Sunday, July 11, 2010

Perfect Spanish? - habla español? (3)

Spain has been claiming much of my time recently and while I'm there I have no internet access so no blog updates.

As a result, the next few posts will be a mix of photos and anecdotes from Spain.

1 - Español perfecto

First up - I lied. I did actually go to the internet cafe - but only to check on emails.

'Hola, buenos dias,' I say, dropping the 's' as is customary in our area.

'Hola, In-ter-net?' says a smiley woman slowly so that I could understand 'Internet'.

'Si,' I say, and then think, but only depending on the price, so added 'Cuanto valé?'

She started telling me, and then pointed to the board. Actually it's years since I used this place and I went through exactly the same routine at the time.

In Spain it's so customary to ask for what you want that you don't look for the signs first, you open your mouth instead. Presumably a hang-back to when most people didn't read anyway. Some still don't.

'OK,' says me, deciding to spend the princely sum of one euro for half an hour.

'Numero siete, s-e-v-e-n.'

'Si, valé, gracias.'

I sit down and wait for her to authorise my computer.

But I can't access gmail, so I call her over and say something on the lines of 'El gmail no funciona' or 'No puedo accesar gmail.'

She sorted that for me and helpfully told me how to key the @, which I knew anyway but said thank you.

Within the half hour, I got up and went to pay.

'Has terminado?' she asked in very clear accurate Spanish (ter-meen-ah-doh)

'Si,' I replied. 'Terminado.' Except the way I said it, it comes out ter-min-ow.

'Oh,' she said, and I'll drop the baby Spanish now, 'you speak perfect Spanish.' Presumably due to the fact that I sounded like a local.

[Note to would-be Spanish speakers - do not imitate my pronunciation, it only works in the right (countryside) areas of Andalucía, and will not get you accepted into the Madrid dinner party set. It is not the Spanish accent taught in language classes].

I thought 'perfect' was a bit over the top, considering all I had said was - how much, thanks, ok, and, I've finished.

Still I thought I had better say something to acknowledge the kind compliment, so I said thanks, and that it was probably because I had lived in Spain for a while.

'Where are you from?' she asked next.

'The next village down the road,' I replied.

'No, no, originally.'

'Oh, Inglaterra.'

Well at this point she nearly fell over genuflecting at my amazing linguistic abilities. Apparently she has an English friend who doesn't speak a word of Spanish, so me managing to string more than one word together was seriously impressive.

I confess to being rather sucky after that and somewhat unpatriotic and said that if you lived in Spain, you should speak Spanish, but lots of English people didn't want to.

In fact, I have met lots of people who live in Spain and allegedlly can't say any more than hello, goodbye, and give me a beer.

In all seriousness though, I think it is a shame that people move to a beautiful country and are not interested enough to learn the language. To me it's part of the excitement, and something to achieve, and provides a richer life. And you can tell when people are being rude about you too.

My Spanish is NOT perfect, whatever she generously said, and has probably deteriorated since I came to Gib, but at least I still try, and my great neighbours are always around to give us over-the-wall refresher lessons.

2 - El partido

I have to mention the football.

When we arrived in Spain about a week ago we were chatting - over the wall - with the above-mentioned neighbours and naturally we got around to the football. They asked if we would be watching Spain v Germany and we said that sadly the TV no longer worked. (TVs in our part of Spain don't really like all the dust, we've gone through two or three now).

As they'd done in previous years, they immediately invited us round on the Wednesday night. But over the next few days, no more was said.

Come Wednesday night, we were sitting in the patio waiting for the chicken man to arrive (another story in itself) when there was a loud bang on the door. Dressed only in a towel, I squawked like a chicken and ran inside.

I could hear some mumbled Spanish of which one word seemed to be patio. Partner was struggling with it too. Suddenly I twigged. Partido - par-tee-doh - but pronounced pat-ee-oh in our village. The match.

Partner jumped up excitedly and decided to go. I decided Spain would have better luck if I lay on the bed and read a book and waited patiently for the good news.

He trotted next door and the relatives chatting on the terrace were sent home (two doors up the street). Partner was ushered inside to the two chairs that were duly set out for both of us.

Once settled in, he was offered a beer (which he refused), and they all sat back to watch the match - which luckily Spain won.

Of course, my dilemma now is whether to watch tonight or not. Do I read another book hoping that this will give Spain that extra bit of luck?

Either way, good luck Spain. Hope you make it.


Totty Teabag said...

I don't know if it is because Calpe has a healthy population of Andalucians, but the ao ending in place of ado is common up here as well. What does make me smile is that the locals switch from castellano to valenciano when they don't want the foreigners to twig what they are talking about. A swift Bon Dia in place of the usual Buenas Dias has them looking sideways at you...wondering...

Katherine and Pippa said...

I don't know enough about other areas of Spain to comment on their dialect only Andalucia and primarily Malaga and Cadiz provinces, although we are quite near to Granada too.

But the variations on buenos dias in our village are legion. Bon dia here too, or bonna dia, or just bonna, or buenos or bueno or ... etc etc etc

Green Jeannie said...

Spain won.

Green Jeannie said...

We toyed long ago with the idea of moving somewhere in Europe, possibly Spain, after our first visit. Although Portugal too, figured on our list of possibles.

We decided, if we ever do move abroad, (unlikely now with the recession etc but you never know) we would both really like to be able to speak the language. I find it hard enough on holiday not to be able to speak the language, I feel we miss out on so much.

My sole contribution in Spain, was Hola. Husband was much better. He could at least ask for a beer ;0D