Pitt-Bradford professor publishes memoir of languages
BRADFORD, Pa. – Dr. Carys Evans-Corrales speaks or is familiar with nine very different languages. For the professor of Spanish at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, each of them is a different story.
Evans-Corrales tells those stories – of how she acquired languages through a childhood and young adulthood spent in Singapore, Malaysia, Jamaica, England and Spain – in a new book, “Talking Girl: A Memoir.”
Evans-Corrales said she has been working on the vignettes included in the book for more than 25 years – stories of girlhood adventures in outposts of post-colonial Britain where her father taught English literature in a series of universities where English was the language of instruction.
Born to Welsh parents, Evans-Corrales, like the rest of her playmates, spent her first few years in Singapore learning, singing and conversing in the Hainanese Chinese dialect of her nanny. When she was 3 and still speaking Hainanese, she became immersed in an English-speaking environment for the first time when her parents returned to England for work-related reasons, moving back to Malaysia after several months.
Evans-Corrales describes the country’s famous melting pot of cultures -Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and British. Her all-girls school celebrated the holidays of multiple religions, and she soaked in the cuisine, languages and spirit of their cultures.
So she was shocked when her family moved to Jamaica and she encountered racism and abject poverty for the first time. But here she discovered Jamaican Creole and the language to which she would devote the rest of her life – Spanish.
Evans-Corrales would continue to study, live and teach in England, Spain and the United States, improving her Spanish, acquiring the Galician language spoken in northwest Spain and even learning Swahili as part of her linguistic studies.
Her publisher, Small Stations Press, writes that “it was in a move to America, in 1985, that the author finally acquired her own identity and laid the ghosts of her past to rest. The account of these years is littered with anecdotes about people, school friends, linguistic conundrums and political backdrops and offers a sweeping view of the second half of the twentieth century lived out on three continents.”
Evans-Corrales is an accomplished translator. Her work includes a recent Galician-to-English translation of poems by Pilar Pallarés, “A Leopard am I,” and several published short stories that she wrote in Galician. She holds a doctoral degree in Spanish literature from Rutgers University and teaches Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced Spanish, Short Fiction in Spanish, Hispanic Literature in Translation, Latina Writers, and Directed Studies in translation connected to student academic interests such as business, psychology, administration of justice, and the health-related professions.