Spain: Lingo, lengua, don’t bother

I am Spain's captive!  (The Armory at the Palacio Real in Madrid)
I am Spain’s captive! (The Armory at the Palacio Real in Madrid)

Spain held me captive for the last two weeks. While there it silenced my computer. Kaput. Dead. No way to work. I had no choice except to fall in love with my captor, forced to submit to whatever Espana asked of me. Ole!

First, a word about words: David, my British-born husband, tried to learn to “habla en espanol” prior to the trip. To hear him say, “Donde esta la estacion de tren (where is the train station?)” in his English accent brought me no end of pleasure.

Me: “I love the way you speak Spanish.”

David: “Really? Why?”

Me: “You make me feel so superior.”

Obviously, I had the edge because I took high school Spanish and Martinez is my maiden name. I basked in smugness.

Well, that didn’t last long. In Madrid everyone speaks Castilian Spanish, meaning they pronounce “ci” like “th”. For example “gracias” is pronounced “grathias.” It’s like they all have a lisp.

Well, the Castilians didn’t understand me, so apparently I’m the one with a speech impediment.

Perhaps we should have just said, "We're having what they're having."
Perhaps we should have just said, “We’re having what they’re having.”

One night David was mucking about in tortured Spanish ordering food. Who knew those “medias” plates of tapas can be so huge? Using his hybrid British-Espanol, David tried to cancel a dish. The waiter looked bewildered.

Then I jumped in with, “Deseo terminado un tapas.”

This was the awful equivalent of “I wish ending a dishes.”

But the waiter spoke English (and French and German) and asked in perfect syntax, “Which one would you like to cancel, the grilled octopus or the cod?”

In a teeny tiny voice, I replied, “Whatever is easier for the chef.”

I still think we get points for trying to speak their lingo. Good thing they speak ours.

Success!  (Tiny clams with baby artichokes.  Mucho gusto!)
Success! (Tiny clams with baby artichokes. Mucho gusto!)
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13 thoughts on “Spain: Lingo, lengua, don’t bother”

  1. After three times trying to learn Spanish, I can now count to nine, ask where the bathroom — and chicken — is, and tell the dog he’s good. That’s it.

    1. Mike, my computer went into a coma in Seville and ate nothing or the entire trip. Then – que milagro! – it came back to life when we returned home. Not sure why I couldn’t get it to work in Spain. Maybe it a sign that I was meant to stay present, eat my pulpo, and deadlines be danged!

  2. The food looks delicious – love your column – which dish you end up cancelling?

  3. You guys are so cute! Thank goodness English is spoken everywhere in Europe or I might not have survived my 9th grade trip! Later, I wound up becoming a Preschool Spanish teacher (go figure!) and successfully taught about four phrases to a Polish kid with ADD who could not speak any English at all. Success or something paranormal? You be the judge…

    1. You taught Spanish to a Polish kid with ADD, now that’s paranormal talent, CF. And yes, it’s lucky that folks in the service profession in Spain speak English (and usually two other languages.) It’s a bit humbling as I bumble through.

  4. While I was in graduate school, the teaching assistants went on strike. I picketed with the Spanish/Portuguese department. I learned to say, “Dode esta las juanetas?” – “Where are the bunions?”

  5. I took Spanish from 5th grade through college and the one thing I learned is that very few Spaniards understand each other and throw in Latin America and the American Hispanic dialects and no one gets anything. It is a beautiful language to learn though and I love the art and history. Glad you had a wonderful time!

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