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Monday, January 2, 2017

Language lessons

Sue's post about her upcoming trip to Spain got me thinking about my efforts to learn Spanish over the past couple of years. I've been studying very casually and should be further along than I am. As I mentioned to Sue, I have a very slow ear. Spanish spoken at a regular conversational pace is challenging for me to interpret without taking an extra minute between sentences. I can speak, read, and write it much more easily. I seem to have a knack for remembering vocabulary words, but only have the barest grasp of rudimentary Spanish grammar.

Still, I plod on. I've made a resolution for this new year to step up my efforts to work my way through the rest of the course I've been taking (via a set of Rosetta Stone knockoff cds) and try to make some real progress. There's plenty of Spanish language news, tv shows, and movies available that I should be watching to improve my ear. And there's Nate, the bilingual guy that works in my bookstore's café. We typically say the same few greeting type things to each other, being busy, or else I learn new unkind words he uses to describe our store's assistant manager! The ASM tends to be a huge cretino and a cojudo to everyone, but learning words like that isn't terribly useful for my purposes! I need to have more meaningful conversations with him for practice.

Speaking of Nate, here's a funny story he shared with me. He moved to South Carolina from New Jersey when he was in the 4th grade. His father is Venezuelan and his mother is Puerto Rican. He joined his new classroom right before Christmas, and in anticipation of his arrival his well-meaning teacher made a big banner that said in Spanish "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!" to welcome him. The problem was that her Spanish was pretty much non-existent, and when she copied the phrase from somewhere she wrote "ano" instead of "año" ...thus wishing Nate a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Anus. Well, like any normal 10 year old boy (and me to this day) he broke down laughing. He also told his classmates about it, and it pissed his teacher off. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot at school! I love stories about those kinds of mistakes. It makes me feel better about all the times I mess up my Spanish, like the time I told a nice Colombian man that Gregg and I eat our dogs!

Now that New Year's Day is past, I'm off to do some house work and run some errands. I'm glad to finally see the last of the holiday season! I hope you all have had a Feliz Año Nuevo, and also a Feliz Ano....!

15 comments:

  1. Careful in Italian too when wishing a happy new year - Buon Anno Nuovo - always a double "n"! :)
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. I often note similarities between Spanish and Italian when watching Italian films. I'll bet you have a beautiful accent, Maria!

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    2. Feliz Año Nuevo ! I've found on recent visits to Italy that I can understand very much more than I have in the past, thanks to learning Spanish !

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  2. My dear wife's very first language was Russian (which she learned from her Nanny), then they moved to Caracas Venezuela where she learned Spanish, then to Washington where she was able to speak English, and now we live in France where she struggles a bit with French. Everyone in my family is bi-lingual, amongst them speaking French, German, Dutch, Russian, and Swedish; the most common being English/French.

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    1. That's an impressive list of languages in your family!

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  3. Some people have a natural inclination for learning languages. Total immersion is the best method but that's not possible for most of us. I speak French very, very badly. I can conjugate my verbs etc but my accent is atrocious. Nobody understands me. Paul just wings it, has a perfect French accent, waves his hands a lot and everyone understands him. Bah!

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    1. French is tough. I took one year of it in high school, and had I been born in France I'm convinced I'd have had a speech impediment! Some of those sounds are just impossible for me! Thank goodness Spanish is easier. I decided to learn it because it's very useful in this part of the world.

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  4. I am fluent in only three languages (German, of course, and English and Italian) and often think I should do something about my French, which is very rusty since I hardly ever need/use it. But it's a shame to let it be dormant like that, I think.
    When I read or hear Spanish, I usually get a good general idea of what is going on, as there really are many similarities with Italian.
    Russian and Arabic are two languages I would love to learn. But I know it won't happen anytime soon - I am far too lazy these days.

    Do you know Monica (DawnTreader)? She has been having a lot of fun (and success) learning Spanish with an app on her mobile phone.

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    1. I don't know Monica, I shall look for her.

      We had German exchange students at my high school and they all spoke French beautifully. In fact, they were always so far ahead of us in everything that it was sort of embarrassing!

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  5. Oh, we've had a number of comical language disasters since moving here. On my birthday our first year in Sevilla, Jerry walked ahead of me into a local cafe and told the waitress that it was my birthday. Well, what he really said was, "Es su comple anos," which more closely means, "It is his complementary anus." Her face went blank until I explained. (I don't know if I've told you, but I have also found Babbel.com to be a great resource.)

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    1. I will check into Babbel.com. I love the story about your birthday! I also really enjoyed the one about "pollo" vs. "polla" on your blog the other day!

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  6. Ages ago, my first "second" language was Latin. Then came French and Russian. I'm fortunate to be able to still make use of my dwindling French when I speak with some friends, who will kindly help me over gaps.

    I've never tried any of the computer classes other than some tutorials available via the BBC website.

    I wish you lots of New Year's happiness and good fortune. xo

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  7. After the digestive upheaval of the holiday period with all that rich food, snacks and chocolates I may require a new anus. Do you think I could get a transplant? If no human anuses are available I will settle for a baboon's.

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    1. Seriously. I'm right there with you. Today is the beginning of a break from sugar, processed foods, and simple (bad) carbs. I feel like crap and gained some weight over the holidays this year, and I already needed to lose some weight in the first place. Sigh. And a happy anus is, of course, important! 😕

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