Monday, November 02, 2009

Out of Memory

A couple days ago we realized that we are quickly running out of space on our computer's hard drive. I love being married to a photographer, but the thousands of pics take up a lot of memory. While we have most of our photos backed up to an external hard drive, I really enjoy having them on our actual computer as well so that they are ready and available whenever I feel like playing with them. And so, yesterday I started deleting all of the unused programs in order to make more room for the new.

I think my brain works the same way. There's only so much space in my active, retrievable memory, so when I learn something new, something else has to go. Whatever happened to high school calculus anyway? And chemistry? How about that beginning Vietnamese?

The loss of these subjects is kind of a pity, but for the most part it's not a big deal since I don't have much of a need for them at the moment. But what about when there are two things you really want to access simultaneously, but your brain just doesn't seem big enough?

For me, this is the case with romance languages. When French goes in, Spanish goes out. If I put my mind back in Spanish-speaking mode, my French flies out the window. For some reason, the two languages are so similar that I can't seem to sort them out. While I can still understand both, when I try to switch back and forth, I produce garbled utterances like "Je suis muy confundida." Gotta love franpagnol.

Now that we're back in the States, I'm faced with a quandary about whether or not to "delete" my French in order to make room in my memory for Spanish. While Spanish is certainly more useful here, I feel reluctant to mentally switch over, having worked so hard to acquire French. Most of all, I long for the mental agility to keep both languages separate and active. Any suggestions?


Hugh said...

Get a back up hard drive for your brain?

Annie said...

Bisous à votre bien belle famille. Bien heureuse de lire de vos nouvelles régulièrement. Je ne comprends pas vraiment de quoi tu parles à propos des conséquences de la nourriture française... Sourire! En tout cas pas à elle seule, il y a forcément la gourmandise qui va avec. Bon courage pour le régime! Tout plein de gros bisous à vous tous.

Tanja said...

Getting the Disney DVD's with French and Spanish language tracks :) this way ... when you have to watch the Little Mermaid again for the 50 times à day you can switch between the languages now and then.

Mrs. M said...

Can you find other francophones in your area to occasionally hang out with and practice your French? Or read Le Livre de Mormon or le Petit Prince or some other book in French with P'titGazon to keep it fresh? There's French news:

Mom L said...

Oh, I'd hate to think you'd have to give up French to keep your Spanish. Hugh's suggestion rocks. Being a non-linguist, I am totally envious of anyone who can even speak one foreign language and thinking I really need to learn Spanish right now.

Erin Gibbons said...

Hey Kara! So when I was on my mission I couldn't produce the two separately until about 8-9 months, then they were both there and at the same level. Part of this was of course that I was a missionary and at around then I was transferred to Geneva where I needed to use my Spanish, but for me it just took time to get the French in there and in the meantime Spanish had to go somewhere in the back of my brain. I'd say finding ways to produce both languages regularly is probably your best bet, although it's hard to find ways to speak simultaneous French if there aren't any other speakers around! Maybe reading out loud to yourself.