My parents are linguists. They spent half of their lives in translation projects, working on languages like Greek and Hebrew. Big words like phonetics, syntax, phonology and semantics are not foreign in our house. My dad can speak more than 8 dialects and can easily learn a new one in a few days.
I had been trying to learn Arabic for a month now. I had been throwing a phrase or two here and there. Last night the Captain was talking to his sister Sarah and he gave me the phone to say hello. I went blank and everything I practiced for weeks just flew away.
I wanted so bad to talk to her, tell her crazy things her brother does, ask her what she’s doing, invite her to come visit us and ask if I could listen to her baby cry. But I froze and all I could say was marhaba and ma‘a salama.
I can imagine my dad laughing at me. Until I learn how to go beyond hello and goodbye in Arabic, I am a disgrace to my parents.