Killer Crónicas: Bilingual Memories by Susana Chávez-Silverman

I bought this book, “Killer Cronicas,” today at my favorite locally owned bookstore in Santa Ana, C.A. called Libreria Martinez. My sister Sarah Rafael Garcia introduced me to the bookstore when she did her first reading there this past summer. I enjoy going to this bookstore when I visit partially because the owner, Rueben Martinez, is so friendly and excited about all of his books, but also because it has quite an array of Latino books there. Everything from children’s, teenage, and adult texts color the bookshelves of this well known establishment. The owner was recently honored in the Ornage Country Register as holding a “PhD in Life.” If you were to walk into his bookstore you would certainly feel as if you had known him all your life. He has that kind of energy and charisma with people.At any rate, the reason I’m writing this post is because I picked up a book that called out to me. The author, Susana Chavez-Silverman,  reminded me of someone I could become. In short, her book is a memoir, of her experiences as a bilingual individual living here in the US and abroad. She offers an interesting perspective. It made me realize that sometimes language experiences can be told as they are. It also made me realize that the interpretations I am telling are very hmm analytical? Maybe very much a proactive, hands-on analysis of my language experiences…maybe my readers can tell me.

Language is fluid….

“Language is fluid.” Something I heard at La Cosecha Conference a few years ago in New Mexico. The comment has sort of been implanted in my mind since then. Everytime I contemplate or try to make sense of the use of language in my life I remember this statement made by a researcher from the Center for Applied Linguistics (www.cal.org). English is fluid and one of the characteristics that I  love about it is that it is very fluid. Partially because we don’t have a “language academy” regulating the “proper” use of terms. Don’t get me wrong, for many different reasons I wish the English language did have an “academy,” just as I wish the US had an official language, actually I wish it had two official languages, English & Spanish. For instance, for some time now I have been evaluating the use of hyphenated words in the English language.  We use them all the time, informally and formally.A couple of my friends, one from Spain and the other from Venezuela, pointed out how versatile hyphenated words are in English, something they haven’t really experienced as much in Spanish. Since then I have seen them everywhere! On advertisements, in my own blog, and in social settings. I did a little research of my own and found several websites, most by English professors, describing the rules behind the use of hyphenated words. Apparently, if you are using a hyphenated words such as, “big-eared,” an adjective, then it must be hyphenated, just like “passion-driven writing.” I also learned that words go through various phases before they become “one word,” like the word “database,” at one point it was considered two words. The hyphenated version may actually be a phase depending on how “catchy” the word is, it may actually become one word! See how fluid English can be. Both my friends that brought this to my attention said that sure there are hyphenated words in Spanish, but they’re not used or invented as loosely as they are in English. I love it!As I was thinking about this it dawned on me once again that IF I spent an extended amount of time in a Spanish speaking country these are the sort of observations I may make on my own. Once again I yearn to live in a Spanish speaking country to further my exploration of how I acquire a second language, but also to notice all of the  little details that constitute a language.