Crossing Conversational Borders

by Lindajoy Fenley
A Mexican college student on the bus from Mexico City to Cuernavaca recently challenged me to translate the word embrace to Spanish when referring to the enthusiastic acceptance of an idea. Can’t be done, he said. Mexicans, he explained, embrace people, but not thoughts or ideas.

I hadn’t tried to use embrace in that way when speaking Spanish, but I might not have avoided it if I hadn’t had that conversation on the bus. I try to push my brain into another gear when I switch languages because every culture has concepts that are unique. I want to think in Spanish when I speak that language. Likewise, when I want to embrace a foreign concept in English, I feel compelled to add a new word to my vocabulary.

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IMG_3745Visiting Aquino-Cruz family in Oaxaca, México