- to make or become definite or clear
“Crystallization is a separation and purification technique employed to produce a wide variety of materials. Crystallization may be defined as a phase change in which a crystalline product is obtained from a solution. A solution is a mixture of two or more species that form a homogenous single phase. Solutions are normally thought of in terms of liquids, however, solutions may include solids (in) suspension. Typically, the term solution has come to mean a liquid solution consisting (of) a solvent, which is a liquid, and a solute, which is a solid, at the conditions of interest. The solution to be ready for crystallization must be supersaturated.”
“The term supersaturation refers to a solution that contains more of the dissolved material than could be dissolved by the solvent under normal circumstances.”
example (same entry):
“Carbonated water is a supersaturated solution of carbon dioxide gas in water. At the elevated pressure in the bottle, more carbon dioxide can dissolve in water than at atmospheric pressure.”
Ah-ha! Well, there it is folks. And now I am going to pretend to own and understand a bit of science for the sake of a metaphor….
Here in the Dominican, Dan, Felicia and I have taken on the reto of mastering spanish. And at the present moment, the muddled mess inside our minds is the solution. The pila of Spanish we process ever day is the solute. Our intelligence, ability, and will to learn is the solvent.
The mastery of a foreign language, the slow and deliberate manner by which understanding begins to take shape and form in your mind, I call that crystallization theory. And I think the only way to do it is through supersaturation.
Good thing Español is everywhere. Literally, everywhere. Cualquier lugar tu miras. On every medium you can think of. Cada medio.
The television, the radio, the web—ads, newspapers, on billboards and telephone poles and storefronts– on packaging and print material. Overheard at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, from the backseat of the camioneta, in the form of phone calls by Inexis at the office, or coworkers charlando in the comedor at the Hogar. And on the tip of our tongue throughout the day, as we try and employ it with some sort of efficiency and accuracy.
Learning a new idoma in small doses prescribed to yourself at your own convenience will never work. A new phrase here or there, taken in stride as you parade around your zone of comfort, a new word-of-the-day, or a new saludo with which you can hail your friends, or even worse, half-assed ‘study’ when you have nothing better to do–these small encounters with language will never help you if you truly desire to own another language.
It’s like throwing countless pieces of undercooked pasta against the wall while cooking—they may stick, but not for more than a few seconds. Follow this gameplan and you’ll end up sounding like the proverbial broken record, spitting out ”que lo que” on repeat.
For a new language to really start to crystallize in your mind, you need it all around you. I knew this before coming here, and it was one of the many motivations I had for doing a program like this—supersaturating my mente with Spanish. Back in the states, I would make vain attempts to re-encounter Spanish, but I knew they would be hopeless simply for the fact that Spanish was not really around me–I did not have enough exposure to it. And furthermore, I was lacking the most important dimension of learning language–employing it.
Now, however, we are fully engulfed in it. And it is absolutely brilliant.
Learning how people express things through languages is forever intriguing to me. Aside from watching cartoons in Spanish (my guilty placer), I love dissecting copywriting in Spanish– ‘Claro, La Red donde todo es posible!‘. Advertisements on the television, or plastered throughout the city, or on billboards on the route to Bayahibe—‘El futuro es Claro!’–they all offer small insights into how Hispanic cultures express certain concepts, inspire people, and sell services. Perhaps from mimicking how they sell ideas to each other I can start selling myself as some sort of journeyman member of the Bilingual Spanish Guild….‘Más cerca. Más Claro!’.
At the very least, these ads give you a handle on pesky reflexive pronouns.
One of my favorite things to do is simply chat to friends we have met here via facebook or skype after work. It’s a great way to practice speaking spanish with speed. Como mi prima Angee me sugirió.
Then there are the quirky phrases—it was absolutely downpouring yesterday, trueno rocking the sky (some of the loudest thunder I have ever heard)—and Inexis offered up this Venezuelan frase: está cayendo un palo de aqua. Literally ’A stick of water is falling’. Might have ‘raining cats and dogs’ beat…
And there is always baseball, one of my favorite things to talk about, in spite of the culmination of the-meltdown-that-shall-not-be-named late last night (thankfully, ahora soy toro). Watching baseball, or even fútbol americano with announcers broadcasting in Spanish is always fascinating. And the terminology, comodín (joker) for wildcard, entrada for inning, jardín (garden) for the outfield, and outfielder thus following as un jardinero…
I remember watching a Yankees/Sox game this temporada with Alex and Dan at the local colmado, and taking a look at the ticker tape at the bottom of the screen. It took me a second to realize (and it’s not the verb realizar, its dar cuenta – to give account), after watching stat lines parade across the bottom of the screen for a minute or two, that I did not comprehend any of it. The scrolling infromation on the bottom of the screen–which I took for granted that I would subliminally process while watching the ballgame– even this was in a foreign language.
After seeing a long stat line that was obviously about lanzadores (pitchers) de Philadelphia–’Cliff Lee 5 CL, Halladay 2 CL, Hamels 3 CL’—curiosidad finally got to me, and I had to grill Alex. I knew carreras, literally ‘races’ was the term for ‘runs,’ but CL looked too strange to be within the realm of an educated guess. And my inquiry was answered with yet another quirky and intriguing linguistic twist—carreras limpias, literally ”clean runs”, to express the number of earned runs (ER) a pitcher surrenders in an outing.
Here in La República, we are truly being supersaturated with Spanish. And with this constant exposure, things are slowly starting to crystallize.