Thursday, August 20, 2015

On és el bany ( When Spanglish may not be enough)

When my 14 year old daughter was preparing for her solo trip to France, I bought language tapes for the basics: Where's the bathroom, I need help, How much does it cost? 

She would be staying with a family, but I  thought she should learn a little survival French. She laughed about how funny it would be if she needed to say something and couldn't. "Funny?" I said with alarm. She thought again. "Okay, maybe not so funny." But she didn't try to learn a word. 

It probably wouldn't have helped anyway. 

I knew some Spanish when I went to Costa Rica, but only enough to ask questions--not understand the answers. That's how we ended up in a restaurant with the local transvestites. Also how we got stuck in a horrific traffic jam the day of the presidential elections, crawling through the suburbs of San Jose. Plus, I hadn't figured out that avenues ran one way and intersected the streets of the same name. Crazy system. 

I'm trying to bring my Spanish to another level for our fall trip to Barcelona. As I listen to Spanish documentaries on Yabla, a fun listen-and-learn website, I realize that they drop endings of common words. I may never learn to lisp in the right places. Native speakers fly through their sentences and use idioms that don't even show up in online dictionaries.

This weekend I realized they don't even LIKE to speak Spanish in Barcelona because it's part of a separatist wannabe region called Catalunya with it's own language. 

So I hit youtube again, this time for a crash course in 20 basic phrases in Catalan. Oh, brother. 

I foresee a lot of confusion.  

As the days until departure dwindle, I'm feeling a lot like my daughter. Why bother studying?  I guess I'll just keep watching the hysterical Colombian muppets on Yabla. 

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