I had always heard that college is the time where you can truly take classes in subjects you have never experienced before. I hadn't realized the depth of this statement until this semester, when I decided to take a Spanish linguistics and phonetics class.
Having taken Spanish since elementary school, I have always had a passion for learning the language, but most of my higher-level classes consisted of analyzing Spanish literature. I was looking forward to taking a break from this type of class, and engaging myself in something completely new. Linguistics and phonetics were two fields that I had always heard about, but never truly understood or explored. Until now.
By far my favorite class in college so far, Spanish linguistics and phonetics, has challenged me to think outside of the realm of what I generally consider when learning a language. We have barely brushed the surface of the topics covered in this class, but already I am thinking about the way I speak and the way I look at written language differently. Breaking it down to literally how we sound out consonants and vowels in Spanish, and how that differs from the English language is absolutely fascinating.
It's funny because never in a million years did I ever imagine myself taking a class where I analyze the structure and sound of the language itself. I would have never dissected the phonology, phonetics, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics of these languages, and how every language follows its own set of rules. Learning linguistics is like learning a new language in and of itself. To transcribe sentences requires a new set of skills and learning about the differences in dialect allows me to connect my knowledge and understanding of Spanish to native speakers in different Spanish-speaking countries.
When I went to Mexico over the past break, I noticed these differences in the nuances of the language between how the natives spoke and how I have learned it in college. This class has given me so many "aha" moments of why certain words are emphasized or pronounced the way that they are, and how different it is in every country. It makes me so happy to be able to apply what I learned to other places, such as when traveling. I hope to study abroad sometime in college in a Spanish-speaking country and would love to be able to recognize some of these differences in dialects during my time there.
I am so grateful that I decided to take this class, because it is honestly unlike anything I have ever taken before, and I am taken aback by how complicated yet fascinating the Spanish language truly is. To anyone deciding whether or not take a class due to its unfamiliarity, I would encourage you all to take it. You may just end up loving it.