Ruh-roh, I think my brain is re-wiring
Posted by David Chandler on April 26, 2014
Spanish is starting to sound natural to me. This is very, very good news. But English… I can hardly spit this out: I’ve been making spelling mistakes. With increasing frequency, Gmail or Google Docs has put a red squiggly under a word after I’ve moved on the next one. At first I questioned why the spellchecker didn’t have certain words in the dictionary. But as it’s kept happening, I’m afraid there might be a better explanation. Spelling mistakes are very much a new thing for me (go ahead and laugh–please remember that I was very disappointed when I came runner up in the 3rd or 4th grade spelling bee). The other night, it took me until the next morning to remember the instinctive spelling of “legitimate.” For a long time, I sat staring at the red squiggly. I tried all kinds of things that didn’t make the squiggly go away and only the next day while I was walking downtown or maybe sitting in the kitchen, the word suddenly sort of appeared in my brain and it was obvious again.
Spelling isn’t all that’s wrong, however. I routinely find, upon re-reading what I’ve written, that left a word out or put in one the wrong order. This is very troubling! I have rarely needed to double-check my writing for grammar and spelling mistakes. No the purpose of revision is to smooth any rough edges [ok, this is getting ridiculous–the errors in the second sentence were for fun, but I really did forget the comma after “No” just now]. There are two possible explanations for this phenomenon. One is that I’m getting old. Of course, I know better than that. The second is that as I learn Spanish, my brain is somehow re-wiring. If that truly is the case, then I am left in complete awe of the Creator of the human mind. The capacity for learning our first language is a miracle, especially when you consider that two year olds do it. But the capacity to learn a second language at age 43, well… it blows my mind.