Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Little Spanish, A Little English

La Arquitecta is studying English because she wants to grow her client base with the expat community. I practice my Spanish with her and she practices her English with me. Yesterday she called on the phone. We exchanged the pleasantries, Buenas Dias, Como esta?, Muy Bien, Gracias, y Usted?

She had something to report on the kitchen remodel and since she thought that some of it went beyond my Spanish or her English, she asked to speak to Ned. He wasn't here but she still needed to convey the information. So she told me as much as she could in English and then reverted to Spanish. I responded with as much Spanish as I could and then reverted to English. By this time we were both giggling knowing that we were murdering verb tenses and misplaced pronouns. But I understood what she was telling me.

Today, I stopped at a shop to ask about a daybed they have near the front door. With my Spanish I was able to find out that they can get it for me without the upholstery because I want a fabric that they don't have and what the cost would be and how long it would take to get it. But that they couldn't get it with the wood stained a darker color. I was pleased that I was able to do this because a lot of times when I know I want to use my Spanish I will think about what I want to say or even write it out before I go so that I can ask my questions. This time I was winging it.

Now I have to admit that both La Arquitecta and the people in the shop hear the expat's poor Spanish often so they kind of have an ear for how we mispronounce Spanish but still I was pleased that I struggled through the conversations. Sometimes, I can't understand some one's Spanish because they have an accent or they speak very fast or sometimes they kind of sing the words together. Well this happens for La Arquitecta too. Last week she called Ned to ask him to call one of the houses that she manages because there was a guest there who she couldn't understand at all but there was a problem at the house. Ned called and talked to him and said he had a very heavy New York or New Jersey accent. By the way, La Arquitecta's English teacher is from England so she has to adjust for our Texas English accents.

While Ned was at the bank this week, he did our transactions in Spanish and the bank officer told him his Spanish was very good. She said that they had some clients who had lived in San Miguel for 20 years who still couldn't speak any Spanish. I think that is a shame. I don't think I'll ever be fluent but I can do better than a little Spanish and it is time to get back to studying Spanish. After all, I live in Mexico.


Nancy said...

I'm with you. Making your best effort is important.

Congratulations on your interaction with the shopkeeper - it's a big step to venture out without a script.

La Gringa said...

Hooray! It's so great to have those "success in communication" moments. Talking on the telephone is especially hard for me. Somehow seeing the person's face seems to help.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations for your efforts, the spanish is a difficult language.