fluent in French either. However, I am a better person for having met Mademoiselle Conn, my teacher.
Mademoiselle Conn was young, with wild red hair. Miss Peterson was old, with well-controlled white hair. She was my Latin teacher in high school. I took Latin because I had a premonition that I might go to law school, I suppose, or seminary. I’m not sorry I had two years of Latin, but I wish Mademoiselle Conn had taught it rather than Miss Peterson. Again, Spanish would have been more useful as I have had few opportunities to converse with Roman emperors. But you never know……….. I might get a ticket on a time machine.
You can’t tell by looking at me, but prior to starting law school, I had a “trial year in seminary.” There I learned a little Hebrew (very little) as part of an Old Testament course, and a little Greek (very little) in a course of a few weeks that was remedial in nature for those who had not taken Greek in college. Oh, and I took a wonderful course called “Concentration in Cross Cultural Communication” which was mostly for seminarians preparing to be missionaries.
The courses I mentioned above did little to prepare me for my greatest cross-cultural experience: being married to Miss Sugar.
My wife was raised in Texas, which is, as its tourism ads used to admit, “a whole other country.” Despite having lived in Colorado for nearly three decades, Sugar still spices up her speech with phrases such as “y’all,” and “fixin’ to,” which I kinda like.
Our marriage has also brought me into another cross-cultural experience, which is joining into an Italian family without being Italian. It kinda makes me wish I was.
That, y’all readers, is how I became multilingual, multicultural, and, well, just plain cool. Having a cool pickup and hot trophy wife don’t hurt none neither.