Monday, December 20, 2004


If you speak three tongues, you're trilingual. Two, you're bilingual. One? American.

I can follow some of a conversation in German or in Spanish, if the topic is very simple or if the speakers are talking more slowly than any native speaker ever does. I can usually understand advertisements and instructions in Spanish, and on rare occasions have made my way through technical papers written in German. And I know enough Cantonese to identify a few types of tea and food, to count and maybe tell time, and to say things like thank you, I know, what is that?, where are you?, and chicken head.

I'm effectively monolingual, and I'm self-conscious about it.