Traveling the world, learning languages, and immersing myself in new cultures.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

10 More Fun Things This American Has Learned About The Spanish Language

If I am doing this post again (and a 3rd time and 4th time and 5th time and 6th time and 7th time and 8th time), that means that I am learning more about the Spanish language, and thus realizing my goal of speaking the language. Yay for me! I think it is funny when Spanish people say that English is a difficult language, as though Spanish is a cake walk and doesn't have over 100 conjugations per verb, compared to the barely 20 an English verb has. 

But, aside from that, the Spanish language is a rich and interesting language and offers me many things to comment on (and share with all of you who are clearly bored or killing time between doing something productive, and reading my blog). To the content!

1. Poco a poco (little by little) - the catch-all phrase for progress or for saying something is not happening right now, but hopefully it will be in the future. How's your Spanish?  Poco a poco. Bill is in the hosptial? How is he recovering? Poco a poco. I hear your kids are doing better in school? Poco a poco. Are you going to eat all of those pintxos? Poco a poco. What do you call a fight between two small children? Poco a pocoTM.

2. Como está escrito sí está bien dicho (you say it how it's written) - the classic Spanish rebuttal whenever a discussion on the difficulty of Spanish vs. other languages arises. Seems to me that you don't say the "h" and why have a "b" and "v" if they have the same utility... Plus "j" and "g" seem to serve the same purpose... as well as the no-it's-not-a-lisp "z" and "c" in many cases... and since when does "ll" make a "y" sound, which by the way, is also present in the language. No other double letter changes it's sound, so you say those how they're written, but it's just an exception we won't discuss.

3. Adios (goodbye) - when at a party or social setting, means "I'm preparing to think about leaving but not leaving for another hour or maybe longer". No one says adios and then leaves directly. It will likely be followed by three or four hasta luegos, two or three nos vemoses, and at least one tengo que ir pero primero te diré una historia muy largo...  (I have to go but first I will tell you a really long story...) And don't be the weirdo who says adios and then actually leaves right away. "Was he mad about something? He just said goodbye and left, as though saying that word is a signal to let people know you are leaving the area. How strange!"

4. Me hablas a mi? (are you talking to me?) - Robert DeNiro would be proud to know that one of his most famous lines made it into my blog. You're welcome Bobby (that's what I call him because he has no idea who I am). The me before the hablas and then the a mi after it, both referring to "me", seems a bit redundant, but it's how they express emphasis.

Me hablas a mi = you talkin to me -Robert Deniro

5. Tener (to have) pt.1 - in Spanish, "I have" hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, years/age, sleepy, pain, hurry, fear, jealousy, shame, and much more, for which we say "I am" in English. Maybe they actually physically have these things with them? "Don't worry if you are cold, I have some hot that I keep in my bag that you can use."

6. Tener (to have) pt.2 - tengo frio and tengo calor mean "I am cold" and "I am hot", but there doesn't seem to be anything in between. They simply say estoy bien (I'm fine). So you can have heat and you can have cold, but you are not allowed to have cool or warm. They are forbidden here. The Spanish TSA confiscate them at the borders. "Leave your warm in your country, we want none of that inbetweenery here!"

7. Que guay (how cool) - unfortunately for native english speakers, this sounds just like "KY", a popular brand of lubricant. So, what exactly are you trying to tell me as you exclaim this with a smile on your face? It's really weird when guys say it. I say it a lot. 

8. Diminutivos (diminutives) - the suffix ito/ita is a diminutive in Spanish, so a small libro (book) would be a librito, or a small casa (house) would be a casita. However, the Navarrans felt they needed to be different and confuse non-Spanish speakers further, by using ico/ica instead: so a small libro is now a librico and a a small casa is a casica. This is especially confusing since the suffix ico is already used to change nouns into adjectives, as in volcán becomes volcánico (volcanic, or small volcano in Navarra).

9. Soy yo (it is me) - when speaking on the telephone, you will get this one quite often. It is just really weird because the word soy literally means "I am" and the word yo means "I/me". So it's like you are saying "I am me" or "I am I". What makes it even funnier is that it is not even possible to be someone else, so soy tu or eres yo doesn't mean anything, and therefore reinforces the redundancy of the original expression. But don't say soy mi because then you will sound weird.

10. La crisis (the crisis) - I don't want to offend anyone, but this is the excuse du jour here in Spain. I understand that the current economic situation is tough and has caused many problems for many people, but I highly doubt the crisis is the reason for everything wrong in one's life. "I was clearly under qualified for the job, have no education or experience, but I would have gotten it if it weren't for la crisis." or "I was going to ask that girl out, but then la crisis happened, so now she'll likely say no." or "I had a job interview last week but thanks to la crisis my alarm clock didn't go off, so I was two hours late, instead of only one, and I didn't get the job." and my favorite "Oh yeah, Tim, I was going to read your blog, but then la crisis, and your blog sucks."

What do you think? 

This list is based on my experiences and I'm curious if you agree of disagree. For the non-Spanish speakers, what fun expressions have you learned? For the Spanish speakers, how do you feel about these, or the inverse, from other languages?

Thanks for reading! For more on my life in Navarra, check out VEN con TMax.

Read part 1part 3part 4, part 5part 6, part 7 of this series.

(some of the images/videos used in this post are from other sources and not my own)

Location: Pamplona, Navarre, Spain


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