Thursday, 11 October 2007

The Lingo / Language Barrier

I went to enrol in Spanish class yesterday and had to do a written & oral exam. The government sponsors free language classes and you can find details here

I learned Spanish in school or should I say, I attended class (in body but not spirit) but languages were never my forte. I hated ‘learning’ French even more than Spanish and only paid slightly more attention to Spanish due to Miss Rodriguez, ‘the hottie’ temp teacher from Madrid who taught us for a few months. Little did I know back then that I would desperately need to understand the grammar, irregular verbs and general comprehension but no turning back the clock now.

Some poor young fella’ got in the lift with me the other day and having got in before him, I did the good citizen approach of asking which floor he wanted to go to ‘Que piso?’ to which he replied ‘quinto’. This completely threw me for a loop but rather than let it get the better of me I took a wild guess and hit ‘4’. He made some comment about ‘cuatro’ to which I replied ‘Si, quinto’. We arrive at the fourth floor and he didn’t budge so I opened the doors (their manual here) and usher him out (what a nice guy I am) although he didn’t seem so appreciative. It’s only later I discover ‘quinto’ = fifth and the poor bloke must have thought I was a demented gringo.

I’ve done a bit of travel in Spain and South America and it’s strange that if you’re hungry enough your lingo improves leaps n’ bounds as it’s either speak or go without. I also noticed a couple of beers seem to improve the fluency as the inhibitions and fear of making a mistake disappear but since drinking in class probably isn’t an option I’m just going to have to knuckle down to it. I got evaluated as pre-intermediate which ain’t too bad. I have a wee conflict with start of classes however as the last weekend of Oktoberfest in Cordoba in the north is this weekend and the plan is to do some more travel towards Bolivia also. Maybe I can use the time brush up on my 'lumfardo' which is local porteño slang phrases.


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