An So Then?

La Voz de Galicia – February 1, 2019 →

Cristina PatoIt had been some time since I had last seen him, and the truth was that he seemed somewhat ill. I asked him how he was, and he answered that he had just been released from the hospital. Then I told him, «And so then?» and he laughed and said, «And so then I went home, why?» My friend is Mexican-American, bilingual in Spanish and English, and we always chat using Spanglish, that linguistic mix so common in the USA. I never thought about how much Galician there is in my Spanish—I am more conscious of how much Spanish there is in my Galician; for example, I’ve never stopped to think about the meaning of the phrase, «e logo?»* for someone who is not Galician.

Listening to my colleagues’ reaction when I speak about the curious case of Galicia’s bilingualism is fascinating, and not being an expert on the subject I simply speak to them about my family’s usage and one of the varied truths of the bilingualism in which we live. My parents, who met in Caracas, Venezuela, during the 60s, spoke Galician with everyone except their daughters, doctors, and teachers. Even today, I only get to speak with my mother in Galician when we speak about the past or about her village. Even then, when she realizes she is speaking to her daughter, she goes back to speaking Spanish. It’s like she’s two different people—just like I am different when I speak Galician, Spanish, or English.

The truth is that our bilingualism contains stories that are sometimes difficult to synthesize. The meaning of the Galician language for my parents’ generation (and social circumstances) was very different from this meaning for my generation and for younger generations. But in all contexts, it is a decision we must take since our linguistic difference is as beautiful as it is necessary to convey what we are.

*Translator’s Note: While the English phrase «And so then» comes close, there is no exact translation for the colloquial Galician phrase «e logo.»

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