Obies Using Languages: Socrates Bassuk ‘19

Socrates Bassuk is a pre-med Bio major, CHEM and AAST minor.  

What other languages do you know and how did you learn each of them?

I know Spanish because my grandparents emigrated from Argentina and my mom grew up speaking Spanish, and raised us speaking Spanish. I have never seen my mom talk to a baby in English—I don’t think she knows how to haha. I learned household Spanish growing up and it got even better when I moved to Argentina when I was 12 and lived there for a year.

Which language do you feel like you can communicate best in or are more yourself? What language feels most like home?

When I’m talking to people who are bilingual and are close to me, I spanglish-it-up, especially when I’m tired. I have a better vocabulary in English, but Spanish feels more like home because it’s connected to family.

What is your favorite word or phrase in another language besides English that is untranslatable to English? What does it mean?

Fiaca is a word in Spanish (specifically from Argentina) that means feeling lazy, but without the negative connotation. When you’re lying in bed in the morning under the covers enjoying yourself so much that you don’t want to get up, you have fiaca.

When you speak in other languages, do you think in the language you’re speaking or translate the words from another language in your head before speaking?

It depends. If I just had to start speaking Spanish right now, I would probably have to translate everything in my head because I haven’t been speaking regularly. But after speaking for an hour or so, I would be able to speak without translating. Its just about warming up.

What’s your favorite dish connected to this language?

My great aunt used to make this meal for my sister and me when we were little. It was angle hair pasta with Parmesan cheese and sour cream and salt and pepper all mixed together. It doesn’t have a name but it reminds me of my childhood.



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