Thursday, February 14, 2008

Se Habla Español

I've mentioned before that my Spanish is slowly improving. Strange that the more you go out and interact with people, the more you speak the language. Since I first arrived almost a year ago I've understood more than I speak. Entiendo mas que hablo, as I seem to say on almost a daily basis.

Several times in the past couple weeks locals have stopped me, surprised by how well I speak. Just yesterday the guy behind the counter where I bought bread and yogurt said he thought I was just another guera, but that I speak very well. I answered that I'm from Chicago but live here with my husband. Soy de Chicago pero vivo aqui con mi esposo.

Now, I say that particular phrase A LOT so it rolls off my tongue rather quickly, further impressing whomever it is I'm speaking with. I have several "canned" phrases that I use quite frequently and I'm sure that helps add to the effect. That's fine with me, I enjoy being treated like a local.

That being said, every now and then I encounter someone that I just cannot understand. Through no fault of their own; they speak very clearly and I hear the words they're saying, but I can't get the meaning. The day my mother lost her wallet there was a man hellbent on getting me to understand something and all I could think was, "Why does he keep talking about the highway? Her wallet's not on the highway."

My problem?

carretera = highway
cartera = wallet

Because I can rattle off a few words I fell into the trap common with people trying to speak a second language: I was too convincing.

I smiled and said , implying I understood, then ran off to tell Ibis about the crazy man telling me to look for the wallet on the highway.


Doreen Orion said...

I'm so impressed (and jealous). I
was trying to speak to a new Spanish-only speaking neighbor today. Lot of good that 5 years of high school Spanish did me!

Melanie Avila said...

LOL. Yesterday I brought my husband along on an errand because I was worried I wouldn't be able to fully explain what I needed. He said two words then I took over. I think it helped that the woman was very patient, but I even surprised myself that I was able to express myself!

Mary B said...

It can be very intimidating to live in a foreign county. I was an exchange student in Switzerland and when I finally was able to move around and speak the language (I was in a French speaking section) it was very exciting to me. Of course, that was when it was time to go home. :D I'm a slow learner.

Ed Pahule said...

I've been fortunate enough to not need to know any foreign languages. I've been in foreign countries several times, but I've always managed to meet people who spoke English.