Once, during my sophomore year in college, a French-speaking classmate told me that he thought it was odd that my Spanish sounded so beautiful—since it sounded so ugly coming from the American Hispanics he knew. It wasn’t true in any objective sense, of course. I’d taken Spanish classes for seven years at that point, but my accent (and vocabulary, grammar, etc.) was more function than form. My Spanish was not more beautiful.
But I am white. And I carry Spanish along as a second language, as an ornament that was one of the best parts of my liberal arts education. My relationship to Spanish has little to do with native speakers’ relationship to the language.
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