How many Dialects are there?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Take That, Rosetta!.”

The problem I see is that there are so many languages to pick from that I can’t chose just one to concentrate on.  I’ve learned a few over the years, Japanese, German, French and can be rather proficient in them.  One or two others are just offshoots of the Latin from high school, I can muddle through portions of them.  But I rarely use anything but the Japanese and that’s for work.  The language I have longed to understand is that of “love”.  I’ve dabbled in it throughout my life, all 43 years have brought different dialects, but mainly I would like to be able to wake up tomorrow morning and understand that.

From the time I was little my parents have loved me.  Periodically the kind of love you find smothering when all you want to do is grab the car keys and head out to eat with friends.  My dad gleefully letting go of my little red bike as I careened down the hill in the backyard when I was 6.  The look on my mother’s face when they dropped me off for college, her oldest starting a path all of his own.  The phone being the line of defense for everyone.  I’d call my dad two or three times a week to talk about some computer issue, but I just as easily could have read the instructions.  We’d conference call in my mother from her office as well.  15 minutes of “Are you eating?” and “Make sure you go to class, even the boring ones!”   These days it’s text messages making sure I’m on the right side of the dirt!  [gallows humor from a hospital bed?]

The most varied of those dialects has to be the kind of love you feel for friends.  I care about my neighbors, have spent years watching their kids grow from infants to adults.  Tutored some of them, played basketball when they needed an extra body, but it’s not the drop everything and sit on the couch while you cry kind of love.  I’ve reserved that for only a few in my life.  This dialect is the second hardest to master, it changes over the years.  Deepens my mastery with some, goes away with others, the ability to communicate strangely effected by emotions and physical distance.

I’m trying to study a version right now that requires me to practice on my own?  Trying to periodically explore my ability to get the right idea across to someone without saying the wrong thing.  Well French class was much easier, those headphones blocking out others from hearing me recite “Je suis Lary”.  My voice cracking from nerves and puberty.  I carefully poured over the letter before sending it, but I guess my words weren’t in the right order?  Maybe I had changed the tense to the present perfect when we are only to remain friends in the past?  It would have been an interesting time sitting across the table in some language lab learning together how to process this new line of communication.

Romantic love, a language that has so many dialects of it’s own maybe we should think of it as a separate language.  I’ve had a deep understanding of it three times in my life.  That first time, stumbling for words, hoping you got the right ones out and don’t get tongue tied the first time you tell someone you love them.  The problem that time was that she was there one day and gone the next, but that wasn’t her fault.  Just her time to leave us all.

The second time was a confusing one.  We’d meet up and try to communicate, but we definitely were speaking from different regions.  And by the time we each traveled enough to understand what the other was saying, the language has morphed into something else.  Only to return back to it’s origins at a later date.  Her speaking French, me speaking Belgian French when we could have learned Swiss together?

This last round I thought I had finally gotten some incite into my language skills.  It wasn’t that I didn’t struggle at times, my brain unable to get the words out correctly.  Sometimes I even mixed up the phrases.  Saying something stupid, when I should have just kept quiet.  For a decade I thought I was finally getting it right.  I was enjoying my studies, knowing that time was going to deepen my mastery.  Only my lab partner was starting to have problems understanding.  The lessons she was getting elsewhere differed, her family spoke another dialect that they stopped teaching me.  Hard to communicate under those conditions.  Maybe an immersion class would have been better for us?  I still long to practice this one, but I think I’m the only one who does.

But there is one version I know I have mastered.  Every little piece of dialog easily coming forth.  My daughter had my full attention to my studies.  Where there words I was going to screw up?  There would come a time when the dialect would start to diverge.  My French would not be the same as hers.  Maybe she would even pick up Russian for a while, and all I know how to do is utter a few curse words in that language!  [Thanks to a philosophy professor who would write them on the blackboard and later use them for extra credit.  Damn double negatives!]  I continue to practice my writing skills with her, even though she’ll never be able to read them.  While that dialect of love will not grow any further, it doesn’t mean that I won’t hold silent conversations from time to time.  There’s a class I miss.

So while I understand the romance languages as taught in school, the language of love is something I continue to struggle with.

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