Speaking the Language

Estamos in España!

I don’t know a lot of Spanish. I probably know just enough to get myself in trouble. As my tongue trips over itself trying to make the unfamiliar sounds, what I hear coming out of my mouth is often not the same as the sounds that my brain is telling it to make. I especially have trouble with the Letter R, and the double R. My fat, lazy, American tongue seems incapable of making that lovely trilling sound. Still, I am managing to communicate, in a very limited fashion, with the Spaniards.

I took a year of Spanish in junior high school, and another year in college. For those of you who don’t know, that was a very, very long time ago. More recently, I had 2 weeks of private lessons in Guatemala a couple of years ago. While I have never been anywhere close to fluent, and can speak only in the present tense,and my grammar is atrocious, a surprising amount of vocabulary is coming back to me. Enough anyway, that I have been able to confidently order food and drink, rent a bed or a room for the night, and buy bus tickets. I even walked up to a stranger and got directions to a restaurant where we could buy breakfast. It is all very rudimentary, but traveling is easier when you know at least a little of the language.

Señor, más sangría, por favor!

7 Replies to “Speaking the Language”

  1. I’m so excited for you! I’m going to travel to Spain someday and speak with greatly exaggerated rolling Rs and a lot of pantomime to make up for the words that I never remember in real time. I’m sure you are awesome in any language 🙂

  2. Where in Spain are you now? Where are you planning to get your first stamp? Yeah, I’m probably going to have too many questions for you, but you should be used to that by now.

    1. We are in Logroño,capital of La Rioja. We got our first stamp upon arrival in Pamplona. We always get one when we check in to our albergue or hostel. Sometimes we also can get stamped at tourist information centers and at cathedrals.

  3. It’s been kinda strange when speaking with fellow PILGRIMS on the Camino – get a table of us together and more-often than not, you’ll find us all speaking English. Similar situations happened when I was working in Kosovo – get a bunch of different people from different countries together and invariably they will settle on English.

    Which works well for US anyway 🙂

    1. The international students at my work seem to settle into English as the common language too, but I’ve always figured that people who would choose to study in California would be more likely than most to choose to learn some English, and that the local language would have an edge over others. Interesting to think that my exposure to international English may not be as much of a sampling error as I expected.

  4. It was – and probably still is – a requirement in most continental European school systems to learn one other language in school. When they had a choice (there wasn’t always a choice in former Soviet-bloc nations), most folks in my generation band – maybe even still today – would choose English, as it was the language of commerce (and probably still is).

    Sadly, even though I took a semester of high school Spanish and a year of it in college, I still am better with German – and even in THAT language, the best I can do is order a beer and bratwurst and get my face slapped (not necessarily in that order nor intentionally). I was stationed there with the military, though – and immersion makes the best teacher (as does HAVING to speak the language because you ran into someone who DOESN’T speak yours). 🙂

    1. I’ve been learning to say, “thank you,” in many languages (Spanish, French, German, Italian, Farsi, Tahitian [though, “merci,” is most common in Iran and Tahiti], and Mongolian, so far). Though, I am tempted to learn how to say, “My hovercraft is full of eels,” instead ( http://www.omniglot.com/language/phrases/hovercraft.htm ).

      I still have hopes of being fluent in Spanish someday, but for now I speak a twisted Spanglish that sort of mangles two languages at once. It’s a start 🙂

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